Cockpit Colorings

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by silence, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. silence

    silence Active Member

    Nov 20, 2012
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    Masters Candidate in History
    Yuba City, California
    The UK and USA seem to have favored a lighter green, the LW RLM 66. Per ther few models of Soviet planes I've done it seems like a color along the lines of RLM 02 were favored.

    What were the reasons for these choices? Personally, I like the light green as a more "soothing" color (I think the Heer used a similar color for its tank interiors) and kinda get the Soviet 02, but I don't get the LW's choice of 66.

    Anyone know why or have any thoughts, hypotheses, etc.?
  2. boeing299

    boeing299 New Member

    Jun 5, 2009
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    I think that I read somewhere long ago that the green color on the interior of U.S. planes was the natural color of the zinc chromate coating that was sprayed on as a corrosion inhibitor. Any additional coating would certainly have added weight and cost.
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Aug 24, 2008
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    Cheshire, UK
    At that period, most, if not all, interior colours were basic primers and, in general terms, were in colours common for (alloy) metal primers used by a particular country for many purposes at that time (and since).
    Although there was little thought (initially) to crew physcological or ergonomic comfort, in relation to the actual colour in crew areas, there was, to an extent, some thought regarding wear and tear. This resulted in 'occupied' areas perhaps receiving an additional surface finish, with other interior areas being in the 'raw' state.
    For example, British interior surface finish was normally 'Cockpit Grey Green', and could be found in crew/pilot occupied areas, such as the cockpit of the Spitfire, or the entire interior of the Lancaster. But those areas of the Spitfire not subject to exposure to regular 'wear and tear', such as the interior aft of the cockpit, would normally be clear laquered alloy. Similarly, on the Lancaster, as an example, areas such as the bomb bay, which, when open, displayed a vast area, would be painted in the exterior paint finish ('Night' - black) in order to reduce highlight, reflection from searchlights, and possible detection due to light-coloured areas. This was also true of the interior areas of this aircraft (and other night bombers) which were visible, through the glazing from the outside, and lead to the cockpit and general nose area, being painted matt black. This had the secondary effect of reducing glare, distraction etc for the crew.
    On American aircraft, the general interior colour of crew-occupied areas was Interior Green, but the actual shade/hue of this finish could, and did, depend not only on the manufacturer, but also the actual factory producing the airframe (for example, Boeing, Douglas etc for the B-17, Consolidated, Ford, Douglas etc for the B-24), where this colour might be, for instance, 'bronze green' or other variations of the 'interior green'. Additionally, certain areas might have differing degrees of coatings of Zinc Chromate primer which, depending on the mix, method of application, number of coats etc etc, could vary from a 'sickly yellow' to a colour difficult to distinguish from the smoother, 'Interior Green'.
    By early 1944, some interior areas were left in bare alloy, or alloy with a clear laquer coating only, with other areas exhibiting a mix of 'interior' paint, primer, ZC and so on, and this can be seen on the B-17G, as an example.
    In summary, interior colours could depend on the aircraft type, period, factory, and other factors, particularly with U.S. manufactured aircraft, although, in general, as stated earlier, 'basic' colours tended to follow the 'norm' for the country concerned.
    There were, of course, many variations and 'exceptions to the rule', with examples being fabric-covered aircraft such as the Vickers Wellington, and the cockpits of later Hawker Typhoons.
    The former could, and did, exhibit a variation throughout the entire interior of the fuselage, with bare alloy, 'Cockpit Grey Green' structural parts and fittings, dull red-brown interior fabric finish, and painted matt black areas, as well as bare plywood and varnished plywood. The Typhoon could display the upper section of the cockpit, including the head armour and decking under the canopy in matt black, with the remainder in grey green with 'aluminium' painted tubular frame work, and so on.
    By the very end of WW2, and immediately post war, many allied fighter aircraft had adopted, or had been re-painted in, matt black in cockpit areas, a 'trend' which lingered on well into the 1960's, when 'restful black' was replaced by various shades of 'peaceful grey'.
    Thing are not that much different today, although colours/shades may have changed, where various countries may favour a particular shade of primer and interior finish colours, the former influenced by the 'ingredients' of the primer/protective coat, as well as the requirements of same, whilst the latter is often as a result of mysterious studies into the effects of the work/environment surroundings on the human mind.
    I believe Jan prefers a pink cockpit .................
  4. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2012
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    Spitfire Is didn't use the cockpit green - they were painted in a paler off/white green shade similar to Eau de Nile; the undersurfaces of some B of B RAF fighters were painted in a similar shade in lieu of Sky Type 'S' which was still in short supply:


    the cockpit green was darker and greyer:


    Some great views of a restored Spitfire V cockpit:
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2009
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    Luftwaffe cockpits were painted RLM 02 as that colour system was introduced. 02 was indeed a primer, despite it's later use as an exterior camouflage colour. Heinkel and Junkers were using the much darker RLM 66 in interior areas visible through the large glazed areas of their bombers, probably before the war (Heinkel) and certainly by January 1940 (Junkers).

    The colour started appearing in some Messerschmitt aircraft in 1940 too. Several Bf 109 Es photographed by the British have the cockpit sills and sloping deck (behind the pilot) painted in a dark colour, presumably RLM 66. The heavier framed canopies introduced on the Bf 109 were painted both inside and out in RLM 66. Nonetheless, the official colour for the cockpit of a Bf 109 F-0 or F-1 was still RLM 02.

    RLM 66 was formally adopted as the interior colour in November 1941, but had been in use for some time previously.

    The original reason for its use was to avoid compromising camouflage on large bomber aircraft under extensively glazed areas. At the time such aircraft carried two quite dark green colours with little contrast between them and RLM 02 was a relatively light colour.

    I suspect the adoption on fighter aircraft was an effort to avoid glare.



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