The Pearl Harbor
(Thanks to Alan Raven for these documents)
It appears that there was
considerable experimentation at Pearl Harbor in 1941 with different colors
and measures. The documents below tell a great deal on what was discovered
and how it applied to USN camouflage thinking during the war.
Here are 9 pages of documents that discuss these experiments conducted at
Pearl Harbor in 1941
T. K. WYNKOPF
13 FEB 1942
SUPSHIP, ORANGE TEX
URLTR SERIAL 0-188 OF FEB 3 USE
MEASURE 11 FOMALHAUT, CAMOUFLAGE PAINTING FOR PACIFIC SERVICE USING NAVY
BLUE INSTEAD OF SEA BLUE.
STATES PACIFIC FLEET
DOBBIN (AD3), Flagship,
c/o Fleet Post Office,
Pearl Harbor, T.H.,
Commander Destroyers, Battle Force
Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Commander Battle Force
Visibility of Ships – Camouflage Experiments
(a) Cincpac ltr S19/(50) Serial 01391 of September 8, 1941
Cincpac desp. 220033 of November, 1941.
(c) Cincpac ltr A2-11/FF12(2) S19/(50)
Serial 01594 of October 6, 1941.
(d) Comdesbatfor ltr S19 Serial 01496
of November 5, 1941.
(e) Comdesbatfor ltr S19 Serial 01112
of August 12, 1941.
(f ) Comdesbatfor ltr. S19 Serial 047
of January 15, 1942.
In accordance with instructions contained in references (a) and (b), five
destroyers of Destroyer Squadron FIVE were painted as follows:
5-S was applied to all vertical
and horizontal surfaces.
||Formula 5-N was applied to all
vertical and horizontal surfaces.
||Sapphire blue paint was applied
to all horizontal and vertical surfaces except that 5-S was applied
to the decks.
||Formula 5-S was applied to all
vertical surfaces up to the main deck sheer line and to all
horizontal surfaces; Formula 5-O was applied to all remaining
vertical surfaces except pole masts which were painted with Formula
||The ship was painted in
accordance with Measure 2 of Ships-2 (First Edition) substituting
Formulae 5-H, 5-O, and 5-S for Formulae 5-L, 5-O, and 5-D
In order to obtain the information necessary for the report required by
reference (c), Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, published reference
(d). In this letter observers were asked to compare the above ships with
each other and with any other ship in the vicinity painted with Formula
5-D. Because of the relatively few times the above ships were at sea and
available for observation prior to the outbreak of war, and because more
urgent matters have occupied personnel since, relatively few reports have
been received. The reports received, however, do warrant the drawing of
When ships are silhouetted against the source of light, or when
the vessel is between the source of light and the observer, color has no
effect. All vessels are equally visible.
In clear weather in daylight and at night time in starlight the darker
colored ships are more visible. The various paint shades in order of
their relative visibility are: (1) Formula 5-D, (2) Formula 5-N, (3)
Formula 5-S, (4) Sapphire Blue, (5) the Graded System (MAHAN), and (6)
the Graded System (LAMSON). At long ranges the Sapphire Blue appears to
be almost the same as the ships painted with the lighter colors.
The ships painted with the Graded System are the first to become
invisible in hazy weather. In this condition of lighting the ship
painted with Sapphire Blue becomes invisible before those painted with
Formulae 5-N and 5-S.
The ships painted with Formulae 5-N, 5-D, 5-S, and Sapphire Blue give
the best target angle deception at all ranges.
The Graded Systems offer some range deception when the ships are sighted
at or near the horizon.
None of the painting schemes give any camouflage of type.
Observations of aerial observers substantiate former reports in that the
darker colors are move effective in camouflage of ships from the air. The
various paint shades in order of their effectiveness in concealing ships
from aerial observers are (1) Sapphire Blue, (2) Formula 5-D, (3) Formula
5-N, and (4) Formula5-S. The lighter shades are not effective in this
respect. It was also noted that the paints made up from the present
Formulae 5-U and 5-TM had considerably more gloss than did the Formula
5-D. In bright sunlight the gloss of the paint effectively nullified its
Commander Destroyers, Battle Force believes that the present standard
paint shades, Formula 5-N and 5-S, are too light and too glossy for
effective camouflage from aerial observers and too dark if the painting
scheme is to offer the maximum deception to surface observers. The
Sapphire Blue Paint appears to be the best all around shade for camouflage
from both surface and aerial observers, but it lacks the properties of
good adherence. A separate report on this Sapphire Blue Paint was
forwarded in reference (f).
Commander Patrol Wing TWO
Visibility of Ships – Camouflage Experiments
(a) ComPatWing TWO conf. ltr. PW2/S19 0727 of 4 November 1941.
(b) Pacific Fleet Conf. Notice No.
(c) ComScoFor Conf. ltr. S19/(50)
Serial 0835 of Oct. 21, 1941.
(d) CinCPac Mailgram 220033 of 23 Nov.
(e) Conf. ltr. PW2/S19/0814 of Dec. 1,
(f) Conf. ltr. PW2/S19/(0749) of Nov.
(g) Pacific Fleet Conf. Notice No.
21CN-41 of Dec. 16, 1941.
In accordance with references the following report is submitted:
Measure 1A – Considered to be somewhat too light in color; gives
insufficient target angle deception and less range deception than darker
colors. Deck paint increases difficulty of identifying ships from the
(b) Measure 2A – This is considered to be an effective
method of camouflaging that fits into all weather conditions. Range and
course deception are considered larger than is realized. However, the
gradients of shading are considered to abrupt for best effectiveness. It
is believed all colors should be of the same basic color and shaded to
approach about half the present (Measure 2A) differences in effect.
(c) Measure 12A – MAHAN not seen. Believe remarks under (b) above
apply here also.
(d) Measure 1B – DRAYTON was compared at sea with ships painted
Measure 11 and latter were considered to be more effectively camouflaged
for range deception and target angle under most conditions. In bright
moonlight DRAYTON appeared to offer greater deception, in sunlight the
opposite effect was felt.
(e) Measure 11 (or 1-c) – This is considered to be an excellent
compromise color for different weather conditions. At distance some
difficulty was noted in distinguishing DL’s from the 10,000 ton
CL’s. Definite range deception was noted and also some difficulty in
determining target angle especially at considerable distance. This color
under some conditions of moonlight appeared phosphorescent but only for
short periods or intermittently.
(f) Measure – Suppression of “sun-glint” – An effective
and excellent means of avoiding detection to some extent. Requires
considerable supervision to overcome years of painting training contrary
to end sought. Ships should be air-inspected for results but preferably
some time after complete ship’s inspections as paint is sometimes worn
off, “sun-glint” places missed at first, and etc.
(g) Suggestions for improvement:
It is recommended that a “graded” experiment be conducted using
three shades of the same color. Navy Blue for the darker color is
(2) Unobtrusive (non-specular) dazzle camouflage is recommended
for experiment. Ships daubed with black, navy blue and rust required a
longer look to determine identity. This measure may prove effective
(3) No white clothes worn by men on upper decks.
(4) Paint all steel helmets the same color as the ship.
Measure 11 (1-c) has been completed on the McFARLAND as has also the
“Suppression of ‘Sun-glint’” measure.
UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
U.S.S. PENNSYLVANIA, Flagship
Cincpac File No. Pearl Harbor, T.H.
S19/(50) DEC 19 1941
United States Pacific Fleet.
To: The Chief of the Bureau of Ships.
Subject: Camouflage of Ships by Painting –
Program for Further Studies.
References: (a) Pac. Flt. CONF. Notice No. 21
(b) Buships CONF. ltr. C-S19-7 (341) dated
November 26, 1941.
(c) Ship Camouflage Instructions (Ships-2) –
With reference to the questions of paragraph 2 of
reference (b), the following opinions are offered:-
The instructions contained in reference (c)
appear satisfactory with the following exceptions:-
"Sea Blue", 5-S, prescribed in
Measure 11 appears too light in color. "Navy Blue", 5-N, which
is darker, will be more effective. The suitability of Deck Blue, 20-B,
for use on the flight decks of carriers is questionable.
The substitution, when developed, of a durable
dark blue paint for the black formula 82 now prescribed in indicated.
Ships being send on special missions should, in
some instances, have special camouflage.
It is desirable that the Bureau train officers
in the principles of camouflage and make them available to the forces
afloat upon request.
2. Current instructions for the painting of ships
of the Pacific Fleet are contained in reference (a).
Chief of Staff
BUREAU OF SHIPS
CONFIDENTIAL 29 July, 1941
My dear Chadwick:
I understand from Commander Low that you are the
officer on CinClant’s staff charged with the camouflage developments. I
had occasion to talk with Admiral King in the Navy Department in
connection with these developments. A misunderstanding has arisen in
regard thereto which I would like to have you explain to the Admiral. Your
letter which proposed Measure 12 commented on the fact that the present
dark gray (5-D) was too dark and the light gray (5-L) was too light. This
confirms some other reports which we had received unofficially as to the
experience of the vessels in the Pacific. In order to conform to this
comment, we have slightly modified the provisions for tinting the basic
paint (Formula 5-U) to produce a blue-gray which we have termed sea blue
(Formula 5-S) and which will supplant 5-D; also a slightly darker gray
which we have termed haze gray (Formula 5-H) intended to supplant light
gray (Formula 5-L).
Atlantic Fleet confidential letter 4CL-41
mentions these prospective new colors under these names.
We are directing the paint manufacturing Yards to
make the necessary modifications in the tinting material, Formula 5-TM,
for the purpose of having a single tinter which is used in increasing
quantities to get the three shades 5-H, 5-O, and 5-S as follows:
To five gallons of 5-U
Add 2 pints of 5-TM to get haze gray, 5-H.
Add 5 pints to get ocean gray, 5-O.
Add 10 pints to get sea blue, 5-S.
This is a relatively simple modification to the
paint manufacturing now in progress. The tinting material (5-TM) will be
supplied in completely filled cans, which will be used as described above,
instead of in partially filled cans which have, in the past, contained
just enough to make the 5-L and the 5-O.
The revision of the camouflage book, which is now
underway and which should be issued within a month, contemplates the use
of these three prospective colors. Pending receipt of the revised book, I
may say that we are paralleling the measures of the old book as closely as
possible by making the all dark system Measure No. 11 instead of No. 1;
the graded system, according to year letter 4CL-41, Measure No. 12 instead
of No. 2; the light system, using haze gray instead of light gray, Measure
No. 13 instead of No. 3, and the ocean gray system Measure No. 14,
replacing the old black system Measure No. 4. Until the revised book and
the new paints are received, the old book is a fairly satisfactory
approximation if the new colors are substituted as indicated in 4CL-41.
Our 221416 was sent out to obtain your opinion as to the new shades
proposed for the darkest and lightest colors.
Your 261900 has been a trifle confusing. I left a
memorandum for Admiral King dated 24 July, 1941, with some samples of an
intense blue color to which we are giving the name "sapphire
blue". This color is a new experiment and has no relation to the
standing camouflage instructions. It includes some new pigments which are,
for the moment, available only in very limited quantities. One hundred
gallons of this paint will be manufactured at Norfolk and shipped to the
AUGUSTA as soon as possible for a special experiment which Admiral King
intimated he would be interested in observing himself. This experiment is
entirely independent of the provisions we are making to provide quantity
production of camouflage paints for the Fleets. I will initiate on the
basis of your 261900 similar experiments on a "haze green". I
would like to emphasize, however, that this experimentation does not
directly refer to our 221416 which was concerned with going into
production on the new shades of paint for general issue.
If you will be so kind as to explain this matter
to the Admiral and to make the distinction clear between the new
camouflage paints now going into production and the prospective
experiments on "sapphire blue" and the contemplated experiments
on "haze green", I think we may be saved some further
With best regards, I am
Henry A. Ingram
Commander J.H. Chadwick, U.S.N.
Staff, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet
New York City
Commander H.N. Wallin, U.S.N.
Dr. E. O. Hulburt
Mr. D. P. Graham
ROUTE SLIP AND BRIEF
Brief; Program for Further Studies for Camouflage
of Ships by Painting
Date Written Date Received Serial Number Received
12/19 12/24/41 719473 CinC Pac
Section Code Date Data Required or Information
341 12/24th copies made AHB
348 12/26th Please recommend a setup
for Paragraph 1C
340 12/27th It would save a great deal
of time to get men who had experience in camouflage in the last war—a
list of names will be submitted. These men could be brought up to the
present state of the art in two or three weeks.
341 5/21/42 There is another man (other than
Warner) that Bettenger has in mind & recommends highly whom we might
consider getting. Has he (?) to you
340 5/21/42 The other man to whom Capt Nelson
referred is Eric Gugler—who had experince and training—painting
ships—and the theoretical side at the naval Research Laboratory at
Rochester Kodak Park—it is recommended that Mr. Gugler be given a
commission in the USNR in view of his training in the late war—and his
high standing in his civilian activities
Paragraph 1(a)(1)—Navy Blue 5-N was
substituted for Sea Blue 5-S on 4 Nov 1941 for Atlantic Fleet by A.F.
Conf. Let. 13CL-41 and on 16 Dec 1941 by P.F. Conf. Notice 21CN41. Deck
Blue 20-B was affirmed for Atlantic carriers on 12 Dec 1941 and was
directed by Cominch by reply to BuShips query C-S19-7(341) of 28 Jan
Paragraph 1(a)(2)—Comsubslant andComsubsPac
both have decided preference for black. Experiments with dark blue
underway at Pearl Harbor & Panama.
1(b)—Comment is too vague for guiding
definite action. Several new measures will be included in May revision
of Ships-2, notably Measure 16—a light colored system for anti-submarine
vessels in low visibility areas.
300 5/22 1(c)—Cominch letter FF1/S19-7/FN-1
Serial 0506 of 1 Apr 1942 states "Experienced seagoing officers
cannot be spared…for training in camouflage. Present available
personnel plus…reserve officers must be relied upon for supervision
340 5/28 The next revision of camouflage
instructions will be in sufficient detail to permit forces in the field
to apply measures prescribed without officer supervision. Recommend
commissioning of Mr. Everett Warner now a contract employer, but that no
other officers be obtained at this time for training.
UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
BATTLESHIPS, BATTLE FORCE
U.S.S. MARYLAND, Flagship
Pearl Harbor, T.H.,
December 6, 1941
(pencilled note: Rec 15 Dec via Clipper Airmail)
This will give you some early information on the
progress of our current experiments in camouflage painting in this Fleet,
and perhaps enable you to act in advance of receipt of the official
report, which will not be forwarded until late in January 1942.
The sapphire blue apparently will do all that is
claimed for it, and is color fast. However, adherence is only fair to
poor, and some slight gloss has developed upon weathering. If these two
defects could be overcome, it might be the answer, at least as far as air
observation is concerned.
The graded systems are definitely out. They are
as visible from the air as light gray, as was expected from previous
Indications to date are that Measure 11 of Ships
2, utilizing formula 5S, is too light. Cinclant’s "Navy blue"
looks like a step in the right direction, and we are directing that one
ship of each type be painted "Navy blue" to permit comparative
We have one destroyer painted "Navy
blue", and from observations made thus far, it is possible that a
color underway [sic] between "navy blue" and formula 5D might be
required. If so, do you know of any objections to mixing 5TM and 5U in the
proportions of 20 pints of the former to 5 gallons of the latter? It is
possible that such a large proportion of tinting paste to untinted base
may be detrimental to the adherence, resistance to weathering and other
qualities of the mixed paint.
In closing, it is our opinion that it is very
desirable that we undertake further tests of sapphire blue on at least one
ship of each type at as early a date as the paint can be made available
here by the Bureau.
Copy: Comdr. D.H. Clark
Cincpac Material Officer. Richard Mandelkorn
Lt.Comdr. H. A. Ingram
Bureau of Ships,
ORDERS FOR FLEET CAMOUFLAGE
By confidential pilot letter
C-S19-7(341)/C-EN28/A2-11 of September 27, 1941, the Bureau of Ships
informed all Naval Districts, Navy Yards, District Materiel Officers, and
Supervisors of Shipbuilding of the following selections of camouflage by
(by CinCPac confidential letter S19/50, Serial 01445 of September 13,
All vertical surfaces above top of boot
topping, including topmasts: 5-S
All horizontal surfaces, both wood and metal,
20-D [sic] Deck Blue, except carrier flight decks for which
special instructions would be forthcoming.
Canvas covers visible from outside to be dyed
to match Deck Blue.
(by CinCLant confidential letter A2-11/S19/FF13/(0722) of July 19, 1941,
as modified by CinCLant Despatch 260110 of July 1941)
Boot-topping to first continuous sheer line:
Sea Blue 5-S
Superstructure masses Ocean Gray 5-O
Above superstructure masses Haze Gray 5-H
All horizontal surfaces, wood and metal, 20-D
[sic] Deck Blue [handwritten correction: 20-B], except carrier flight
Canvas covers visible outside dyed Deck Blue.
Vessels under direct CNO control to be as
District craft not to be camouflaged yet
[presumably to conserve limited supplies of new paint for forward
New LANT camouflage to be in new Ships-2 Revision
as Ms. 12.
New PAC camouflage to be in new Ships-2 revision
as Ms. 11
SAPPHIRE BLUE—KREBS ALTERNATIVE
On July 21, 1941, Daniel Graham of the Bureau of
Ships (BuShips) sent a confidential memo to the Head of the Design
Division reporting on developments in Sapphire Blue paint:
On 27 June 1941 the Bureau of Ships (BuShips)
invited the Krebs Pigment Corporation to suggest formulations for the
Sapphire Blue manufactured on the same alkyd resin base vehicle just
introduced for the "second series" camouflage paints, but having
improved durability and non-fading properties via substitution of other
blues for ultramarine.
On 18 July, BuShips representatives visited Krebs
to view the results: two formulations, one being an extremely close match
to ultramarine Sapphire Blue, the other being not so close a match, but
having even better durability. The first utilized a copper phthalocyanine
blue, brand designation Monastral Blue – BP173-D, and a vat dye
indanthrene blue, brand designation BP174. The second was made with
Monastral Blue and Monastral Violet (copper phthalocyanine violet), brand
These pigments were recommended by Krebs as the
most permanent, free from chemical fading, that were then available.
Manufacturing capacity could be a problem, with
no stocks on hand and an existing back order of 6,000 pounds of Monastral
Blue for use in Army camouflage.
It was suggested that some be issued to the
Atlantic Fleet for personal observation by Admiral King, "who has
shown a keen personal interest in the development of low visibility paints
and painting systems."
Krebs’ formulae for the alternative Sapphire
Blues were as follows:
Formula No. 1
(extremely close match to ultramarine-based Sapphire Blue)
Ingredient Pounds/100 gallons
Nonchalking Titanium Dioxide 17.2
Acicular Zinc Oxide 46.0
Magnesium Silicate, high oil
absorption type 188.9
Copper Phthalocyanine Blue (Krebs
Monastral Blue BP173-D) 40.5
Indanthrene Blue 52.7
Alkyd Resin 144.3
Petroleum Spirits 442.9
Lead Napthenate 1.0
Manganese Napthenate 0.4
Cobalt Napthenate 0.4
(not an exact match to ultramarine-based Sapphire Blue, but more durable)
Nonchalking Titanium Dioxide 20.3
Acicular Zinc Oxide 54.3
Magnesium Silicate, high oil
absorption type 207.3
Copper Phthalocyanine Blue (Krebs
Monastral Blue BP173-D) 45.8
Copper Phthalocyanine Violet
(Krebs Monastral Violet BP174) 22.9
Alkyd Resin 165.5
Petroleum Spirits 429.9
Lead Napthenate 1.2
Manganese Napthenate 0.5
Cobalt Napthenate 0.5
NOTE: These Sapphire Blues were
formulated by adding Monastral Blue, Monastral Violet, and/or Indanthrene
Blue to standard White 5-U; therefor the 5-U formula can be extracted b y
eliminating these ingredients from the above formulae.
By confidential letter C-S19-7 (341) of July 14,
1941 to OpNav, BuShips informed CNO that Norfolk and Mare Island, the
paint manufacturing yards, were already issuing 5-D, 5-U, and 5-TM, and
that contracts had been placed for delivery of the appropriate raw
materials to Cavite Navy Yard.
BuShips also informed CNO of the recent proposals
by CinCPac to replace 5-D and 5-L by 5-S Sea Blue and 5-H Haze Gray,
respectively. BuShips forwarded samples of all five paints for information
MUNSELL DATA ON MORE PAINTS
By letter IV-3/Tp/43S-2/41 of October 16, 1941,
"Report on the Spectral Apparent Reflectance Relative to MgO, and the
Munsell Notation, of Ten Camouflage Paints", the National Bureau of
Standards provided BuShips with Munsell data on ten more paint samples:
Paint Munsell Reference Reflectance
White Base 5-U 10Y 8.8/0.3 70
Light Gray 5-L 2PB 6.7/0.4 40
Haze Green (CinCLant) 7G 5.9/2.5 18.1
Ocean Gray 5-O 3PB 4.3/1.4 15.5
Dark Gray 5-D, one coat 5PB 2.7/0.8 6.0
Dark Gray 5-D, two coats 5PB 2.8/0.8 6.6
Submarine Blue, Formula #1 3PB 0.8/0.8 1.6
Submarine Blue, Formula #2 3PB 1.6/0.7 3.0
Submarine Blue, Formula #3 5PB
Sapphire Blue 5.5PB 2.4/6.5 5.5
Ultramarine Blue in Spar Varnish
8PB 2.9/12.0 7.2
By Restricted Mailgram dated
November 27, 1941, CinCPac informed the Pacific Fleet of an experiment
involving Measure 1C (Experimental Measure 21), requesting COMDESBATFOR
(Commander, Destroyers, Battle Force) to designate one destroyer to be
painted in accordance with a new "Measure 1C." This was to be
consistent with Measure 11, but substituting 5-N Navy Blue for 5-S Sea
Blue, and the experiment was to be carried out in addition to those listed
in paragraph 3 of Pacific Fleet Confidential Notice 15CN-41.
NAVAL AIR STATION
7 FEB 1942
The Commander Patrol Wing TWO
The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
The Commander Scouting Force
Visibility of Ships – Camouflage Experiments
(a) Pacific Fleet conf. Notice No. 15CN-41
(b) Comscofor conf. Ltr. S19/(50)
serial 0835 of October 21, 1941
(A) CO USS MC FARLAND conf. Ltr. AVD14/S19/serial 03 of
January 10, 1942
distinction was found between ships painted with graded colors except
that the bluish gray surfaces were less visible than others and that
the light gray surfaces were most conspicuous.
following comments were made by pilots of the Wing:
having glass eliminated and retained glass covered, effectively
suppressed sun glint and reduced reflections.
painted with blue-gray paint were less visible than other ships.
with upper structure painted light gray were very conspicuous
compared with ships painted completely with blue-gray.
recommended that both decks and other horizontal or nearly horizontal
surfaces be painted the same color as the bluish gray decks to further
Enclosure (A) is forwarded as
representing observations made from surface vessels of this command.
P. N. L. BULLINGER