Development of Naval Camouflage 1914 - 1945
(Article reprinted courtesy of Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #97/2)
of the Asiatic Fleet during early 1942 is extremely sparse.
It appears that Cavite Blue was worn by most of the fleet during their
retreat south to Australia, and from there to Pearl Harbor.
unofficial camouflage used in 1942 was Mountbatten Pink.
The destroyer WINSLOW was the first American ship to he painted in this
singular color. While in transit
from the Pacific to the Atlantic in December 194l she stopped at Capetown, South
Africa. With her Measure 1B
(Sapphire Blue) in need of repainting and while there, the captain was told of
the concealment qualities of Mountbatten Pink, a color directly derived from the
Union Castle line hull color, a lavender grey.
WINSLOW's captain became convinced of its effectiveness and the ship left
Capetown bound for New York painted overall in Union Castle Lavender.
The paint had been procured from the DUNOTTER CASTLE,
a Union Castle liner that was in port at the time. WINSLOW's new
camouflage had an effect upon other destroyers, and by mid-l942 a small number
of destroyers operating on the Central Atlantic repainted from 12R to
Mountbatten Pink. Destroyers so painted included WARRINGTON, CLARK, and PHELPS.
The use of Mountbatten Pink (also called "nipple pink" by USN
sailors) was worn by vessels until early 1943.
the U.S. Navy now fully involved in combat operations in the Atlantic and North
Atlantic against the U-Boats there was a perceived need to, adopt a more
effective concealment camouflage than the old Measure l2. The British had for some time been using the Peter Scott/
come Western Approaches designs, designs that the British considered to be very
successful. The Americans became
convinced of the effectiveness of the Western Approaches camouflage and drew up
their own designs for destroyers and escort vessels. Colors used in these designs consisted of Thayer Blue and
White for vertical surfaces, 5-0 Ocean Gray for the horizontal surfaces, and
20-B Deck Blue for the decks. Known
as Measure 16, it was employed on a few destroyers and Coast Guard vessels
operating on the North Atlantic and the far North Pacific from mid-1942 into
surprisingly, the 1941-42 British Disruptive designs, ones that were designed
primarily to promote concealment, with confusion as to type, had minimal
influence on the production of new American measures. British experimentation with ASW camouflage in the North
Atlantic did bring forth one unusual experimental American design that was worn
by the destroyer PLUNKETT from January 1942 until the spring of the same year.
It employed a disruptive pattern consisting of four colors.
They were; mauve, pale blue, pale green, and medium pink.
The average tone of the design was light.
Reports on PLUNKETT's design said that it was deemed successful for use
in North Atlantic waters except during periods of sunlight. The report made by
the Coast Guard Cutter CAMPBELL. is worth quoting.
Commanding Officer, CAMPBELL.
Commanding Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
PLUNKETT: Effectiveness of camouflage.
In compliance with references (a) and (b), you are advised that during periods
of overcast, hazy and foggy weather, the camouflage of the subject named vessel
appears to be exceptionally effective. On
9 February, during hours of darkness, atmosphere hazy, visibility 7, sky
overcast, the PLUNKETT appeared to he on a course approximately 90 degrees from
the course being steered.
On 17 February, during hours of daylight, weather overcast, hazy to foggy,
visibility 6-7, the PLUNKETT, at a range of 2000 yards, was not as conspicuous
as the BADGER, at a range of 4000 yards. The target angle estimation seemed to
be difficult during periods of reduced visibility. During the afternoon of 12 February, weather partly cloudy,
visibility 8, stratocumulus clouds, it was noted that the vessel blended with
the sky background, when not exposed to the direct sun rays.
However, when exposed to the sun rays, the reflected light causes the
vessel to be conspicuous.
For duty in the North Atlantic, due to the prevailing hazy, foggy, and overcast
weather, the camouflage on PLUNKETT
is the most effective the writer has observed.
from other ships backed that made by the CAMPBELL, but for reasons unknown, this
camouflage was only carried by the one vessel, and by May 1942 PLUNKETT had
repainted into Measure 12R.
addition to the experimental design worn by the destroyer PLUNKETT, a series of
designs were drawn up that were directly based upon the Admiralty Disruptive
type. The number of patterns
prepared is unknown, but at least three vessels wore this style (known as
Measure 15). They were the Battleship INDIANA, destroyer HOBSON, and the tanker
TALLULAH. The patterns were worn
for only a few months in 1942 and then discarded, possibly for the same reasons
that the British had discarded their patterns a few months earlier
the Pacific, for the first few months of 1942 there was a confusing mix of solid
tone design and Measure 12R pattern. The
former was worn by ships already with the fleet at the time of Pearl Harbor, and
the latter on ships transferred from the Atlantic.
Since early 194l the Pacific Fleet had been looking for the ideal
concealment colors, especially against aircraft. The Dark Gray 5-D proved
effective, but was not blue enough, and to this end two destroyers were tested
with a very dark pure ultramarine blue (Sapphire Blue).
As a color it was effective, but had poor durability.
A new color tested in the Pacific in December 1941 on the destroyer
FLUSSER proved successful, and it was decided to have the entire fleet so
painted. However, there were no stocks available for 5-N Navy Blue (as
it was called) for Pacific Fleet use until several weeks into 1942.
Change over to overall 5-N (known as Measure 21) took some time to
accomplish, and it was not until early 1943 that the whole fleet sported the new
the Atlantic it was becoming clear through reports that by the spring of 1942
the Measure 12R patterns, in all their variety and complexity, had strayed so
far from the original intent that the dappled/come mottled patterns had very
little effectiveness. In effect the
Bureau of Ships then returned to Measure 12A which had used 5-N, 5-O and 5-H,
but cut out Ocean Gray 5-0, thus leaving a two tone straight line graded design.
Named Measure 22, it began to be used by Atlantic Fleet ships in late
autumn 1942 gradually replacing Measure 12R.
By early 1943 Measure 12R had completely disappeared leaving over 90% of
the ships in Measure 22, a few in Measures 16 and 14, and a handful of
destroyers in Mountbatten Pink.