Development of Naval Camouflage 1914 - 1945
(Article reprinted courtesy of Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #97/3)
carrier flight decks be painted with 250N Blue Flight Deck stain. This was a
dark blue gray stain that very nearly matched the 20B Deck Blue used on all
other decks. By February 1942, all the carriers had replaced their pre-war red
mahogany deck stain with 250N.
respect to flight deck markings, these also underwent a change from the pre-war
Chrome Yellow striping, to a less visible stain called 251N, a color almost
identical to that of 5-0 Ocean Gray. On the LEXINGTON and HORNET in 1942 there
was the use of solid deck lines in 251N. WASP and SARATOGA may have been
similarly painted. By early 1943 the ENTERPRISE, SARATOGA, and RANGER were
marked as follows: ENTERPRISE had broken yellow lines, SARATOGA had broken 251N
lines, and RANGER had solid 251N lines. By the end of 1943, with the new ESSEX
class vessels coming into service, large black numerals were introduced onto
each end of flight decks. The 251N Ocean Gray lines had been reduced in width so
much that they were losing their utility, so in 1944 yellow lines began to
replace the gray, then were quickly superceded by white. In many cases it is
impossible to ascertain those ships using yellow, gray or white, mainly because
of the effects of weathering, wear by aircraft operations, and oil stains.
Elevator outlines and crosses were often yellow, sometimes blue, and
February 1943 carrier aircraft began to change their colors from non-specular
Blue Gray to semi-gloss Sea Blue. Along with this change there was the
introduction of a new flight deck stain for carriers called #21 Flight Deck
stain which began to be employed on the ESSEX class as they came into service in
1943. This color when newly applied exactly matched that of 5-0 Ocean Gray. This
new stain was also used on the flight decks of INDEPENDENCE class CVLs and CVE
classes in 1943 and into 1944. About mid 1944 there was the introduction of #21
Flight Deck stain (revised). This revised stain was (when newly applied)
identical to 20B deck Blue (revised) and was a near match in service with the
introduction in March 1944 of glossy Sea Blue, a new camouflage color for use on
carrier aircraft. When a flight deck was using #21 Flight Deck stain the deck
markings would not have been in 251N but would probably have been in yellow.
story of PT Boat camouflage is, as one would expect, a mix of official and
unofficial designs and colors, beginning with the boats of Squadron 3 serving in
the Philippines in late 1941 until early 1942. These boats used a color
described as "Jungle Green" purchased locally. It is believed that the
color was used by all boats of Squadron 3 during the defense of the Philippines,
and then afterward by those of Squadron 1 operating out of Pearl Harbor. No
sample or formula for this color has been found.
the invasion of Guadalcanal in August 1942, newly built boats made up the
reformed Squadron 3 and were sent out to the Solomons. Most, if not all, were
painted in an overall green, believed to be similar to that already described.
evidence suggests that the majority of boats operating in the South and
Southwest Pacific were in overall green during the latter part of 1942 until
early 1944. As with the Philippine boats of 1941/42, no sample or formula for
this color has been found.
late 1942, the Elco Company (a builder of PT Boats) began to experiment with
camouflage designs painted onto models. From these experiments came a striking
zebra stripe pattern that the company named the "Adapter Scheme".
Consisting of Black, White, Yellow-green, and Countershade Gray stripes, it was
considered by Elco to be so effective that one squadron commander ordered twelve
boats (numbers unknown) to be so painted. At least 12 boats (numbers 163-174)
went to the Pacific wearing the Adapter Scheme, and at least another twelve went
to the Mediterranean.
arriving in the pacific combat zones in 1942 and 1943, several boats began to
don various patterned schemes employing locally available paints. All of these
were unofficial in nature, because the Camouflage Section of the Bureau of Ships
was too busy with designs for major combatants. It was not until 1943 that
official attention was directed towards PT Boats. Thus for well over a year,
commanders of PT Boats went their own way in respect to paint schemes.
the Atlantic, the first PT Boats went to the Mediterranean, arriving in early
1943. Photographic and anecdotal evidence combine to give the following: All
boats in Squadron 29 (numbers 552-563) were painted for a time in an overall
pale blue, including the decks. This color was called Robins Egg Blue, this
color may in fact have been Thayer Blue. All boats in Squadron 15 (numbers
201-218) and all boats in Squadron 22 (numbers 302-313) were painted for a time
in overall black. There was the wearing of Ocean Gray overall by a few boats,
and some boats were Haze Gray (Measure 13) while at least three boats operating
in the English Channel (numbers 71, 72, and 199) were painted Mountbatten Pink
from May to October 1944.
early 1944 PT Boats in the Pacific began to wear the Measure 31 patterns using
the 1944 range of colors along with #4 Brown and Black. This use of patterned
camouflage continued into 1945 with the builders delivering boats to the Navy
complete with Measure 31 designs. However, by the fall of 1944 those boats
operating in the Philippines had started to change over to the one color Measure
41 that used the revised 5-NG Navy Green. Unfortunately the author has been
unable to find any documentation covering the origin of Measure 41.
MEASURES OF WW II (USN)
from early 1941 to mid 1941 on ships of the Atlantic Fleet, from carriers and
battleships down to small craft. Used from mid 1941 to early 1942 on ships of
the Pacific Fleet from carriers and battleships down to small craft.
5-D Dark Gray, 5-L Light Gray.
from mid 1941 to late 1941 for experimental purposes on destroyers PORTER and
FLUSSER of the Pacific Fleet.
5-S Sea Blue.
from mid 1941 to late 1941 for experimental purposed on destroyers DRAYTON and
WINSLOW of the Pacific Fleet.
Sapphire Blue - 5-S Sea Blue.