USAAF Jet Black was: P-61 gloss black too?

In reponse to the posts on P-61 and P-38 gloss black night fighters.
When WW II started most countries went with a flat black camouflage for
aircraft operating at night. Most realized this was not ideal so the Brits
and Germans switched to light greys from their day schemes for night
fighters. This provided good camouflage against cloudy skies. The US
experimented with flat black as well, using this on the P-70. Soon after,
MIT came up with a smooth, glossy paint called ANA 622 Jet Black that was
very effective against searchlights. The USAAF decided to switch to Jet for
night fighters but due to wartime communications, Northrop did not get the
word in time and painted P-61s Olive Drab and Gray until early 1944, when
they switched to Jet.
Although some units in the field repainted their aircraft Jet, a very smooth
undercoat was required and does not seem to have been widespread. Many units
used British flat black and polished it out, or simply used flat black, as
with the Black Cats. By the time the P-38M and F-82 were leaving the
production lines Jet was a standard finish. In photos, the Jet paint appears
to have held up well in terms of glossiness. Even older aircraft appear to
have a "sheen". Many P-61s in the Pacific appear very beat up. This may have
been due to residue from protective coverings applied for shipment not
being completely removed. Most of this info comes from info comes from Air
Force Colors Vol 2 by Dan a Bell.
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I hope that I'm not simply muddying the waters here...
I'd like to point out that the RAF had two standards of black paint. The first was called "Special Night". It was a very matt and rough lampblack finish that didn't weather at all well. It was used for nightfighters at the beginning of the war and so would be seen on Defiants, Hurricanes, Beaufighters and Mosquito NFIIs. The finish weathered very badly and so aircraft in this scheme began to look very shabby very quickly. Special Night was also used for the undersurfaces of night bombers.
Eventually the RAF started using overall Medium Sea Grey, with an uppersurface disruptive pattern of Dark Green, on their night fighters. Around the same time, a second standard of black paint was introduced, known as "Smooth Night". (Please note: It could possibly have simply been called "Night", with the prefix "smooth" being a term used in service to differentiate it from Special Night) This was a semi-gloss black that weathered far better than Special Night. It was also found to scatter searchlight beams and so aid camouflage.
Smooth Night was used on the undersurfaces of night bombers. However, I believe the official scheme was Dark Earth/Dark Green disruptive pattern uppersurfaces, with a high demarcation line. The sides of the aircraft were *supposed* to be painted in Special Night, with the wing, tail and fuselage undersurfaces in Smooth Night. Whether this scheme was actually used in service is open to question, as it would have required more manhours to apply than a simple overall undersurface coat of Smooth Night.
A similar situation occured with the RAF Coastal Command Gerneral Reconnaissance scheme. Although the undersurfaces were overall white, the sides were supposed to be matt, while the undersurfaces were supposed to be gloss.
Reply to
Enzo Matrix
Not at all, it just adds more water to the fire.
The original question(s) concerned US night fighters and gloss black. I added the comment about the USAAF using British paint and polishing. I've no documentation whatsoever about which black they used, although I assume it would not be "Special Night", as I doubt it would have been availble at that point, nor would it have held up well. Considering the confusion over the more common RAF colors on US aircraft, e.g., 56th FG P-47s and P-51s of both the 357th FG and 375th FG, I doubt we'll ever know which shiny black was used on, say, special ops B-24s. Unless of course there is some personnal testimony.
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Many P-61s in the Pacific appear very beat up. This may have
The beat up appearance may also be associated with salt air, and some runways being crushed coral.
Don H.
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Don Harstad

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