Aircraft Camouflage: Germans vs Americans

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by gjs238, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    German aircraft often employed some interesting camo schemes.

    German opinions:
    - Did German pilots crew feel safer or more confident flying aircraft with some of their interesting schemes?
    - Did German pilots crew find American aircraft easier to locate due to their less interesting, or complete lack of schemes?

    American opinions:
    - Did American pilots crew feel more vulnerable or less confident due to their less interesting or complete lack of schemes?
    - Did American pilots crew find German aircraft more difficult to locate due to their more interesting schemes?

    Note: Perhaps the word "interesting" is not the best choice.
     
  2. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Seeing that it was mostly German airfields that were under bomber attacks by 1944 the Germans seemed to go abit further camouflaging their a/c. They didn't want them to stand out too much when the thousands of Allied bombers flew over :)
     
  3. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    #3 comiso90, Jun 23, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2009
    There were cost/performance dividends with a plane devoid of paint..

    less drag, less cost, less weight.

    not much but would rather you survive by a tenth of a second or die by a tenth of a second?

    I understand the primary concerns were cost and time to produce. There wasn't enough Luft late in the war to worry about

    .
     
  4. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Yeah the use of paint would add some weight, but drag I believe was the same or even less, depending on what type you used (Could effectively close small gaps, even out small bulges etc etc).

    The Germans apparently used some quite advanced paints during the war which I know has been mentioned on this board before.
     
  5. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    It is also worth considering that the Americans wanted the LW to come up, find them and engage them, as this was undoubtedly the best way to destroy the LW as a fighting force. So camouflaging planes wasn't really big issue for the US - they wanted to be seen. Admittedly, it might have been an extreme step. After all, the RAFacheived the same result with Ranger, Rodeo and Circus missions, without using hi-visibility colour schemes.
     
  6. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Bomb Taxi is on it.

    In the begining of 1944, there was a turnover at 8th AF command and the focus of 8th Fither went from "protect the bombers" to "destroy the luftwaffe". The reason was the same as the Battle of Britian. The defending airforce had to be destoryed, or at least marginalized, before the invasion could begin. The 8th AF bomber force thereafter became something of a bait force for the fighters. Their primary job was still to bomb and destroy a target, but the intent was also to bring the LW fighter force up to fight. As a consequence, spoof raids, diversions and misdirection plays were minimized. The 8th flew straight to the target and straight back. The LW could find them easy enough and a war of attrition ensued.

    Camo would've made the intent of the 8th harder to achieve. Paint came off both the fighters and the bombers. While it was less likely to have a bomber or fighter stripped of paint, new aircraft came in without paint. This also saved about 20 hours worth of work on a fighter and a varying amount of hours on the bombers.

    Other US Air Forces moved in the same direction. Pretty much accross the globe.

    LW used camo all the way through the war.
     
  7. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I do wonder if it was a bit extreme though - the RAF flew camo throught the war, but Circus and Ranger missions had little difficulty starting fights with the LW. Still, a crafty bit of psychological warfare on the part of the USAAF.
     
  8. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    As far as the different camouflage schemes used by all sides I have always thought that the German ones were more sophisticated than other nations.

    For example German fighters tended to be a much lighter colour than the rest, look at a modern fighter and the colour is pretty similar. None of the Greens and Blacks or polished silver of the RAF, USAAF and JAAF.
     
  9. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I always thought that the Italian Airforce in North Africa had some great camo schemes!

    Also the Japanese started the war with fairly plain paint schemes, and towards the end of the war, started to apply complex camo schemes. Perhaps because they had air superiority at the onset?
     
  10. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    I think it was the need. The Luftwaffe needed to camo thier planes, because as mentioned, continued attack by the Brits and USAAC.

    I think the camo jobs on the German planes add to thier menacing look!
     
  11. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that I've read that the main reason we quit painting bombers and fighters was for the simple fact that the head brass wanted them to be seen. We were trying to draw the Germans out to finish them off. As far as weight, I believe a full paint job on a B-17 added about 600 lbs. to the airframe which translates into more fuel without paint.
     
  12. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Stripping the camo paint from USAAF fighter aircraft happened progressively from mid-1944 until the end of the war, as the Allies became increasingly dominant over France and Germany. The 56th FG (P-47s) adopted some highly visible paint jobs in the last 6-8 months of the war.

    Early RAF trials with Mustang Is found a speed loss of up to 7 mph (IIRC) when the aircraft was painted in standard RAF camouflage, when compared to bare metal finish. I've got the report kicking around somewhere on my spare hard-drive.

    There were also trials with a B Mk IV Mosquito with matte and standard finish paint jobs. The matte finish cost the aircraft up to 16 mph in speed, and was eventually abandoned as night bomber crews thought the extra speed was more conducive to survival than the slightly better camouflage.
     
  13. Chocks away!

    Chocks away! Member

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    I've read several combat reports were either the German pilot says 'I lost him, probably because of the camouflage of my aircraft'

    Or from the US side 'Unfortunately then I lost him becasuse of the camouflage of his aircraft'

    So no doubt the camouflage did have the desired effect in many cases, and also on the ground I imagine its much harder to camouflage a bare metal plane. The Japanese camouflage was compromised by its poor paint quality, basically allowing the metal to shine through even after quite a short period of time.
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Production, production, production.
    Production was ALWAYS the priority.
    The planes could be cranked out faster by skipping the painting.
    Weight savings was a secondary benefit.
     
  15. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    The Wikipedia article on the 56th has some interesting things to say about the paint jobs:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/56th_Fighter_Group
    It mentions the application of field camo to the newer replacement factory unpainted fighters.
    It also discusses the flamboyant colors used.
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Paint will add weight period and depending if a primer coat is used will also determine how much additional weight will be added. On a large airliner a paint job could add as much as 700 pounds so you could put this in perspective.
     
  17. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    It is a bit extreme. I think that was the intent. Not so much to destroy the target, but to destroy the GAF. It reminds me of the way the Battle of the Atlantic was fought in the spring of 1943. Before that time, when escorts were relatively scarce and the mid-Atlantic Gap was a dangerous place for all allied shipping, the convoys would be directed around the U-boat patrol lines. But the leaders knew that avoiding the U-boats wasn't the same as defeating them.

    In spring of 43, with enough escorts and long range aircraft, they stopped avoiding the Patrol Lines and sailed into them. The convoys were still delivering equipment, but they also served as bait. It was a point that had to be reached, head on, attrition warfare.

    There is a good essay written on this type of warfare by a guy named Paul Fussel called, "From Light War to Heavy War". In it, he talks about the difference of war that is not about being smarter, faster, cooler, ect and bringing war down to the grinding fight where the best that both sides have are in it and the battle becomes one of grinding, throwing more at them than they throw at you and destroying them. A good read.
     
  18. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    I guess the lack of any camo paint on USAAF aricraft (at least in Europe) can be explained that it was rather unlikely that 1000 plane formations could hide anywhere in the sky.

    It was simply not going to happen, and taking off the paint eased production, saved a lot of weight as previously mentioned and was probably easier from the maintenance point of view as well.

    So I would say that for the very large US formations it was not that much of a disadvantage to be spotted easier, and it brought some advantages. Since other air forces typically operated in smaller formations, the camo paints were much more useful to them.
     
  19. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Good point and post Kurf.
     
  20. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    I was just wondering if there were any anecdotal Allied or Axis comments on the various camo and non-camo schemes. Or any official documents for that matter.

    For example: A B-17 crew member complaining that they stick out like sore thumbs. Or a LW pilot saying how much easier it is to spot that P-38 now. Or the driver of that P-38 complaining about how effective that darn German camo is. Etc.
     
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