Development of Naval Camouflage 1914 - 1945
(Article reprinted courtesy of Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #97/3)
of the ships and while trying to cope with this measure fell victim to
anti-aircraft fire. Under this type of operation, color made little difference
to the ships, yet it is of major value while craft are beached.
types of camouflage on destroyers and destroyer escorts were observed: 1. An
all-over dark gray; 2. A dark gray freeboard and a light gray superstructure. Of
the two the latter seems far superior under most conditions, even
"up-sun", when ships normally become silhouettes, the light gray
superstructure appeared to fade into the background. Strangely though, the light
gray was much more visible by moonlight than any other color. Unfortunately no
example of Type or Course Deception could be observed in the convoy.
on the whole were good but thought and experiment should be continued in the
graying or hazing of colors. It would be very helpful if the paint formulas of
the Headquarters unit could be adopted and the paints supplied ready-mixed from
the United States. Total time for the painting of ships would be cut a
third". John F. Connolly.
above report illustrates how varied landing craft camouflage was at the time,
with four distinctly different types present and at least six colors being used.
A not unexpected state of affairs considering the lack of instructions from the
Camouflage Section: Readers will have noted the mention of a dark green Formula
759, unfortunately the author has been unable to trace the details of this
paint, but it is quite possible that it refers to color Green #1A from the Yards
and Docks series.
March 1943, just a few weeks after the Green Island report was made, the
Camouflage Section issued the first official patterns for use on amphibious
craft and other vessels including destroyers, auxiliary aircraft carriers, and
patrol craft. All of the patterns were dark and came under the designation of
Measure 31. To go with the official Measure 31 patterns. new colors were
introduced. They were 5-HG Haze Green, 5-NG Navy Green, 5-OG Ocean Grey, and
20-G Deck Green. Evidence suggests that the patterns were put to immediate use
but that there was a continued use of the previous unofficial colors from the
Yards and Docks range. This confused state of affairs was maintained throughout
1943, with landing craft displaying a range of home brewed patterns. The
unofficial green combined sometimes with black and the use of overall one color
July 1943, the Camouflage Section tried to bring some order out of the confusion
by suggesting the use of Navy Green and Dark Green (colors which many landing
craft had already began to use), by reformulating the Ocean Green and Haze
Green, and by adding two new colors, 5-PG Pale Green, and 5-LG Light Green. The
revised range of colors circa 1943, was now as follows: S-PG, 5-LG, 5-HG, 5-OG,
5-NG, and 20G. By the end of the year the above range, along with official
patterns, had replaced the unofficial colors and designs of the previous year.
accepted by the amphibious forces, it was felt that the colors were still not
fully effective and to this end they were superceded by another range of colors
of a slightly different hue, and to this range, a brown was added. To assist in
the production of patterns for the hundreds of landing craft involved, a very
large rectangular pattern was prepared, upon which, the appropriate vessels
outline could be overlaid and the pattern applied accordingly. This large master
pattern was designated Measure 31/20L, the suffix standing for landing craft.
full official names were: Outside Green #1, #2, #3, and Brown #4, however, in
most cases the patterns themselves simply used the color and number, for
example, Outside Green O3 was simply labeled as Green #3.
Measure 31/20L master pattern was supposed to supercede every previous design,
there had appeared in 1943 a style of amphibious camouflage that employed a
technique whereby the different colors were blended into one another by the use
of dots. These soft edge patterns (in some cases still using the 1943 colors)
were seen throughout the Philippine campaign, in spite of the fact that the
31/20L design had been issued by mid 1944.
the retaking of the Philippines the need for tropical camouflage on amphibious
vessels was replaced by one that would properly match the temperate zones into
which the war was moving. The previous four color range was retained, with only
slight differences in hue, differences that were so small that normal weathering
made them virtually indistinguishable. To go with the temperate colors, two new
patterns were issued in early 1945. They were, Measure 31/SL and Measure 31/8L.
As with earlier directives, the 1945 instructions by no means did away with the
use of the 31/20L patterns, and at the invasion of Okinawa and Iwo Jima many
landing craft and APDs were so painted.
the spring of 1945 with the invasion of the Japanese home islands soon to come,
there was yet another proposed change in amphibious camouflage whereby Navy,
Ocean, and Haze Greens were re-introduced as the colors believed most suitable
for the invasion to come. However, the instruction did not reach the forces
afloat until the summer, and only a handful of landing craft actually carried
these very late war colors.
those landing craft that served in the Atlantic, the camouflage was split
between Measures 21 and 22. Many that transferred from the Atlantic to the
Pacific did so without repainting, but in those that did, the underlying Measure
22 or 21 could sometimes still be discerned.
operations in the Philippines had pointed out the need for large numbers on
landing craft, so as to enable individual craft to be identified and controlled
during operations. Up to the end of 1944 numerals on landing craft had usually
been painted in white, of a size no greater than 3' in height. In December 1944
the Pacific Fleet ordered an increase in size of the numerals to six feet in
height on LSTs, LSDs, LSVs, APs, AKAs, APAs, AGCs, APDs, PGs, PCSs and SCs. By
increasing the size to six feet, it was possible to identify individual craft up
to 4000 yards. By January 1945 these directives had taken effect and showed up
on landing craft and other vessels during landings at Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
DECK COLORS AND MARKINGS
evolution of the colors of carrier flight decks in the war is quite interesting,
having its beginnings in late 1939, at which time the Navy felt that it was
worth experimenting with course deception camouflage for aircraft. In early 1940
several dazzle patterns for aircraft were prepared and tests began in August.
Out of these tests, which involved several types of carrier aircraft, came the
belief that what was required was not course deception camouflage, but solid
tones that promoted concealment.