USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15326
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by Andy H » 11 Jan 2021 20:57

Hi

Not sure if its been discussed before but either way I hope its of some interest.
In December 1943 the War Department announced the removal of paint from “almost all” of its aircraft, with exception of some “specialized planes overseas” like night fighters and transports. As of January 1944, almost all new warplanes coming off the assembly line would only have national insignia, squadron, and plane number markings........AAF aircraft paint schemes were the responsibility of Materiel Command, based at Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). It raised the notion of not painting AAF aircraft in November 1942 based on a study by the RAF that noted speed gains of six to eight miles an hour on an airplane with polished surfaces. In circulating its query, Materiel Command asked if the advantages of camouflage paint would be “more than offset by the last bit of ‘oomph’ in speed and climb from total elimination.” Separately, Proving Ground Command conducted its own flight experiments that same month on the subject, only with painted planes having polished surfaces, and noted speed increases of eight miles per hour
https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/sto ... -of-paint/

Regards

Andy H

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 8770
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Jan 2021 05:03

Have run across remarks in the literature about the emergence or conversion to the 'silver fleet' in accounts of the Army AF, usually dated to 1944 or 1945.

ROLAND1369
Member
Posts: 1199
Joined: 26 May 2007 15:22
Location: USA

Re : USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by ROLAND1369 » 13 Jan 2021 16:08

In addition there was a weight savings by elimination of paint. The USAF tried the same thing on transport aircraft during the1950s but found that the resulting increase in surface corrosion more than offset the gains , particularly when operated near the sea and saltwater, and soon returned to painted aircraft.

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15326
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Re: Re : USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by Andy H » 13 Jan 2021 17:34

ROLAND1369 wrote:
13 Jan 2021 16:08
In addition there was a weight savings by elimination of paint. The USAF tried the same thing on transport aircraft during the1950s but found that the resulting increase in surface corrosion more than offset the gains , particularly when operated near the sea and saltwater, and soon returned to painted aircraft.
Hi ROLAND1369

Thats a fair point and know doubt why US Naval Aircraft kept there paint during WW2.

Regards

Andy H

ROLAND1369
Member
Posts: 1199
Joined: 26 May 2007 15:22
Location: USA

Re: USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by ROLAND1369 » 14 Jan 2021 16:36

On US Navy aircraft it goes deeper than that. Due to their constant exposure to salt water all Navy aircraft are treated both outside and inside with corrosion preventative. Air Force Aircraft are only painted externally. All flying boats were corrosion protected in for internally and externally for obvious reasons and this was the reason that the Sunderland Flying boats were used during the Berlin Airlift to haul salt into the city.

ROLAND1369
Member
Posts: 1199
Joined: 26 May 2007 15:22
Location: USA

Re: USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by ROLAND1369 » 14 Jan 2021 16:41

While no doubt a consideration I feel that the primary reason for the Navy to retain paint was camouflage. I would do no good to camo a carrier with 60 bright shining
aircraft on deck. Note that in WW II the navy went to great effort to camo their ships.

User avatar
Pips
Member
Posts: 1203
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 08:44
Location: Canberra, ACT, Australia

Re: USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by Pips » 16 Jan 2021 04:50

Interesting that the the US study was based on a study by the RAF. Anyone know if the RAF also considered removing paint from their aircraft?And if not, why?

EwenS
Member
Posts: 221
Joined: 04 May 2020 11:37
Location: Scotland

Re: USAAF Strips camo paint from new planes

Post by EwenS » 16 Jan 2021 17:42

Deliveries of lend lease aircraft to the RAF continued to be supplied camouflaged from the factory or US modification centre even after the USAAF dropped it. It was only in 1945 that such aircraft to the RAF began to lose their camouflage paint.

On 8th March 1945 it was ordered that all Mustangs in RAF service should drop their coloured camouflage schemes, but this was not carried out universally for all aircraft in service by the end of the war.

In the case of Thunderbolts supplied to SEAC the Air Ministry as late as Nove 1944 wanted them supplied painted due to corrosion problems encoutered during the delivery trip and then from the environment in which they operated. But from Dec 1944 the paint shop at Farmingdale closed and the RAF began to accept unpainted aircraft which then filtered through to the squadrons in mid 1945.

Anything headed for Bomber & Coastal Commands or for similar use in overseas commands needed camouflage paint anyway due to the nature of their operations. But unpainted Liberator bombers began to reach the Far East bomber squadrons about mid 1945.

British built types tended to retain their camouflage until postwar. There are however some examples of Spitfires and Seafire that were stripped of their paint locally right at the end of the war. Mosquitoes operating in the Far East were not unpainted but finished in an aluminium dope silver finish to try to preserve the wooden structure

A couple of points about NMF finished USAAF aircraft.
1. Mustangs were not totally unpainted. The leading 40% of the wing chord had the panel joint lines filled and smoothed and painted in an aluminium finish to try to maintain the laminer flow characteristics of the wings
2. Some unpainted aircraft operating in Europe in 1944/45 had the upper surfaces refinished in Olive Drab or British Dark Green to aid camouflaging them on forward airfields on the Continent.
3. The 3rd BG operating as part of 5th AF in the Philippines and Okinawa began to receive a batch of specially equipped and camouflaged A-26 Invaders from about June 1945. Why that was done I don't know but at the same time other units in the CBI began to receive unpainted aircraft.

Return to “USA 1919-1945”