no camouflage on USAAF planes

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by rank amateur, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. rank amateur

    rank amateur Member

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    During 1944 American Army Airforce in Europe gradually did away with the camouflage paint. Some sources claim that this was because of the diminished oposition and the fact that the aircraft performed better without. I am curious to know from which point (date) this happened and who initiated it. It certainly gave the US airplanes a sense of glamour and it contributed to the confidence of the allied armies. But still, was this planned or just dumb luck. I have been googling on tis subject and have not come up with much.

    I hope some of the forum members can provide me with usefull info.

    Chrzzzz
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I'm not very well versed with Allied aircraft but I believe they went to the unpainted aluminum-look because it reduced drag and added a few mph to the airspeed.
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Let's not forget that paint adds weight too. For a large airplane like the bombers, that is a substantial amount of weight.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    'Bare metal' aircraft started to be seen in the ETO from early 1944. There were a number of reasons for omitting camouflage paint, including weight saving, improved performance, and reduction in production time and costs. In the case of fighter aircraft, and accepting the virtual air superiority, it was though that, not only was camouflage now unnecessary, it was also a benefit, as USAAF fighters wanted to be seen, to draw Luftwaffe fighters into combat. However, when some fighter units moved to temporary bases on the Continent after D-Day, some of those fighters which had previously been in 'bare metal', were given a top coat of locally-sourced camouflage paint, to reduce the chances of being spotted on the ground.
     
  5. rank amateur

    rank amateur Member

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    Still, who initiated this? And I can't help feeling sorry for those guy's in the B17's and B24's who probably could do well without the luftwaffe attention.
     
  6. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Between the contrails behind them on a lot of missions, and mass formations, there was no hiding a B-17 or B-24.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The Olive Drab (sometimes with a splodge of Medium Green) camouflage of USAAF bombers in the ETO never had anything to do with making them less conspicuous in the air.It was to camouflage them on the ground. With the Luftwaffe's offensive capabilities,certainly over the UK) reduced to near zero by 1944 this had become unnecessary.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  8. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    plus the whole idea was to draw the LW up to battle where the escorts could deal with them.
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    That was quite important considering the resources needed to manufacture the paint in the first place. With naval AC requiring to be painted, it was a macro economic decision to let then navy get the paint they needed and the AAF do without as it was mostly unneeded.
     
  10. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Ype, think about it. What good did top cammo do at 20,000 ft?
     
  11. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Some good, assumedly - if the other guy is a 30,000ft.
    I have another theory . Seeing as the RAF continued to paint their fighters in olive drab and brown, the USAAF penchant for garish colours on bare maetal is just another example of exhibitionism. Bloody Yanks...:)
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The "Air Space" magazine had a story about this back in the early 90's. Many of the arguments against the paint have been mentioned here. If anyone has access to old copies of the mag, look it up.
     
  13. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    I take pride in be an exibitor!
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #14 stona, Mar 7, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
    Errrr ....Dark Green and Ocean Grey which was considered a compromise between concealment on the ground and some measure of camouflage,against the ground, in the air. The earlier Dark Earth and Dark Green was primarily for concealment on the ground. The Luftwaffe were very keen to bomb our airfields!

    When you don't have,or lose air superiority or your airfields are vulnerable to attack,ground camouflage is more important. It is no accident that Luftwaffe camouflage for land based fighters went from two greens (70/71) to two greys (74/75) as the became dominant,but then reverted to greens and browns (81/82/83)as the allies reversed that position.

    This is almost the reverse of the RAF who changed one of the two upper colours of their disruptive scheme from brown (Dark Earth) to a bluey grey (Ocean Grey) which is surprisingly close to RLM 75,a colour phased out by the Germans towards the end of the war.

    Cotton did a lot of work on this for the British.

    As for the Americans' penchant for garish colours......some things never change :)
    It makes for some interesting model projects! More seriously it must have helped identifying friend from foe. I've always thought that our Sky fuselage band and Yellow leading edge stripes were a bit understated to put it mildly. I wonder if they worked at all?

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Did any person or unit mimic Jasta 11 Manfred von Richthofen's practice of painting their aircraft?
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Well I don't think we ever got anything approaching another "flying circus" on any side.
    Both the Luftwaffe and USAAF seem to have allowed more leeway in what could and couldn't be applied to aircraft than the RAF. Interesting stuff like US red tails,blue noses and fancy nose art,as well as the Luftwaffe's checked or tulip noses,yellow tails and plethora of personal emblems simply weren't allowed by the spoil sports at the Air Ministry.
    There's a really sad directive from the AM laying down exactly where and how big the lettering on a presentation aircraft might be. It gives the impression that really the Ministry would prefer the acknowledgement not to be there at all.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    Once heard that the Japanese used soot from a rich acetylene torch to kill the glint with almost no weight.
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I wonder about that, not exactly the safest way to paint a aircraft. Plus it would just last till the first rain, they'd sure go thru a lot of acetylene.

    That used to be a old customizers trick, they'd put acetylene soot on a fresh light color, then put clear over it. But again, not the safest way to paint a car.
     
  19. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I bet those pink PR Spitfires were flown by closet homosexuals produced by the English public school system. Or closet communists. Or is that the same thing?
     
  20. iron man

    iron man Member

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    I have another theory to add to the mix here gents...recognition issues.
    I'll be damned if I can remember the source, but I have read that the introduction of the Mustang in the ETO lead to many "blue-on-blue's". This due to the similarity of the P 51B/C and the Bf 109, when viewed at certain angles. I know for a fact that this is documented; and also that it had a bearing on the decision to "go naked".
    The other advantages of such a decision have already been added by other posters.
     
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