Mark or Not To Mark

SHAH ALAM: Mark or Not To Mark, thats seems to be the question. Much has been made on the F/A-18D Hornet displayed at LIMA 17 with the 20th-anniversary markings. I took pictures of it but that was the extent of it. Some say it was to celebrate a milestone though this was apparently not shared by many, as none of the VIPs who came made a beeline to the aircraft for pictures or selfies.

Anyhow, 18 Squadron M45-01 was more interesting than the anniversary markings and the training bombs and missiles on her. What is interesting was that she had far more markings on the airframe than the other Hornets. These are not your normal caution markings like “No Step” but to the extent of identifying individual components.

Note the markings on the vertical fins. The No Step markings are prominent on the flaps

I am told this helps the maintenance section’s engineers and technicians. Although the Hornets come equipped with training manuals and engineering guides, what is the better way to aid engineers and technicians? Markings on the aircraft itself naming the various components.

The markings on the front end of the M45-01.

On M45-01 almost every part of the airframe carried such markings as seen from the photos, above and below. I checked other Hornets displayed at LIMA, they do not have such extensive markings as does the Sukhois.

A close up view of the tail fin.

Previously this type of extensive markings was only seen on the Fulcrum M43-03. This, of course, led to questions to former Fulcrum maintainers who explained why it was done. Not all the Fulcrum are marked as extensively as the show aircraft, however.

Fulcrum M43-03 at its hangar at Kuantan airbase on June 1, 2016.

The markings are especially beneficial especially for newbies assigned to do checks on aircraft on the flight line, I am told.

Some of the markings under the nose cone of M43-03

Perhaps it is a mind mapping technique, once you could visualise the components it will be easier to remember exactly where it is located on the airframe without time-consuming consultation with the manual. For older aircraft like the Nuri, manuals are likely a rare item nowdays.

M23-37 at LIMA 17. Note the various warnings and notices on the airframe. It is likely the manual guide book is a rare item nowdays.

Of course, some things are better done with a manual on hand like arming ordnance (especially if it is not done all the time) but certain things, which is repetitive, should not.

Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-018. Little markings on the airframe.

The same markings are also seen on the Nuri M23-37 which had undergone the digital cockpit upgrade. I have not seen other RMAF types with similar markings but it is likely that at least one of each are similarly marked. It is likely other air forces’ aircraft also have similar markings but we have not seen them.

Interesting, you bet, but not enough to make the first day headline. By the way, you can get a copy of an F/A-18 pocket guide by doing a Google search.

— Malaysian Defence

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