RAF camouflage colours during WWII

5645andym

Clanker
Can anyone answer a question about RAF camouflage colours during WWII.

There is a lot of information about what colours were used on aircraft at different times and the particular patterns used and so on but not much on why certain changes were made.

In 1941 a change was made on fighter aircraft from the early war combination of Dark Green & Dark Earth to Dark Green/Dark Grey combination. The same change was also made to the colours of specific bomber aircraft (the Mosquito is referred to the Air Ministry Order making the changes) but not to heavy bombers or night bombers.

I can see why dark grey and dark green would be a better combination of colours because there is actually very little brown visible from the air so my question is why not make the change for all aircraft?
 
Calling @Daz

one for the modellers I’d say. Not sure personally but Daz may have an opinion on the matter
 

TamH70

MIA
Can anyone answer a question about RAF camouflage colours during WWII.

There is a lot of information about what colours were used on aircraft at different times and the particular patterns used and so on but not much on why certain changes were made.

In 1941 a change was made on fighter aircraft from the early war combination of Dark Green & Dark Earth to Dark Green/Dark Grey combination. The same change was also made to the colours of specific bomber aircraft (the Mosquito is referred to the Air Ministry Order making the changes) but not to heavy bombers or night bombers.

I can see why dark grey and dark green would be a better combination of colours because there is actually very little brown visible from the air so my question is why not make the change for all aircraft?

Local situations may have appertained. What's good camouflage for one area may not have been for another. Also as Just said, there was a war going on. That kind of thing tends to screw up supply chains, to begin with, so it may have been felt that what examples of said supply chains were available may have been better used to get more airframes and parts for them out to where needed.
 
Can anyone answer a question about RAF camouflage colours during WWII.

There is a lot of information about what colours were used on aircraft at different times and the particular patterns used and so on but not much on why certain changes were made.

In 1941 a change was made on fighter aircraft from the early war combination of Dark Green & Dark Earth to Dark Green/Dark Grey combination. The same change was also made to the colours of specific bomber aircraft (the Mosquito is referred to the Air Ministry Order making the changes) but not to heavy bombers or night bombers.

I can see why dark grey and dark green would be a better combination of colours because there is actually very little brown visible from the air so my question is why not make the change for all aircraft?

Heavies flew at night, hence the black colour. During the day time they were parked on a runway, and at that point I suspect the green/brown was a better camo? Or, Green and brown are darker colours, so harder to spot at night than grey?

Of course these are wild assed stabs in the dark
 

Daz

LE
Calling @Daz

one for the modellers I’d say. Not sure personally but Daz may have an opinion on the matter
Some heavy's were repainted, normally when deployed overseas including North Africa to help blend in when parked up
Mosquito's followed the light bomber pattern which mirrored the fighters to a large extent and were repainted depending on theatre and role on issue to the relevant squadrons
 

Daz

LE
Heavies flew at night, hence the black colour. During the day time they were parked on a runway, and at that point I suspect the green/brown was a better camo? Or, Green and brown are darker colours, so harder to spot at night than grey?

Of course these are wild assed stabs in the dark
That
 
Remember, camo doesn't just work when parked on the ground.
Low flying aircraft are also more difficult to see from above if they blend in to the surroundings.
Coastal command changed their camouflage scheme after boffins did experiments in visibility from ships at sea and other aircraft
 
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Remember, camo doesn't just work when parked on the ground.
Low flying aircraft are also more ifficult to see from above if they blend in to the surroundings.
Many years ago, I was tasked to recover a gazelle which went down near the border. The cab was green and black and in a field of waist high wheat, we knew where it was but flew round it several times before we spotted it. The pilot was standing there watching us but didn’t pop smoke because he “didn’t want to attract attention”. Surprising really, as the cabs always seemed to stand out like a dog’s when disguised as haystacks.
Early Army a/c were painted gloss green and brown (the accommodation blocks in Middle Wallop still show traces of this) to match the terrain, and possibly to make them easier to wipe off the oil spill. This remained standard through campaigns in sandy places until replaced with matt green and black in the 70s, probably to match the forestry blocks of BAOR. Grey and green arrived in the 80’s possibly as a more universal scheme as BAOR wound down.
As for the crabs, brown and green to match the English countryside in the early days, (less important as we gain air superiority) grey and green as operations move over the channel and into urban areas is my guess. Bombers per above.
 
Many years ago, I was tasked to recover a gazelle which went down near the border. The cab was green and black and in a field of waist high wheat, we knew where it was but flew round it several times before we spotted it.
I once did that with a VW 181 in matt green.
Parked on a quiet street in a leafy suburb, and very hard to see, even from thirty yards away.
Of course, copious amounts of beer/weed consumed beforehand didn't help.
.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Local situations may have appertained. What's good camouflage for one area may not have been for another. Also as Just said, there was a war going on. That kind of thing tends to screw up supply chains, to begin with, so it may have been felt that what examples of said supply chains were available may have been better used to get more airframes and parts for them out to where needed.
This.

As far as I know, there were no set patterns for aircraft. As each one arrived at a Sqn it would have local Sqn markings painted on and no doubt the factory markings were touched up at regular intervals. As the aircraft were damaged and repaired, each panel could be painted with whatever was available. Also different colours for different theatres and even different operating enviroments. ie night bombers/fighters, high altitude recce etc.
 
This.

As far as I know, there were no set patterns for aircraft. As each one arrived at a Sqn it would have local Sqn markings painted on and no doubt the factory markings were touched up at regular intervals. As the aircraft were damaged and repaired, each panel could be painted with whatever was available. Also different colours for different theatres and even different operating enviroments. ie night bombers/fighters, high altitude recce etc.
Recall the story of June 44 Invasion stripes, where some over zealous type went 'letter of the regulations' [which he had misread] and had whacking great white strips painted on a squadron of Lancasters, thus rendering them Hors de Combat for a few days til they were overpainted?
 

Daz

LE
This.

As far as I know, there were no set patterns for aircraft. As each one arrived at a Sqn it would have local Sqn markings painted on and no doubt the factory markings were touched up at regular intervals. As the aircraft were damaged and repaired, each panel could be painted with whatever was available. Also different colours for different theatres and even different operating enviroments. ie night bombers/fighters, high altitude recce etc.
There were set pattens, for fighters it was scheme A or B
 

Daz

LE
Note the standardized paint scheme on the assembly line
Castle Bromwich1.jpg
 
The brown (‘Dark Earth’) was designed - as Listy and Daz intimate - to conceal aircraft on the ground as well as being appropriate for the sort of combats over the English countryside seen in 1940; it was more difficult for marauding 109s to spot Spits or Hurris climbing towards them.

When the RAF fighter force moved onto the offensive, it was recognised that Dark Earth wasn’t the optimum colour, either for transit over the Channel, or while air fighting. There was a series of experiments during the latter part of 1940 which arrived at the new Day Fighter Scheme.

ISTR the memoir of one pilot, in which it was noted that an over-enthusiastic SENGO (or it may just have been one crew chief) instructed that aircraft be polished to a high sheen as this would help with a modest increase in speed. He was taken up in the station Tiger Moth, and realised that the pristine aircraft was no longer camouflaged, more of a nice shiny beacon to the Luftwaffe. ‘Nice thought, old boy, but...’ Polishing stopped soon afterwards.
 

Daz

LE
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