In the ETO camo and paint was not done to a large extent as we had air supremacy.
Did we not have supremacy in the Pacific? Was it because the planes worked in a corrosive enviromnent that paint was needed? Or was it that no matter what a silver plane shows up too easy over jungle and water...
This is in response to the prior Hellcat markings post. Wonder what silver Hellcats, Corsairs, etc.would have looked like. Another "what if" project I guess.
Camo, on an aircraft or on one's person for that matter is most useful in a static defense. Once a camouflaged object becomes mobile the advantages of camo diminish. Look at camo'd aircraft from another angle - who was still applying camo right up to the very end of WWII? The Germans - and most likely due to the need to conceal their static aircraft, parked there and about and under constant threat of strafing and bombing. Just as Allied air superiority reduced concerns for their own static defense, the lack of air superiorty amplified the Germans concerns.
Other considerations for the allies were that the large, high altitude formations of bombers and escorts rendered camouflage ineffective. The Germans had excellent intel and tracking and the targets of these formations weren't such a mystery - especially at the end when the list of unscathed targets grew shorter and shorter. Luckily, knowing and doing something about it are different animals. Paint also comes with a weight penalty - especially on something the size of a B-17 or B-24. Less pounds, better performance.
Naval air war was very much localized in the Pacific due to the expanse betweens islands (and campaigns). All it would take to deal a death blow to a concentrated fleet force would be one effective localized ad hoc air attack on its carriers. I would think glittering aluminum aircraft on the deck of a flattop or anyhwere near it (like in CAP) would pose a less than helpful security risk. Blue or grey - it seems to be a Navy thing.
On the other hand, the USAAF aircraft in the PTO seem to have followed the pattern of their ETO brethren and gone au-naturel in the final year of the war. B-29s, P-38s (inc. the two leading aces, Bong and McGuire) and P-51s stand out as examples that were more often than not sans camo.
Only really worthwhile on the non-aluminum parts I would think.
I think You need another line of thought - Did the carrier planes in the ETO miss their paint jobs? I belive no. Saltwater and salty air is a potent corrosive agent to planes, thats why You never see the carrier planes in bare metal finish. Well what about the land based Corsairs then? I belive that most of them were at one time or another carrier baser or expected to be available for carrier use.
In the PTO the P-47, the P-51, the B24 and B29 were NMF. So as far as I know, it has to do with salty environment (But then what of the Thunderbolts on the small islands?)
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I think you've nailed it there. IIRC, USN camo was designed to minimise detection from the air - hence dark blue decks. The topside colour on USN/USMC aircraft pretty much matched the decks they were supposed to fly off. The clincher is that the undersides of those portions of the wing which folded up were often painted in the topside colour, as white would have compromised the overall effect, whereas it would counteract the deep shadows on other areas of the underside.
I suspect it was mostly because they need to be corrosion controlled - at least for Navy planes...ever see what happens to raw aluminum that's been exposed to salt foam? You get powdered metal, eventually...some USN planes were painted silver, pre-war. But they were still painted.
...OTOH, there were also PTO P-38s that were silver...painted or not. But they were shore based.
Also depends on where they were produced and when. Some plants painted everything, others would send out the door unpainted. Especially later in the war in Europe much more to get them out quickly.
And paint carries a weight penalty.
Though it does prevent corrosion and provides camoflage. Even in flight. I remember a flight of F-105s photographed from above in Vietnam, didn't really believe in the camo until I saw the photo, hard to see against the jungle.
Besides, we get to play with metalizer paints and camo patterns. Weathering, all that stuff. Argue about exact shades. One VMF 214 pilot told me some of the Corsairs were black with nothing else on them. Go figure, guess you go with what is in the paint shop.
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The one I found most impressive so far is the picture of the Me-109s in N. Africa with the sand yellow with dark green spots in flight over the desert. The height was just right and the spots on the Me appeared to be the same size as the clusters of scrub on the ground. I could beleive that with a little haze and at a reasonabele distance those Mes would flat disappear.
What is interesting is the amount of local camo done in the Luftwaffe in spite of efforts to come up with a standard camoflage and pattern by the higher ups. It got pretty loose with armor, pretty much whatever you could get your hands on to touch up or color to make your tank hard to spot. Even mud at times.
I dont' remember who the author was, but at one time there was a date that aircraft went from camo, usually OD to silver. Sometime in the spring, probably 44 or could be 45. Pilot came out the next morning to take off on the day's missions, the mechanic had spent the night with turpentine and a rag and taken all the paint off by hand. No doubt that crew chief earned the liquor ration of the pilot for that month.
Even better, a Corsair (or early naval jet) in a pre-war colour scheme and markings, including the "red-dot-in-a-star" roundels - IIRC those roundles wetre once worn by a F4 Phantom, but it was an RN example visiting a USN carrier - the "ROYAL NAVY" on the fuselage had been changed to "COLONIAL NAVY" too... The RAF recently did a "What if.." in 1:1 scale by painting a Hawk trainer in Dark Green/Dark Earth with appropriate roundels to match one of the BBMF Spitfires for a photo opportunity.
I particularly like the Berlin Brigade Chieftains in "Rubik Cube" camo
- I suspect so many privately owned examples wear this is because Bronze Green and Black gets boring...
That surprises me - major repaints usually happen when there's a major maintenance done, with the exception that nowadays "special" schemes get applied to aircraft due such a maintenance, so they can be returned to their proper appearance after the festivities are over. IRRC, some USAAF chaps didn't like their shiney new BMF Thunderbolts, and they ended up wearing scrounged RAF green. But an A10A Thunderbolt II in the BMF finishing and markings of one of its illustrious antecedants would be quite a sight...
Blue =3D easy ID. It's worth it to load up a flight sim--demos are free--and see how hard it is to ID a distant plane. Most prop single-engine military planes look the same. The story about Shomo's record kills was that the JAAF in that area had never seen a Mustang, and thought they were Ki-61's. I think only USNAF planes were blue, and they were often the only Allied force in the area.
I fly online a lot, and for a Japanese, it is a easy, Grumman's are all square wing, Wildcats are the easiest. the mid wing design makes them very easy to spot. And you go after them automatically. Same with P38's For a Spit or Hurri pilot. Square wing = kraut. Corsairs are just big mid wings, so you go after them without a thought.
Which brings up a point. Most of the time the color is not an issue unless looking down above ground at an OD A/C. 99% of aircraft ID'ing is by wingtip and rudder shape. At a distance they are all little black specks that grow in size rapidly.
Look at the WW II A/C Id cards, they all go by silhouette.
Several times I've been in P 51's and Spits and have been chased mercilessly by P 38's.... (anything without two engines is an enemy to them)
Me too...desktop sim games and actual military trainers. Which point out that in modern times, if you're dogfighting you've made a mistake...
If I'm close enough to see what I'm shooting at, color is the last thing on my mind - I use my fovial vision to look for edges and shapes. Configuration of wings, engines, stabs...vertical tails.
Vertical tails (number, shape, and orientation) are a BIG give away - particularly when maneuvering...they always point in the direction of the opponent's lift vector, thus allowing you to anticipate which direction he is going go if/when he pulls. If you're going to lead or lag pursue, you watch where his fin is pointing and lead or lag on that.