Plane colors and camouflage S.U. NAVY & MARINE WW2. .Part 3)By: GIANNIS MITZAS

Plane colors and camouflage S.U. NAVY & MARINE WW2.

 Introduction to US color standards

  The first color standard in use by the US armed forces was known as Specification No. 3-1, introduced on 28 November 1919 and including a palette of 24 colors of which only one would still be in use during World War II. The earliest standard in use by the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) before the war was Specification 14057 which dated from April 1931 and had been revised numerous times since, the latest being Specification 14057-C on 27 December 1939. An updated eight-color (later nine-color) palette was introduced shortly thereafter, in Air Corps Bulletin No. 41 dated 16 September 1940 and this would include all the main colors in use when the US Army Air Force (USAAF) replaced the USAAC in June 1941. Camouflage schemes would later be specified in the Technical Order No. 07-1-1 although in many cases these were applied in an ad hoc manner by commanders in the field. The US Navy (USN) had its own color system during the early years of World War II based around the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) Specification M-485 from 6 December 1940 which listed 6 (later 7) basic non-spectacular (matt) colors .
  The need to unify color codes for the USAAF and USN (which used completely different camouflage schemes) successfully in the Army and Navy Aircraft (ANA) system, introduced on 28 September 1943. ANA Bulletin No. 157 included an initial palette of 19 mostly matt (plus a few semi-gloss) colors using a three-digit numbering system in the 600s. ANA Bulletin No. 166 added a further 15 gloss colors numbered in the 500s. A number of additional colors were later added for a total of 44. Notably, a few of these were gloss colors but were added to the 600s range. The ANA system also included numerous substitute colors for British colors, necessary in light of the large number of US aircraft provided to the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm through Lend-Lease.
On 12 January 1950, the US published Federal Specification TT-C-595 which superseded the ANA system with a four-digit numbering system. This was short-lived and just a few years later was superseded by the Federal Standard system, formally known as FED-STD-595. Each color palette is identified by a five-digit code. The first digit refers to the sheen of the paint, these being gloss (1), semi-gloss (2), and matt (3). The second digit refers to the color, these being brown (1), red (2), yellow (3), green (4), blue (5), gray (6), all others including whites, blacks, and metallics ( 7), and fluorescents (8). The last three digits are unique for each color and typically go from darker to lighter. The initial palette included 358 colors although some colors only officially exist in one or two out of the three sheens. Although the hues are identical regardless of sheen, there have been some notorious exceptions such as Olive Drab whose semi-gloss version used by the US Army on tanks (FS 24087) was different from the matt version used on helicopters (FS 34087), this being an error that took decades to correct.
The Federal Standard system has gone through numerous revisions, starting with FED-STD-595A in January 1968 (437 colors), FED-STD-595B in January 1994 (611 colors), and FED-STD-595C in January 2008 (650 colors ). The ANA Bulletin 157/166 continued to be updated post-war as well, until 15 October 1964 when it was discontinued in favor of the FED-STD-595. On February 17th, 2017, the Federal Standard system was replaced by the Aerospace Material Specification Standard 595, or AMS-STD-595. It is widely equivalent to the Federal Standard system and most existing colors have been carried over with identical numbers.

In the time of Peace

  The aircraft carries a colorful finish to the U.S. Navy peacekeeping force, which shows the photo was taken before the U.S. joined the war, probably sometime during 1940. The aircraft's wings are painted with Glossy orange yellow (FS 13538), the fuselage is probably painted in silver sodium and not left natural metal, as the gloss of the finish is really very matte for bare metal. This is further confirmed by the rudder covered by fabric, as it was definitely painted in silver, and there does not seem to be any tonal color difference between the rudder and the fin.
 The horizontal tails are painted in glossy black. The thread also seems to be dark in color, maybe the same black, look and judge for yourself! Undoubtedly black is also a walking area in the wing. These black wings and yellow wings were typical of many Navy aircraft before the war.
 The Blak US NAVY inscription appears on the back of the fuselage. There is also a small stencil on the top of the wing / rudder, which can be a serial number on the aircraft.

The national emblems are typical of pre-war US aircraft, consisting of a white star in a blue circle with an extra red dot in the middle.

If you’re building an aircraft carrier model, having the colors schemes of the aircraft match the time frame of the ship’s color scheme is quite important. Although bright and colorful, you’ll never see a yellow-winged aircraft operating from a dazzle-painted Essex Class carrier. So here’s a quick overview of the principle changes to USN aircraft during the war years.

Paint guide basics:

All colors in this page include a paint chart with matches or equivalences from 19 different model paint ranges. Paints are considered matches if they are labeled with the intended color (either uniquely on together with another color). Paints are considered equivalentalences if they are close to the intended color but not labeled as such. The accuracy of any paint is independent of whether it is a match or an equivalence and these are described in the text (there can be poor matches and highly accurate equivalences). The following nomenclature is used in the paint tables and is based on matches or equivalences to US Insignia Red FS 11136:
Paint Match or equivalent type (label)
MP01 Labeled to match one specific color (FS 11136)
MP02 * Labeled to match more than one color of same-country standards (FS 11136 / ANA 509) *
MP03 ** Labeled to match more than one color of different-country standards (FS 11136 / BS 538)
MP04 (!) Questionable accuracy of label match (doesn't look like FS 11136)
MP05 (?) Questionable accuracy of label match, untested (doesn't look like FS 11136 in the bottle)
(MP06) Close equivalent to FS 11136 (BS 538)
(MP07) (?) Questionable equivalent to FS 11136 (Generic Gloss Red)
* A single asterisk also denotes implicit matches for same-country standards where there is an official succession between standards. For example, H327 * would match ANA 509 even if the label only references FS 11136 since ANA 509 is its official predecessor. This does not apply when there are considerable differences between successive paints (ex: Olive Drab No. 41 / ANA 613 / FS 34087) and this will be described in the text. By and large, however, single asterisk matches should be considered close enough to unique matches as not to be seriously questioned.
The paint charts make no distinction between gloss, semi-gloss, and matt variants of a color if the correct sheen is unavailable (ex: gloss FS 11136 will be a specific match for matt FS 31136 if the latter does not exist in the same paint range). Exceptions are made where there is a known or suspected color difference (ex: FS 24087 and 34087).

Early War (1940-42)

On 30 December 1940 the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) determined that the standard color for all ship-based aircraft was to be overall Non-spectacular Light Gray (non-spectacular referring to the matt sheen). This ended a period of experimentation that had taken place earlier in the year, and also the colorful aluminum and yellow scheme which by now was obviously inappropriate for combat conditions. Patrol aircraft would be finished in a two-tone scheme consisting of of a topside color (wings and upper fuselage) of Non-spectacular Blue Gray although the exact color was not initially specified. Later, from 20 August 1941, it was ordered that all ship-based aircraft of the Battle Fleet would use NS Blue Gray topsides and the order was extended to the entire fleet a few months later, on 13 October. Aircraft with folding wings generally had the underside of the folding part painted in the same color as the topside, though this only applied to aircraft where the underside was exposed after folding. So, for example, early Corsairs used Blue Gray on the outer part of the lower wings since they folded upwards. However, the backwards-hinging fold of the Wildcat meant that the entire lower wings were left in Light Gray. As was typical with many USN camo patterns, the colors were sprayed freehand and very inconsistently across units, resulting in some oddities like some Dauntlesses having the tip of their cowls in NS Light Gray.
Neither of the two colors corresponded to a later ANA number and were based on a specification known as M-485 issued on 6 December 1940 (NS Blue Gray was added in 1941 in a revision known as M-485a). This has led to the colors often being referred to as 'Light Gray/Blue Gray M-485'. NS Light Gray is also often designated M-495 but this is incorrect, being based on an unfortunate typo that has been extensively propagated. As to the colors themselves, NS Light Gray is the least complicated of the two since it is a light gull gray that is often compared to ANA 602/620 or FS 36440 although on many photos it appears much lighter. NS Blue Gray is tricker and there is considerable controversy over its exact shade, particularly since the formula was changed in late 1941 and a third version may have been issued in late 1942 as well in preparation for the three-tone scheme (see below) although it is believed it was merely an interim color and not used extensively (if at all). The original Blue Gray faded very heavily in the Pacific sun and had a distinct bleached appearance compared to a freshly painted aircraft. The later version maintained its original color better but was darker and and grayer. An experimental Dark Blue was also known to have been used on some aircraft in a handful of carriers in 1942 in order to better conceal them on deck. Its closest post-war equivalent is FS 35189.
Paint guide:
  • NS Light Grey: Few paint ranges have precise matches for these two colors, although Light Gray is so close to FS 36440 that any equivalent is good enough.
  • NS Blue Grey: Blue Gray is a trickier color to match as it does not approximate any other color expect FS 35189 and that is questionable. Complicating matters is that no paint range specifies whether the earlier or later versions are being represented. Model Master, Colourcoats, Mr. Paint, and AK Real Color all offer unique matches, though the Colourcoats and AK versions appear much closer to a very faded version of the original and thus far too light for a fresh coat. Matches to FS 35189 are listed in parenthesis unless they make some explicit reference to the wartime color in which case they are listed with an asterisk. Vallejo (71.109) is labeled as Faded PRU Blue and also matched to a BS shade and so accuracy is in question.

 NS Light GreyNS Blue Grey (1)NS Blue Grey (2)
General (Dec 40)Overall  
General (Aug 41)Lower(Upper)(Upper)
Color matches
Gunze Aqueous---
Gunze Mr Color-C367*C367*
Model Master-20552055
Vallejo Model Air71.298*(71.109) (?)(71.109) (?)
Vallejo Model Color-(70.904)(70.904)
AK Interactive---
AK Real ColorsRC255RC256RC256
AMMO by Mig---
Lifecolor-UA 038*UA 038*
Mission Models-(MMP-061)(MMP-061)
Mr PaintMRP-134MRP-133MRP-133

A new F4U-1 Corsair in 1942 showing the NS Blue Gray in a deep, unlit state.

Anyone who even doubts how far the original NS Blue Gray could fade and bleach in the Pacific sun only needs to see the wonderful series of color photos from Life magazine of a SBD Dauntless diving flight.

 F4F Wildcats during the NS Blue Gray in a deep, unlit state 
A flight of F4F Wildcats during the 1941 war games showing the overall NS Light Gray design.
This filming in the foreground of a TBF Avengers team shows the stark contrast between the two freshly painted colors. It seems to be the newest, grayest version.

Atlantic Anti Submarine Camouflage Schemes ASW Schemes (1943-45)
It became obvious that the new three-tone scheme implemented in 1943, while ideal for the Pacific, did not work nearly as well in the drearier, overcast skies of the Atlantic. As a result, on 19 July 1943 an order was issued by the the Atlantic Fleet's air commander providing two new Anti-Submarine Warfare schemes (most Atlantic USN aircraft were engaged in ASW duties) known as Scheme I and II. Scheme I was for aircraft operating in areas with clear skies such as the southeastern seaboard and the Caribbean. This was a three-tone scheme consisting of Dark Gull Gray ANA 621 as a topside color over Light Gull Grey ANA 620 sides and an underside color of Insignia White ANA 601. The topside color typically curved downward to meet the wings like in three-tone Pacific Corsairs. Scheme II was for aircraft operating in areas of overcast, cloudy skies like the North Atlantic and was a two-tone scheme of ANA 621 over ANA 601, the latter which replaced the areas painted in ANA 620 in Scheme I. Given that most combat in the Atlantic occurred at northern latitudes, Scheme II was by far the most common of the two and the one seen on the few color photos of Atlantic aircraft that were taken.
The two dark gull grays were added later (June 1944) to the ANA palette and their only major use in a US wartime scheme is this. Light Gull Gray is in some respects superseded the older Light Gray from the M-485 specification though it is known that the colors differed slightly. Dark Gull Gray does not have a direct predecessor.
Paint guide:
  • Light Gull Gray ANA 620: Gunze is the only manufacturer that makes a specific wartime LGG (H51/C11) which was otherwise not widely used in any other scheme. ANA 620 was superseded by the post-war FS 36440 which it matches very well with and is listed with an asterisk. Vallejo and Hataka reference both ANA and FS numbers.
  • Dark Gull Gray ANA 621: Similarly to ANA 620, Gunze is the only manufacturer that makes a specific wartime DGG (H57/C73) despite the strange name of 'Aircraft Gray'. ANA 621 was superseded by the post-war FS 36231 which is nearly universally available and is listed with an asterisk. Vallejo references both ANA and FS numbers.

ANA 601ANA 620ANA 621
Light Gull GrayDark Gull

ASW Scheme ILowerSidesUpper
ASW Scheme IILower / SidesUpper
Color matches
Gunze AqueousH316*H51H57
Gunze Mr ColorC316*C11C73
Model Master1745*1730*1740*
Vallejo Model Air71.279*71.121*71.277*
Vallejo Model Color(70.820)70.986*70.991*
AK InteractiveAK 2052*AK 2051*-
AK Real ColorsRC222*RC220*RC247*
AMMO by Mig-A.MIG-241*A.MIG-205*
Lifecolor-UA 025*UA 033*
Mission ModelsMMP-104*MMP-063*MMP-064*
Mr PaintMRP-135MRP-98*MRP-100*

Mid War (1943-44)

On 5 January 1943 (BuAer Specification SR-2C made effective on 1 February), the US Navy switched to a three-tone camo scheme that became standard of the mid-war period and which was still used for many aircraft right up until VJ Day. . The new scheme predated the introduction of the ANA system (28 September 1943) but given that all colors were eventually migrated to the new system, the ANA values ​​are provided for convenience. The objective of the new camouflage was to achieve counter-shading of the aircraft, thus requiring gradually lighter colors from the top down.

Although best known as a three-tone, in reality the new scheme used four different types of paint. Topside colors included Non-spectacular Sea Blue ANA 607 for the fuselage and Semi-gloss Sea Blue ANA 606 for the wings. The reason that a semi-gloss paint was used for the wings was in order to replicate the natural shine of the ocean although in terms of hue, the colors were essentially identical both being very dark navy blues (and possibly different than the later Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623 that is described in the following section). Meanwhile, all surfaces that were visible from below were painted Insignia White ANA 601, a tinted white that was slightly warm but which from a distance looked like a basic white. For the sides of the fuselages, it was originally intended to graduate topside Sea Blue with the lower Insignia White, resulting in a lack of demarcation and a color approximation Intermediate Blue ANA 608 at the most vertical point. Most photographs show this was not followed in practice and despite the heavy feathering of the demarcations, a clear side color of Intermediate Blue is evident as this would have been significantly less time-consuming than graduallyating the other two colors. Intermediate Blue is often matched with the post-war FS 35164 but in fact the wartime shade was noticeably lighter, more saturated, and contrasted heavily with Sea Blue.

As with the early war camo, a darker lower wing color (Intermediate Blue) was used in aircraft with folding wings, insofar as this left the lower wing exposed after folding. This was seen in Corsairs but not Hellcats, since the latter retained the backwards-hinge of the Wildcat and thus the entire lower wings were left in Insignia White. Corsairs and Helldivers were notable for having the topside ANA 607 curve downward to meet the wings, and for having the outer half of the lower wing starting from the wing fold painted in ANA 608. In contrast, Hellcats and Avengers typically had the topside color straight along with the fuselage and had the lower wings all white although there were some exceptions to both styles. Camo patterns in this scheme were applied freehand and often curved around inconsistently.

Paint guide:

Insignia White ANA 601: All versions of Insignia White have had subtle changes after each new standard is introduced. IW 46 appears to have a slightly warm tint compared to the more ivory-like post-war FS 17875 which superseded it. Colourcoats is the only range to offer what appears to be a IW 46 match (ACUS10), labeled USN Non-Spectacular White, which is separate from its ANA successor. Mr. Paint has a specific ANA 601 match as well (MRP-135), which would be more appropriate than the post-war FS 17875.
Intermediate Blue ANA 608: This is a widely available color that unfortunately is all too often believed to be identical to the post-war color that superseded it, FS 35164. Unfortunately the latter is noticeably darker and will result in a model having too little contrast with Sea Blue. Given that their respective hues are close enough, a solution is to lighten it up (2: 1 ratio with white works). Tamiya's XF-18 (labeled as Medium Blue) appears to be their equivalent but is more saturated than it should be and more resembles the more colorful version seen on many restored aircraft (which although beautiful is inaccurate). It is possible that Gunze's newer C366 (from its USN paint set) might match the wartime shade but I have yet to test it; its basic one (H56 / C72) appears far more like the post-war shade. All specific matches to FS 35164 are listed in parenthesis given the difference in color, while those that match both ANA 608 / FS 35164 are listed with an asterisk.
NS Sea Blue ANA 607: Given the controversy over the differences between ANA 607 and ANA 623, only matches to the former are given here without parenthesis. Gunze's Navy Blue (H54 / C14) appears to be their version of ANA 607 and is noticeably lighter than Midnight Blue (H55 / C71) which is presumably intended to match ANA 623. AK Real Colors, Hataka, and Model Master have separate Sea Blue and Dark Sea Blue, the former which represents ANA 607. Mr Paint is the only other range to have a specific ANA 607, and AMMO by Mig has one match for ANA 606 / FS 25052. Beware of Tamiya Sea Blue XF-17 which has a greenish tint. For the purposes of this paint chart, ANA 607 equivalents should match FS 35042 while ANA 623 equivalents should match

ANA 601ANA 608ANA 607
Intermediate BlueNS Sea Blue
Color matches
Gunze AqueousH316*H56H54
Gunze Mr ColorC316*C72 / C366*C14
Model Master1745*(1720)1718*
Tamiya-XF-18 (!)XF-17 (!)
Vallejo Model Air71.279*71.299*71.295*
Vallejo Model Color(70.820)(70.903)70.898*
AK InteractiveAK 2052*(AK 2054)AK 2233
AK Real ColorsRC222*(RC235)RC257
AMMO by Mig-(A.MIG-228)(A.MIG-227)
Lifecolor-UA 045*UA 044*
Mission ModelsMMP-104*(MMP-071)MMP-062*
Mr PaintMRP-135MRP-136MRP-237*

 SB2C Helldiver shows the shape with the Sea Blue extending to the wings

Very faded Sea Blue for that F6F Hellcat
This F6F Hellcat shows the three-tone interwar design. In Hellcats, the Sea Blue spider rarely spread its wings.
 Larger double-decker aircraft like this PV-1 Ventura usually had the top of the fuselage in Sea Blue.

An impressively detailed closure of an SBD Dauntless during the flight. Wartime Intermediate Blue was noticeably lighter than its post-war version.

Staying at the Pacific Business Center. The plane has a lot of corrosion in the colors.Severe weather conditions destroyed it camouflage in those Corsais

Late War (1944-45)

A new change was introduced on 13 March 1944 which determined that all US Navy fighter aircraft switch to a single color of overall Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623 (it was added to the ANA palette in June 1944 and, oddly enough, to the non-spectacular rather than the gloss palette). This was made official on 7 October 1944 (BuAer Specification SR-2e which had been issued on 26 June) which probably explains why aircraft using the new scheme really only started to appear later in the year and in 1945. ANA 623 was a gloss version of ANA 607 which is believed to have been slightly darker on account of being determined with a precise pigment ratio as opposed to being approximated to a color swatch. Despite being a gloss paint, in combat it was highly prone to fading and losing its factory sheen. Its Federal Standard match is FS 15042 but it is important to note that ANA 623 changed formula in the post-war period (see below). Wartime ANA 623 had a more pronounced grayish tint and could be easily differentiated from the Insignia Blue of the national insignia, even after freshly painted and even more so after fading. From this period on, it was common for Grumman aircraft (most Hellcats and some Avengers) to ignore the blue parts of the national insignia, painting only the white star and bars. All other manufacturers painted the insignia in full.
The new single-tone never fully replaced the preceding three-tone scheme, particularly on TBF Avengers and (to a lesser extent) SB2C Helldivers. It also did not apply to many other types of USN aircraft such as anti-submarine, patrol, patrol bombers, and surveillance aircraft which retained their existing non-spectacular, multi-tone schemes. Notably, ANA 623 was retained on many Lend-Lease aircraft (mainly Hellcats and Corsairs) used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, this being the sole USN scheme that was ever adopted on FAA aircraft during the war.
Paint guide:
• Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623: Only colors matching ANA 623 or FS 15042 are included here without parenthesis. Gunze's Midnight Blue (H55 / C71) is a very good match for ANA 623 despite the odd name, but being that it is specifically referenced to as a WW2 USN paint it is clear this was their intended match. C365 is also available from a USN set and is also matched to FS 15042 but I have not tested it to see if it is significantly different. Other than that, paint ranges with separate Sea Blue and Dark Sea Blue colors are considered ANA 607 and ANA 623 respectively and the latter are included here.
ANA 623 (1)
Glossy Sea Blue
Color matches
Gunze AqueousH55
Gunze Mr ColorC71 / C365*
Model Master1717*
TamiyaXF-17 (!)
Vallejo Model Air71.300*
Vallejo Model Color(70.898)
AK InteractiveAK 2234
AK Real ColorsRC258
AMMO by Mig(A.MIG-227)
LifecolorUA 047*
Mission ModelsMMP-065*
Mr PaintMRP-14

Another color shot of an F4u-4 Corsair. The glossy sheen of the ANA 623 is obvious.

The ANA 623 also weakens a lot and was prone to wear and tear as in this F4U Corsair (very late in the war as it was a F4U-4 variant). Note how the Insignia Blue of the rounds contrasts sharply.

Post-war / Korean War (1947-1955)

   US Navy aircraft continued using Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623 throughout the immediate post-war era but around 1947/48 the pigment composition of GSB was altered in order to produce a color that would be less prone to fading and losing its glossy sheen. This new version of ANA 623 also ended up being slightly lighter and more saturated than its wartime predecessor, and does not match FS 15042 or any other Federal Standard color for that matter. It was also standard practice during this period not to paint the blue sections of the roundel altogether, a practice that Grumman introduced during World War II. Although Korean War aircraft were no less prone to get dirtied up (particularly since many were land-based), most color photos conclusively show very minimal fading of the paint.
From 2 January 1947 (BuAer Specification SR-2f), the use of ANA 623 would spread to nearly all major combat types including patrol aircraft, seaplanes, and helicopters the latter which were becoming increasingly important components of naval operations as the Korean War would later show. Although new schemes were introduced in 1955 that finally broke the ANA 623 monopoly (see below), the delays in repainting (usually only once an aircraft was sent for maintenance or overhaul) meant that Glossy Sea Blue airframes would still be seen all the way until the end of the decade.
   Paint guide:Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623 (2): No paint company currently makes a postwar-specific ANA 623. Most modeling paints attempt to match FS 15042 which is closer to the darker wartime shade and would not look appropriate when compared with photos of USN/USMC aircraft from around the time of the Korean War. Only Colourcoats makes a specific post-war version, although it is matched to FS 15042 which would seem incorrect. Tamiya XF-17, a poor match for the wartime shades, looks like a better post-war fit while Xtracolor/Xtracrylix (X121/XA1121) appear closer to the post-war version as well. Given that the difference between ANA 607 and 623 is not as great as many paint manufacturers think, a workaround is to use ANA 607 if it is separately available and is lighter and more saturated. For example, Gunze's H56/C14 seems to fit this description. The paint table includes ANA 607 matches and equivalents with the caveat that they have not been adequately compared.

ANA 623 (2)
Glossy Sea Blue
Color matches
Gunze Aqueous(H54) (?)
Gunze Mr Color(C14) (?)
Humbrol(181) (?)
Model Master(1718) (?)
Tamiya(XF-17) (?)
Vallejo Model Air(71.295) (?)
Vallejo Model Color(70.898) (?)
AKAN(72042) (?)
AK Interactive(AK 2233) (?)
AK Real Colors(RC257) (?)
AMMO by Mig(A.MIG-227) (?)
Hataka(HTK-_006) (?)
Lifecolor(UA 044) (?)
Mission Models(MMP-062) (?)
Mr Paint(MRP-237) (?)