DH-100 Vampire ‘Bat Face’

442 Squadron “City of Vancouver” will be holding their 75th anniversary this June.  To add a bit of flair and colour to their celebrations the Comox Air Force Museum decided to take our Vampire 031 and paint it in the colours used when 442 Sqn flew Vampires.  The motif used was a ‘Bat Face’ that was applied by the units technicians on 4 aircraft.  The artwork was not identical and in fact differed greatly from each other.  Very few high quality photographs of the aircraft exist so we were faced with a problem of finding what actually was painted on the aircraft.  The Heritage Team who is tasked with such things reached out to a recognized Canadian expert on military aircraft markings, David Winter of Canuck Model Products (http://www.canuckmodels.com or https://www.facebook.com/CanuckModels/).  If you are a model aircraft enthusiast then you likely know Canuck for the high quality and highly accurate decal kits they produce.  It was hoped that David could help us as his Vampire decals are of the aircraft we need.  In short order he provided us a copy of his Vampire software ,which he supplied in 1:1 scale no less, making our task possible.  Using his software we had decals cut on vinyl by Cpl William Trinnear at 19 Air Maintenance Squadron on the Gerber Graphics machine.  Not all the decals were able to conform to the curves of the aircraft, but where they didn’t they did make an excellent template for us to use making masks of our own to paint the mouth and fangs.  We would like to thank both David Winter and Cpl Trinnear for helping us get this project through to completion.


The blank canvas:



The hard part is getting the proportions just right so much time was spent on this part.  This is where we used existing photographs and the Canuck Models graphics to lay out our lines.


Then we lay out the available pictures, graphics and begin our visualization of how we want this to turn out.


The base coat of red was put on next after a careful cleaning and scuffing.  Note we used paint that is non-toxic and we carefully rolled/brushed the paint on as was done originally, so respirators were not required.  Bobbi and Jack are doing touch ups here to the red between coats.



The nose cap is removed for painting and as the paint dries to prevent it from becoming glued together.


You can see the green painter tape where we masked off for paint.  This is the nose cap and the intake covers getting painted.   Tremclad red was remarkably accurate when we looked at paint matches, and also it is easy to use and clean up after.



While waiting for paint to dry we applied the tail boom graphics.




The compound curve of the Vampire nose meant we had to mask with tape and paint both the mouth and fangs. Good eyes from David, who is our museum carpenter and a talented designer who came for a day to help with this part.  A lot of staring along with counting rivets to ensure symmetry worked out well for us.



The mouth is now painted, the fangs masked, and the odd pieces of tape are our reference points for the ears.


The mouth has been masked, the white paint applied and we are trying to test fit the ears, eyes and eyebrows.



Ear, eye and eyebrow decals are now applied, and more white paint too.  The ears will need some black to cover the red inner portion.  Minor touch ups after the last of the masking is removed, newly painted intake covers installed, and she is looking like we had envisioned.


And finally we are done !





The main Heritage Team workers on this job were (left to right) Jack, Bobbi and Gord.  Missing are Keith, Nort and Kevin from the Heritage Maintenance Team, and David from the museum carpentry shop.  We would like to thank once again Cpl Trinnear from 19 AMS, and David Winter of Canuck Model Products.  Without their help this project would have been much more difficult and the outcome would not have been so pleasing to look at!  The official unveiling will be at the 442 Squadron Anniversary in June.