An online database of camouflage used by 
United State Naval Warships during WWII

The Development of Naval Camouflage 1914 - 1945 
Part IV: United States Navy - The Interwar Years

By Alan Raven

 (Article reprinted courtesy of Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #97/2)

35. There is much that I might profitably do here, but it may be that I can be more useful back in Washington, and I am asking to he detached at an early date.  Everett Warner.

The above report was followed up in December by a memo from the Camouflage section to Commander in Chief US Fleet.  The relevant part of the memo is quoted below.

1. The majority of ships in the Pacific Fleet including the combatant ships are painted in the course and type deception patterns of Measures 31, 32 and 33. Landing craft, submarines, and a few other types are excepted; these being painted strictly for concealment rather than for deception.  Several combatant ships and many auxiliaries remain painted in Navy Blue, Measure 21, due primarily to a lag in receipt of instructions and paint.

2. Extensive studies were made of the ships in the Central and South Pacific Ocean areas.  These included (a) observation by Fleet and Bureau personnel, (b) an analysis of questions aired by 81 officers interviewed in the Fleet, and (c) an analysis of replies to ComServPac's letter of enquiry dated 2 August 1944.  These are summarized under A, B, and C as follows:

A. Observations

1 ) All ships were too dark most of the time, 5-0 was better then 5-N.

2. ) High visibility conditions were predominant so that deception was effective and low visibility efforts on battleships, cruisers, and carriers entirely futile during all daylight hours.

3.) The lightest shade of paint used (Pale Gray 5-P) and the darkest (Dull Black) were both conspicuous and unnecessary for deception or low visibility.  Black and Navy Blue were the worst offenders of visibility.

B. Interview questionnaires concerning pattern Measures 31, 32, 33.

1.) 80% wrote that patterns created target angle deception.

2.) 69% answered that patterns created type deception.

3.) 38% Patterns decreased visibility.

     22% Patterns increased visibility.

     10% Both increased and decreased.

     7% Answered that patterns had no effect upon visibility of ships.

4. The torpedo bomber was named Pacific Enemy Number One, Snooper aircraft were put in second place, with submarines a very close third.  Enemy surface ships were rated fourth, and the high angle dive bomber relegated to fifth place.

C. 33 answers to CoMServPac Conf. Ltr., Serial 02164, dated 2 August 1944, states;

1.) 69% state pattern measures are effective.

      31% state pattern measures are ineffective.

2.) 52.6% state the measures are suitable.

      47.4% state the measures are unsuitable.

3.) A wide variety of conflicting opinion was expressed by Pacific Fleet forces on the suitability of any one method of painting to meet the tactical situations that might arise.  Designs planned for and effective at distant and intermediate ranges were frequently judged by their conspicuousness close aboard, but in general the Fleet comments were very constructive and helpful.

3. Measure 21 is now proposed for a large group of ships and in some cases ComServPac has directed its application in East Coast yards. This measure is known to increase the visibility of ships in the Pacific ocean areas.  Likewise Measure 22 is requested to replace pattern measures although it has been shown by observation, test, and Fleet opinion to he less effective.  On the other hand, the Bureau has already embarked upon a program of modification it has every right to believe sound since it is based on observations and a broad Fleet opinion.  The changes and modifications proposed by the Bureau are listed in detail in Enclosure (J).

4. The Bureau of Ships therefore requests the Commander in Chief to modify the policy of 1941 which placed the power of selection of camouflage measures in the hands of Fleet and Force Commanders. It is recommended that the preparation, selection, and distribution of Ship Camouflage Instructions be the responsibility of the Bureau of Ships. Dayton R.E. Brown, Lt. Comdr. USNR.


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