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File No: S19-7 (330)





From: The Chief of the Bureau of Ships
To: The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
SUBJECT:   Camouflage Painting.
Reference:   (a)  Pacific Fleet Confidential Memorandum 34CM-42.
Enclosure: (A) Copy of BuShips conf. Memorandum for File of 2 Dec., 1942, "Effectiveness of Camouflage Measure 22".

            1.  By reference (a) Measure 21 was prescribed for surface ships, less hospital ships, of the Pacific Fleet. Commander Task Force 8 was authorized to prescribe Measure 16 for ships of his command.

            2.  The Bureau of Ships requests comments as to:

(a) The extent to which Measure 16 has been used by units of the Pacific Fleet.

(b) The effectiveness of the camouflage measures with which experience has been obtained, together with comments for their improvement.

            3.  The Bureau is considering the inclusion of pattern camouflage measures in the next edition of Ship Camouflage Instructions. Comments as to the suitability of this type of camouflage for the Pacific Fleet would be of value to the preparation thereof.

Copies to:    Cominch (with encl.)

Memo for File (cont'd)


            4.  It should be understood that Measure 22 is not a low visibility system except under very limited conditions, when part of the ship is seen against the sky and part is seen against the water. Ships will be observed frequently at ranges other than this ideal one, which may be one reason why a graded system was not adopted in 1916 when it was tried out on the USS MICHIGAN and the USS BALCH during the most comprehensive series of visibility test conducted by the U. S. Navy. Reporting on the USS MICHIGAN, the commanding officer of the USS KANSAS said:

     "The theoretically ideal condition that the horizon would strike the dividing line in the painting and leave a dark water background for the hull, and the light sky background for the upper works never occurred. It is not believed that it would occur sufficiently often to warrant making provision for it.

What appears to be a false bow wave is actually paint chipping caused by the poor adherance of the subsequent layers of paint covering the pre-war #5 Standard Navy Gray North Carolina was originally painted in.
(from level of destroyer deck)

            5.  With weak sunshine and a clouded sky, the light upper works are of reduced visibility but the hull is much too dark to match the sky background. At the time of this picture,


Memo for File (cont'd)

the BB 55 was painted with the old Measure 12, but the application left the hull practically all Navy Blue and the distant appearance is identical with that currently observed on the USE NEW YORK and the USS TEXAS, painted Measure 22. A very narrow dark band at the water line might have given deception at fire control levels but would have no possible advantage against submarine observation. The Navy Blue band on the BB 34 and the BB 35 appeared on all observed occasions too dark for a sky background, and in overcast weather even the Haze Gray area was invariably too dark and also too blue to match any sky against which it was seen.

            6.  The USS TEXAS was observed from the surface of the water on a dark night, sky overcast, but visibility for distant lights fair. The silhouette of the vessel appeared dark against the sky from the moment it was first detected. It was so dark that no difference between the Haze Gray and the Navy Blue could be detected until passing within fifty feet of the vessel. A much lighter paint would have proved less visible under these conditions.


            7.  From the point of view of submarine attack the painting of the AP 60 is very bad. The vessel is shown almost broadside to the sun, an illumination most favorable to dark colors, yet the Navy Blue hull is conspicuously high contrast with its sky background. At this close range the Haze Gray upper works are a little too light for the sky but will not appear so at distant ranges. Only by painting parts of the vessel too light is it possible to compensate for those too dark shadows of the landing boats.

            8.  The appearance of the AP 60 is characteristic of most of the other AP, AK and AO boats that were observed in the Norfolk area. The AP vessels 25, 30, 42, 43, 58, 65, 66, 72, 76, the AK 18, and the AO 38 were seen under varying conditions and were

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Memo for File (cont'd)

believed to be generally too dark for anti-submarine protection. None of the U. S. Navy vessels seen was suitably painted for rainy weather, night, early morning or evening. The best vessels for these situations were the HM5 QUEEN ELIZABETH, the British Destroyer Escort 174, and the Dutch Destroyer VAN KINSBERGEN, all of which were painted in deception patterns using large areas of white or near white.

            9.  Where Measure 22 was applied to transports, the Navy Blue area was often as high as twenty feet or even more. This excessive width diminishes the possibility of range deception from fire control levels and at the same time tends to increase the visibility of the ship at all very low observation levels. At the time of her sinking, the USS YORKTOWN was painted Measure 22 (actually, she was still in Measure 12; the "dark" blue band is too light and more consistent with 5-S Sea Blue than Navy Blue.) with a Navy Blue band about thirty feet high above the water line. This must have made her quite conspicuous at all times to submarine observers. The large area of Navy Blue tended to make the carrier slightly less visible from the air but the equally large area of Haze Gray largely nullified this advantage and made her a highly visible target.

Photo No. III DD 404 USS RHIND      Measure 22

            10.  In this picture the Navy Blue band is an excellent match for the water, but the vessel is conspicuous by reason of the Haze Grey superstructure. From a scouting plane at 1500 feet the "ideal" visibility range where the horizon will be exactly aligned with the division between the Haze Gray and the Navy Blue areas fill occur at 41.9 miles

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Memo for File (cont'd)

and under many conditions visibility will be much less than that. In general, Measure 22 was thought to appear to the best advantage on destroyers because of the narrow width of the false water line band. Measured on trie USS EMMONS it was five feet wide at the bow and this would be about average for other destroyers. The destroyers 199, 346, 441, 443, 456, 457, 603, 638 and others not identified were observed either under way, at anchor in Hampton Roads, or docked in the Navy Yard. In bright sunshine on a few occasions the Haze Gray appeared too light for either sky or water backgrounds but it appeared too dark very much more often.

            11.  The sharp line of demarcation between the two shades of paint was judged to be objectionable. The USS RHIND would be less conspicuous in Photo No. III if the two colors had been broken into each other after the manner practiced in the now obsolete Measure 22.

Photo No. IV AO 38     USS WINOOSKI      Measure 22

            12.  That line of demarcation in Measure 22 is so established that it is commonly located just where the well-deck curves join the deck level. It was noticed that this seemed to accentuate the location and position of these structural points thus making it easier to determine the course of the vessel. Well designed splotches would have made determination more difficult and an excellent example of this was observed on the USS MATTAPONI (AO 41). No photograph of the AO 41 being available, a picture of the USS SUAMICO (AO 49), where there is some confusion as to the location of the forward superstructure, is attached.

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Memo for File (cont'd)

Photo No. V AO 49     USS SUAMICO      Measure 12 (Modified)

            13.  During the period of observation, many ships in the Norfolk area were still painted Measure 12 (Modified) - and a comparison with its successor, Measure 22, was frequently in favor of the old graded system. On Measure 12 (Modified) vessels, the splotches were frequently found to be too small or too evenly spaced for maximum results, but it would be unreasonable to expect greater effectiveness from patterns which were improvised by persons without previous experience in so technical a subject as deception camouflage. Early mistakes were certainly being corrected and progress was being made at the time the system was discarded.

            14.  The minelayer USS KEOKUK (CM 8) (measure 12) presented a very deceptive port side and was judged to be greatly superior to the USS SALEM (CM 11) painted Measure 22 which, with a dark band at least twenty feet high, was of high visibility to surface observation and presented neither range nor target angle deception.

            15.  The USS ALABAMA (BB 60) was observed painted Measure 12 (Modified), but reportedly slated for a change to Measure 22. As antisubmarine camouflage she was judged to be better than BB 34 (New York) or BB 35 (Texas) which had been changed to the new measure. It was also thought that the BB 60 would be less conspicuous from the air, though her pattern was regarded as less successful than that on the USS INDIANA (BB 58). All the reports received by the Bureau on the INDIANA were favorable.

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Memo for File (cont'd)

Photo No. VI BB 58     USS INDIANA

            16.  The visibility principles governing pattern camouflage are so unfamiliar to most persons that they will be slow to believe that a pattern which is very conspicuous at close range may, precisely for that reason, prove to be the least visible at those distant ranges, where camouflage can first hope to become effective. A curious illustration of this fact is found in the black shading which was removed from the white designating numbers used on our vessels.

      Close at hand the black MMB shaded numbers are extremely conspicuous, but researches undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service demonstrate that against an intermediate background a plain white or a plain black number St will be visible three times as far as a shaded white number of identical size. Therefore either the white number alone or its shading alone will be seen farther than the combination of the two.
Photo No. VII    DD 348

            17.  The foregoing has an important bearing on the visibility of disruptive and deception camouflage and confirms the contention that a pattern which is very noticeable at close range may at distant ranges decrease visibility rather than increase it.

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Memo for File (cont'd)


     (a) U.S. Navy camouflage painting suffers from over emphasis on the aerial view, with a corresponding neglect of the submarine level of observation. Few ships were seen in the Fifth Naval District which were adequately painted for the best anti-submarine protection. A program in this direction which would yield a favorable percentage of benefit. On the other hand camouflage paint can offer little protection to a moving vessel when seen from the air on account of the wake.

     (b) The measures which are in use are generally too dark to have success from submarine level. They are especially too dark for overcast weather, night, evening and morning.

     (c) Our standard camouflage colors are all snades of blue and they were so established to match the sea. The sky at the horizon is not blue, and distant ships frequently looked too blue when seen against a sky background.

     (d) Measure 22 as applied to the transports, oilers and cargo vessels makes these vessels of high visibility most of the time when subjected to either submarine or aerial observation. Photographs No. II and III support both of these contentions. The five transports sunk by torpedoes in the African expedition were all painted in this manner. It employs fairly strongly contrasting paints without any of the compensating target angle deception which is possible wiith that degree of contrast used in a scientific design. As applied to destroyers, Measure 22 would prove a fairly desirable anti-submarine method of painting for bright weather and during daylight hours, but it is susceptible of improvement by still further lowering the Navy Blue band, and introducing some target angle deception.

            19.  No recommendations are offered. They would be of a ??eeping  (characters destroyed by hole punch on original) nature, probably not justified on the basis of observations a single locality, as here reported, and they might ignore certain tactical considerations with which this observer is not familiar. The function of this report is limited to a record of observations and to some of the conclusions drawn from them.

Everett Warner







December 2, 1942


From: 348-W
To: 330
Subject:    Effectiveness of Camouflage Measure 22
(A Report of Observations made at Norfolk and in Hampton Roads between October A and 15, 1942)

      1.    The Graded System, Measure 22, was observed on a large number of vessels of quite different types, and it was studied under varying weather conditions and at various hours of day and night.

These observations had two objects in view:

(1) To ascertain if the measure is being applied in close conformity with instructions issued in the Second Revision of Ships-2

(2) To judge the effectiveness of Measure 22 when viewed from the usual levels of submarine observation when vessels, will be seen almost entirely against the sky.

      2.    The results of the first subject of investigation may be reported in a single paragraph. In the fifth Naval District Measure 22 is being applied quite accurately, the only exception observed being the AP 58, which was painted with upper works of Ocean Gray instead of the Haze Gray prescribed in Ships-2.

      3.    Where Measure 22 was unsuccessful, and this was frequently the case, it was not because of inaccurate application but because it was applied to types of vessels for which it is not adapted. It is also obvious that the dark band of Navy Blue in the widths authorized in Ships-2 is too wide to offer much range deception or reduced visibility to surface observation. On many occasions it will present a serious hazard.



National Archives & Records Administration, College Park
Record Group 313, CINCPAC Confidential Files 1943-45

Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.

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