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Topic: Bb color change question< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 27 2003,12:27  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 27 2003,12:34 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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 ShipCamouflage.com.

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.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 28 2003,7:37 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 29 2003,10:55 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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].

Edited by David Aiken on --

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David Aiken, a Director
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2003,12:36 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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…

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 28 2003,11:23 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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

Edited by Tracy White on --

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 28 2003,11:44 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Do you have any explination as to why the turret seems to be a light gray instead of the blue?
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 29 2003,6:17 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 02 2003,2:16 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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!

Edited by Tracy White on --

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 21 2004,1:59 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello,

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 shipcamouflage.com 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 shipcamouflage.com 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 http://www.militaryvideo.com 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.

Jon
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