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"USAAF Colour Schemes 1943-45" Topic

8 Posts

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Fat Wally04 Jul 2010 10:04 a.m. PST

Just started working on a load of USAAF bombers for mid to late war and would appreciate some advice from those with greater knowledge.

I've just picked up 18 1/600th B-25J Mitchells. I intend to use these in MTO/PTO bombing missions '43-'45 using 'Bag The Hun'.

Originally I intended to paint these in the aluminium finish but then changed my mind to the olive drab scheme.

Am I correct though that the two schemes were used largely simultaneously though with olive drab predominating in '43 and Aluminium by '45?

If so I might decide to actually paint both schemes in the same bomb squadrons.

Also I plan on perhaps adding an aluminium rudder, aerilon or wing fabric to largely olive drab plane (and vice versa) for a bit of variety to look like replacement parts scrounged from unserviceables.

Is that a fairly accurate depiction of a USAAF bomber group of the time period?

Any advice much appreciated.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Jul 2010 10:54 a.m. PST

Pretty much right I'd note that B-25 groups were more keen on OD uppers than the heavies though (presumably as they tended to operate down in the dirt more often, where the camouflage effect is more useful.) The regulation USAAF schemes were OD over light grey until late '43, then NMF overall, but for B-25s OD over aluminium (ie. OD applied in the field not by the factory) was very common.

It's also worth mentioning that B-25Js only started entering service at the very end of '43, about the same time as factory application of camouflage was scrapped, so the factory-finish olive drab upper and grey lower would be very rare.


Fat Wally04 Jul 2010 11:27 a.m. PST

Dom thanks for that.

I have now repainted most of the undersides of the OD ones in almuninium rather than grey. Stops me making a hash of things before I get going.

highlandcatfrog Inactive Member04 Jul 2010 12:24 p.m. PST

Dom has it spot on for the B-25 groups in the MTO – o.d. over nmf from early '44, with nmf only becoming the norm much later in the year.

For the PTO however, the B-25 groups of the 5th AF didn't go that route, retaining o.d. over neutral gray until very late in '44 before switching to nmf overall. Of course, they're the ones with the difficult to paint nose and tail art.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2010 4:48 p.m. PST

Another reason or two for the natural aluminum finish is (1) dominance in the air, particularly in late '44 and '45, and (2) the weight of the paint increases fuel consumption which means either more fuel has to be carried or fewer bombs can be carried. IIRC these were especially important reasons for not painting the B-29s with their longer flights in the Pacific.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Jul 2010 4:56 p.m. PST

Yes, the switch to NMF was chiefly down to speed and fuel consumption, but was more of an issue for the heavies – if you're low and slow anyway it makes less difference, hence B-25s in olive drab being more common until later.

Hevy Phyzx Inactive Member04 Jul 2010 11:38 p.m. PST

As I recall in my reading for my models (back in the days of the dinosaurs grin) The B17s, 24s, and 29s would achieve nearly a five to 10% increase in range without the Lead based camo paints, thus one of the reasons for the heavy bombers in the late part of the war to be in natural metal finish.

Also, the "Air Superiority" of the allies meant that the necessity of having camo was less important than earlier in the war.

PTO B-25s were very different in their "coloring" than the ETO and MTO counterparts, as noted by highlandcatfrog above.

Andy Welkley
"Your Phrendlee Hevy Phyzx T-chrr"

Top Gun Ace Inactive Member05 Jul 2010 1:50 a.m. PST

Towards the end of the war, the American commanders wanted the Germans to come up and fight in the air, so they could be defeated more quickly, so the high-vis natural finish helped with that as well.

I imagine the increased speed, and reduction in fuel consumption had more to do with that though.

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