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MAY 22, 1943 - AUGUST 27, 1943.











     The Survey covered the period from May 22 to August 27, 1943, and ports from Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal.

     To study the following, (a) to (f), as a basis for providing the proper concealment and camouflage measures to ships, aircraft and ground installations:-

(a) Fleet Operations and Tactics
(b) Geographic Conditions
(c) Light and Weather Conditions
(d) Supplies of Paint on hand and on order
(e) Maintenance Problems
(f) Personnel Available in Advance Areas

     Interviews were held with all Type Commanders of the Pacific Fleet, most of the Task Force Commanders, Commanding Officers of Ships, Naval Bases, Aircraft Commanders and Construction Battalions. Aviators, Gunnery Officers, other Ship's officers, Meteorologists, Material and Maintenance Officers, Paint Shop Personnel and others.

     Reports of forty-five of the interviews, in note form, will be retained in this office.

     The survey showed that the most important factors against which SHIP CAMOUFLAGE PAINTING can be effectively employed are:—

(a) Night Actions
(b) Relatively Calm waters
(c) Good Climatic Visibility
(d) Low Angle Viewpoint of Enemy:-
         Surface Ships
         "Snooper" Aircraft


     Principal factors governing the concealment of Land Craft, (possibly land-ING craft) Small Boats, Aircraft end Ground Installations are:-

(e) Day and Night Light Conditions
(f) Relatively Calm Waters
(g) Good Climatic Visibility
(h) High Angle Viewpoint of the enemy aircraft

     Because of the revealing nature of Ships' wakes, the ship camouflage measure 2l, selected primarily to reduce the visibility of ships from the air was found to be an unwarranted compromise, costly in that the little gained from viewpoints looking downward 45° to 90° was more than offset by the loss from lower points of view.

     It was the general consensus of opinion that the camouflage Measure 3l, 32 and 33 promulgated by the Bureeu of Ships in May of this year would prove more effective than Measure 21. Type and Task Force Commanders have requested:-

Measure 3l for the concealment of landing craft and small vessels.

Measure 32 to effect the maximum course and type deception of combatant ships, transports, etc.

Measure 33 for a certain amount of course and type deception and greater concealment against sky and distant sea background then is generally achieved by measure 32.

     As a general rule Battleships and Cruisers will not approach as close to the enemy as Destroyers and smaller craft, and therefore are less likely to be subjected to enemy search lights, flares or float lights. Consequently they can safely be painted somewhat lighter


in tone than Destroyers and Smaller Craft. Under natural light conditions, lighter ships are less visible than dark ones against the sky, that is from the low angles. It is believed that the need for concealment at night for cruisers and battleships is beyond 10,000 yards; for destroyers and small craft well inside that range where enemy searchlights, flares, and float lights are of greater concern.

     Ships, and Aircraft as well as Land, always appeared darker than the sky background under a wide variety of light conditions.

     In the relatively calm waters of the South Pacific our ships were not only darker than the sky but generally appeared darker than the sea.

     Aircraft and most of the Aircraft Runways at the Advance Bases stood out prominently from the air. Some of the newer aircraft whose topsides had not faded so badly were definitely better both on the ground and over water, particularly over the water.

     THE NEW AIRCRAFT CAMOUFLAGE, When it has appeared, is very much preferred to the old. On the F4Us and SNJs recently arrived at advance bases the sea blue topside lacquer, although superior to the original blue-gray, is too flat. This and other undesirable deficiencies not in accordance with specifications are probably due to production difficulties of changing over from the old blue gray and are expected to improve gradually.

     GROUND INSTALLATIONS in the advance areas were generally well concealed, particularly the camps, although some of newer buildings, not yet painted, and the raw, bright green tents were extremely conspicuous.


     Dull dark muddy green, though extremely simple is the most effective color for tents and every sort of building in the advance areas. The dense foliage in most cases is sufficiently close to the waters edge to make buildings erected on sand or coral inconspicuous from the air. In places where buildings or tents are isolated on sand or coral, Khaki tents and light brown paint for buildings is preferable.

     The white walled, red tile roof buildings built before the war by the French and British share equal prominence with our landing strips and roads on approaching some of the islands by air. After the beauty of the shallow water and the shore trimmed with the scalloped lace of white surf, these man made oddities attract first attention. Nothing has been done to conceal them. Little need be, so long as our forces maintain air superiority. A general tone·down would, in some places, be well worth the effort. The thought occured, that on the islands where the white walled red tile buildings constitute prominent land marks, dummy structures might confuse an aviator as to his local position.

     Both ships and aircraft in advance areas were having great difficulty in maintaining the painting beceuse of shortages of all sorts of paints, lacguers, and thinners. Ships may not carry any appreciable quantity of paint because of fire hazard. And, elthough steps are being taken to supply bases and air stations with these materials, the situation in June, July and August was pretty bed. Some vessels had not been painted since leaving the States months before and were very rusty. Others, much in need of concealment painting, were unable to paint at all because no paint was at hand.


     Aircraft topside surfaces are in dire need of maintenance. There was very little lacquer or other materiel at the advance bases beyond Pearl Harbor. Very few of the improvised paint shops were acquainted with the latest specifications (SR2c) for the painting of aircraft. Materials for painting reconstructed craft or for repainting badly faded wings etc. were entirely lacking. The old non—specular blue gray lacquer topsides were all faded to a pale off—white, even to a pinkish cast that comes from fire or the scorching heat of the tropical sun. The result is that fliers have no concealment protection whatsoever over the water, on carriers or the ground. It is most necessary over water and could be readily achieved by upkeep of the top surfaces with either permenant, semi—permenant or even temporary black semi—glossy lacquer.

     It was proposed that at least one completely equipped mobile paint shop be set up in each of the three principal advance aircraft centers to take care of all of the aircraft in the area. The squadrons, fully occupied with training, fighting, engine maintenance and other important duties have little or no time for painting their planes.

     Personnel trained in ground camouflage were until recently scattered among the construction battalions. No one conversant with aircraft or ship camouflage was attached to the fleet.

     Requests were made for personnel for camouflaging of ships and aircraft operating, as well as ground installations located in advance areas. In order to keep to a minimum the number of camouflage specialists in the field, it was agreed that there should not be one group handling only shore installations, another group handling ship camouflage, and still another group interested only in the


camouflage of aircraft. Consequently the Commander South Pacific Force placed all types of camouflage and personnel in the South Pacific under the direction of Commander Service Squadron, South Pacific Force. The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet has placed camouflage of the Pacific fleet under the direction of Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet (Fleet Maintenence Office). (One officer is now on temporary duty with ComServPac (Fleet Maintenance Office) and one officer with ComServRonSoPac (Force Maintenance Office). Four additional officers and eighteen men have been ordered to duty in the South Pacific.

IX. FINAL:      Camouflage concealment and deception are considered of great importance to the men in the advance Areas both ashore and afloat. It has its limitations as well as its advantages. With placing proper emphasis on the work where it is most required and keeping to a minimum efforts to achieve the impossible, with elaborate installations two thousand miles or more away from the active areas, additional security can be given our fighting forces.









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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