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      Post #62903, posted on 04-28-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Thread devoted to the Braniff Ultra colors (circa 1976 to 1982). This initial post gives the background on the Ultra colors, which were part of a large marketing campaign which transformed 'Flying Colors' into flying elegance.

      The Ultra design concept at BN had a long gestation. It started with two 727-227s delivered in the existing two-tone (Flying Colors) scheme during summer 1976. The cabin featured leather seats in First Class and a new blue diamond pattern throughout coach. Subdued striped wall panels were added to the overall theme. Now taken for granted, leather seats in a passenger airliner were a novelty at the time. It's said that Argentina owed money to BN, and the payback took the form of leather for these seats.

      Once leather seats came along, it seems that the Ultra concept took on a life of its own. Halston designed new flight attendant uniforms in shades of tan and taupe, a major change from the bright colors and patterns of the Pucci era. The Haltson uniforms were unveiled in 1977, a year after the first leather seats. By then, leather seats were added to coach as well as First Class.

      Fast forward to early 1978 ,when the Ultra exterior colors were introduced. The idea was to extend the elegant and subdued uniform and leather seats to the airplane exteriors, resembling fine motor cars. Initially, the exterior colors were all dark variations of burgundy, green, blue and brown, with pinstripe accents on the lower fuselage, tail, and engines. The dark blue was dubbed 'Mercury' blue, presumably after the higher-end Mercury division of Ford. Harding Lawrence specifically requested a lighter color, so 'Corvette' blue was born (this info came to me via an acquaintance, who heard it directly from someone at the ad agency). It was a break from the dark elegant color theme, but when the CEO makes a request, action is taken! It's possible that the Terra Cotta - a lighter brown - was also a Harding Lawrence request, but this has not been established.

      The two blues were the only colors specifically named for automobile brands. Remember, this was 1977-78, when imports had not caught on in the USA as they have today. "Toyota Terra Cotta" wouldn't have gone over so well!

      The basic plan was for six Ultra colors, ALL of them METALLIC, each with double METALLIC pinstripes (one thin, one thicker). This list is based on samples made by Braniff, circa 1978. I'll call these colors the Group of Six (GOS):

      Chocolate Brown w/thin ochre and thick bronze-medium brown pinstripes.
      Terra Cotta w/ thin light ochre and thick beige-gold pinstripes.
      Mercury (dark) Blue w/thin medium blue and thick light blue pinstripes.
      Corvette (light) Blue w/thin ruddy brown and thick light blue pinstripes.
      Perseus (dark) Green w/thin lime and thick greenish-turquoise pinstripes.
      Burgundy (dark) w/thin ochre and thick medium brown pinstripes.

      Now, modellers, the FUN begins. Changed plans, issues with the paint, and variations means that implementation was different from the cut and dried list above.

      First Changed Plan: The metallic paint caused problems. The main issue seemed to be keeping it on the fuselage! Airflow wreaked havoc and patches would peel off. As far as I know none of the GOS colors were ever applied in metallic form to a BN aircraft. Instead, there were two 727s with metallic ultra designs flying around, with concepts which deviated from the GOS....bring us to....

      Fun part: The only two aircraft to appear in a metallic paint (as far as I know) were 727-227 N426BN in a metallic blue, and 727-2B7 N404BN in 'sparkling burgundy' (our old friend handed down from Allegheny way back in '71). These were around by early 1978. Neither the metallic blue nor the sparkling burgundy were an exact match for the Mercury blue and the burgundy which were eventually adopted as part of the Group of Six. The sparkling burgundy was noticeably different in shade (lighter than the GOS burgundy) and pinstripes (strawberry red - both thick and thin).

      Mystery: First, the timeline. Metallic Blue and Sparkling Burgundy seem to be the first two living examples of Ultra aircraft. One assumes that someone at BN did not like the exact color shades and they were rejected prior to the GOS being established. This must have happened sometime in 1978. The GOS was proposed as metallic, so that aspect was still part of the Ultra plan. At some point, experience on N404BN and N426BN must have caused the metallic idea to be nixed, but this must have come after the rejection of metallic blue and sparkling burgundy in favor of the Mercury Blue and the Burgundy in the GOS.

      A few questions linger: is it possible that ships 426 and 404 appeared in Ultra as early as 1977? Which colors from the GOS were actually flying first, and when? N1809E in chocolate brown was part of well-know publicity shots for brochures. When in 1978 was it repainted? I remember seeing a Terra Cotta 727 at DCA in September 1978. IIRC the reg was N46xBN (last digit forgotten).

      I'll stop this post here, considering it an intro to which we can add illustrations. I have more on the GOS, I just need to dig it up.

      Until next time ....

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      Post #62906, posted on 04-28-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Now that we have started a BN Ultra thread, I 'll throw in some illustrations.

      It seems Braniff threads would not be the same without CONFUSION induced by colors looking similar and being mistaken for each other. With Ultra GOS, this was a real issue with Chocolate Brown (CB) and BURGUNDY (BU). Ambient lighting and emulsion probably contributed. It did not help that the pinstripes for the two respective designs were so similar in hue.

      Here's CB N1809E (photographer unspecified). This is twilight or sunrise, which will affect the appearance.



      Here is BU N1807 in May 1981 (Richard Vandervord photograph, taken in overcast skies). Note the touch up on the upper fuselage, which is not a good match for rest of the aircraft. It really does look like the shade used for the aborted 'sparkling burgundy', though here it does not seem to sparkle! Seriously, the touch-up would have been a better choice for the 'BU' shade, and more distinguishable from the chocolate brown:


      The real difference here seems to be the thin pinstripe: with CB it looks like a true ochre (orangey-brown, see the JB-era ochre thread), on the BU N1807 it is ever so darker, or so it seems in this light. I'd go so far as to say that N1807 may actually have been done in CB on the main body, but I suspect further study might allow me to make out a difference. This is another confusing chapter brought to you by the Braniff color police!

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      Jeff Jarvis


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      Post #62947, posted on 04-30-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Greetings!

      Thanks for starting this series on the "Ultra" look.

      Although I only saw it a few times, and only for a fairly short period of time, Braniff also had one DC-8-62 painted in Burgundy, but I don't remember which registration it was. I never photographed it, but I thought it looked sharp, and it and the Perseus Green were my two favorites.

      The story of the Argentine leather seats is true. I got that from several management sources, including Mr. Oudkerkpool in Miami who was in charge of DC-8 maintenance. It's an often used trick by US Carriers serving countries whose currency is basically worthless, such as was the case in Argentina with its triple and quadruple digit inflation in those days, and also in Guyana and today in Venezuela. My employer back in the 1980's served Georgetown, Guyana, and I flew in there in both the 707 and the DC-8. Under Guyanese law, we were required to sell tickets there in Guyanese dollars, and they were worthless outside of Guyana. So, what they did with that money was buy fuel there and pay all landing and airport handling fees with the Guyanese currency, thus the US dollars used to pay for tickets in the US stayed in the US and much of it was profit. The trick was to not let the Guyanese money build up in your bank account down there to the point where you had too much of it to spend it all for fuel and services because their laws also prohibited taking it out of the country, and anyway, it would be worthless anywhere else. Braniff faced a similar situation, so they got all of the same services paid for in Argentine Pesos and bought all of their leather seats there. Argentine leather is of very high quality and lasts a long time, so Braniff did well.

      Regards,
      Jeff Jarvis

      God's "Curse" to aviation!

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      Post #62950, posted on 04-30-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      Jeff Jarvis :
      It's an often used trick by US Carriers serving countries whose currency is basically worthless, such as was the case in Argentina with its triple and quadruple digit inflation in those days, and also in Guyana and today in Venezuela.



      This was a problem for airlines serving Africa as well. Many African countries had both exchange controls and laws that said foreigners had to buy tickets in USD. It was one of the reasons that British Caledonian was eventually bought out by BA - too many of its routes were into countries with worthless currencies, thus making it hard to turn a profit on the routes.

      My brother ended up in Gabarone back in the 80s. He went to the BA ticket office to buy a ticket back to LHR. They quoted him something like USD500. Being an experience traveller, he made some discreet enquires, a small amount of money changed hands, and they allowed him to pay in the local currency. He exchanged something like USD100 for (literally) a suitcase full of the local currency, and bought the ticket.

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      Post #62955, posted on 05-01-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Jeff,

      Thanks for the enthusiastic response to the Ultra thread. The whole concept was interesting and signaled the end of the 70s intense use of bright colors on exteriors, interiors and uniforms. The scripting of the titles was novel and felt less 'corporate'.

      I liked the Perseus green as well. In fact, it looks much like dark Panagra green (DPG) from the JBs. The thin pinstripe is certainly lime (another JB color) as well. I have no idea what 'Perseus' signifies in terms of green generally. Just speculation but I wonder if they looked at Panagra green, liked the idea of using it again, and just came up with some 'P' name from Greek mythology!

      The only DC8 I recall in Burgundy was N1807 pictured above. It was a completely different shade from the red used in 'sparking burgundy' on N404BN.

      N801BN Corvette Blue - ex Alitalia, added to BN fleet early 1979
      N802BN Mercury Blue - ex Alitalia, added to BN fleet early 1979
      N1803 Perseus Green
      N1804 Perseus Green
      N1805 Terra Cotta (Aeroclassics 1/400 is in an Ultra red that never existed).
      N1806 Corvette Blue (as far as I know the last Ultra repaint - very late in the game - the two tone red scheme was faded and in tatters for a couple of years)
      N1807 Burgundy
      N1808E Never Ultra - two tone red until the end
      N1809E Chocolate Brown. Appears to be the first DC8 in Ultra, appears in brochures. Would like to pin down a repaint date.
      N810BN Never Ultra - two tone blue until the end. Was purchased from SAS in 1976/77, so got the two tone late in the game, prior to Ultra development. This may have been the first DC8 to get the Ultra interior with enclosed overhead bins and leather seats - captured in BN publicity.

      Of course BN entered a period negative financials starting in 1979, so the Ultra repaints seemed slow to materialize, with many 727s still in two-tone at the time BN ceased ops on 1982. They used that trick of painting the forward fuselage around the cockpit, so the paint would look fresh from a terminal window.

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      Post #62992, posted on 05-02-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      So, apparently, the evolution of the 'Ultra' scheme was not unlike that of the 'End of the Plain Plane/Jelly Bean' scheme of 1965-71? ...wherein color variations came and went via 'trial and error' until a definitive selection of colors was settled upon? On the other hand, it seems the 4 two-tone schemes of 1971-77 were set in proverbial stone from the beginning...or were they?

      Todd
      PHX

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      Post #63002, posted on 05-03-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Todd,

      From what I know, the two-tone was more or less settled once the design was approved. I have no knowledge of any aircraft appearing in other than the red, orange, blue and green combinations that flew 1971-1982 (I say 1982 because a decent number of aircraft were still in two tone when BN shut down). I have heard, but not verified, that the two tone design originated in house - a BN designer - rather than a major design firm. I have never seen any pics or heard of major experimentation with the two-tone colors, at least on aircraft themselves. I am sure there were various proposals and artistic renderings at a corporate level before a final choice was made.

      The interiors during the two-tone era were designed by New York-based Jack Lenor Larsen, who was fairly well known in design circles. He had also done the 747 'Big Orange' cabin.

      With the Ultra colors, at some point BN settled on the six (Gang of Six GOS) colors, which are the known colors that flew during the Ultra period, but ALL six were supposed to be metallic. NONE of the GOS colors was ever applied to an aircraft in its metallic form, as far as I know.

      I am told that metallic paint had issues with peeling based on N404BN and N426BN,which were selected as Ultra guinea pigs. The odd thing is that these two metallic airframes N404BN and N426BN, shown later, lived their entire 'Ultra' lives from 1978 to 1982, in their metallic shades, but some of the flat ultra colors did tend to peel.

      This Gang of Six GOS must have been settled in the 1978 time frame, but I have no exact dates. By fall 1978, N1809E DC8 was in non-metallic chocolate brown and some 727s had come on line with Ultra - I suspect these were 727-227 Advanced from Boeing. I recall seeing at least one terra cotta 727 at DCA in September 1978, non-metallic.

      As mentioned, from 1978, there were two 727-200s, N404BN in a metallic 'sparkling burgundy' and N426BN in metallic blue. I expect they were something of a first in-service trial with Ultra paint. They seemed to hang one through the early 80s and may have been extant at shutdown in their respective metallic colors, though with the sparkling burgundy there is some doubt about how sparkling it really was.

      Here are shots of N404BN sparkling burgundy over 2-3 years. As far as I know, the strawberry red accents and lettering were unique to this aircraft:

      First, a well-known postcard view from early on (1978);


      A, Oct 15 1978 shot from Peter Nicholson at IAH:


      A November 1979 George Hamlin pic, also IAH:


      A June 1980 AirTeamImages offering taken at LAS shows touch-up applied on the fuselage above the #3 engine nacelle. It appears to be lighter than the rest of the aircraft, and similar in shade to the touch up on N1807 in the earlier post in this thread:


      In none of these pics is the paint distinctly sparkling, but I was told this was metallic when first applied. The June 1980 shot at LAS looks like fresh paint - possibly a variation (non-metallic)? It seems that N404BN presents some mysteries .... good .... it's something for us to work on.

      Now on to sparkling blue metallic N426BN, a 727-227. This one distinctly sparkles and seems to have been in good shape all the way to 1981-82:

      A shot at CLE March 1979, from 'GeorgeM':


      And over 2 1/2 years later, still sparkling in this Ken Fielding shot from 10 Oct 1981:



      FYI, the 'NEW' Braniff was a marketing handle for a refreshed carrier after the departure of Harding Lawrence. (Some of the 727-200s were made all coach, and flew in tandem with remaining ones that were mixed F/Y).

      Here is a shot of Mercury Blue N802BN at Rio in 1980, which is a very similar shade, but non-metallic. This ship was ex-Alitalia and delivered to BN in spring 1979, going directly to Mercury blue:

      The lettering here does suggest a different shade from the metallic blue scheme, but given our lessons in blue from the JB era, there is not telling what emulsions and lighting do. This airframe was well documented during 1979-82, so there is no shortage of examples on the net.

      Duncan
      SJC

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      Post #63003, posted on 05-03-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      Yellowbird :
      Todd,

      ...Here are shots of N404BN sparkling burgundy over 2-3 years. As far as I know, the strawberry red accents and lettering were unique to this aircraft:...

      Duncan
      SJC



      Interestingly...having just posted a reply to JEE's topic on BN Lemon Yellow 'Jelly Bean' and the case(s) of mistaken identity(ies) of BN 1965-71 colors... If one were viewing the photos above depicting N404BN in the Sparkling Burgundy 'Ultra' scheme without the benefit of captions/descriptions the color could easily be seen/mistaken as 'Ultra' chocolate brown/orange aka 'Tootsie Roll' (by a fellow airline/BN enthusiast whose daughter was a BN f/a until the 1982 shutdown).

      Todd
      BJI

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      Post #63006, posted on 05-03-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      Tango-Bravo :
      [ If one were viewing the photos above depicting N404BN in the Sparkling Burgundy 'Ultra' scheme without the benefit of captions/descriptions the color could easily be seen/mistaken as 'Ultra' chocolate brown/orange aka 'Tootsie Roll' (by a fellow airline/BN enthusiast whose daughter was a BN f/a until the 1982 shutdown).
      Todd
      BJI



      That was certainly a problem with DC8s N1807 vs N1809E (scroll up a bit if you did not see it).

      Having put together the sparkling burgundy post, now I am really curious just how different the hue of the sparkling burgundy is, vs the later burgundy on N1807. Are they basically the same, and differences we see are due to lighting and emulsion? Does the red scripting vs cream scripting affect how you perceive them?

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      Post #64382, posted on 09-24-2016 GMT-5 hours    
      Greetings,

      A common thread in the BN jellybean discussion were the COMMON ERRORS in misidentifying various colors due to bias in the emulsions of 35mm films used back in the day. (medium blue vs dark blue, ochre, and various greens).

      The Ultra colors are pretty well behaved, but an odd error crept in regarding terra cotta (flower-pot brown). Consider the Aeroclassics 1/400 DC8-62 N1805, which 'everyone' knows was in terra cotta near the end of Braniff's days. So, why does the model look like this:

      Terra Cotta ERROR on model - looks red but there was no Ultra 'red' per se:


      This probably derives from what appears to be a photographic ERROR with Terra Cotta misidentified as 'red'. This does not seem to be common, since many Terra Cotta pics come out more or less accurately. Here is an error from 1979, bringing out reddish hues on N412BN:


      N412BN really looked more like this, a relatively accurate capture:


      This is nowhere near as difficult as the jellybean blues, but one can be excused for thinking that BN experimented with another shade of red in addition to 'Burgundy' and 'Sparkling Burgundy'. I'd love to see the pic the Aeroclassics people used to paint the 1/400 model, as it represents another extreme into redness.

      No [img] !

      Duncan