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Thread: Bare Metal Aircraft | Forums

  1. #1
    They say you can tell who's winning the war by the paint schemes. As World War II wore on, German and Japanese aircraft evolved more mottled and subdued colors, while their American counterparts became downright gaudy—with stripes and checkers over a brilliant silver canvas. By January of 1944, most aircraft were leaving U.S. factories without camouflage paint. Studies had shown that a bare metal P-51 Mustang could fly 6 mph faster and a big bomber weighed 71 pounds less. The lighter and faster is nearly always better when it came to aerial combat.
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  2. #2
    I guess I never really gave it much thought, but looking at it from that perspective makes sense.
    So the losing side is going into hiding, or at least trying to gain more element of surprise, more or less.

    This we'll defend
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  3. #3
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    and blend in more with its surrounding's,
    The Luftwaffe changed the colours it used to more greens and browns because they were fighting over land in stead of coastal areas where greys could serve a duel purposr over land and water much like the RAFdid going from Dark earth to Dark sea grey.
    Also they were being hit on the ground more than ever so it made sense to hide as much as the could when on the deck.

    the US found the performance gains for taking off the paint was worth the loss of camouflage and they had enough air superiority to warrent it.
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  4. #4
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    When there's way more of yours than theirs it pays to not have your own shooting at your own. Invasion stripes were
    exactly about that. See a plane without and you all know who it belongs to, positive ID without further checking.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Kettenhunde's Avatar
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    They say you can tell who's winning the war by the paint schemes. As World War II wore on, German and Japanese aircraft evolved more mottled and subdued colors, while their American counterparts became downright gaudy—with stripes and checkers over a brilliant silver canvas. By January of 1944, most aircraft were leaving U.S. factories without camouflage paint. Studies had shown that a bare metal P-51 Mustang could fly 6 mph faster and a big bomber weighed 71 pounds less. The lighter and faster is nearly always better when it came to aerial combat.
    Actually the Germans had better paint. Their chemical engineering technology was ahead of ours and their paints had a much finer mill.

    Simply put, our paints were horrible. We used original USAAF paints on our T-6 Texan's for a while. It just got too expensive repainting them every 200 hours to keep the finish up. After a few hours of flight, the decrease in performance was noticeable as the paint tended to chip instead of remaining pliable around rivets and seems. It was thick, heavy, and chipped with sharp edges leaving a divet in the finish.

    The performance gains from removing the paint are not noticeable in air combat. You are talking less than 1% of the total weight and 6 mph gain in speed under unknown conditions.

    Considering the P51D represented a ~14% growth in weight in the Mustang Design, less than 1% is meaningless in terms of performance.

    [sub][i][b][color:black]Our M
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  6. #6
    Originally posted by M_Gunz:
    When there's way more of yours than theirs it pays to not have your own shooting at your own. Invasion stripes were exactly about that. See a plane without and you all know who it belongs to, positive ID without further checking.
    Invasion stripes tended to disappear from a/c, at least on the upper wings and upper fuselages. They were kept on the lower surfaces because of trigger happen AA gunners.
    "Amiable to the Amiable; Inflexible to the Arrogant"
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  7. #7
    Originally posted by Kettenhunde:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">They say you can tell who's winning the war by the paint schemes. As World War II wore on, German and Japanese aircraft evolved more mottled and subdued colors, while their American counterparts became downright gaudy—with stripes and checkers over a brilliant silver canvas. By January of 1944, most aircraft were leaving U.S. factories without camouflage paint. Studies had shown that a bare metal P-51 Mustang could fly 6 mph faster and a big bomber weighed 71 pounds less. The lighter and faster is nearly always better when it came to aerial combat.
    Actually the Germans had better paint. Their chemical engineering technology was ahead of ours and their paints had a much finer mill.

    Simply put, our paints were horrible. We used original USAAF paints on our T-6 Texan's for a while. It just got too expensive repainting them every 200 hours to keep the finish up. After a few hours of flight, the decrease in performance was noticeable as the paint tended to chip instead of remaining pliable around rivets and seems. It was thick, heavy, and chipped with sharp edges leaving a divet in the finish. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    What does that have to do with how a/c were painted?
    "Amiable to the Amiable; Inflexible to the Arrogant"
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  8. #8
    Senior Member LEBillfish's Avatar
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    Ehhhh.....kinda sorta not really.....

    There is quite a bit more to camouflage and conversely the lack thereof then meets the eye. WWI an excellent example of this wherein quick identification and a bit of team spirit was more important then trying to hide an aircraft.....More so, as any that have learned about camouflage from being in the military will tell you, it's not the paint on a vehicle/aircraft or the pattern on clothing that hides you, it's all the other stuff you do right down to positioning to blend in that makes the difference.

    Anywho, as to aircraft why camouflage? Well the only reasons are to hide in flight (really doesn't work that well), hide the aircraft on the ground to defend from attack (again doesn't work all that well), and lastly to conceal your numbers (really really did not work that well).

    Fact of the matter is compared to the surrounding foliage, even a totally flat painted aircraft "glints" or reflects light much more then its surrounding background or the ground....How that applies to concealing numbers is that by WWII most nations had very long range and often faster then interceptor, recon aircraft, better cameras and so on that unless the aircraft was totally concealed like say in a hanger could be spotted and counted....If the aircraft were concealed, they'd count hangers and wrecks. SO really it could no longer protect from this aspect (why some Japanese camouflage schemes tried to make them look like buildings instead.

    Now when it came to being attacked on the ground, camouflage did help very slightly in that it broke up the shape of the aircraft just enough that it made keeping track of its position more difficult. IOW, as you're flying past at 300MPH and spot an aircraft, by the time you check 6 before your run you may totally lose its position as you don't see the entire aircraft just jumping out at you.

    Here's a graphic I made a while ago to explain:



    With camouflage realizing you can't make the aircraft disappear entirely due to glinting, you then learn to try and simply break up its outline so it becomes more difficult to reaquire if you take your eyes off it.

    Same goes for in flight, you're simply doing your best to make it harder to reaquire....It gets even harder at that point though in that our eyes being predators cue in on motion. So even though you may have a very well camouflaged aircraft matching the terrain exactly, as it flys past your eyes tend to pick up the movement........However, it still helps in the regard that an enemy pilot when in a fight is checking all over, plus has a lot of stress desperately trying to spot you....That split second of loss of contact can be enough to help you slip out of the area he is looking in......and loss of sight means he's now on the defensive.

    So in the end, though camouflage helps, it only helps a little......All nations knew this, it nothing new. So knowing you cannot use camouflage to help greatly you then need to make the decision of does it help enough to justify the extra weight, cost, maintenace, etc.. Or would the gain in weight, and speed be better. Lastly, a bit of brash confidence can go a long way in a fight. So either brightly colored aircraft (also aiding in quick identification and unit pride) or being so bold to not try and hide goes a long way twoard inspiring confidence in the pilot and possibly unhinging the enemy just slightly.

    So it is simply a matter of belief sets of the guy at the top making the decisions.....In the end either camouflaged or not having little effect.

    K2

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  9. #9
    Not painting an airplane makes it faster and cheaper to build. It also makes it easier to maintain, since you don't have to touch it up or repaint it every so often. There's a lot of people that like to claim it also helps performance, but as mentioned, the gain is usually pretty small.

    There were only a few camouflage paint jobs that were actually effective. The US's Synthetic Haze Blue paint was apparently very effective, but was not widely used due to cost and difficulty of application. The RAF's PRU blue was pretty good for in-flight camo as well. Gloss black was also found to be very helpful on night-flying bombers both in the ETO and PTO.
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  10. #10
    Also thought I heard a few years back about a
    P-47 groundcrew that would wash,polish and wax the heck out of it for a few mph. {obveously on bare metal as well}
    There claim was "every little bit more is less for Jerry"
    As always this is only my opinion
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