Category And Colors

T. O. 07- 1-1A corrects incorrect insignia data, May 29,1944

About one month after the release of T. O. 07-1-1 on April 25, 1944, a correction had to be made to the basic instructions for the construction of the bars on either side of the insignia. The original issue had stated:

The straight line formed on the top edges of the two-star points that are located to the left and right of the upper star point will be extended outward from the blue circle a distance equal to one half the radius of the circle.

(the error has been underlined – author). The correct dimension was, of course, one radius (one-half of the diameter) of the circle.

Lack of dope code markings on fabric-covered parts for B-17 questioned, June – July, 1944.

On June 13, 1944, the Office of the Base Inspector, AAF Pilot School (Specialized 4 Engine), Lockbourne Army Air Base, Columbus, OH (phew!), wrote to the CG, Eastern Training Command, stating that they had received 78 ailerons, 50 elevators and 35 rudders installed on B-17 aircraft delivered to them from 21 different stations, including Air Depots and manufacturers. These surfaces did not have any identifying code markings, as required by Spec. 98-24105-Q. They requested instructions on how to correct the situation. The Eastern Flying Training Command in turn wrote to the CG., Air Service Command, Patterson Field, Ohio, requesting a decision on how to handle the situation.


The aircraft in this photo belong to the fighter group commanders of the fighter wings of the Eighth Air Force in summer 1944. They are: (I) P-51D. aircraft MC-R “Gentle Annie” of the 79th FS, 20th FG; (2) P-51D-10-NA, 44-14111, aircraft PE-X “Straw Boss” of the 328th FS, 352nd FG; (3) P-47D-20-RE, 42-76541, aircraft LM-S of the 62nd FS, 56th FG; (4) P-51D-10-NA, 44-14291, aircraft CL-P“Da Cowie” of the 338th FS, 55th FG; and (5) P-47D-20-RE, 42-76415, aircraft Pl-1 of 360th FS, 356th FG. The last aircraft in the front row is a T-6 and in the second row are a P-47D and a P-38H.

Подпись: * Super-marine Walrus, L2246, aircraft AQ-Z, of the RAF Sq. 276 at strip A-8 in August 1944, This very slow, antique-looking biplane was a very welcome sight to any airmen who had to ditch in the English Channel; it was the main aircraft used to pick up crews in the water. Often, they would be so overloaded that they would have to taxi all the way back to the English coast. (William L. Swisher)

The resulting correspondence became somewhat acrimonious as the original complainant was asked for paper work pertaining to contract numbers, item numbers, packing sheet number, bill lading number, shipping date, quantity and part numbers! They replied that their complaint concerned parts installed on aircraft, not delivered as spare parts. They also raised the problems that arose during periodic inspections if the code markings were not on the parts; these included the difficulty of determining if deterioration of the surfaces was due to age or poorly manufactured paints, dopes or fabrics. If surfaces required refinishing it was difficult to determine if the maximum number of allowable coatings would be exceeded. They recommended that higher authorities take steps to correct the situation.

CG., Eastern Flying Training Command wrote to Air Service Comand on July 6,1944, requesting clarification and that any communica­tions to any of the stations in their command should be addressed to them.

Подпись: Douglas A-20G-35-DO, 43-10195 is aircraft 8U-U of the 646th BS, 410th BG. It carries a large disc on the nose outlined in white with the words “Queen Julia”. The aircraft is still marked with the medium green blotching on the vertical tail. Summer 1944. (USAF)

On July 29,1944, ASC replied that T. 0.00-25-34 gave the reason for not dating aircraft and parts, and stated that Spec. 98-24105 had not been revised to conform to the T, O. and to Material Command Regulation 151-6. This was because the markings were still applicable to training aircraft already in service within the Continental United States. Therefore, T. 0. 07-1-1 required that these detail markings be accomplished by all repair activities. No action could be taken to have new control surfaces or new fabric aircraft dated until non-dating was no longer considered necessary.


Stinson L-5 42-14974 of the 415th Field Artillery Group HQ, in summer of 1944 in the US. It is unusual in carrying the aircraft radio call number under the right wing, facing forward. Pilot was Capt. Paul T. Talbott, father of one of our photograph suppliers. (Paul Talbott)

This shows that conditions in the AAF had changed so much that they did not expect to be operating their aircraft for long lives; it is pertinent to point out that the average life of combat aircraft at that time had been calculated to be only twenty five hours!

Aircraft aati-corrosion protection raised to the JAC, May 15,1944, as a separate matter to use of camouflage finishes.

The Material Command reported that it had been found impractical in production to produce aircraft with their surfaces suitably pro­tected, and at the same time, build aircraft that were to be delivered with unpainted and uncamouflaged surfaces to meet the requirements of the AAF. They pointed out that the B-17, B-25, and P-51 all had excellent service records, and that none of them had any protective coatings applied to their faying and internal surfaces.


Martin B-26C-10-MO, of the 319th BG, Twelfth Air Force, Italy, with bright red cowls. (USAF via Gerry it. Markgraf)


Three Northrop P-61A’s over France in summer of 1944. They are: P-61A-5-NO, 42-5536; P-61A-10-NO, 42-5573 and P-61A-10-NO, 42-5564. The nearest one is still in the dark olive drab and neutral gray finish, while the other two are in the Jet 622 gloss black finish. They are from either the 422nd or 425th NFS. (USAF)

They therefore requested that the JAC reconsider their recommendations and report, dated January 19, 1944, and make it applicable to camouflage only. They believed that the subject of protective finishes could be resolved by agreement between the Army and Navy, through the working committee of the Aeronautical Board.

The JAC met on July 18, 1944, and agreed to delete the earlier recommendation, which had read as follows;

(2) That protective finishes be not eliminated in connection with any elimination of camouflage, but that surfaces be suitably protected, and that the committee be directed to expedite a spec, to accomplish this.



North American F-6C-NA, 43-12365, aircraft ZM-L “Puff”, of the 12th TRS, 10th PG, Ninth Air Force, at strip A-64 St. Dizier, France, on September 22,1944. Note the camera port beneath the star insignia. (William L. Swisher)

They also recommended that the AAF be required to apply protective coatings to the interior and faying surfaces of aircraft on dissimilar metal contacts such as aluminum alloy with magnesium, unclad aluminum alloy, steel, etc.. The finish of magnesium and steel parts were to continue to meet current specs.. The AAF were requested to make special and immediate check on their contractors to assure that the interior and faying surfaces of magnesium, unclad aluminum alloy and dissimilar metal contacts were properly protected in all cases. The Working Committee of the Aeronautical Board were requested to discontinue any action on the earlier recommendation and the Material Command, AAF, make a study regarding the use of protective coatings on helicopters.


(1) Metal surfaces which are painted with dull camouflage finish should preferably be stripped to bare metal in accordance with T. O. No. 07-1-7 and the metal cleaned and primed. However, Jet 622 camouflage enamel may be applied directly over the dull finish, after thorough cleaning and careful smoothing with No.320,or finer, waterproof sandpaper and water to minimum porosity and roughness. Application of Jet 622 to upper surfaces is not considered necessary but care will be taken to apply the jet camouflage to bottom surfaces and all other surfaces viewed from 30 degrees below horizontal. All junction lines will be “feathered” by overspraying the jet camouflage.

N ОТ E Application of lacquer over enamel may cause lifting of the enamel. If, upon trial, trouble is encountered in

application of lacquer over the old finish, the finish must be removed.

Prior to application of Jet 622 camouflage materials, unpainted metal surfaces will be cleaned in accordance with Specification No.98-20007, or by use of prepainting cleaners as outlined in T. O. No. 01-1-1 and then primed with one smooth coat of zinc chromate primer Specification No. AN-TT-P-656.

(2) Wood surfaces painted with dull camouflage or aluminized finish will be cleaned and then smoothed out by sanding with No.320, or finer; waterproof sandpaper and water, prior to application of the Jet No. 622 camouflage. Unfin­ished wood surfaces will be prepared to produce a surface as smooth and free from irregularities as possible, prior to application of the Jet No. 622 camouflage. Surfacer, Specification No. 14115, may be used in direct-on-wood finishes, provided the film is sanded as thin as possible commensurate with the desired smoothness and “holdout," or fullness, of gloss of the final finish.

b. APPLICATION. – Application of Jet No, 622 camouflage will be by spraying, which presents no unusual problems; however, because of the need to produce a black finish having as near a mirror-like appearance as possible, it is necessary to take extra precautions to avoid dust during painting and drying. Dust which becomes adhered to the paint, especially on the bottom and side surfaces, will result in reduced effectiveness of the camouflage.

NOTE Lacquer, being faster drying, is preferred for Jet No. 622 finish for this reason and should be requisitioned under stock No. 7300-521100.

Jet No. 622 lacquer will be applied to the properly prepared surfaces of metal (and wood) by spraying not less than two full coats. Application of the camouflage material will be controlled so as to produce a finish of uniform hiding, blackness and very high gloss.

NOTE In the event that a rough finish is applied in the field, it may be smoothed by rubbing lightly with 320 or 400 waterproof abrasive paper after which a light but wet coat of camouflage material should be applied.

c. FABRIC SURFACES. – Fabric, doped with aluminized or dull camouflage finish which has not become brittle, may be converted to jet camouflage by the following procedure: Remove all grease and dirt, then wash with soft soap and water, rinse with clean water, and allow the surfaces to dry. Apply two wet spray coats of thinner, Specification No, AN-TT-T256, to soften


North American P-51B-5-NA, 43-6593, aircraft WZ-S of the 84th FS, 78th FG, Eighth Air Force, Duxford, England, on April 10,1945. Seen in a rather embarrassing moment. It has a black spinner, black and white checks on the nose and a black rudder. Note the letters “WW” above the serial number on the (in. (USAF)


North American P-51C-I0-NT, 42-103863, aircraft SX-M “Lucky Leaky II”, of the 352nd FS, 353rd FG, 66th FW, 3rd Air Div. It is seen after making a good belly landing, note the very heavy exhaust stain aft of the exhausts. Aircraft shows one “kill”. Spinner and nose were in hlack and yellow, and the rudder was black. (USAF)

up the old finish, and allow to dry not more than 30 minutes. Apply three spray coats of gloss black pigmented dope, the last of which is cut with an equal portion of clear dope, Specification No. AN-TT-D-514, before thinning, to impart added gloss. If fabric is new, tauten with a minimum of two brush coats and two spray coats of Specification No. AN-TT-D-514 dope. Sand lightly, exercising caution that the parts are grounded properly. Finish with three spray coats of gloss black pigmented dope, Specification No. AN-TT-D-554, the last coat of which is cut with an equal portion of clear dope, Specification No. AN-TT-D – 514, before thinning, to impart added gloss.

d. MAINTENANCE OF JET NO 622 FINISH. – The effectiveness of night camouflage is reduced by accumula­tions of mud, dust, oil, gun blast or exhaust gas residues, and chalking of the paint film, particularly on sides and under surfaces of aircraft. Excessively widespread scratches and especially bare metal exposed by scratches, also have a deleterious effect. Therefore, cleaning and maintenance operations on the airplane should be so conducted as to avoid scratching the finish and to minimize exposure of bare metal. Before engaging in night operation, mud, dust, muzzle blast, or exhaust gas residues and oil should be removed and any bare metal areas retouched with Jet No. 622 camouflage materials especially on sides and under surfaces. THE CLOSER THIS TYPE OF CAMOUFLAGE APPROACHES THE APPEARANCE OF A BLACK MIRROR, THE MORE EFFECTIVE IT BECOMES.

e. REJUVENATION. – If, on extended exposure, a surface haze appears on the paint, wash with soap and water and rinse with clean water, then wipe surface thoroughly with clean cloths wet with naphtha or solvent, Specification No. P-S-661. The cloths should be wet by pouring solvent on them and should not be dipped into the solvent. Discard cloths as they become soiled. Spray on one light coat of Jet No. 622 camouflage lacquer, Specification No. AN-L-29. Clean doped surfaces in the same manner, but apply only gloss black dope, Specification No, AN-TT-D-554, cut with clear dope, Specification No. AN-TT-D – 514.


Standard day camouflage for liaison aircraft, helicopters, troop carrier transports, and gliders consist of upper surfaces olive drab, shade No. 613, AN Bulletin 157A and lower surfaces Army-Navy sea gray, No. 603. (Refer to AN Bulletin 157A.)


The exterior of alclad metal fuselages and metal airfoils does not ordinarily require paint as a protection against corro­sion.

(Refer to T. O. No. 01-1-2.) However, where it is necessary to provide additional protective finish, any such unprotected parts will be cleaned with prepainting cleaner (T. O, No. 01-1-1), finished with one coat of zinc chromate primer, Specification No. AN-TT-P-656, and two coats of aluminized lacquer. Aluminized lacquer consists of lacquer cellulose nitrate, clear, Specifica­tion No. AN-TT-L-51, pigmented with 12 ounces per gallon of paste, aluminum pigment, Specification No. AN-TT-A-461. NOTE Mix in accordance with T. O. No. 07-1-2.


Antiglare camouflage olive drab or camouflage black is authorized to be applied to top of the fuselage in front of the cockpit on the inside upper one-fourth of the engine nacelle forward of the leading edge of the wing over a properly cleaned and primed surface.


Red stripes finally bring back red into the national insignia, Amendment -2 to AN-I-9b, January 1947

Some six months after the previous change to AN-I-9b, Amendment -2 was issued on January 16,1947, to be effective immediately upon issue. This changed the first sentence to read as follows:

“D-l. Construction.- The national insignia shall be an insignia white five pointed star inside an insignia blue circum­scribed circle with an insignia white rectangle, one radius of the blue circle in length and one-half radius of the blue circle in width, on each side of the star and the top edges placed to form a straight line with the top edges of the two star points beneath the top star point; with an insignia red horizontal stripe in the white rectangles at each end of the insignia, the width of the red stripe to be one-sixth the radius of the star; and an insignia blue border one-eighth radius of the blue circle in width outlining the entire design; except that when the insignia is to be applied on a sea blue, dark blue or black background, the insignia blue circumscribed circle and the insignia blue border may be omitted.”

This new amendment added red stripes inside each of the white horizontal bars, and this has remained the basic national star insignia to the present day.

New version AN-I-38a, Insignia and Markings for Search and Rescue Aircraft issued, June 1947.

On June 2, 1947, a revised version of the spec, for Insignia and markings for search and rescue aircraft, AN-I-38a, was effective imme diately upon issue. Many detail changes were made in the requirements; the new version read as follows:

AN-I-38a, 2 June 1947, Superseding AN-I-38, 17 October 1945


A-l. This specification is drawn to present the requirements for the size, location, and color of the insignia and markings for identification of all aircraft that are engaged in search and rescue operations.


B-l. Publications.- The following publications of the issue in effect on date of invitation for bids shall form a part of this specification to the extent specified herein:

B-la. Army-Navy Aeronautical Specifications.

AN-D-2 Dope; Celiulose-Acetate-Butyrate, Pigmented, Gloss AN-TT-D-554 Dope; Cellulose-Nitrate, Pigmented AN-E-3 Enamel; Aircraft, Gloss AN-L-29 Lacquer; Cellulose Nitrate 13-lb, Army-Navy Aeronautical Bulletin.

No. 166 Colors; List of Standard Aircraft Glossy.


C-l. General.- The insignia, lettering, and markings shall be applied with glossy lacquer, conforming to Specification AN-L-29, dopes, Specifications AN-TT-D-544 and AN-D-2, or enamel, Specification AN-E-3, as are applicable and compatible with the finishes applied to adjacent surfaces. Decalcomanias may be used upon specific approval of the Procuring Agency.

C-2. Color.- The finishes shall be Color No. 506 Orange-Yellow and Color No. 515 Gloss Black. The colors used shall conform to the applicable Army-Navy Aircraft Color Standards (Glossy), Bulletin No. 166.


D-l. Markings for Large Seaplanes and Amphibians.

D-la. Wing Tips.

D-la(l). Wing tip floats and struts shall be painted orange-yellow.

D-la(2). Upper and lower surfaces of both wing tips shall be painted orange-yellow from the wing tip inboard a distance equal to 7 percent of the total wing span (float excluded). A black border 6 inches in width shall be added inboard, except on airplanes finished in glossy sea-blue color, in which case the black border is omitted.

D-lb. Wing, Center Section (Upper Surface Only).

D-lb(l). The upper surface of the center section, including the rear projection portion of the engine nacelles, shall be painted orange-yellow to a distance just outboard of the two inboard engine nacelles. A black border 6 inches in width shall be added outboard, except on airplanes finished in glossy sea-blue color, in which case the black border is omitted.

D-lb(2). On the upper surface, the word “RESCUE” shall be superimposed in black. Centered aft of the word “RES­CUE”, the appropriate identification numerals and/or letters shall be added. Letters and numerals shall be of the modified vertical block type, uniform in shape and size and shall be 36 inches high, 27 inches wide, and the width of the individual strokes forming them shall be 6 inches. The spacing between letters shall be 12 inches.


Republic XF-12, 44-91002, first prototype, made its first flight on July 2, 1946. It was an extraordinary clean design, intended to be used as a long range strategic reconnaissance aircraft. Only two were built, as the AAF no longer needed the mission requirement. (USAF via Gerry R. Markgraf)

D-lc. Hull.-

D-lc(l). Hull (Rear Section).- A 36-inch orange-yellow band, approximately three feet forward of the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer, shall encircle the aft portion of the hull, but not extend onto the last step or keel. Two 6-inch black stripes shall be added as borders, except on airplanes finished in glossy sea-blue color, in which case the black borders are omitted.

D-lc{2). Hull (Forward Section).- On each side of the forward part of the hull and centered between the leading edge of the wing and the bow, an orange-yellow rectangle, whose length shall be equal to three times its height, shall be painted. A two – inch black stripe shall border the rectangle. The height of the rectangle shall be 33 percent of the vertical dimension of the projection of the fuselage side at the point of application, except that the height of this rectangle shall be not greater than 36 nor less than 20 inches excluding the border. The rectangle shall be located as near as possible to the center of the vertical projection of the fuselage at the point of application. The national aircraft insignia, which normally would occupy this space, shall be located aft on the hull to clear this marking.

D-lc(2)a. Identification Numbers.- The search and rescue identification numbers and/or letters shall be of the modified vertical block type, uniform in shape and size, and shall be approximately 2/3 of the height of the orange-yellow rectangle. The width of the letters and numerals shall be 3/4 of the height and the width of the individual strokes forming them shall be 1/6 of the height. The letters and numerals shall be appropriately spaced,

D-lc(3). Hull (Bottom Section).- On the bottom of the hull, between the bow and the main step, and extending from chine to chine, the search and rescue identification numerals and/or letters shall be painted. The top of the letters and/or numer­als shall be at the port chine of the hull. Letters and numerals shall be orange-yellow, bordered by a two-inch black stripe. The width of the letters and numerals shall be 3/4 of the height, and the width of the individual strokes forming them shall be 1/6 of the height. The letters and numerals shall be appropriately spaced.

D-2. Markings for Permanently Shore-Based Helicopters.- The entire fuselage shall be finished in orange-yellow atid the word “Rescue” shall be painted in black at the widest part of the top (aft of the enclosure) and bottom of the fuselage, using vertical block letters as large as space will permit.

D-3. Markings for Other Aircraft.- The markings, as specified for large seaplanes and amphibians, shall be used as appropriate to the size and shape of the aircraft.

e. When insignia is applied to black camouflaged surfaces, the insignia blue circle and border may be omitted. Thus, the white star and white bar areas will be set off by black background, instead of insignia blue background, (this had been common practice on Navy aircraft painted glossy sea blue, etc., but this is the first use of it by the AAF. Also see next item).

Amendment to AN-l-9b changes insignia requirements for dark backgrounds, June 1946

On June 10,1946, Amendment -1 to Spec. AN-I-9b was issued, effective immediately upon issue. This stated that:

“when the national insignia was to be applied on a sea blue, dark blue or black background, the insignia blue circumscribed circle and the insignia blue border may be omitted”.

* * *


Douglas C-47, serial unknown, of the European Air TVansport Service, seen at Croydon Airport, England, on May 27,1947, shows its post-war natural metal finish. (Author)

The History Of USAAF Aircraft Markings, Insignia, Camouflage, And Colors

This volume covers the history and development of how and why the US Army Air Forces finished and marked their aircraft, between 1941 and 1947. The US Army Air Forces was formed out of the earlier unsatisfactory command structure, when in March 1941, the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, directed that action be taken to place the existing Air Corps and Army Air Force Com­bat Command (which had replaced the earlier GHQ Air Force) un­der one command. Shortly after this, he revived the office of Assis­tant Secretary of War for Air; the new secretary, Robert A. Lovett, proceeded to promote increased aircraft production and to stream­line the Army air arm.

The resulting reorganization created the new Army Air Forces (note the plural form of the title) on June 20, 1941 with General H. H. Arnold appointed as its Chief, directly responsible to the Army Chief of Staff. The new AAF was superior to the Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command. Under Arnold, Maj. Gen. George H. Brett, the new Chief of the Air Corps, and Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, commanding general of the Air Force Combat Command, were made responsible for service and combat functions, respec­tively.

However, it soon became apparent that there were still defects in the new organization, but it was not until early in 1942 that these were finally rectified by making the AAF a virtually autonomous force within the War Department. These changes had been made possible by official recognition of the major part airpower had played in the Nazi conquest of Europe, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

As a result, a new War Department Circular, No. 59, was is­sued on March 2,1942, effective on March 9,1942. This abolished the Army GHQ, and placed the AAF on the same level as the ground army, if not as that of the Army itself. The earlier Office of the Chief of the Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command were abolished. Despite this new directive, Gen. Arnold still obtained most of his authority, as head of an all-but independent air force, from being a member of the American-British Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) and the American Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), formed in February, 1942.

However, this new command structure did get the AAF a posi­tion commensurate with its growing size and power. This resulted in Gen. Arnold and the AAF assuming a role in the war effort far greater than that prescribed in War Department Circular No. 59. This finally reached a point where the AAF reached a quasi-equal­ity with the Army and Navy, as compared to its actual legal status of equality with the Army ground and service forces.

Very rapid growth of the AAF resulted in the formation of no less than sixteen separate Air Forces world-wide. First of these were the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest Air Forces, within those areas of the continental USA. These soon became the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Air Forces. The Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Twentieth Air Forces served in the Chinese-Burma-Pacific theaters; the Eighth, Ninth, Twelfth, and Fifteenth in the Europe-Mediterranean theaters; the Sixth in the Panama Canal Zone, and the Eleventh in Alaska. The Eighth Air Force was re-deployed to the Pacific theater in 1945, after the end of the war in Europe.

Other specialized commands were eventually formed, includ­ing the Technical Training Command and the FlyingTraining Com­mand (these were later merged into a single Training Command), Air Corps Maintenance Command, and the Air Corps Ferrying Com­mand (this eventually became the Air Transport Command).

At the peak of its strength, the AAF had no less than 2,411,294 men in service, and 78,757 aircraft in its inventory. There were no less than 243 active groups in service by April 1945, and 224 of these were overseas. After the end of the war, the reduction in strength was very rapid and only 303,600 men remained in the ser­vice by May 1947. Less than four months later the AAF was re­placed by the new, independent, US Air Force, on September 18, 1947. Planning for this event had actually begun in 1943, but it took all of this time before the Air Force finally became an equal partner with the Army and Navy.

To make the subject matter of this volume more manageable and understandable, it has been broken down into seven chapters and two appendices. Chapter 1 covers 1941, Chapter 2 1942, Chap­ter 3 1943, Chapter 4 1944, Chapter 5 1945-1947. Each of these chapters fully covers, in chronological order, the development of standard aircraft color schemes and finishes, development of cam­ouflage color schemes and finishes, evolution of the national insig­

nia, the markings for airplanes and airplane parts, unit insignia and tactical markings, and the evolution of standard color shades.

Chapter 6 covers briefly the development of the colorful Com­bat Aircraft Distinctive Markings for the Eighth Air Force in En­gland, the special SHAEF “Invasion Stripes, and Unit Insignia”. Chapter 7 covers the development and usage of the standard USAAF aircraft color shades.

Appendix A covers the aircraft designation system used throughout the life of the AAF, and Appendix В covers the various aircraft maintenance markings used.

Photographs and color drawings have been included in each chapter and appendix, where applicable, to illustrate the applica­tion of the requirements to aircraft. Some photographs also illus­trate mistakes or incorrect application of the requirements. With the vast number of aircraft used by the AAF, it is only possible to display a representative selection of their photographs, and the reader should also make use of the large number of titles published on the AAF for further reference. However, much incorrect or misleading information has been published on the subject of this book; readers are advised to use their discretion and make use of the official in­formation contained in this volume.

All of the data in the text has been extracted from a huge vari­ety of official documents, specifications, technical orders, memo­randum, etc. produced by the AAF during the period covered by this volume. The AAF used a logical, uniform numbering system for all of its specifications, and all of the earlier aircraft ones fell into category 98-XX or 99-XX. The official nomenclature has been used throughout, including the various changes it went through. To save space, the reference “Specification Number” has been short­ened to "Spec.”. In contrast to many other publications on this spe­cialized subject, the author has given the full text of the main offi­cial documents. This allows the reader to follow the requirements laid down for USAAF personnel to follow, and those levied on the huge number of manufacturers involved during the war. In many of these requirements, the needs of our Allies also had to be consid­ered and, indeed, there were many joint committees formed for just such needs.

Most of the time, the new USAAF cooperated very closely with its chief ally, the older British Royal Air Force, to their mutual benefit. However, as one reads the history of these events, it be­comes apparent that there were two areas in which there appears to have been a degree of unwarranted chauvinism on the part of cer­tain USAAF personnel. The first one was the tremendously slow effort to use white camouflage on the Anti-Submarine Command’s aircraft, like the RAF Coastal Command had been using very suc­cessfully for some time. In fact, the white scheme was not adopted until just before the USAAF handed over this duty to the US Navy.

The second area was the paint and colors to be used on the USAAF long range, high flying, Lockheed F-5 reconnaissance air­craft. Much effort was expended on the so-called haze paint schemes, but in the end various synthetic blue colors were used. This was despite the existence of well-developed color schemes in use by the RAF for the same duties. The discrepancy in this area is height­ened by the later use of totally undocumented blue colors on vari­ous Consolidated F-7 (B-24 modified) aircraft for use in the Pa­cific. These color discrepancies were all the more surprising in view of the existence of the joint Army-Navy committee that issued the joint ANA 157 and 166 color bulletins. However, such events were very unusual, and contrary to the normal cooperation in effect until the end of the war.

To avoid confusion, all dates have been converted to the month/ day/year format. Some of the official nomenclature may seem strange, such as the use of the French word "cocarde” for the “star – in-circie” insignia in Specification 24114 of October 1940, but this was the official term used until the issue of the joint Army-Navy Spec. AN-I-9 in 1943.

To fully understand the use of the official documentation, it is necessary to realize that specifications were mandatory for use by both contractors and the service, while technical orders and techni­cal instructions were only applicable within the service. However, waivers or deviations could be obtained by contractors in specific situations, when agreed to by the service. Although all of the speci­fications, etc., are dated, it did not necessarily mean that the re­quirement went into effect immediately, unless a mandatory com­pliance date was included. Effects of this lag in applying require­ments are called out in the text, where known.

To clarify and coordinate the mass of data generated between 1941 and 1947, charts covering the specifications, technical orders, color specifications, etc., issued during each year, will be found near the front of Chapters 1 through 5.

These charts allow complete correlation of all of the service marking and color requirements for any given period, as detailed in each of the Chapters. To make it easier to find specific references in the text, many sub-headings indicate the more important data in all chapters. To save space, and endless repetition, several have been used in the captions to the photographs; these will be found in the list of abbreviations.

The publisher has decided to print the numerous standard USAAF color shades, rather than using inserted color chips. Every effort has been made to make the printed color shades as accurate as possible: those whose needs require the highest possible accu­racy in color shades are requested to contact the author, via the publisher,

The author is aware that it has not been possible to include all of the available data in this volume; for example, it was found that the data for the section on the very colorful Combat Aircraft Dis­tinctive Markings was so extensive that, after consultation with the publisher, it was decided to publish it later, as a separate work. Nevertheless, the author believes that this work covers a subject long demanding this kind of attention and has done his best to sat­isfy the objective; any errors that may be in this volume are his responsibility. He hopes that the reader will enjoy the volume and that they will inform him of any corrections or additions that may come to light.

USAAF Time Line — National Star Insignia




The History Of USAAF Aircraft Markings, Insignia, Camouflage, And Colors

Insignia Spec. no. 241102-K July 20, 1941 to May 28, 1942




Insignia Spec. ПО.24102-К Amend. #3

May 28, 1942 to June 29,1943


Allied invasion of North Africa Novembers, 1942




Variation with 2 inch yellow outline, 8th AF. op. memo no. 9, October 1, 1942 Also used in North Africa.


The History Of USAAF Aircraft Markings, Insignia, Camouflage, And Colors

Insignia to AN-l-9a

June 29.1943 to August 14, 1943


Insignia to AN-l-9b

August 14, 1943 to January 14, 1947


Insignia Spec. no. AN-1-9b, Amend.#2 January 14, 1947 to September 26, 1947


USAAF becomes US AIR FORCE September 26, 1947



Desert Camouflage for Martin Il-26s described by WF, July 31,1942

The Prod. Div. (WF) informed the Martin Omaha, Nebraska, plant of the paint scheme for use on B-26s destined for desert use. Sand shade enamel was to be used instead of, or over the existing Olive Drab shade, but there was no change to the Neutral Gray under surface color. All upper surface fabric-covered parts were to be painted with Sand color dope.

Exp. Eng. Sect. (WF) test camouflage on B-29 stainless steel wings, August 1,1942.

Tests were run by the Exp. Eng. Sect. (WF) to determine the value of camouflage finishes on stainless steel wings for B-29s. They found that camouflage finishes on stainless steel were equal to similar finishes on aluminum coated aluminum alloy. Their report also indicated that the methods used for cleaning the metal surfaces, prior to the application of paint, was satisfactory for stainless steel (note: B-29s did not use stainless steel for the production aircraft, because satisfactory aluminum alloys were available-author).

Douglas Company asked to delete “U. S. Army” lettering under the wings of all camouflaged aircraft, August 10,1942.

Wright Field requested the Douglas Company to delete the words “U. S. Army” from the underside of all camouflaged aircraft. They requested that immediate action be taken to remove this wording on the undersurfaces of camouflaged wings for models C-53, C-54, C – 54A, and C-74 airplanes (this was a very early mention of the C-74 – author).

T. O. 07-1-IB revision issued on August 15, 1942, covering use of Medium Green blotches, deletion of “U. S. Army” under wings and the use of decals for organization insignia.

A revised version, T. O.07-1-1B, was issued on August 15, 1942, and added paras. l.f.(l)(c) and revised paras 5.a., 6, and 7.e.

l. _f. Use of Special Color of Camouflage Materials.

(1) The basic camouflage scheme in permanent camouflage materials for Army Air Forces airplanes is as follows: **********************#*************#*#*$*******************************

(c) Medium green, shade No. 42 in splotches or patches along the leading edges, tips and trailing edees of the wing, vertical and horizontal stabilizers and rudders.

1. Application should be made so that the continuity in appearance of the wing, stabilizer, and rudder outlines

is broken.

2. The size of the splotches, or stripes should extend inward from the edges at various distances ranging from 0 to 20 per cent of the width of wing, stabilizer or rudder member.

5. Markings.

a. The markings for all military aircraft will be in accordance with Spec. 98-24105 (airplanes), or 99-2050 (lighter – than-air aircraft) except that on camouflaged airplanes the marking “U. S. Army” on the under surface of wing will be omitted.

6. Standard Insignia. – Standard military insignia will be placed and maintained on each airplane as outlined in Spec. 98­24102, or Spec. 24114 (airplane camouflage) which includes the following:

a. The new insignia is a five pointed white star within a blue circle.

b. All rudder stripes will be eliminated and color of rudder will be the same as the upper surfaces of the fuselage except as noted in para. l. f.(l)(c).

c. Decalcomania transfers may be used if desired, (for application of decalcomanias on airplanes assigned to Air Service Command see T. O. No. 01-1-21.)

7. e. Decalcomania Insignia. – Where personnel are not available to print organization insignia in a satisfactory manner, the use of decalcomania insignia on airplanes is authorized. (Eland or sprav painting of the new Air Service Command Insignia is not authorized – see T. O. No. 01-1-21.) Owing to the local nature of their usage, however, it will be necessary for organizations (except the Air Service Command) desiring to use these transfers to obtain them by local purchase. Their application does not require skilled workmen. Instructions for applying decalcomanias are furnished by the manufacturer. They should be stored in a dry place where they will not be exposed to temperature above normal.

First production Lockheed F-5 haze painted, August 21, 1942.

The Prod. Eng. Sect (WF) told the Photo Lab. Exp. Eng. Sect. (WF) that the first production F-5 aircraft had been given a coat of haze paint, which had failed to meet expectations, possibly due to improper application. The Material Center (WF) had been made responsible for the testing this aircraft. Problems continued with the application of the haze paint to production F-5 aircraft and the in-flight results were very variable. It was thought that the properties of the original Cabot haze paint were responsible for the poor results, but testing done with haze paint produced by two other companies were also disappointing. Eglin Field eventually produced a Final Report on October 23, 1942, entitled “Test of Haze Paint” (see later in this chapter-author).

image143North American 0-47A, 37-327, finished in Dark Olive Drab and Neutral Gray, is seen with the new insignia. These obsolete aircraft were used for coastal reconnaissance patrols until other aircraft were available. (USAF)


Cuitiss P-40E. Close up view of Col. Robert L. Scott’s aircraft in China on September IS, 1942. This shows crew chief J. R. Hill pointing to Col. Scott’s five kills on the side of the airplane. By this lime the American Volunteer Group (AVGl had become the 23rd FG of the L4th AF in China. (USAF)


Curtiss C-46-CU, 41-5180, is one of the initial production model built as troop transports. This is aircraft no.21 of the first batch of 25. (llarry Gann)

HQ Northwest African Air Forces issues instructions for theater camouflage, March 10, 1943

The local situation in Northwest Africa caused the HQ. Northwest African Air Forces to issue instructions for changing the basic camou­flage on all aircraft in its command. These instructions contained information on new camouflage patterns for P-38, P-40, A-20, B-25,

B-24, and B-17 aircraft. These patterns were to be applied by spray gun, using paint mixed with gasoline! Seven colors were called out from an existing US Army, Corps of Engineers Color Specification. These instructions were not generally known outside of the theater and the accompanying color drawings are being published for the first time. The document read as follows:


Bell P-39M-BE, 42-4813 etc., lined up at Alexandria Field, Alexandria, Lousiana, on March 8,1943. These aircraft may have been «citing ready to be sent to North Africa or England as they all carry the yellow outlined cocade, which was not used within the USA. They are finished in a camouflage pattern reminiscent of the RAF. (USAF)



General (This color combination will be used on all aircraft except those noted under Special Cases.)

A – Field Drab

В – Olive Drab. (If airplane is already painted in Olive Drab, do not apply new coat unless necessary for maintenance). C – l/8th pint Blue plus one gallon White.

Special (These color combinations will be used when color of plane standing areas have a decided color accent of one color, such as red, yellow, green or sand.


A – (1/2 Earth Yellow) + (1/2 Earth Red)

В – Earth Brown

C – (1/8 pint Blue) + (one gallon White)


A – (2/3 Earth Yellow) + (1/3 Field Drab)

В – Earth Brown

C – (1/8 pint Blue) + (one gallon White)


A – Light Green В – Olive Drab

C – (1/8 pint Blue) + (one gallon White)

LIGHT SAND f Desert 1 A – Sand

В – Sand (if area is all sand color)

Field Drab (if area is spotted)

C – (1/8 pint Blue) + (one gallon White)

Note: All colors specified are according to Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army tentative specifications No. T-1213, Dec. 15,1941, Amendment #1 Feb. 5, 1942.

The eight color chips shown in the document were:





APPLICATION OF PAINT Paint used will have a dull surface when dry.

Paint will be sprayed on just heavy enough to cover the surface with a solid coat of color.

Paint will be sprayed solid up to the pattern line and then shaded out into the next color.

The following sketch shows how this is accomplished, (omitted—author)


Mark off, on airplane, two foot squares with a snap line/chalk.

Sketch in the pattern line appearing in each of the squares, checking with corresponding square on the pattern plan.

On curved surfaces, such as the fuselage, the pattern will have to be sketched freehand. The following sketch shows how this is to be accomplished, (omitted—author)


The pattern designs shown on Sheets 1 to 6 may be used directly; however, additional camouflage patterns will have to be designed, as the repetition of one pattern on one type of plane will result in a dangerous eye attraction. Use the suggested pat­terns as a guide in making additional designs, keeping in mind the following points:

(a) Scale of spots: Relate them to the size of the airplane, using the suggested designs as a guide.

(b) Shape of spots: Keep them irregular and varied in form. Avoid any recognizable shape, such as a square, diamond, heart, circle, etc.

(c) Size of spots: No two spots should be the same size.

(d) Placement of spots: Locate the spots in such a manner that the wing, fuselage, tail and rudder surfaces are broken by the darker patches. It will be of assistance to work up new designs in the same scale as the suggested sketches, follow­ing the instructions previously given in transferring the pattern to the airplane.


Spray painting with gasoline mixed paints must be done outdoors or in an extremely well ventilated building. Precautions must be taken with flames and lighted cigarettes.

Issued by Headquarters, North West African Air Forces,

Engineers – Section, U. S.A. P.0.650 Drawn by H. W. T. and C. R.H. date 10th March 1943.

HQ Northwest African Air Forces issues instructions for theater camouflage, March 10, 1943




12% LIGHT BLUE NO. 307

— 88% WHITE © Victor Archer





12% LIGHT BLUE NO. 307

88% WHITE © Victor Archer










© Viclor Archer



Douglas A-20B-DL, 41-3014, probably of the 47th BG, in North Africa, March 1943. Both aircraft are carrying variants of the special North West African forces camouflage applied in the field, using gasoline as the paint solvent! (Harry Gann)

This is the only recorded in-theater change of USAAF aircraft camouflage and was undoubtedly the result of the sharp German reaction to the Allied Forces advance towards Tunisia. On February 14, 1943, the Germans launched a powerful counter-attack from the Faid Pass in Tunisia, breaking through to the Kasserine Pass, They made many heavy attacks on the desert air bases and these were probably the cause of the above camouflage changes. Photographs of the time show that it was chiefly the A-20, B-25, and P-40 units that adopted the new camouflage.

No photographs seem to have come to light showing the recommended camouflage on P-38, B-17, or B-24 aircraft. Variations of the recommended camouflage have been seen on many A-20 aircraft, particularly those of the 47th BG, stationed at Canrobert, Algeria, during March, 1943.

Eglin Field tests camouflage for Photographic Aircraft, September 22,1943

Another report by Eglin Field, No. 3-42-106, “Test of Camouflage for Photographic Airplanes at Extremely High Altitudes”, was re­leased on September 22, 1943. It is yet another of the missing reports referred to previously, so we are not sure of the contents. However, we do know that Lockheed finally painted all of the later production F*5As and F-5Bs in a single color synthetic blue haze paint. Later F – 5s were converted from P-38 aircraft at modification centers. It is not known what colors the converted aircraft were painted in, but refer to the entry dated October 16, 1943 (later in this chapter), covering the painting of F-7 aircraft in two shades of blue.


Vuitee BT-13A, 42-41966, is seen over Laredo Field, Texas, on November 2, 1943 with the red outline insignia. The red outline continued to be used Гог several months in all areas, except the Pacific, despite the change to a blue outline in September 1943. Aircraft is natural metal finish.





Consolidated B-24J-25-CO, 42-73250, is seen on a test flight, with the red outline insignia in mid-1943. (Convair)


a. The use of decalcomanias, Specification No. 14118,for standard or organization insignia and markings is authorized Instructions for application should be printed on the reverse side of the various types; however, in event of any confusion, the Commanding General, Air Service Command, Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio, will be notified, giving Purchase Order number, type, and size.


Stinson L-5B-VW, 42-99574, showing the deeper rear fuselage which allowed a patient to be carried on a stretcher. This became a very popular feature for evacuating wounded personnel out of front line areas in a hurry. This is the first one of 730 built. (USAF)

Deletion of camouflage from Douglas A-20H and К aircraft canceled, July 7,1944

Douglas Aircraft was informed by Material Command on July 7, 1944, that the deletion of camouflage from the A-20H and A-20K. aircraft was canceled.

Requirements for troop carriers, transports, and war-weary and surplus aircraft added by T. 0.07-1-1B, August 5, 1944.

Another change to T. O. 07-1-1 was made, dated August 5, 1944. This added troop carriers and transport aircraft to those that required camouflage on exterior surfaces.

The war situation was reflected in the addition of two new categories of aircraft to section “3. Markings” of the T. O.. This new section read as follows:


North American F-6C-NT, 42-103368, aircraft 5M-G of the 15th TRS, 10th PG, Ninth Air Force, at strip A-64 on September 22,1944, Note that this aircraft has its camera port behind the cockpit and it is in natural metal finish. These aircraft were also armed and this one shows five kills. (William L. Swisher)


Douglas C-53D-DO, 42-68718, aircraft E5-Lofthe 62nd TCS, 413th TCG, Ninth Air Force, at strip A-64 in September 1944. Note the shine from the decal of flic star insignia and the misplaced left bar to the star. (William L. Swisher)

g. WAR-WEARY AND SURPLUS AIRCRAFT. – Two-inch letters will be stenciled directly beneath the type, model, and series designation on the fuselage of aircraft (same color as present markings) in the following categories. This stenciling will be ap­plied by activities at which the affected aircraft are now stationed, and will also include affected aircraft received in the future without these markings:

(1) The letter “W” will be stenciled on all war-weary aircraft which have not undergone a complete DIR. The term “WAR – WEARY” applies to any aircraft returned permanently from service in an overseas theater.

(2) The letter “Q” will be stenciled on all war-weary aircraft that are processed through a depot for DIR. This symbol will replace the “W”, which will no longer appear on the aircraft.

(3) The letter “S” will be stenciled on all aircraft which have been declared by Headquarters, Army Air Forces excess to the military requirements or surplus to the W. D. or both. (Reference paragraph 9.a. AAF Regulation 65-86). Under no circum­stances will the letter “S” be used to indicate or be interpreted to mean “storage.” In cases where the symbol “W” or “Q” is required to be placed on the aircraft, the “S” will be stenciled directly after that symbol. Example: “WS” -“OS.”

It should be noted that this order was not strictly adhered to, in that in every photograph of a war-weary aircraft that the author has seen, the letters “WW” were stenciled rather than the required “W”.


Martin B-26F-1-MA, 42-96322, aircraft 07, with the unit yellow band under tail, of the 441st BS, 320th BG, Twelfth Air Force, Italy, 1944. (USAF via Gerry R. Markgraf)


Douglas A-20J-I5-DO, 43-21735, of (he 155th Night Photo Sq., 10th PG, of XIX Tactical Air Command, Ninth Air Force. Named “Starize”, it has standard dark olive drab and neutral gray camouflage. Note that all of the invasion stripes have been painted out. Seen at strip A-64 on September 22, 1944. (William L. Swisher)


Exterior plywood surfaces will be finished with two coats of varnish, Specification No. AN-TT-V-118, thinned with an equal portion of naphtha or, on open grain woods, one coat of thinned varnish followed by one coat of surfacer, Specification No. 14115, sanded down, before the final two coats of aluminized varnish. Use 16 to 20 ounces of pigment, Specification No. AN-TT-A-461, in each gallon of varnish for the final coats.


Republic P-47D-30-RA, 45-49365, was Col. Robert L. Baselcr’s last 325th FG aircraft before the unit was disbanded in October, 1945. The black and yellow checks cover both sides of all of the tail surfaces on the natural metal and the cowl panel with “Rig Stud” on it is black. Note that the “Ace of Spades” marking has the spade pointing down, rather than up as on his previous aircraft. The black lines with arrows on the wings are believed to be for aiming during deflection shots. (Robert L. Baseler)