Forum: General Commentary
Topic: Bb color change question
started by: vaderr

Posted by vaderr on Jul. 27 2003,12:27
When did the USN change from Haze Gray to the MS1? Dk Gray / Lt Gray combo on the BB's at Pearl? Thanks sincerely Brian Kotula
Posted by Tracy White on Jul. 27 2003,12:34
It depends on which ship you are talking about. With as much paint as a battleship took to cover, obviously they couldn't do them all in the same weekend.

The manual that covered painting was titled SHIPS-2, and it was released in January of 1941, then revised in September. The revision in September made Measure 1 obsolete, but the ships still were painted in MS1/MS5 (Nevada) at the time of the attack, so you can see there is a certain lag time between recommendation and implementation. Paint scheme changes were typically done during shipyard visits, which the ships would do one or two at a time to keep the fleet strength as high as possible.

You can read the different SHIPS-2 versions at the great < >.

We can tell from < this picture > that the Utah (although technically not a battleship at the time) was changed to MS-1 during AUgust of 1941. Other ships you may have to guess at if you can't go to the National Archives in Washington DC & College Park. Generally, if you can find out when a ship went to the yard in 1941, that's a good guess for when she was repainted.
Posted by vaderr on Jul. 28 2003,7:37
Thanks Tracy for the link, I see the change from Haze gray or peace time colors came in 1941, I was just wondering when in general the navy went to the new measures schemes. Thanks again sincerely Brian
Posted by David Aiken on Jul. 29 2003,10:55
Aloha All,
From some primary research in NARA files, the following may help this question:
The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, issued a Confidential Notice No.15 CN-41 on 6 October 1941 that foresaw the phasing out of dark gray in favor of a blue color, Sea Blue (5-S):
"…9. Pending receipt of comprehensive instructions from the Bureau of Ships, no change is contemplated in the present directive providing for the general application of Measure 1 to ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
However, inasmuch as the manufacture of Formula 5-D has been discontinued, painting will of necessity be limited to touching up with available supplies of this paint, until general issue of the new formulas, 5-S, 5-O, and 5-H has been initiated. Ships having exhausted supplies of formula 5-D, will requisition sufficient Formula 5-S, to apply Measure 1A of paragraph 2 above [applies 5-S to all vertical and horizontal surfaces except decks], and will report application of this measure to Type Commanders…"

The ship in dry dock, cropped from 16mm Kodachrome motion film, is USS LEXINGTON (CV-2) at Hunter Point in October 1941. She is the first ship to be painted in the new Measure 1A as authorized by Adm. Husband Kimmel's letter of 6 October 1941.

The USS Utah, USS Pennsylvania, USS Oklahoma was still 5-D Dark Gray.

USS Arizona, USS Tennessee, USS Nevada, USS West Virginia were in 5S Sea Blue... with the deck of USS Tennessee painted "Special Blue-Gray"....the others were still teak wood.

Yes, USS Arizona pulled out of dry dock in early Nov 1941 with that new paint!

WARSHIP International is to detail these color changes in a two part article starting in the next issue coming in December 2003 [date on cover will be Dec 2002].

Posted by Tracy White on Jul. 30 2003,12:36
Good find David!

To retranslate that into english somewhat, the following values could be substituted:

5-D = Dark Gray
5-L = Light Gray
5-O = Ocean Gray
5-S = Sea Blue
5-H = Haze Gray

So the paragraph would be translated as:
However, inasmuch as the manufacture of dark gray has been discontinued, painting will of necessity be limited to touching up with available supplies of this paint, until general issue of the new formulas, sea blue, ocean gray, and haze gray has been initiated. Ships having exhausted supplies of dark gray, will requisition sufficient sea blue, to apply Measure 1A of paragraph 2 above [applies sea blue to all vertical and horizontal surfaces except decks], and will report application of this measure to Type Commanders…
Posted by Tracy White on Nov. 28 2003,11:23
Interesting edit David! If I may ask, what about the Prune Barge? (aka USS California BB-44).

Also, here is a color picture of ARIZONA taken after the attack. Note that equipment such as the searchlights have been removed. This is off of film shot afterwards. Also notice the difference in color/tone between the turret at the very left of the picture and the tripod

Posted by Abe Joslin on Nov. 28 2003,11:44
Do you have any explination as to why the turret seems to be a light gray instead of the blue?
Posted by John @ WEM on Nov. 29 2003,6:17
I've been aware of this forthcoming article for some time, and know the author. That said, I am skeptical of his assertions based on interpretation of color from 60+ year-old color movie film. Other primary source material indicates that the Pacific Fleet was still conducting experiments to determine a suitable color to replace 5-D Dark Gray. According to those sources, there WERE few Pacific Fleet ships wearing blue at the time of the attack, but they did not include the Battle Line. Here is a brief synopsis:

"Because of the almost complete dissatisfaction in the Atlantic Fleet with Dark Gray, Admiral King initiated experiments on his flagship, the cruiser AUGUSTA, during the summer of 1941, wherein the graded system used Sapphire Blue on one side of the vessel and a color that was a mix of Sapphire Blue and Dark Gray on the other side.  This second color was the first application of what later in the year became known as Navy Blue.  There is unfortunately no record of the AUGUSTA experiments but Admiral King must have thought them unsuccessful because the Bureau of Ships formally gave him permission io use this new camouflage throughout the fleet at his discretion.  The new camouflage was known as Measure 12, as it fell midway between Measures 1 and 2.

"Meanwhile the Pacific Fleet under the command of Admiral Kimmel had to wait until early summer before it received stocks of the new colors, and subsequent repainting into the new measures.  Photographic evidence suggests that virtually all of the ships of the Pacific Fleet had repainted into Measure 1 (overall Dark Gray) by late summer.

"The few ships of the Pacific Fleet that did not don Measure 1 served as vehicles for new experimental colors, some of which were submitted and subsequently approved for widespread use.  These were 5-H Haze Gray, and 5-S Sea Blue. Both had a strong purple blue tint. The two new colors were issued to the Atlantic Fleet for use as desired in early July. About the same time several submarines working out of Pearl Harbor were painted overall in the improved formula for Pearl Harbor Blue. In addition, two destroyers of the Pacific Fleet were painted overall in Sapphire Blue, a very intense
ultramarine blue. Thus by August there were no less than eight colors being played with, scattered among solid and graded measures in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, and much more was to come by the end of the year. The eight colors were (in order from dark to light): Black, Pearl Harbor Blue, 5-D Dark Gray, Sapphire Blue, 5-S Sea Blue, 5-O Ocean Gray, 5-H Haze Gray, and 5-L light Gray.

In the Atlantic, Admiral King had virtually dispensed with Measure 1, with the fleet now painted in Measure 2 or Measure 12.  For those ships in the latter camouflage the new colors (from dark to light) were: 5-S Sea Blue, 5-0 Ocean Gray, and 5-H Haze Gray.  By the autumn of 1941 Measure 2 had disappeared from the scene, and ships had begun to employ the new dark blue (known as Navy Blue) developed by King in mid year.  Known as Measure 12A the colors were 5-N Navy Blue, 5-0 Ocean Gray, and 5-H Haze Gray.  Throughout 1941 and into 1942 there were considerable problems with the qualities of the paints due to the degree of glossiness; the degree of matte (which led to adhesion problems) and differences in the amount and types of tinting mediums (these led to
differences in color and durability).

"Due to Admiral King's personal interest in camouflage, subsequent experiments at sea in the Atlantic, followed by his recommendations, Measures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were discontinued, as were the colors 5-D Dark Gray, 5-L Light Gray, and #20 Deck Gray.  Colors now approved for general use were 5-H Haze Gray, 5-0 Ocean Gray, 5-S Sea Blue, Black (for submarines), and for the decks of surface warships, 20B Deck Blue.

"Of the original measures, only Measure 9 (for submarines) remained, while four new ones were formally approved and introduced into service. They were:

Measure 11 - To paint all vertical surfaces 5-S Sea Blue.

Measure 12 - To paint vertical surfaces in three horizontal bands using 5-S Sea Blue, 5-0 Ocean Gray, and 5-H Haze Gray.

Measure 13 - To paint all vertical surfaces 5-H Haze Gray.

Measure 14 - To paint all vertical surfaces to top of superstructure 5-O Ocean Gray, masts and yards in 5-H Haze Gray.

"The dropping of Dark Cray was at odds with the needs of the Pacific Fleet, which required a very dark paint for use in strong sunlight as the best for concealment purposes, especially when seen from the air. However, during the summer months they had experimented with two other colors as possible substitutes for 5-D Dark Gray. One was 5-S Sea Blue, a medium dark purple blue, and the second was the very deep ultramarine blue (Sapphire Blue) suggested in the 1939 experiments and actually tried out in the Atlantic by King on the AUGUSTA in mid-1941. Experiments with Sea Blue (named during the summer months as Measure 1A) compared unfavorably in the Pacific Theater to Sapphire Blue (named Measure 1B).  Only a handful of vessels were painted in Measure 1A and only
two, the destroyers DRAYTON and WINSIOW, in Measure 1B.

"IB, Sapphire Blue, was immediately judged to he far superior to the new Sea Blue, and to the old Dark Gray. But, unfortunately insurmountable problems arose with excessive fading, so much so that despite it being the best color tried to date, it was never applied to more than the first two destroyers.

"Faced with the phasing out of the Dark Gray, and with Sapphire Blue being unacceptable due to fading, the Pacific Fleet formally adopted Measure 11, Sea Blue, (formerly Measure 1A) in mid-September 1941, but allowed the Fleet to remain in Measure 1 Dark Gray for as long as paint stocks would allow. Wood decks were not to he painted with 20B Deck Blue, hut were left in their natural color until tests with 20-B were conducted. Fortunately, by late 1941 the new 5-N Navy Blue had become available in the Atlantic, used there in Measure 12. It was first applied to a Pacific ship in the first days of December. This was the destroyer FLUSSER which was painted overall in the new color, the scheme was named Measure 1C later in 1942 formalized as Measure 21.

"In the Atlantic, Admiral King (like Kimmel) was unhappy with Sea Blue, primarily because of fading, and by it not being dark enough. He officially ended the use of  Sea Blue in early November, having formally replaced by 5-N Navy Blue, although Sea Blue continued in use on some vessels for many months until supplies of Navy Blue became available. Where Navy Blue was used in place of Sea Blue, Measure 12 became known as Measure 12A.

"The abrupt entry of America into the war on December 7, 1941 found the fleets variously painted, but every major combat vessel wore Camouflage in one from or another.  In the Atlantic, ships carried Measure 12A, or Measure 12R. In the Pacific the battleships were still in Measure 1, two destroyers in Measure 1A, two in 1B, one in 1C, one in Measure 12, and a few destroyers and cruisers carried
Measure 11. The ships of the Asiatic Fleet were painted overall in their unofficial Cavite Blue, a camouflage type for which no measure number was ever assigned. Coast Guard ships had long dispensed with overall white and in the Atlantic wore Measures 1, or 12A, or 12R."

In addition to the above, I have personally read the Deck Logs and War Diary of USS NEVADA, covering the period January 1941 to April 1942. Her War Diary noted that when she came out of drydock in April 1942, she was only then newly repainted in "war blue." She had clearly been in Ms.1/5 at the time of the attack. I also read CALIFORNIA's Deck Logs and War Diary for the same purpose, as the author of the forthcoming article had indicated to me and others that she also was in blue. These primary documents contain no information to that effect.

Remember that 5-D Dark Gray was supplied pre-mixed to ships by the Navy's paint factories at Norfolk Navy Base in the east and Mare Island Shipyard in the west. These facilities would have had large stocks on hand, and would have been able to supply the fleets for some months after discontinuance of the color.

I will read the forthcoming article with an open mind, but remain skeptical of its photo interpretation. Incidentally, if you haven't seen what 5-S Sea Blue looks like, I can tell you with certainty that the above photo of ARIZONAs mainmast does not depict 5-S, but rather 5-D Dark Gray. Finally, I offer this first-hand account from Paul Stillwell's "Battleship Arizona: An Illustrated History":

"In November Machinist's Mate Third Class Milton Hurst returned to the ARIZONA after having attended a Navy school on the East Coast. [SNIP] He was struck by the contrast between the ARIZONA he had left and the one he returned to several weeks later. No longer was she painted light gray all over, the peacetime color scheme. Up to the level of her bridge, the hull and superstructure were painted a dark gray. Only the foretop, maintop, and tops of the tripod masts were still light gray."

That, folks, does NOT describe 5-S Sea Blue.

Best regards,
John Snyder
Posted by Tracy White on Dec. 02 2003,2:16
To put the above post in perspective, John @ WEM is John Snyder of < ShipCamouflage.Com > and the "Token Yank" at < White Ensign Models > in England. John has done a lot of research into WWII Naval color. Another heavyweight in the ship debate is Steve Wiper from < Classic Warships >, which has put out research books aimed at model builders and models of ships. He responded on a message board that is focused on model ships; unfortunately that post was lost when the system "pruned" old threads, but thankfully I saved some of Steve's words here:

Respectfully, I disagree with your assessment.

I have seen the same 16mm color motion picture that Mr. Dave Aiken has viewed. There is not any mistake that these ships were blue.... Please trust me when I say that it is not a shift in color due to atmospheric conditions, reflection off the water or a shift in the actual color of the film. The film is in remarkable condition and has to be seen to be believed. When you see this film, you will be as convinced as I and the others who have seen it are. Other items in the film such as the colors of the sky, the mountains in Honolulu, the flesh tones of the sailors in the film, their uniforms, the American flag, etc., etc., are all correct, so there is little, if any color shift.

I have photo copies of actual document from Adm. Kimmel, stating that on October 6th., 1941, that 5-D was being discontinued at that time and that 5-S was then under manufacture and that the new "Blues" were to directly replace the "Grays". I have also found a new B&W photo of the Arizona in Drydock #1 dated November 8, 1941, and you can see that she is being painted.

Now comes the big question. What color blue were these ships? It is a very good question as I know 5-S did not work very well and was quickly discontinued. Also, 5-S is noticeably lighter than 5-N, and in the above mentioned film, these ships are very dark blue, so it is my belief that the battleships were painted with 5-N (Navy Blue).

Now here is some photographic evidence I have found on other paint information at the time of the bombing. I know, from the color motion picture film that California, West Virginia, Nevada and Arizona were painted blue, my guess is Navy Blue. I think that Oklahoma, Maryland and Tennessee were also painted this way. Pennsylvania may have still been in 5-D (Dark Gray), or 5-S. The lighter upperworks on the blue ships appears to be 5-H (Haze Gray), as there is a bluish tint in the color film on these areas. The aerial photo survey of Pearl Harbor, taken on December 10 and 12, 1941, very clearly show the wood decks of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia to be unpainted. The wood decks of the California, Tennessee and Nevada were definitely painted, which I believe was 20-B (Deck Blue). Oklahoma was capsized and Arizona's wood decks are under water, so these deck conditions are not known, but I believe that they were not painted. Nevada and Oklahoma both had a Ms. 5 (False Bow Wave) at the time of the attack.

Don Preul, who has several models on display at the Arizona memorial and the Bowfin Museum, also weighed in:

For what it worth I believe that Steve is correct. As for the film, we saw about 7 films. They all can't be wrong. I have been working with the historian at the USS Arizona Memorial for about 6 years now and with all the research that Mr. Martinez has done he too is convinced that the USS Arizona was Navy Blue. After Oklahoma collided with Arizona (Oct 22), the Arizona went into drydock #1 for repairs. The Arizona was there until Nov.11. The photo from Nov. 8 clearly shows that The Arizona has a fresh paint job. Since the production of 5D had already stopped by this time (Orders by Adm Kimmel dated Oct 6th) I believe that The Arizona was painted 5N.


This is quite the debate by some very knowledgable people and will be one to watch!

Posted by ironship on Sep. 21 2004,1:59

My name is Jon Warneke, and I am a partner in the company Commander Series Models, Inc.  Our company produces resin kits of ships, some of which are modeled as the ships were on Dec. 7 in Pearl Harbor.  In our research for the construction of these models, I have been able to find no evidence that would lead to the belief that any ships, other than those being used for authorized experimentation, were painted in colors not authorized under the instructions of SHIPS-2, Sept. 1941.  

While it is true that this edition was superceded by 15-CN41 of 6 October, there is no evidence that any ship was purposely repainted at Pearl Harbor.  This is because of three issues.  First, prior to the issuance of 15-CN41, no new colors would have been produced at Mare Island NY since there was no authority to produce these new colors.  Further, within the papers posted on on the Pearl Harbor Experiments (these papers cover the camouflage experiments conducted by the Pacific Fleet), the color 5-N Navy Blue was not authorized for use until 13 FEB 1942, and these reports also show that final assessment of the colors covered by 15-CN41 was not completed until 16 DEC 1941.  Also, between the time 15-CN41 was issued, and the time of the attack, there doesn't seem to be a sufficient amount of time for the required amount of newly authorized paint to have been produced and shipped from Mare Island NY to Pearl Harbor, and to have allowed a wholesale repainting of the fleet.  

Second, 15-CN41 specifically states:

"...Pending receipt of comprehensive instructions from the Bureau of Ships, no change is contemplated in the present directive providing for the general application of Measure 1 to ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
However, inasmuch as the manufacture of Formula 5-D has been discontinued, painting will of necessity be limited to touching up with available supplies of this paint, until general issue of the new formulas, 5-S, 5-O, and 5-H has been initiated"

Thus, without the specific order initiating the use of new colors, which seems to have been issued, according to on 16 DEC 1941 under order 21-CN41, it seems highly unlikely that 15-CN41 would have been violated or ignored on such a widely speculated basis.  As for the specific issue of ARIZONA having been repainted in either 5-S Sea Blue or 5-N Navy Blue, general issue of these colors would not have been initiated at Pearl Harbor by 8 NOV 41, when ARIZONA was drydocked, and thus the first sentence in this order would be the operative directive and ARIZONA would have been painted in 5-D Dark Grey under Measure 1.

In the past month, a new videotape has been made available from < > titled "Hawaii in 1942".  This videotape contains various color film footage taken in Hawaii in 1942, and includes footage of both the NEVADA and WEST VIRGINIA.  Below are two stills from this videotape.  The first is of NEVADA entering drydock:

According to VADM Homer Wallin's book on the post-attack salvage, pg. 219, NEVADA entered Drydock #2 on 18 FEB 1942.  The second picture is of WEST VIRGINIA:

This part of the videotape seems to show the WEST VIRGINIA afloat, still at her berth on Battleship Row, with the cofferdams in place.  If this is the case, this film was shot sometime between 17 MAY 42 when she first came afloat and 9 JUN 42 when she was drydocked (Wallin, pg 239).  In both cases, it can be determined that both these ships are painted in 5-D.

Finally, getting back to the order 15-CN41, which authorized the use of 5-S, this order also made another significant change besides the colors used.  15-CN41 discontinued the use of Measure 1, replacing it with Measure 11.  Measure 11 was an overall pattern of 5-S, not a graded pattern using the discontinued color 5-L above the top of the funnel.  All of the attack and post attack photos show that battleships were painted with 5-L above the tops of the funnels, which would constitute a direct violation of the new Measure 11.  This observation leads to the following question.  Why would Pacific Fleet replace 5-D with 5-S in accordance with 15-CN41, but use a measure discontinued by 15-CN41?

Other than the statements of a few, there has been no documentary or photographic evidence provided that would lead one to believe that any ships present on the day of the attack, other than the ships of DesRon 5, were painted in anything other than the colors and measures set forth in SHIPS-2 Sept. 1941.  However, there is plenty of documentary, anecdotal, and photographic evidence that points to Ms.1 and 5-D being in use on all of the Battle Line ships.  Until documentary evidence is provided that there were orders issued prior to 7 DEC 1941 to repaint the Battle Line in accordance with 15-CN41, shipping records showing that sufficient quanities of 5-U White and 5-BTM were shipped to Pearl Harbor prior to 8 NOV 1941 (5-BTM was the tinting material mixed with 5-U in specific quanities to produce the required blue colors), or even deck logs stating a change to a blue coloration, it's highly doubtful that 5-S Sea Blue (the only dark blue color referenced in 15-CN41) was in general use during the attack.

Posted by vaderr on Oct. 23 2004,11:05
Excellent video, I had to order it after reading your post. Is Hawaii 1942 part 2 have any good shots of the battleline? I need to know if I should order it. Thanks sincerely Brian Kotula
Posted by Brian OConnor on Oct. 25 2004,12:51
As I posted in the ARIZONA - VESTAL section, and in support of John Snyder's post quoted in part from the Paul Stillwell book; I posed the question about ARIZONA's paint scheme, post drydocking after the collision with OKLAHOMA, to ARIZONA survivor, Henry M. Cruz.   His response was an emphatic "dark gray, not blue", some other ships were blue, but ARIZONA was dark gray", ie. Measure 1.

Posted by Dobbins on Jan. 31 2005,10:12

There are some things I noticed about the shot of the blue Lexington in drydock in the still from the Kodachrome film.

The first thing is the gates of the drydock are also blue. It seems a bit odd that they would have painted them a camoflage measure blue rather than a gray that would blend in with the concrete around them.

The second thing is the water. There is a shadow from the right side of the dock on the water splashing through the gates. The water in the sunlight is white, as you would expect white water to be. The water that is in the dock's shadow is blue. I would expect white water in a shadow to show up as a light gray in the picture, not as a light blue.

The gates and the water make me wonder if the blue on the ship is accurate, or if it's some result of light conditions combined with the limits of 1940s color film.
Posted by Tracy White on Jan. 31 2005,3:20
There's a whole science to color shifts in film.. we had some posts about this on the modelwarship board that I wish I had saved now. The general consensus was that some films will color shift over time, and in some cases grays will take on more of a blue tone.

There is much research on this left to do, I'm afraid.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 03 2005,1:26
Hello all,

First, part 2 of the video does show pictures of the California being drydocked, which would place the footage in the 9 April 1942 date period, and the footage shows her to also have been painted in 5-D.  The video as a whole makes a good compliment to part 1.

There are some things I noticed about the shot of the blue Lexington in drydock in the still from the Kodachrome film.

According to an engineer at Kodak in Rochester, NY, Kodachrome film of that time period was tungsten based, and will shift to blue over time.  If you also notice, the anti-fouling red has a purplish hue to it, whereas the actual color, based on the Munsell codes for that color, is a pure red.

There are other questions that need to be asked about this piece of footage.  According to the operational records of the Lexington that I've found, Lexington either wasn't at Hunter's Point in October 1941, or was drydocked for such a short time that re-painting couldn't have taken place.  Further, there is a documented picture of Lexington on 14 October 1941, which shows her in an MS-1/MS-5 scheme.  Since the order 15-CN41 discontinues the use of this scheme, the question of why only certain parts of 15-CN41 were obeyed, specifically only the replacement of 5-D with 5-S.  Here's the picture:

< Lexington on 14 OCT 41 >

So, it can be shown from the "Hawaii in 1942" video that three ships specifically stated to be painted blue, Nevada, California, and West Virginia, were actually painted in 5-D after the attack.  Further, it can be shown that the Lexington was painted in MS-1/MS-5 upon leaving San Diego in October 1941, and that she didn't return to the west coast before the attack according to the records of the Scouting Force.

This discussion is interesting in that it has been discussed for about a year and a half, and yet no specific evidence, either photographic or documentary, has been presented to support the statement that the BB's at Pearl Harbor were painted in some shade of blue.  However, there is plenty of photographic, documentary, anecdotal, and time frame evidence that says these ships were painted in accordance with Measure 1.  The Lexington seems to be a sort of red herring, since the one frame of film footage is, at best, seriously blue shifted, and all other evidence doesn't support the conclusions that are being drawn from that piece of film.  So I think it would be good for the discussion to ask that some sort of evidence be provided that demonstrates the voracity of the claim that these ships were painted in accordance with 15-CN41.  It can be as simple as a NARA stock number of the footage cited, or a requisition from any of the ships concerned for White 5-U and Blue Tinting Material 5-BTM dated prior to the attack.  Even a reason why no independently verifiable evidence has been produced might lead to a further understanding of this discussion.  

Jon Warneke
Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 04 2005,1:41
Money. Those that have spent the time doing the research want to recoup their investment. I'm looking forward to seeing how the evidence stands up myself....
Posted by ironship on Feb. 04 2005,11:20
Hi Tracy,

Money. Those that have spent the time doing the research want to recoup their investment. I'm looking forward to seeing how the evidence stands up myself....

Then, I guess you can understand how the dubious nature of this claim is so easily reinforced as time goes by.  Since it looks as if there is a willingness by the researchers to allow surrogates to continue to advance this claim, while at the same time providing spurious evidence and failing to address counter claims based on readily available evidence, it does seem to indicate that there is no proof for the claim.  Rather, the claim was made in order to sell something, which is substanciated by the above statement.

This is why I'm requesting that a fragment of this information be made public, and be allowed to be independently verified.  By this action, there could be a whole new avenue of research opened just like was opened by Alan Raven with the Plastic Ship Modeler articles in the late 1990's.  Also, by independently verifying this evidence, it would demonstrate to many that the research done in the past 20 years is faulty, and needs to be re-examined.  It could change the entire understanding of the camouflage used in the immediate pre-war period, as well as early days of the war.

Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 05 2005,2:07
I understand your point, but also that of the researchers in question.

Since the information is in the archives no one "owns" it, but also trying to put myself in a situation where I can at least recoup some of the costs of research I can see why they would want to hold out and scoop everyone.

In the end I'm comfortable saying that Arizona was in MS1 but there's some controversy as to the exact color. Considering the time and effort we spend fighting revisionist claims about whether Roosevelt knew in advance my stance is that there are claims to colors other than 5D but that we haven't seen the proof yet. Same with the FDR claims... I haven't seen the proof yet.

What does bug me is the snarky comments made by people who have nothing to offer other than opinions. You've done research at least and can offer materials to support your position. Some of the comments on other web sites though serve no purpose than to stroke the poster's ego.

I look forward to the debate that happens when the research comes out!
Posted by ironship on Feb. 05 2005,4:41
Hi Tracy,

Since the information is in the archives no one "owns" it, but also trying to put myself in a situation where I can at least recoup some of the costs of research I can see why they would want to hold out and scoop everyone.

Well, since we're talking about recovering costs, then that will occur when their book is published.  It's no different that the models that my company produces.  We do the basic research, make the product, and then sell the product.  However, claims are not made about certain details without substancial proof of those claims.  That is the part that hasn't been addressed.  "Scooping" someone on a point of this nature is irrlevant since this claim would refute 60 years of accepted research, and because of this, far more than a single photograph would suffice in a "scoop",  and other supporting evidence could be made available to support this claim without compromising their "scoop".

Same with the FDR claims... I haven't seen the proof yet.

Then why is there such a willingness to accept this claim at face value?  You accept the fact that Measure 1 was used, which was discontinued by 15-CN41, but there is a question of what color was used?  The simple fact is that the navy would have followed the order presented, and if 5-S was used in the scheme (5-N shouldn't even be considered since it wasn't even being used by the Atlantic Fleet until after the attack, and this color was developed there), the scheme would have been Measure 11 if 15-CN41 was followed rather than Measure 1.  

What does bug me is the snarky comments made by people who have nothing to offer other than opinions. You've done research at least and can offer materials to support your position. Some of the comments on other web sites though serve no purpose than to stroke the poster's ego.

However, this view could also be considered appropriate for the people trying to advance this claim.  Their basic evidence is the following:

1.  15-CN41 which provides a fixed date to base from.  However, the claimants do not address that Measure 1 was discontinued by this order, that the order allows for the continued use of measure 1 until stocks of 5-D are exhausted, nor do they address the amount of time needed to produce enough of the new colors and get that paint shipped to Hawaii in enough quantity to have six of the eight BB's painted they claim were painted blue.

2.  A black and white photo of Arizona in a dark scheme next to a pier.  The photo obviously shows the ship in Measure 1, and since the darkness of the paint in contrast with the light tops of Measure 1, the only conclusion that could be drawn is that this shows Arizona painted with 5-D, unless 15-CN41 was disregarded in reference to the measure used.

3.  A color film frame of Lexington in Hunters Point drydock.  Yes the film shows a blue hull consistant with the color 5-S, but a photo dated 14 October 1941 shows Lexington leaving San Diego in Measure 1 again.  If this film hasn't shifted blue, that would mean Lexington was painted, undrydocked, shifted to San Diego, loaded with F2A's, and set sail within 8 days.  This doesn't even take into account that Mare Island wouldn't have had stocks of the new color prepared before 6 October in quanities to paint Lexington, which would also mean that the paint used was also produced and shipped across San Francsico Bay in this time period.  

4.  A statement of "trust me on this".  

Since you state that you haven't seen this proof, then why is it being accepted at face value.  To use your own analogy of FDR knowing the attack was about to happen, There is plenty of evidence that completely discounts this belief.  Yes, there are some very compelling arguments that can be made to support this, such as the Corrigidor Magic intercepts, but once they're examined beyond face value, they fall apart.  This claim should be treated no different.

Further, there is evidence that is being disregarded that refutes this claim.  First is the anecdotal statements of crewmen, almost all of which say these ships were very dark gray.  Second is a letter written by ADM Pye on 6 Dec 41 discussing "the long gray line" of BB's entering harbor that day.  One of the proponents of this claim has stated that ADM Pye didn't know what he was talking about when he wrote the letter.  Third is a statement by one of the proponents of this claim that the ships were repainted after the attack at their moorings, which is why the post attack films show them to be in 5-D.  Fourth is the color picture of Arizona's mainmast posted earlier in this discussion.  Since the smoke from the fires was blown forward, the paint on the mainmast would not have been affected, and this photo clearly shows 5-D below the 5-L top.  Finally is the post-attack salvage films that show three of the BB's claimed to have been painted blue painted 5-D.  If statement #4 above, "trust me", is to be accepted, then showing that three of the six were in 5-D after the attack should raise questions to the validity of the claim made, since this was part of the proof of this claim.

My point is simply this.  Since it has become incumbent on those who believe these BB's were painted in 5-D to provide unrefutable proof of this, then why isn't the ones who claim they weren't being held to the same standard?  For a year and a half, no proof has been given that can stand up to simple scrutiny, yet this claim is accepted without much question.  My question is why?

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 05 2005,7:30
Most of the photographic evidance of the ship's color is contained in black and white pictures. and in theory that information can be recovered with the use of computer software.

A Black and White picture is a series of shades of gray, the exact shade depending on three things, the original color, the texture of the surface, and the light conditions at the time the picture was taken. The Texture of the side of a steel ship is a constant. Computer images can be adjusted to standard light conditions, this is something that NASA does on a regular basis, and I would assume agencies like the CIA, though the later's methods would be classified information. This would leave color as the only varible.

What you would have to do is obtain High Quality original pictures, jpeg's off the internet won't work. Scan them into a high quality grayscale computer image. Perform light correction by lightening or darkening the image and then comparing the value of the area in question to values that the colors would produce.

Example. Say you know parts of the ship are light gray, but you aren't sure if other areas are dark gray or blue. You take samples of all three colors under the same tight conditions and render them as grayscale colors. each will have a digital value, light gray value 1, dark gray value 2, Blue value three. It is possible that the gary and blue will turn out to have the same gray value, but not likely.

You then lighten or darken the overall image to get areas you know are light gray to have the same value as your sample color to correct for light conditions. You can then compare the areas in question to your other sample values.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 05 2005,8:34
Hi Dobbins,

This may work, but how would it distinguish similar shades of the same color?  5-D Dark Gray is actually a purple blue color, very dark, almost a black.  The closest color the USN used later in the war was 5-N Navy Blue, which is only slightly lighter than 5-D.  These colors were based on the Munsell System of color, which is best described as a cylindrical interpretation of color.  The circle consists of 10 hues (z-axis), the intensity of the color (value) being the y-axis, and the saturation (chroma) being the x-axis.  The codes are read as the hue, saturation, and value.  See the following chart:

So the Munsell code for 5-D reads:

5PB 2/1.5

Where 5PB is the hue (center of the purple-blue radii), 2 being the value of color (very dark), and 1.5 being the saturation (very  purple-blue).  Now, the Munsell value for 5-N reads:

5PB 3/2

So as you can see, 5-D and 5-N are very similar colors.  5-S, which is called for in 15-CN41, has a Munsell code of:

2.5PB 3-6/4

Which makes it more blue (2.5 clockwise is closer to blue), less saturated, and lighter (higher numbers denote less of a value).  All this to say, placing a ship in 5-D next to a ship in 5-S would be distinguishable in a black and white photo.  

So, since 5-N is the closest blue color to 5-D, the question should be if 5-N was used in Measure 1.  This is doubtful, since the first official  application of 5-N wasn't until sometime in November 1941 on the Flusser DD-368, and wasn't authorized until 8 SEP 1941.  This was experimental in nature, and the official replacement of 5-S with 5-N didn't occur until 13 FEB 42, with the authorization for the change being given on 16 DEC 41.  5-N was not in general use before the attack in the Pacific Fleet.
All this is the background for determining if any BB was painted blue during the attack.  5-N was not authorized for general use, so this color is out.  5-S is a much lighter color than either 5-N or 5-D, and looks very similar to the frame from the Lexington film.  5-D is the color you see in the color picture of the Arizona posted earlier, and has to be what was in general use during the  attack since the B&W photos show very dark paint, and 5-S was not that dark.

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 05 2005,9:08
Aloha Jon,

This method would NOT work with all colors. I presented a simplified version of the process as an example, but the actual process would be more complex.

I stated that a color would have a value. This would only be true if it was a flat surface hit by light at a 90 degree angle. Ships are composed of curved surfaces with the light hitting a different angles on the curve.

Color 1 might have a digital value range of 123456 to 123789. Color 2 might have a digital value range of 456123 to 456789. there is no overlap in these two ranges so it would be easy to say if it was painted color 1 or color 2. Color 3 might have a digital value range of 456089 to 456456. there is an overlap between these two colors, so it's harder to say if it's painted color 2 or color 3.

If there is a 10% overlap in the digital value range you can say which color is represented with a high degree of accuracy. If there is a 90% overlap in the digital value ranges, then the accuracy will be much lower, little more than a guess.

This method would be best used to support other evidance rather than as a stand alone source of information. If you have a high percentage of overlap in the values of Color 2 and 3, then you have to rely on other information, ie if the picture is from November 1941, and color 3 wasn't used until mid 1942, then you know it isn't color 3 even though there is an overlap with the values of color 2.

It wouldn't be a magic bullet that solved every color question, but it could solve some of them with more accuracy than relying on 60+ year old memories and flawed 1940s vintage color photography technology.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 05 2005,10:29
Hi Dobbins,

I tend to agree with your assessment in the evaluation of b&w photos in this method.  It may indicate that a certain color was used, but there's more intangibles at work here than could be determined by an exercise of this method.  That's why I've been suspect of this claim, since there's no documentation indicating this change in written orders, requisition forms, or other such evidence.  Further, there's been a lot of assuptions made that since "A" was ordered on such and such date, therefore "B" must be in accordance with it.  There's a timeline problem with the painting of the Lexington, in that there's an 8 day period for the paint to be produced, shipped, the ship painted, repositioned, aircraft loaded, and the ship set sail.  Further, when Lexington leaves San Diego, there's obvious weathering to the paint scheme that wouldn't have taken place after only 8 days.  Therefore, either the color was applied far in advance of the official order authorizing it's use, or the color film isn't a reliable piece of evidence.

Also, it seems that a lot of liberty has been taken with dates of introduction of certain colors to fit this claim.  If this liberty were assumed to have been taken, it would mean that the orders authorizing the use of colors were not adhered to, which would mean that the orders themselves are irrlevant.  There's a lot of written documentary evidence showing how the development of these colors took place, as well as their introduction into service, and to completely discount all of this without any source materials to back it up is unusual to say the least.

As for your idea, I think this should be attempted.  It would provide a good supporting source for either argument, since it would provide another avenue for research.  However, I think it would be limited in determining 5-D from 5-N since there is so little difference in their Munsell System values.  In reading the documents about the development of 5-N, the basis for the color was a more durable form of 5-D to try and ward off excessive chalking and increase durability.  The original formula of 5-N was a mixture of 5-D and 5-S in the Atlantic, and that mixture was darkened to provide a better deceptive color.  That being said, 5-N is a later color, and was only in it's experimental phase at the time of the attack.  

Finally, this sentence from 15-CN41 seems to have been disregarded in order to make the claim that 15-CN41 was in full effect:

"...Pending receipt of comprehensive instructions from the Bureau of Ships, no change is contemplated in the present directive providing for the general application of Measure 1 to ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  However, inasmuch as the manufacture of Formula 5-D has been discontinued, painting will of necessity be limited to touching up with available supplies of this paint, until general issue of the new formulas, 5-S, 5-O, and 5-H has been initiated"

The easiest way to show that this claim may be correct is to find the supply records showing that general issue of these colors had taken place prior to the repainting of Arizona in November 1941.  Otherwise, the first sentence of this quote would be the operative sentence, and this whole discussion would be moot.

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 06 2005,12:05
Aloha Jon,

The method I'm sugesting would be more likely to eliminate a color than to prove one. It would yeild something along the lines of the USS Bigboat could have been color 1 or color 2, but it was allmost certainly not color 3. It wouldn't be conclusive by itself, but it would support or undermine other evidance.

As for an order about mixing new paint, it has to be placed in context. With the situation in the Atlantic and the deterotating situation in the Pacific in the fall of 1941 they would have been bombarded with projects that needed attention. They wouldn't have been in a postion to drop everything to mix new paint. It would have to be priortized against all of the other demands and fit into the work schedule. A given order might be complied with in a few days, or it might take far longer depending on how much they had that was considered more important at the time.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 06 2005,8:46
Hi Dobbins,

As for an order about mixing new paint, it has to be placed in context. With the situation in the Atlantic and the deterotating situation in the Pacific in the fall of 1941 they would have been bombarded with projects that needed attention. They wouldn't have been in a postion to drop everything to mix new paint. It would have to be priortized against all of the other demands and fit into the work schedule. A given order might be complied with in a few days, or it might take far longer depending on how much they had that was considered more important at the time.

In this we are in complete agreement.  Between 6 October and 6 December, it's highly unlikely that the priority of the Pacific Fleet was to make sure that the guidelines of 15-CN41 were the overriding order in preparing for the upcoming war.  The assumption that's been made is that once this order was issued, there was some sort of immediate flurry of action to get the paint manufactured, shipped to Hawaii, and then get every ship starting with the BB's painted in the new colors.  Each of the Task Forces at P.H. had three 2-week upkeep periods between the time of 6 October and 6 December, and to assume that more critical upkeep tasks were deferred to paint the ships would be silly.  Further, since there was only a limited amount of shipping space available for materials going to P.H. in this time period, it would be just as silly to assume that something was left stateside while paint was shipped to replace existing stocks, when the order allowed for the continued use of existing stocks.  For me, this is where this claim has the weakest basis in fact.  

Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 06 2005,11:58
Aloha again Jon! Thanks for putting all that information dow; part of the thing originally missing from this thread were the reasons why it is not likely Arizona was blue. I really wish I'd thought to cut & paste more of the information that was bandied about on SteelNavy but I was worried about copyright.

Now, there are three reasons I'm not dismissing this out of hand. First off, I have been a consumer of Steve Wiper's books for a number of years and can appreciate the amount of research he does. I've also talked with him and came away with a favourable impression. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Second, I've talked to two others who are well known in the model ship/naval research field (who's names I can't say without checking first) and neither of them is willing to dismiss the idea out of hand either. They're skeptical but waiting for proof. If that's good enough for them then it's good enough for me.

Lastly, concerning the RG 73 drydock photo of Arizona in November, have you seen the original scan or only the Waship's Magazine photo? I originally thought her too dark in that photo to be 5S, but when I looked closer I noticed something odd about Turret #1

What is the lighter swath on the top of the turret and going diagonally up the face? I can't think of any reason that a sailor would paint diagonaly lines like that but I can't think of any reason for such a hard-edged color light-color change other than paint.

When I made my original "Arizona was blue" post I didn't title it that because I was 100% sure that she was, but because I *knew* that was a topic title that would draw people in, as opposed to "some researchers think Arizona was blue." Boy howdy did we ever get some discussion!

We keep threads here pretty much forever, so if they're proven wrong this thread will not go away. It will have further commentary on why it was incorrect, but it won't go away. So the fact that this thread is still around is not an indication that we're pushing this theory. We are perhaps too trusting of the people with this theory, particularly in comparison to how we react to Stinnett's people. David is no ship guy and color is not my schtick, but I'm trying to learn. So thank you again for your posts, they're helping.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 06 2005,3:49
Hi Tracy,

What is the lighter swath on the top of the turret and going diagonally up the face? I can't think of any reason that a sailor would paint diagonaly lines like that but I can't think of any reason for such a hard-edged color light-color change other than paint.

As you know, the sides of the 3-gun turrets of the Nevada and Pennsylvania classes are not flat, but curved, and as such will reflect light in different directions.  The darker triangle at the front of the turret you've highlighted is at a different angle than the center of the turret, and the rear area around the rangefinder is angling further away than the center.  The angle of this photograph seems to show the face of the turret, where the barrels are coming out, is possibly at the same angle to the camera as the center of the side, with the side front more toward the camera, and the side rear more facing away.  Further, the sides of the turret are convex at the bottom, but straight at the top, and the side itself forms an odd surface which will reflect light at many different angles The triangle shape seems to conform to area where the turret angles in from it's widest to the face of the turret, and this area is convex .  More than likely you're looking at different light reflections.

However, if this photograph was taken as the ship was in the process of being painted, then these darker areas could be simply wet paint, or paint that hasn't fully cured as opposed to the rest of the turret.  You could also have different batches of paint used on this one turret, one of which was darker than the rest.  Another possibility is that you're looking at primer, which being red, would show up darker than the gray with some orthochromatic films of the time.  Finally, it this photo was taken early in the morning, and there had been a heavy dew the previous evening, these could be condesation patches affecting the reflectance of the light.  There are a lot of possibilities here which could explain the darker patches.  

Now, consider this.  Arizona went from #5 standard gray to a camouflage color during this drydocking.  All three colors that have been proffered  are darker than #5 gray, and this photo shows that the overall color of the ship is too dark to have been #5 gray.  So, what are these dark patches?  If they are paint as you surmise, than either the 5-D is being painted over by 5-S, and you're looking at the end of the job, or the 5-S is being overpainted with 5-D, and you're looking at the beginning of the job.  Either way, it's highly doubtful that Arizona went into drydock in #5 gray, was repainted in one color, and then immediately repainted in another color.  Remember, Arizona was drydocked from 27-31 October according to Stilwell, and this is usually when repainting occurs.  If this photo is correctly dated as November, then it is probably toward the end of that drydocking, or the first week of November.  This would mean that if we are looking at one of the new colors, the stocks would have had to have been produced, loaded, shipped, unloaded, inventoried, requistioned, issued, and used in 23 days.  Taking into account there are at least two weekends in there, that would make the period of time 19 days.  This is where the time line just doesn't make any sense.  

So the fact that this thread is still around is not an indication that we're pushing this theory. We are perhaps too trusting of the people with this theory, particularly in comparison to how we react to Stinnett's people.

The analysis thus far of this is a good example of why all the applicable information on this claim should be made public and vetted.  This b&w photo demonstrates only that there is a darker color of something on #1 turret, and not even that if this photo was taken on orthochromatic film.  My statement was simply meant to say that there was two different standards being applied when comparisons between two subjects were evaluated.  I understand that there is a belief in the work that has been done by Mr. Wiper, but there is a lot of incorrect information also contained in those books.  The claim that Arizona was painted in something other than 5-D is a very big leap of faith, especially since no evidence has been provided to support the claim, and others are trying to support it with their own leaps.  The fact is that there has been no evidence provided to substanciate this claim, and the refusal to do so by those making the claim only harm the credibility of the claim and it's supporters.  

As for the title of this thread, I have no qualms with it, since, as you rightly state, it's served it's purpose.  If the thread stays here forever, all the better since future readers will be able to use it for their own research.  It's the willingness to dismiss all the proven evidence to accept the unproven claim which is the most disturbing.  Maybe this claim will be shown to be factual, and maybe not, but there should be some greater skepticism shown.

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 06 2005,3:51

There is one thing that has to be considered when viewing the situation in the Pacific in the fall of 1941. The United States was allready involved in an undeclared Naval war with Germany in the Atlantic, and that was priorty number 1.

We had been escorting ships to the mid-Atlantic for some time as part of the "Neutrality" Patrols. We were giving the Brits postions of U-Boats that we spotted so they could attack them. We had transfered 50 4 piper destroyers to the UK.

On September 4th 1941 a U-boat mistook the USS Greer for one of the Destroyers that had been transfered to the UK and fired on her.

On September 11th 1941 Roosevelt ordered American war ships to shoot on sight any German warship in the Western Atlantic "Neutrality Zone"

On October 17th the Destroyer USS Kearny was torpedoed by a U-Boat. The ship was damaged and 11 Americans died.

On October 31st 1941 the United States lost it's first warship in World War II over a month before Pearl Harbor was attacked. The USS Rueban James was torpedoed and sank by a U-boat. 100 of her crew died.

The USA allready had a Germany First policy in the event of war, and this along with the outbreak of the undeclared Naval war in the Atlantic in the fall of 1941 insured that the Atlantic Fleet had first priorty on Naval resourses in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Feb. 17 2005,7:58

I just posted something related to the Pearl Harbor battleship DECKS at  The URL is appended below for information, although it does not address the issue in this thread directly.

< >

There have been any number of individuals speculating over the Pearl Harbor BB colors for many years, thinking that there may have been various blues used.  I remember vividly sitting in Chuck Haberlein's NHC office 15-20 years watching the "world is blue" Lexington footage discovered by Don Montgomery- footage that, largely, is the catalyst for the discussion ongoing.  To address this color controversy, I offer this- a dispatch I found buried in some microfilm, the jist of which follows:

13Dec41 - Admiral Anderson (ComBatships) to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Tennessee:
1. Anderson ordered that these ships immediately commence painting their 5L upperworks with 5N.  Additionally, he provided formula data based on the tint medium proportions, etc.
2. The remaining portions of the four ships addressed in the dispatch- from the upper works down- were to be painted as soon as practicable.
3. Anderson also ordered decks and canvas painted with some homebrewed concoction, using a proportion of tint medium which was substantially darker than 5N.

The implication is that the proscribed deck stain was not available.  This might well explain why six of the Pearl Harbor BBs had teak decks on 7Dec41.

Anderson did not address the issue of Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, California, and West Virginia for obvious reasons, being concerned only about the surviving ships which might potentially see action.

Finally, this dispatch raises a question which, through rhetorical, deserves an answer from the "True Blue BB Believers":
Why on earth would ComBatships (Anderson) instruct his units to repaint the lower portion of the ships if, already, they had been freshly painted into the "5N [etc.] Measure 1", as Don Montgomery and others have maintained?

Mike Wenger
Raleigh, NC
Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 18 2005,2:13
Question Mike, as I'm confused by your question.

Point one instructed the ships to paint their upperworks... but you ask why they would repaint their lowerworks. Am I missing something here?

*IF* they had already painted the lowerworks in 5N wouldn't the order to only paint the upperworks in 5N make some sort of sense? Or am I just being dense again?
Posted by Mike Wenger on Feb. 18 2005,1:48

The development of my point from the previous post was perhaps a bit unclear.  Allow me to restate it.

1. Many people (Don Montgomery and others, and I have the deepest respect for him... a noble and considerate gentleman) think that, due to the chalking characteristics of 5D, Kimmel wanted the ships repainted.
2. Per a letter from Kimmel dated 6Oct41 (via Montgomery's phonecons- and I do NOT have a copy) Kimmel announced that he was completely out of 5D and instructed the PHNY to paint ships in accordance with Measure 1, but using 5S rather than 5D.  When informed by the yard that they were almost out of 5S, Kimmel directed them to use 5N.  Any ship painted in accordance with these instructions would have been in what Kimmel authorized as "Measure 1A".
3. Montgomery has maintained that, because the ships in Measure 1 were chalking terribly, that, subsequent to 6Oct41 they would likely have been repainted in the 5N Measure 1A as soon as they hit the Navy Yard for any extended period.
4. Montgomery buttresses the above assertion with the observation that a number of the battleships in the PH attack and aftermath photography appear to be freshly painted, and are rather "un-chalked" and very dark.  Hence, his conclusion that at least some portion of the battleships had been converted to 5N Measure 1A.  Frankly, at one time I thought that this made considerable sense.

Now I am not so sure.

The Anderson dispatch implies that the surviving battleships needed, not only their control tops painted out with 5N, BUT ALSO, THE AREAS BENEATH THE FUNNEL LINE.

The question is, why on earth would Anderson decide to waste both paint and precious time, applying 5N to vessels that were already in that color?  The rather clear implication here is that they were NOT in 5N, but rather were in 5D, i.e., the standard Measure 1.

Is my question clear now?

Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 18 2005,7:58
It is now. Since I'm not involved in the research and don't have the documents you're citing I can't reply of course. There's a lot of murky water in this issue and people who's abilities and skills I trust on BOTH sides.  

I may have an opinion on the mater in a couple months, but that's all conjecture for now.
Posted by ironship on Feb. 19 2005,9:51
Hi Mike and Tracy,

There is a problem in this.  Measure 1A, according to fleet orders, was the replacement of 5-D Dark Gray with 5-S Sea Blue.  Measure 1C was the designation for the replacement of 5-D with 5-N.  This designation didn’t take place until 27Nov41 (notation at the bottom of Fleet Camouflage Order authorizing Measure 11), and the only ship recorded as having been painted with 5-N was the FLUSSER as of 6Dec41 (letter from Cmdr. Clark on MARYLAND from Battle Force, PacFleet).  Further, while true that a replacement for 5-D was being researched to address this specific problem, 5-N was considered an experimental color during this time, and was not authorized for general use under 15-CN41, which would have been the enabling order.  So there are both time line and referential issues with this theory.  The Anderson document you reference is probably another reinforcement of the problems with the theory, since it does authorize painting below the funnel tops, which as you mention, would not be necessary is these were freshly painted ships.  

Another interesting anomoly of this blue ship theory is that Kimmel's letter is supposed to be dated 6Oct41, the same day which 15-CN41 was issued.  If this theory is to be shown to be correct, one would have to answer the question why Kimmel authorized 5-N to be used in a letter to the Navy Yard, but didn't include that authorization on the official order to the entire fleet.  Also, the theory says that since the yard was almost out of 5-S, then they were to use 5-N.  If the yard was almost out of 5-S, then they'd also be almost out of 5-N since both were made by mixing 5-U white with 5-BTM tinting material, and 5-N uses 5 units more of the 5-BTM than 5-S.  It's hard to believe that since the yard is almost out of the materials to make something, they would be authorized to replace that outage by using even more of the same materials.  

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 20 2005,5:08
Aloha All,

Something to bear in mind.

Chalking in a picture is a definate sign that the ship is painted with 5-D, but the absense of chalking is NOT proof that the ship was painted another color.

You can't overlook that the ships would all have paint lockers with their own supply of paint for doing touch up painting. If a ship was badly chalked and going to be in port for any length of time I find it inconceivable that First Division wouldn't be going over the side touching up that chalking as long as they had any 5-D on hand.

Appearance is very important to the Navy. The decks on these ships were holy stoned every day. Prior to orders for brightwork to be painted over it was polished everyday. I find it impossible to beleave that any First Lieutenant worth his salt would tolarate a badly chalked ship if he had any 5-D left in the paint locker and some time in port. He wouldn't remain a First Lieutenant very long under most Captains if he did.

This was even more true of the Battleships than other ships. They were the Navy's most visible ships, the ones that got most of the attention in the pre-war Navy. Battleships were the very symbol of the Navy's strength at this time, and all of them were showboats in addition to their military duties.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Feb. 20 2005,11:19

I was mistaken regarding 1-A and 1-C... and thanks for pointing that out.  You've raised some excellent points.

1. Even if the Navy Yard was out of 5D, the lockers in the BBs may have been crammed to the gills.
2. Due to the premium placed on apprearances, the BBs would likely have accomplished a disproportion share of 5-D touchup work.

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 22 2005,11:46
Aloha Mike,

That is correct.

This provides an excellent example of the need to take facts in context. It's very tempting to say "A" proves "B", but in the process you may be overlooking "C", "D", and "E", all of which may have affected or caused "B" instead of it simply being "A".

Take Kimmel's order for paint for example. Out of context it's straight forward, the Admiral orders paint, the yards mix it and repaint the ships. In context you have Naval Shipyards that are not only doing the repairs of US ships like they do now, but who were also ship builders in the 1940s and part of the massive ship construction projects under the "Two Ocean Navy" act of 1940. The yards were also involved in giving "aid short of war" to the UK, so they were providing services to the Royal Navy in addition to the US Navy, including repairs of battle damage to British Ships. All of this makes paint just one of many priorities that the yards had to meet with limited resources.

Another example is information pointing to a possible attack on Pearl Harbor. The context of far more information pointing to an attack to the south of Japan is ignored. So is the fact that that information was correct, Japan's main thrust was in fact towards the south. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a covering action intended to protect Japan's flanks from the US Navy during the main thrust in the Western Pacific.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Feb. 22 2005,4:06

I think you are correct about the Japanese Southern Operations, vis-a-vis the PH covering action.  The national objective was not Hawaii, nor the U.S. Fleet.  It was the resource-rich NEI.

In a related matter, Kimmel and company were extremely concerned about the build-up they saw in the Mandates during Sep/Oct/Nov41 timeframe.  The CinCPac message file microfim is chocked full of alarm bells, with the dispatches containing much nervous language.

Clearly, Kimmel saw at least one of Japan's primary thrusts coming through the Mandates and was engaged in a frantic game of catch-up at Wake and Midway before everything unravelled.  There was a LOT more activity ongoing (and earlier activity, at that) to reinforce Wake and Midway than is documented in the PH Hearing volumes, which is as far as everybody seems to go these days.

Wait until 2006/2007 for the full story!  This is a book chapter I am working on right now.

Posted by Dobbins on Feb. 22 2005,6:53
Aloha Mike,

My own analogy of the start of the war is a bank robbery. The money the Japanese robbers were after was in the western Pacific, but they started the robbery by shooting the security guard (the US Fleet) to make sure the security guard didn't interfere with their bank robbery.
Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 22 2005,8:18
But was the security guard in blue or gray?  :D
Posted by David Aiken on Feb. 22 2005,10:42
The Japanese samurai have a defense against two opponents. Slash the best warrior then kill the weaker opponent then kill the wounded opponent. They slashed at Pearl, killed the south Pacific nations and tried to kill the wounded opponent at Midway. BUT some one read their book [in the movie Patton said, I read his book!].
Posted by Tracy White on Feb. 24 2005,11:42
One of my favorite lines from my favorite movies!

"Rommel, you magnificent b******, I READ YOUR BOOK!"  :D
Posted by John @ WEM on Aug. 19 2005,7:04
Kimmel may have been out of 5-D, but the real question is:

Was Mare Island--the USN's West Coast paint factory--out of 5-D? I doubt it, and MI would have been able to resupply PH at short notice.

John Snyder
White Ensign Models

PS: Going back to the initial post on this thread, the change to Measure 1 was not from Haze Gray, it was from #5 Standard Navy Gray which was the prewar/pre-SHIPS-2 color.

Posted by Brian OConnor on Aug. 21 2005,10:05
In support of John Dobbin's posts, one should also note that unless a ship was in a yard availability, it did not matter what the shipyard did or did not have, the fleet would paint as needed from their own stocks, according to what color /measure directive they had in their possession at the time.

Though I must add that my wife says that no amount of mouse clicking will settle the debate over the blue and the gray . . .   but I think she is referencing an earlier conflict.


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