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Vingtor

Olive Drab - and some confusion

73 posts in this topic

Well, I know that the old Bulletin 41 Dark Olive Drab 41 was different from the ANA 613 Olive Drab, and even that the Dark Olive Drab 41 varied quite much. From reading several articles and books on USAAF colors [sic], I have got the impression that Dark Olive Drab 41 generally was a brownish colour while ANA 613 Olive Drab was generally more greenish.

However, in an article in Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol.23 No.9 - "Shades of Olive Drab" - Paul Lucas describes the Dark Olive Drab 41 as "a dark green colour when new" while ANA 613 Olive Drab is described as "brown".

Please enlighten me...

Nils

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I think he has it the wrong way around as im of the opinion that ANA613 is greener and OD41 is browner when newly painted (both faded quite a bit). Thats what ive done with a P-40 (OD41) pre '43 and b-17s ana613 post '43.

Edited by Hardtarget

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P-40 (ana613) pre '42 and b-17s OD41 post '42.

Hm, ... the DOD41 was the earlier colour (pre 1943) while the ANA 613 was the later colour, introduced in 1943.

Nils

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The story about ANA 613 being browner was mistakenly attributed to Dana Bell, and the case is actually reversed.

613 was acceptable to the RAF as Dark Green and was also accepted by the FAA as Dark Slate Grey for aircraft made in the USA.

Thus a, perhaps, more green tone.

The USAAF did not readily adopt the use of 613,instead had stocks of OD 41 used up. 613 can be seen on those aircraft that remained in camou, like the C-47, after camouflage was dropped for most front line aircraft.

The date of adoption of the ANA colors is not determinative of its use after that date.

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The USAAF stopped camouflaging their fighters and bombers about the time the ANA colours came into use. It is the application on transport aircraft that I am interested in, though, especially C-60 Lodestar and C-87 Liberator Express. E.g. this one seems to be ANA 613, in my eyes.

C-87-1024.jpg

Nils

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It is not safe to use colour photographs as a means to assess paint colour in a case like this as the following should make clear.

Firstly, to correct a few misleading statements that have been made here. The British had formally accepted Dark Olive Drab 41 as a substitute for Dark Green in February 1942, over a year before the paint colour standard for ANA 613 was issued. Even so Fig. 692b, Finish Specification Section 11 from Report No. NA-5724 (North American Aviation Structural Repair Manual) dated November 1943 clearly shows 'Dark Olive Drab' substituted for Dark Green on the Temperate Land scheme diagram for the Mustang. Anyone who doubts this can see this page of the manual for themselves here:-

http://amair4raf.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/southern-cross-mustangs.html

By the time Drawing 109-00-268 was issued in the April 1944 NAA Erection and Maintenance Manual and Structural Repair Manual AN-O-60-3 the colour was shown as 'Olive Drab 613'. Ergo both colours substituted for Dark Green.

Both colours are Munsell "yellows" and the actual calculated difference between the OD41 and ANA 613 colour standard swatches as measured is only 1.66 where 2.0 or less equals a close match. Dark Olive Drab 41 has an ever so slightly more "greenish" appearance to some eyes, but with the variance of actual applied paints, weathering, etc., (and pigments specified for OD were listed as 'optional') this becomes largely academic and IMHO far too much is made of the supposed difference between them.

ANA Bulletin 157a of March 1944 listed 613 Olive Drab with Dark Olive Drab 41, Dark Slate Gray and Dark Green as the 'Nearest Equivalent or Superceded Colors'. This continued until Bulletin 157d of 1959 where there was no FS equivalent (from 595) for Olive Drab listed and the 'Color Standard to be Employed' was still shown as ANA 613.

In 1964 Bulletin 157e listed FS 'X 34087' for the first time as the color standard to be employed for Olive Drab, superseding ANA 613, with a note that chips for that colour could be obtained from the Coatings and Chemical Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground. This colour standard was noticeably browner in appearance than both the previous Dark Olive Drab 41 and ANA 613 but has been attributed as a "match" for the latter which is where some of the confusion about this colour might have arisen in the past. The calculated difference between the 1964 FS 34087 and ANA 613 is 4.65 where 2.0 or less is a close match and the calculated difference between FS 34087 and OD 41 is 6.00. Visually the FS colour is significantly "browner" and if used as a "match" for ANA 613 would give rise to the impression that colour was "browner" than Dark Olive Drab 41. In his 'USAAF camouflage 1933-1969' (1969) Ross Whistler noted that "613 is substantially darker and greener than X 34087".

There are various technical pigmentation factors which also had a bearing on the development and visual appearance of these colours which I won't go into here.

Anyone who wants the actual measurements for these various colour standards - or indeed rendered chips of them - is welcome to pm me.

Nick

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Hm, ... the DOD41 was the earlier colour (pre 1943) while the ANA 613 was the later colour, introduced in 1943.

Nils

My error I had them the wrong way around. your statement is correct and is what ive done.

I used these paint call outs.

http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/colorcharts/stuff_eng_colorcharts_us.htm

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Well, I know that the old Bulletin 41 Dark Olive Drab 41 was different from the ANA 613 Olive Drab, and even that the Dark Olive Drab 41 varied quite much. From reading several articles and books on USAAF colors [sic], I have got the impression that Dark Olive Drab 41 generally was a brownish colour while ANA 613 Olive Drab was generally more greenish.

However, in an article in Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol.23 No.9 - "Shades of Olive Drab" - Paul Lucas describes the Dark Olive Drab 41 as "a dark green colour when new" while ANA 613 Olive Drab is described as "brown".

Please enlighten me...

Nils

The hazards of using words to describe colors (which is not 'sic' btw... at least on this side of the Atlantic). What looks green to you might look brown to me.

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Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol.23 No.9 - "Shades of Olive Drab" - Paul Lucas

Nils

would be interested in reading this any chance l get a scan of this?

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Hi, all,

Just some comments.

Robert Archer regarded Humbrol 108 "RFC Green" as the closest match to DOD n°41, explaining the colour lineage from the RFC planes the US Army received in WWI. It is a "greener" version of the colour; Xtracolour, for instance, is much browner. I got a score of tins in a supermarket at Nairobi.

That ANA 613 had been accepted as "substitute" for MAP Dark Green doesn't build a case for its "greenishy"... it was not considered the same colour; the fact that it had also been accepted as substitute for DSG excludes that possibility.

Hobby paints depicting "FS 34087" are considerably lighter (to my eye browner, but that might be a personal perception); I have seen many a model of an USAAC/USAAF plane with that tone and looks terrible (especially when paired to "FS 36270 Neutral Grey" unders...).

Fernando

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I recall (I no longer have the reference) the original Harleyford book on camouflage referred to the USAAF's C-47s as being in Dark Earth. That seems a pretty good guide to what the real aircraft looked like to the (British) naked eye observer, as opposed to years of staring at colour photos of possibly doubtful reproduction. I have also seen comment to the effect that OD was considered an acceptable alternative to Dark Earth as well as to Dark Green - though presumably not on the same aircraft.

Over the past decades, it certainly did/does appear that the earlier the timescale of the photo, the more likely that the colour reproduced as brownish, and this is (I'm sure) behind the many comments to that effect in modelling magazines and guides. See photos of the famous P-51B "Shangri-La" for this effect. How real this effect can be argued, the same photo appearing green in some printing and brown in another - or even blue, but that's a different argument (and Mustang!).

There are some fairly good colour reproductions of early C-47s that do show a number of different shades of OD on the same aircraft, the fuselage being almost Sand, the wings a greeny-grey. The only parts that look to be as dark as the official OD41 are those areas that supposedly would have been in Medium Green. I've not seen any photos of the combat types with this degree of brown.

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Hi, Graham,

Transport planes were most probably painted in ANA 613. It is a fact that USAAC preferred OD 41 and stuck to it for as long as possible; it is even possible that, with the order to remove camouflage coming soon after, there were no fighter planes finished in ANA 613/603. However, transport, liason and export planes were especifically exempted from the order, therefore they went on being camouflaged. I guess it would be possible to track subcontractors and see if some of them had stocks of OD 41 left, while others were already using ANA 613. I think that that's why ANA 613 was considered browner than OD 41; colour pictures of C-47s (and B-17s) show a distinct lighter and browner look (not unlike FS 34087), but that's subjective.

Of course you could use OD 41 as the "brown" element of a "green/brown" camouflage, provided the "green" element is "green enough"! (for years people have been erroneously painting Dutch Buffalos in Olive Drab and Medium Green) But it looks like it was not even considered; by the time of the ANA 157 Bulletin, the Day Fighter scheme had been adopted and the old TLS was only used in the SEAC, a forgotten theater of operations.

Fernando

Edited by Fernando

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In March 1944, the date of publishing (intent being somewhat earlier) TLS was still being used in Bomber Command, by light bombers in 2nd TAF, on trainers, on other second-line aircraft and in Italy. Not just in SEAC. It may be true that generally this scheme would not be seen on non-British aircraft, in particular not on Lend-Lease types, but this is not comprehensive.

I would also point out that the C-87 above is a 1941 Fiscal Year aircraft, so will certainly have been built before the introduction of the ANA colours. Whilst being duly circumspect about viewing a colour photo on a monitor, I have no problem in accepting the C-87 as being in OD41 of some variety.

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I recall (I no longer have the reference) the original Harleyford book on camouflage referred to the USAAF's C-47s as being in Dark Earth. That seems a pretty good guide to what the real aircraft looked like to the (British) naked eye observer, as opposed to years of staring at colour photos of possibly doubtful reproduction. I have also seen comment to the effect that OD was considered an acceptable alternative to Dark Earth as well as to Dark Green - though presumably not on the same aircraft.

FWIW the Harleyford reference is a bit ambiguous. On page 146 it describes C-47s in Britain as follows:-

"The first American transports to be operated in Britain were Douglas C-47 Skytrains finished either in khaki and dark grey or olive drab and dark grey."

On page 138 the author Bruce Robertson refers to a "brown" being used in North Africa:-

"Later a brown was usual for this area as shown on page 122".

Page 122 has a colour profile of a C-47 captioned as follows:-

"In camouflage typical of some U.S.A.A.F. aircraft in the Middle East is a C-47 A-80-DL as it appeared in October 1945."

It is depicted in a strong orange-brown colour over grey and that this is not meant to represent OD is shown by the profile of a B-26 beneath it in a colour more representative of OD and described as "olive drab and grey".

On page 118 is another description:-

"Hundreds (of Dakotas) were delivered to the RAF in temperate land scheme and sky undersurfaces to M.A.P. specification, but many served in R.A.F. markings with an American olive drab and neutral grey camouflage."

And in regard to RAF Daks in SEAC - page 124:-

"Most of the R.A.F. Dakotas were in American olive drab or khaki with blue or light grey undersurfaces. . ."

I can't see any reference to the Middle East "brown" as being Dark Earth but what springs immediately to mind in this context is the US Corps of Engineers colours for North Africa. The distinction between OD and "khaki" on US aircraft is also somewhat intriguing. All of these descriptions appear to refer to colours actually seen on aircraft so again the issues of individual perception and illumination are inevitable.

Nick

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Thanks Nick, but I was assuming that my memory (whether correct or not) referred to the smaller book published in the late 40s rather than the 1954 tome. I suspect that "olive drab", "Khaki", and "brown" in the above are simply referring to different shades of OD, in different states of weathering.

It is interesting to see the differing descriptions of the underside as "dark grey", "grey", "neutral grey" and "light grey", yet there are those who tell us that only Neutral Grey was ever used.

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"I suspect that "olive drab", "Khaki", and "brown" in the above are simply referring to different shades of OD, in different states of weathering."

Yes, I think that is probably so.

From the earlier 1946 Owen Thetford book, page 88:-

"Douglas Dakota transports used in Great Britain in 1942 were mostly olive green on the upper surfaces and neutral grey underneath, though some were olive green both above and below".

Can't see any reference to Daks in Dark Earth. The only profile of a US Dak appears to show it in OD over grey.

Nick

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Lovely photo, but an impressed civil DC-3 left behind - in France, I suggest, from the early fin flash. There can't have been many such, so the serial (and previous identity) should be traceable. Underside Yellow?

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Probably well out of my depth here but I wonder if the reference to Khaki could have referred to the Sand colour that US P-40s wore in Nth Africa. Would this have ever fearured on C-47s in this theatre which may have later found their way to SEA?

Steve.

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Typically early war OD colours were greener, and by 1944 a lighter brownish color seems definitely more common, especially on B-26s and C-47s. This is even when the B-26s are early Bs, but probably they were repainted later. Probably types that were left out in the open more maybe?

The Ninth Air Force in colour book shows a predominance of the brown on large aircrafts in 1944-45, while some P-51Bs of late 1943 are clearly much greener. This early P-40 in factory seems to show the opposite, and is fairly light for an aircraft in factory before 1944, but it could just be an overexposed photo (fin of second aircraft, in shadows, is much darker/greener)...:

http://www.ratomodeling.com/articles/AVG_cammo/

curtissret01.jpg

The C-87 posted here is in an early war aircraft, very new, and the strong green colour is much more typical of what I would expect of the period.

It could be the later 1943 paint simply faded much faster, maybe to the point of being brown on delivery, as they sat quite a bit in factory yards. An exceptionally sunny 1944 spring could explain all the difference...

Jean

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Here's a couple interesting photos...........faded paint or different colours?


The Mustang photo can also be found in the September 1998 issue of Scale Aircraft Modelling. The photo caption reads 'This shot of an early production P-51B next to a P-51 clearly shows the differences in nose profile and propellors'.

I assume the ambulances are the same colour but show new and faded paint.


John


OD_COMPARISON_zps3963050a.jpgOD_COMPARISON_1_zps9728c571.jpg

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The pigment formula for Dark Olive Drab 41 was not specified but listed as 'optional'. This allowed manufacturers to formulate their own pigments for OD paints which whilst ostensibly matched to a single standard (and the Army vehicle standard was 319 in Spec. 3-1 of 1943) would inevitably head in different directions with exposure, treatment and weathering. There was also an acknowledgement of variance in the provision of paints as advised in Army FM 5-20H - Camouflage Materials and Manufacturing Techniques, Section 1. Paragraph 5, PAINTS. (e). ... of July 1944:-

"In spite of color standardization, there is considerable variation in hue between lots and between the products of different manufacturers."

There was also a difference in the appearance of the gloss and matt versions of the colour, used for different purposes.

Nick

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