Saturday, May 20, 2017

A mystery about the colour of a de Havilland Vampire jet on a pole

I live in the inner west of Melbourne. Fairly near my house is a shopping centre which used to be the Royal Australian Air Force Tottenham Store during the Second World War. As a nod to that history, they have an old de Havilland Vampire jet mounted on a pole at the entry to the carpark.

I tried to get some okay shots of it today, but they're not great.

Here's another shot I found online:


And here is a shot of it from when it was in operational service:


As you can see, when it was operational it was uncamouflaged, unpainted aluminium.

What I can't understand is when I look at it today: is this raw, weathered aluminium, or is did they misguidedly paint it grey before they plonked it on top of a pole?

I think it must be aluminium, and it is just weathered and sun-beaten until it is this dull, greyish tone.

Would that be right?

Any input is welcome.




  1. Hey Dave ! Carlos here. We had a few of those in service at the Chilean Air Force (not quite exactly those, but the twin seater) and as far as I know, yes...that finish might very well be heavily weathered aluminium...but, be aware of this: it could also be a sort of aluminium paint, known by the british as High Speed Silver.
    Moreover: I'm not quite sure that the british ever used bare, unpainted aluminium on their aircraft...i.e. all british aircraft using metal finishes should be, actually, painted that way.
    Yes, still aluminium, but if you look carefully (and I know you would :D) a bit more matte and more uniform (I mean, with less tonal variation between panels)
    Best !
    PS: Gee...I hope the information is still usefull to you, after like two year XD

    1. Hi Carlos, sorry for taking so long to reply! Thanks for the info, it's definitely now stored away for future use. I think it was High Speed Silver - you're spot on! Thanks again, Dave

  2. Hi David,

    suuuper late to this.
    but the plane on the pole isn't the plane in the photo!

    the plinthed plane is a similar one that belonged to the Rhodesian Airforce