Ship Camouflage Instructions
United States Navy
Ships - 2
Bureau of Ships
January 1941


Chapter 3
Detailed Camouflage Directions


Camouflage Paint.

All paint must be mat or dull, not glossy. The paint of formulas 5-D, 5-O, 5-L and 82 is satisfactory in this respect.

Dark Gray paint formula 5-D, and Black paint formula 82 are issued to the service ready for application without further addition of tinting color. Light Gray paint formula 5-L and Ocean Gray formula 5-O are to be prepared when needed from untinted white base paint formula 5-U, by adding tinting colors which are issued to the service in paste form.

General Directions Common to All Systems.

The camouflage painting need not be exact or carried into corners.  Small gear, wires, rigging, and areas permanently in shadow, as under boats, etc., need not be painted with the camouflage colors.  There is no objection to exact or careful painting which may be desired for the sake of good appearance at close range.

All approximately vertical surfaces above the top of the stacks shall be painted Light Gray 5-L in all the systems.  Some of the plates are incorrect in that they fail to show this detail.

All horizontal surfaces except wood decks shall be painted Dark Gray 5-D in all the systems.  The systems differ only in the painting of the vertical surfaces.  In case of doubt, as on sloping surfaces, use Dark Gray 5-D.

All bright or shiny objects, no matter how insignificant, shall be painted, covered, or removed.

Glass windows shall be covered or removed, especially during the day in sunny weather, and at night when anticipating searchlight discovery.  Insofar as conditions permit, similar precautions shall be taken on airport lenses.

Dark Gray System.

Paint all vertical surfaces, such as sides of hull, sides of superstructure, stacks, lower masts (but not pole masts), etc., Dark Gray 5-D.

Graded System.

Paint all vertical surfaces above the deck edge, such as sides of deckhouses, superstructure, stacks, masts (and pole masts) etc., Light Gray 5-L.  Paint the sides of the hull with three bands, the upper band Light Gray 5-L, the middle band Ocean Gray 5-O, and the lower (nearest the waterline) Dark Gray 5-D as illustrated on plates 2 and 3.  In case the ship has an excessively great shear, or has a forecastle, the bands should be of approximately equal width at the bow, retaining the widths of the lower two bands and diminishing the width of the upper band from forward aft.

Light Gray System.

Paint all vertical surfaces, such as sides of hull, sides of superstructure, stacks, masts (and pole masts) etc., Light Gray 5-L.

Black System.

Paint all vertical surfaces, such as sides of hull, sides of superstructure, stacks, masts (but not pole masts) etc., Black formula 82.

Painted Bow Wave.

The pattern drawn to scale of the painted bow wave are shown in Plates 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, respectively, for battleships, aircraft carriers, heavy cruisers, light cruisers, and destroyers.  The upper edge of the bow wave is painted white; the dark body of the bow wave is painted a dark blue or a dark gray.  In case the bow wave is painted on a ship which is painted dark gray, as in Measure 1, the bow wave painting merely amounts to outlining the upper edge of the wave in white.

It is to be noted that the painted bow wave is not to be put on the black ship of Measure 4, because of the enhancement of visibility occasioned by the white edge of the wave.

Wood Decks.

Wood decks, except on submarines, shall not be darkened pending further instructions.  The best paint or stain for this purpose is being investigated.

Aircraft Carrier Decks.

The question has not been decided as to the degree that the flight decks of aircraft carriers should be colored for low visibility to aerial observers as compared to adequate visibility for operation of their own aircraft.  The color of the top wings of planes is a light shade of paint.

White Uniforms.

White uniforms should not be worn in exposed places on a ship painted for low visibility.

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