B-17 camouflage

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by seesul, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    Hello,

    I got a question regarding a painting of B-17s (G).
    According to this link B17 olive drab colur plates required :
    'Most B-17s or B-25s were painted with Olive Drab colour. Until 1943 it was 41 Dark Olive Drab FS30118 or FS34086 or FS(595) 23070 and after 1943 it was ANA 613 Olive Drab - FS34084'

    Does anyone know which kind and shade of the primer was used before the final painting?
     

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  2. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    I´m asking because there are a lot of color pics showing B-17 with different shade of the painting but tending more to the brown or yellow/brown color than to an original olive drab.

    According to this link B17 olive drab colur plates required :
    ' the colour really depends on how old the aircraft is and how much service it has seen. Factory fresh B-17's were a very dark olive drab, but ultra-violet during high altitude flights faded paint to a purple/brown colour, more so on the fabric control surfaces. Wartime colour pictures were usually Kodak film which was red sensitive and often over exposed which also gives newer aircraft a more brown look. If you are copying a present day restoration, then you obviously need to copy that.' ...I´d say that the different shade of the painting was caused by fading the olive drab due to the weather conditions, sun and number of the missions flown.

    Some pics attached and the comment from the same limk is here:
    OK, here's some pics, showing pretty fresh olive drab, partially faded and 100 mission plus very faded machines.
    On picture 'new1.jpg' you can see the fin is a different colour. This was Medium Green on some machines, not olive drab, and the fin structure was often a sub-contracted assembly and painted separately from the rest of the airframe.
    'very_faded2.jpg' shows the heavily stained nacelles of a veteran machine. It also shows the natural metal cowl gills that came attached to replacement engines, and the natural metal skin where the removed de-icer boots were, which were removed as they caused great drag if torn by flak splinters.
    'very_faded3.jpg' shows the darker paint on the 'theatre modification' cheek gun blister. This paint applied later than the airframe was painted, and possibly over a different grade metal, didn't fade as quickly as the rest of the airframe.
     

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  3. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    And now I got a question - attached are 2 pics of the parts from B-17 that crashed here. They show 2 colors on the same part.

    So which kind of colors are the color 1 and color 2?
    - are both of them Olive drab in a different stage of fading ? or
    - one of them is a primer and the other one is a faded olive drab, and if so, which one is primer and which one is (or used to be) an olive drab?
     

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  4. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    Does anyone have a primer specification please?
     
  5. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Seesul,

    I don't have a spec but the 2 options most commonly seen appear to be the standard zinc chromate yellow or a clear protectant for the aluminium (hence it retains its natural colour). If I was a betting man, I'd say the 2 different shades in the wreckage photos are due to environmental factors after the aircraft crashed.

    For the record, Olive Drab seems to have been a very unstable paint which weathered heavily and with great variation. Different paint mixes implemented by different paint manufacturers was the primary cause for these variations.

    KR
    Mark
     
  6. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    #6 seesul, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
    Thank you for your answer.

    My personal opinion is that the primer was red (you can find it on a lot of parts of the wreckage) and when they put top coat (olive drab- dark green) on it, the binding area (just the thin contact surface between those two colors) of those two layers turned brown (red + green).
    Then with the time the top coat (olive drab) dissapeared and then the brown binding area appeared and was visible. And later, according to the number of missions flown and the time of the A/C exposition on the sun, the brown color faded away. Hope you understand my Czenglish:oops:

    Look at the pictures of the B-17 on the top of this thread - 5th pic from top shows the Fort almost all in brown color but with green areas still visible on the fuselage (I don´t mean the fin). It looks like the most of Olive Drab has gone. And when you look at the 6th and 8th pic from top, you can see the brown color in its final stage...with no Olive Drab anymore.
     
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    I have just found the thread. Looking at these pictures above I have got an impresion that it wasn't any kind of primer that looked like the red colour. I think the red tonality is the effect of burning or covering with a wet ground. As buffnut453 has mentioned it above the Olive Drab paint was unstable and quite easy changed its tonality due to different conditions ( rain , snow etc....) ALso it has be mentioned that one of components for the Olive Drab colour was the red one. However we can't exclude the fact that the maintenance team of the particular bomber used the red paint or mix with this for refreshing of these areas.
     
  8. ramc181

    ramc181 New Member

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    Here's a B-17 cowling panel in my collection:

    [​IMG]

    Closeup showing the paint colours.
    Brush painted Olive Drab over a greyer shade:

    [​IMG]

    Hope that's of use,
    PB
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Afaik - none of the US aircraft were ever primed prior to final painting. each layer of paint weighed a lot and detracted from the performance both from weight and drag perspective.

    The move to NMF for all ETO bound aircraft after March, 1944 was a conscious effort to a.) reduce labor and materials cost, and b.) slightly improve airspeed and payload. The other commands followed suit - or maybe altogether but aircraft were only painted at pilots request or in the case of D-Day invasion stripes, for a special purpose.
     
  10. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    It is not true. P-51 had filled and primed wings partially or entirely. Also a few other planes might be found.
     
  11. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    #11 seesul, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
    Also here you can see olive drab color, brown color and no color on one plane.
    I think there must have been a primer, especialy on aluminium that is not color-friendly...
     

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  12. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Roman if it would be a primer it was applied to all surfaces. The brown colour in the first shot ( that seems to be a pic of a P-38 model indeed ) is caused by heat from radiators and superchrgers. In the second image the brown tonality is the effect of light. As I said the red colour was one of components of the Olive Drab paint and others of olive tonality ( including Polish Khaki ) ALso I said we couldn't be sure that the technical crew of the B-17 used "Minia" when refreshing camo painting at these areas we can is in your pictures of #3 post.

    BTW..there is another possibility. The red-brown tonality of a paint could have been caused by fuel when the bomber was hit.
     
  13. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    #13 seesul, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
    I really don´t know Wojtek which kind of primer did they use (if ever) and I´d like to get a written technical specification of the colors on a B-17.
    But anyhow, you can find both green and brown colors on the same surface in a lot of cases and it is not caused by the heat after the explosion or heat from the radiators or turbo´s or exhaust pipes. Look at the right wing of that P-38 on the first pic- also in brown.

    Anyhow, are those 2 colors primer (brown) and top coat (olive drab) or is the brown one just a olive drab faded away...?
     

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  14. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #14 Wurger, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
    Roman I have gone through a few books about B-17 painting and technical description. No info about any primer was found. As I know there were two kinds of primers used for USAAF aircraft. The first one was Zinc Chromate Primer type 1 Yellow of dirty yellow colour ( FS33481 ) and the Zinc Chromate Promer type 2 Tint of green-bluish tonality ( FS34258 ) . But these were used for painting of interiors mostly.

    As far as the picture with the P-38 is concerned.... I wouldn't follow that as a base for the assessment of the Olive Drab colour and its tonalites. I think it isn't a pic of a real plane. Generally I say it is fake.

    Olive Drab colour was a green ( khaki) one with a brown tonality.Being a very unstable colour it got many different tonalities.
     
  15. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    #15 seesul, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  16. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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  17. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Roman...yep the OD colour was very unstable paint. It can be noticed in many pictures of B-17s painted with the colour.
     
  18. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Roman, the OD paint was, as has been mentioned, very unstable and prone to fading and abrasion. Depending on the climate, the paint surface could oxidise to a powdery, rough surface, which in turn could become almost polished by the effects of rain, and airstream etc.
    Those B17s based in the UK tended to appear slightly different in overall tones, compared to those based in Italy - this being the effects of the different climatic conditions at their home bases. Remember, these aircraft spent their entire lives outside, only going in to a hangar, if there was one, for deep servicing, and then endured the extremes of temperature and winds at high altitude.
    The overall appearance of any aircraft finished in OD can vary according to the angle of view and the lighting conditions, more noticeable on large aircraft such as the B17, and, in photographs, by any variation in the original exposure of the film negative (or reversal emulsion in the case of, for example, Kodachrome film), and more so by exposure and processing variations at the printing stage. Add to this the effects of dirt, staining, exhaust heat, and paint-surface wear - from feet, hands, polishing etc, and the variations over an airframe can be very noticeable. Different types of materials - metals, fabrics, compounds etc - will also effect the appearance . Some aircraft were even more prone to the 'battered' look, due to their finished surface skinning, an example being the B26 Marauder.
    Finally, some re-painted or repaired and re-painted areas very well might not have been done using U.S. paints. The colours were often mixed locally, to a close approximation and, certainly in the UK, stocks from RAF sources were often used.
     
  19. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    Thank you Terry, Wojtek and Bill for your opinions - so what´s your opinion- did they ever use a primer on B-17s or did the Olive Drab just fade to brown?
     
  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Far as I know, there was only a priming undercoat, I believe in grey, but not a true etch-primer. I should have some info somewhere on this, so I'll do a search of my library. Certainly the OD did fade quickly, and even today, similar paints do the same thing. The British Army NATO Green, for example, used before the Infra Red reflective green paint, can fade to a very pale greyish green if not maintained and re-coated, especially on Land Rovers, which have an aluminium body, which is etched and known as 'Birmabright', and has either a pink or light beige primer. The effects of the paint wear on this material / paint combination are very like that of WW2 Olive Drab.
     
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