flagwave.gif (32090 bytes)
US Navy Camouflage and Colours

By
Detective Jon Warneke and Inspector Jeff Herne
Warship Colour Directorate

The Colours

Click the thumbnail to view full size color pallet

USNchip1.jpg (60306 bytes)
Pallet 1

 

USNchip2.jpg (57295 bytes)
Pallet 2

 

USNchip3.jpg (52684 bytes)
Pallet 3

Click the thumbnail to view full size color pallet

 

 

                         Camouflage Measures                                                                        
The WWII U.S. Navy developed numerous camouflage measures. These were numbered 1 to 33. These measures were contained in a manual known as SHIPS-2, distributed by the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R), USN.

1. SHIPS-2 was first distributed in January 1941 and it contained Measures 1 through 9. The colors used for these measures are as follows:


Light Grey 5-L (replaced Standard Navy Grey of the prewar period)
Ocean Grey 5-O
Dark Grey 5-D
Black #82
White 5-U


All of these colors were mixed from base colors of white and black to generate greys of varying hues. The following paint schemes used these colors:

Measure (Ms) 1: Dark Grey System. All vertical surfaces Dark Grey
5-D below the funnel tops, Light Grey 5-L above the funnel tops.

Ms 2: Graded System. All superstructure parts 5-L, hull graded with 5-L the top band, 5-O the middle band, and 5-d on the bottom band. Each band is to be of equal width.

Ms 3: Light Grey System. All vertical surfaces Light Grey 5-L.

Ms 4: Black System. All vertical surfaces Black #82.

Ms 5: Painted Bow Wave. To be used with Ms. 1, 2 or 3, but not Ms. 4. Upper edge of the wave is to be painted in 5-U, and the body of the wave in either dark blue or 5-D

Ms. 6 through 8 were intended to make the ship look like that of another class(i.e. an Omaha-class CL resemble a four stack DD) with the color of the deception the opposite of the general color of the ship (i.e. the ship painted in 5-D would use 5-L for the deception).

Ms 9: Black System for Subs. Paint the entire area above the waterline black.

2. SHIPS-2 was revised in September 1941 after testing found that blues were more effective camoflauge than the greys of the Jan. 1941 edition. The new colors were as follows:

Haze Grey 5-H
Ocean Grey 5-O (not the same as above)
Sea Blue 5-S
Deck Blue 20-B
Black #82
White 5-U


The colors were mixed from 5-U and tinting material known as 5-TM
(Author's note: I am unaware of any references available to the modeler of the actual tint of either 5-TM or 20-TM, which was used for making Deck Blue). The following measures were authorized in the Sept. 1941 edition:

Ms 1 through 8: Discontinued
Ms 9: Same as above
Ms 11: Sea Blue System. All verticle surfaces Sea Blue 5-S

Ms 12: Graded System. Paint hull 5-S to the level of  main deck (Carriers to the level of the hangar deck). Paint superstructure to the tops of the funnels Ocean Grey 5-O. Above the funnels Haze Grey 5-H.

Ms 13: Haze Grey System. All verticle surfaces Haze Grey 5-H.

Ms 14: Ocean Grey System. All verticle surfaces Ocean Grey 5-O.

In all but Ms. 9, the decks were to be painted  Deck Blue 20-B.

3. In June, 1942, SHIPS-2 was again revised, and new colors introduced, using the same ingredients as the Sept 1941 edition. The colors authorized were:


Thayer Blue 5-B
Haze Grey 5-H (not the same tint as above)
Ocean Grey 5-O (not the same tint as above)
Navy Blue 5-N
Deck Blue 20-B
Black #82
White 5-U


Authorized measures in the June 1942 were:

Ms 9: Black System for Subs. Same as above

Ms 10: Gray System for Subs. Paint all surfaces above waterline 5-O
Ms 11 and 12: Discontinued
Ms 13: Haze Grey System. Same as above
Ms 14: Ocean Grey System. Same as above

Ms 16: Thayer System. For use in arctic regions. All vertical surfaces White 5-U with patterns of Thayer Blue 5-B.

Ms 21: Navy Blue System. Paint all vertical surfaces Navy Blue 5-N.

Ms 22: Graded System. 5-N from the waterline to an imaginary line parallel to the waterline running through the deepest part of the main deck, 5-O from this point up.

4. In March, 1943, SHIPS-2 was again revised, and new colors introduced:


Pale Gray 5-PFS 35526
Light Gray 5-LFS 36320
Haze Gray 5-HFS 35237
Ocean Gray 5-OFS 35164
Navy Blue 5-NFS 35044
Deck Blue 20-BFS 35042
Dull Black BKFS 37040


(The FS numbers are estimates based on the author's comparison of color chips to FS chips. The new Floquil Marine colors provide the builder with accurate representations of these colors.)

The following measures used the aforementioned colors:

Ms 21: Navy Blue System. Same as above

Ms 22: Graded System. Same as discussed under June 1942 schemes

Ms 23: Light Grey System. Paint all vertical surfaces light grey, paint  undersides of all overhangs White 5-U

Ms 31: Dark Pattern System. All vertical surfaces with patterns of 5-H, 5-O, and BK.
Ms 31a: Dark Pattern System. Same as Ms. 31, except  5-N replaces BK.  2 color schemes used 5-H and 5-N.  3 color schemes used 5-H, 5-O, and 5-N

Ms 32: Medium Pattern System. Paint all vertical surfaces with
patterns of either  5-L and BK (for 2-color schemes) or 5-L, 5-O, and BK ( 3 color schemes)

Ms 33: Light Pattern System. Paint all vertical surfaces with patterns of; 2 color schemes used 5-L and 5-O 3 color schemes used 5-P, 5-H, and 5-N

Measures 31, 31a, 32, and 33 were used with various geometric patterns assigned design numbers reflecting the pattern and type of ship for which they were created. Thus "Measure 32/18d" used the Measure 32 colors and was applied using geometric design number 18, appropriate for a destroyer ("d"). Decks were to be painted 20-B, but many Ms. 31 and 32 designs also had patterns of 20-B and 5-O on the decks.

This edition also authorized green colors for use on ships. These colors corresponded with the blue colors and were:

Pale Green 5-PG
Light Green 5-LG
Haze Green 5-HG
Ocean Green 5-OG
Navy Green 5-NG
Deck Green 20-G

These colors can also be found in the Floquil Line of Marine Paints. The greens were interchangable with the blues in the measures, but were mostly used on amphibious force units and coastal forces.