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CinC File No.


CONFIDENTIAL San Pedro, California 25 March 1940



From: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet
Subject:  Camouflage Painting of Destroyers for Low Visibility. 
Reference:  (a) Comdesbatfor Conf. Ser. 5199 of 31 July, 1939. 

1.Investigation of painting systems by the Department and the Forces Afloat to determine the best compromise system for destroyers resulted in the choice of solid matte black for exterior surfaces except topmasts for which war color was chosen, tentatively. Destroyer Divisions SIX and SEVEN are painted in this manner. They will be in Fleet Problem XXI but will remain at Pearl Harbor after Fleet Problem XXI. It is desired that these ships be observed at every opportunity during Fleet Problem XXI and that full reports be made of the effectiveness of the dull black paint under all conditions of visibility, light and employment. Reports should be submitted not later than 25 May 1940.

2.It is directed that suitable officer observers from surface ships and aircraft be designated to make the observations and in addition all officers are encouraged to make and report observations. In previous tests there were few observation reports from senior officers. It is desired that senior officers report their observations and opinions whenever practicable.

    3. (a)  No forms are being furnished for reporting observations because it was concluded from previous tests that the use of a form tends to discourage full comment by the individual observer which is the most valuable part of the report.
(b) The form in which the reports are made is immaterial. It is preferred that they be made on standard 8 x 101/2 paper. They may be in long-hand or typed; in letter form or memorandum. They should bear the name, rank, ship or command, and duty assignment of the observer. They shall be forwarded direct to COMMANDER DESTROYER DIVISION FIVE, U. S. S. CASSIN, FLAGSHIP, PEARL HARBOR, T. H. He is the representative of the Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, for camouflage painting.

4.The, list which follows contains suggestions on which to base observations. They are not intended to be restrictive. More detailed information is contained in reference (a), which was given wide distribution.

       Exact range, bearing, or altitude is not necessary. Estimates will be sufficiently accurate in most cases.
Date, time, location.
Visibility, light, atmospheric conditions.
Relative positions of observers, ships observed, sun, moon, searchlights.
Employment. This should be given in some detail to orient the observation.
Background upon which the observed ships are projected.
Distance at which observations are made and change in distance during progress of observations.
Speed being made by ships under observation.
What part of the ship observed was first visible?



       What is your opinion of the light color masts?
Which ship can be seen first as an object: the black or the standard gray?
On which color ship can you determine details first?
What is the relative ease of estimating target angles?
Can you see any parts of the black ships which help materially in estimating target angles?
Do you see the wakes and if so are they more revealing than the ships themselves?
Does the wake help in estimating the course or range?
What speed is being made to produce the wakes seen?
Do you observe any reflecting spots on the ships and do they assist in estimating range or course?
Can you estimate the range better on black ships or standard gray ships?
What is the comparative ease in which you can take accurate coincidence ranges or stereo ranges?
If an aircraft observer, give the altitude and slant range.
       What detail of the ships are most visible?
Do you note any difference between the paint on deck and the black of the hull?
What reflecting spots do you see about the ships?
Does the war color on the topmast tend to reveal the ship?
Do you consider it would be better to have the top mast black?
What is your opinion of the ships as a bombing target?
How in general does a b1ack ship compare with the standard gray ship?

5.As a means of identification, dark gray bands are painted on the stacks of the ships of Division SIX and dark gray bow numerals on the ships of Division SEVEN.


   List I, Case 2, D, G-K, M-T,
   EN3, EN4, EN7, FF6, FF8, NB18,
   NY8, NY9, NY10, ONISP.
   List III, Case 1, A-C, E, F, L.
   Patwing 1 and Desdiv 62 (direct).

George C. Dyer,
Flag Secretary.

USS Penn.--167-3-26-40-1600.


National Archives & Records Administration, Seattle Branch
Record Group 181, Classified Central Subject Files, 1934-41.

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

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