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Aircraft Colour Schemes

Japanese Aircraft Colours:

Comment from Nick Millman: "ACJ05 Nakajima Army Green is a near-perfect match for IJAAF colour standard # 21 midori iro (green colour) one of the most commonly used camouflage greens for Army aircraft and often referred to in Japanese sources as "deep green". It is by far the closest out of the tin/bottle match I have so far found in any popular range of paints"



From Tom Cleaver comes a bit of miscellany regarding field-applied aircraft camouflage that should be of interest. The source is his friend Dick Hewitt, former CO of the 82nd Fighter Squadron of the 78th Fighter Group, who incidentally was the pilot of the well-known-for-being-well-photographed P-47D "MX-E".

The 82nd FS did use RAF paints on their airplanes, and the colors were indeed RAF Dark Green and Sky, which they determined were the best camouflage for the missions they were then flying (lots of strafing).  Furthermore, Dick said that the only paints that were available to any 8th AF unit were British, because there were no stocks of American paint in England!  One can thus infer from that statement that the various field-applied camo for groups like the 56th, 357th and 361st were indeed RAF paints, with no Olive Drab involved. One could further infer effectively that those various repaint patch jobs one sees on B-17s and B-24s were RAF Dark Green. This makes additional sense, given that both RAF Dark Green and USAAF Olive Drab were originally developed from the "official shade" of British PC10 of World War I.

Dick is one of the few guys whom Tom has found who paid attention to the colors the airplanes were painted, since he was the squadron commander who approved the colors they decided to use.



NEW Medium Bronze Green (ARB 07) for operational live bombs, with Red  band around nose & Eau de Nil band (ACRN 30) around the centre of the bomb body.



Sea Harriers, Sea Kings and Merlins are all Medium Sea Grey BS 637 (AC RN 04). The Harrier GR7/GR9 of the Joint Force Harrier Unit are Ocean Grey (ACRN 07) undersides and Dark Sea Grey (AC RN 03) upper surfaces that recede away from the leading and trailing edges of the wings.


For the RAF version, and according to the T.O.: Camouflage Grey (formerly Barley Grey) BS381C:626 (Colourcoats ACRN 08) with radome, leading edge to canards, intake, wings and fin in Flint Grey FS595 36314 (no Colourcoats match, but ACRA 15 is close). Cockpit interior is Dark Admiralty Grey BS381C:632 (Colourcoats M 16). Engine Intake Flap interior is Camouflage (Barley) Grey BS381C:626  (Colourcoats ACRN 08) with FS 26492 (no Colourcoats match, but ACUS 01 is close) for the intake ducting aft of the intake flap.


The Harriers that were two-tone: Extra Dark Sea Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 02) and White (Colourcoats C 03), had the White undersides painted out with Extra Dark Sea Grey. That's what made them look Black from a distance. They then gradually were repainted properly in Dark Sea Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 03), apart from the Harriers of 809 squadron which were Medium Sea Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 04), the only Harrier FRS1s to be in that scheme. This squadron was formed in April 1982 having previously been the last RN squadron to operate Buccaneers before disbanding after the Ark Royal was scrapped. They operated from Hermes and then Illustrious until December 1982 when they were again disbanded. They were also the only RN aircraft to carry nose art as well.


The Sea Kings were still in the RAF Blue Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 19) scheme with the white lettering and numerals up to when the conflict started. Initially the large white numerals and lettering were painted out quickly with Matt Black (Colourcoats C 02). Things like the red and white "Danger" rectangles on the tail didn't get painted out until later. The powers-that-be didn't know what to do about them as they were warning markings, and it wasn't until Peter Hall, who was a helo mechanic aboard HMS Hermes,  pointed out to them that just by painting out the white with black and leaving the red, would work well enough for people close enough to matter to be able to see. The rotors were still the all-metal ones at that stage, and were olive green (use Colourcoats ACUS  12) upper surfaces with black undersides. The leading edges of the rotors had a stainless steel protective strip around them, that in turn were covered in a black rubberised strip.

The composite rotors on Sea Kings didn't come into service until 1986. They were the light grey all over. If they got black undersides, it was soot from the engine exhausts (writes Peter Hall).


Are currently painted in Olive Drab BS381C 298 (no Colourcoats match, but ACUS 12 is close).


The Mk 1 and Mk 3 Anti-submarine variant was RAF Blue/Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 19) up to a line running along the upper fuselage below the canopy transparencies and above the main cabin door right the way aft. Above this line the top fuselage was painted Golden Yellow (Colourcoats ACRN 21) right the way aft along the top of the tail cone and up the leading edge of the tail pylon.

The Mk1 Commando variant was a Mid Stone (Colourcoats ACRN 11) and Olive Drab (use Colourcoats ACUS  12) camo pattern all round the fuselage.

The Mk 1 Search and Rescue variant was again all over RAF Blue/Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 19) but with a Dayglo Orange nose and tail cone.

The Wessex Mk 5 Commando variants were all over RN Olive Drab (use Colourcoats ACUS 12) unless they were on detachment to Norway for winter exercises, when they were daubed with a white distemper (use Colourcoats C 03) in a tiger stripe pattern. This stuff washed off though.

The Wessex Mk 5 Search and Rescue variant was all over RAF Blue/Grey (Colourcoats ACRN 19) with a Red (Colourcoats ACRN 27) nose and tail cone.


Cockpit colour for JU-88s was RLM 66 (Colourcoats ACLW 16).



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