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US and FAA a/c WW2, occasional series of colour notes.


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Noticed these during a squizz at files on the flash drive.

It crossed the great abyss of grey matter that they may be of use, considering there's a Pacific GB.


I have a couple others, to follow.






Here's William Reece's post to RMS concerning the tinted primer used on Corsairs


There has been a lot of discussion about the use of 'Salmon' colored primer on the F4U-1 Corsair since I posted several messages to the newsgroup rec.models.scale in mid 1996. There was mention of it made at the 1997 IPMS National Convention and Dana Bell mentioned its use in his article in FineScale Modeler. This is an attempt to further clarify and identify the use of 'Salmon' primer on these aircraft.

Mr. Larry Webster who is associated with the New England Air Museum has kindly provided me with copies of the original Chance Vought Erection and Maintenance Instructions for the F4U-1 Corsair. This document lists all of the materials and procedures needed to build an F4U-1 Corsair.


Materials list of finishes for the F4U-1:


Lacquer Dull Dark Green - Cockpit interior. USN Spec – AN-TT-L-51. Qty 1 1/2 gals. Du Pont.


Zinc Chromate Primer. USN Spec - AN-TT-P-656 Qty 15 gals. Du Pont.

(This would be the familiar yellow zinc chromate primer similar to FS 33481 or Testors small bottle Zinc Chromate.)

Also included in this listing is


Tinting Medium USN Spec. TT-I-511 Indian Red Paste. Qty 1 ½ lbs. Valentine, NY.

Indian Red is a dark red-brown color and is widely available as an artist oil paint sold in art supply stores and full line hobby shops.

The Indian Red was to be prepared as follows:

2 oz. of Indian Red mixed in 2 gals. of toluol or equivalent (AN-T-8b toluol substitute, similar to lacquer thinner) solvent.


This mixture was to be used to reduce 1 gal. of zinc chromate package material (un-reduced zinc chromate primer). This mixture was known as TINTED PRIMER (my caps). This comes from pages 1106 and 1110 of the F4U 1 Corsair Erection and Maintenance Instructions.


In section 7.2 of the E&M instructions the raw aluminum for the construction of the Corsair was treated with a primer coat of zinc chromate. This coat known as the Shop Primer Coat was to serve as a first coat for the finishes to follow.

This coat was applied very thin and results in a yellow-green color. This is the US equivalent of the Aotake blue-green primer on Japanese aircraft in WW 2.


In section 7.31 of section 7.3 Detail Protective Schedules Class:

AA for Special Conditions or Material: magnesium alloy parts were to receive two coats of zinc chromate primer followed by two coats of TINTED PRIMER.


In section 7.321 under section 7.32 Class A or 3 Coat Protection:

The exterior metal surfaces were to receive one coat of primer and one or two coats of lacquer finish color depending on the metal used.


Section 7.331 under section 7.33 Class B or Two Coat Protection:

states that the 'Interior of the cockpit from Station 129 to Station 186 and all parts contained therein except the instrument and control panels, control handles, etc. shall be one coat of primer on details or sub-assemblies followed by one coat of cockpit green lacquer after assembly. The interior surfaces of fuselage (except cockpit), wings, flaps, ailerons, tail surfaces and all parts contained within shall receive one coat primer on details or sub-assemblies followed by one coat TINTED PRIMER on assembly; light non-specular gray shall be the top coat on wheel wells.

The engine mount, front face of the firewall and all parts forward thereof shall receive one coat of primer and one coat of TINTED PRIMER except the interior of the engine and accessory compartment cowling and such areas which may be exposed to view.

The second coat on the interior of the engine and accessory compartment cowling shall be light Non-specular Gray; areas exposed to view shall match the surrounding exterior color'.


Section 14 describes the color system to be used on the Corsair. Section 14.1 deals with the exterior of the aircraft and section 14.4 states that the color of the cockpit shall be finished in cockpit green lacquer as noted in #7.331.

The interior of the windshield frame shall be non-specular black.


Sections 14.6 and 14.7:

state that the cargo, baggage, fuselage fuel compartment and structural spaces be painted in TINTED ZINC CHROMATE PRIMER as stated in #7.331.


Finally pages 1120 and 1126 of the E&M Instruction describe the use and preparation of tinted Zinc Chromate printer USN Spec AN-TT-P-656.

Local Process Specification Nos. 21-24-26-28-30-32 Application of Top Coats gives specific instructions on the preparation and application of the various paint coats used on the Corsair. Two methods are given for tinted Zinc Chromate.


Method (a) involves the use of 2 oz. of aluminum paste per gallon of Zinc Chromate package material thinned 1 part primer to 1 1/2 parts thinner. This is the formula mentioned in John Elliot's, Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, vol 2.


Method ( b ) uses 2 oz. Indian Red Paste per package gallon of zinc chromate primer and thinned 1 part primer to 2 parts thinner.


What is the bottom line of all of this? Well, for one, F4U-1 Birdcage Corsairs had their interior areas except the wheelbays, engine cowling and accessory cowlings painted in a dull orange-brown tinted zinc chromate primer know as 'Salmon'. The closest paint that I have found to the samples in my possession is PollyScale Railroad, Southern Pacific Daylight Orange.

The wheelbays, engine cowling and accessory cowlings were painted in Non-Specular Light Gray to match the underside of the aircraft.

The cockpit was painted Du Pont Dull Dark Green. Photos of F4U 1s taken at the time show the cockpits as being a very dark color. Articles recovered from various F4U-1 crash sites confirm these instructions.

Articles removed from F4U 1, BuNo 02368 which crashed near Exeter, Rhode Island on September 12, 1944 show good evidence of the use of 'Salmon' primer on the structural spaces. Other parts recovered from other crash sites show evidence of 'Salmon' on interior spaces and inside the wheelbays and tailwheel bay. Others show 'Salmon' underneath Non-Specular Light Gray in the wheelbay tops.


Many thanks to Larry Webster for his time finding the documentation on this subject. Any errors or omissions are the sole responsibility of the author.


William Reece.

Fly Navy!


Excerpt from William Reece’s USN Interior Colors - Revised


F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair. Cockpit:

Well this is tricky. The best evidence is black.

Photos of F4U-1s taken at the time show the cockpits as being a very dark color. The F4U-1 E & M manual calls for Dull Dark Green. Photos and some wrecks show flat black.

A photo of 'Pappy" Boyington in Bruce Gamble's book, The Black Sheep, shows him sitting in a Birdcage with a black armor plate and upper seat. This a/c also has no headrest. All other areas of the F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair would normally be 'Salmon'.

Salmon is a pale pinkish/brown primer made by mixing Indian Red pigment with Zinc Chromate Yellow. The closest Munsell match is 2.5 YR 6/8 or between FS 32276 and FS 32356. This color was applied to the whole F4U before the final camo finish. The landing gear bays were this color.

The insides of the main gear doors were Light Gray. Sometimes this was only overspray over the Salmon. Note: there were canvas covers on the inner and outer wheel bays that were either Olive Drab or Light Gray. The closest paint that I have found to the Salmon samples in my possession is PollyScale Railroad, Southern Pacific Daylight Orange. The wheelbays, engine cowling and accessory cowlings were painted in Non-Specular Light Gray to match the underside of the aircraft.

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FAA Colours and Markings

(source: FAA SIG, not W Reece.)





(Please put up a post if you wish for it to be removed - I would have put in a link to it but it is - as I have put above - not working at the moment. )

At the start of the war with Japan, in December 1941, the very few FAA aircraft stationed in this region of the world were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme S.3. This particular scheme used the colors:


Extra Dark Sea Gray,

Dark Slate Gray,

and Sky.


Biplanes were finished in the same top colors, but were finished in Dark Sea Gray and Light Slate Gray on the lower surfaces.


The national markings were those as found everywhere else.

The upper wings carried Type B roundels,

the lower wings carried Type A roundels,

and the fuselage sides carried Type A1 roundels.

The fin flashes were of various sizes.

On September 29, 1943, a new directive for national insignia was issued for RAF aircraft in the Indian Command. Following previous procedures, the Admiralty complied with the new orders and directed that all Royal Navy shore-based aircraft and spotting aircraft aboard ships, were to follow the directive .

This directive called for the following changes in national insignia:
Wing/Fuselage Roundels


White Circle/Blue Circle - Small 6" 16"; Medium12" 32"; Large 18" 48"


Fin Flash (White toward leading edge)

Aircraft Size, Width/Height, White/Blue:


Small – 16"/24", 8"/8"

Medium – 22"/24", 11"/11"

Large – 34"/24", 17"/17"


It was found that the use of a pure white was much too obvious, so it was decided that a color obtained from mixing 4 parts white with 1 part blue was to be used instead. It was further ordered that the Small insignia be used on all fighters and trainers, the Medium insignia on intermediate types, and the Large insignia to be used on heavy bombers.

During the period of January through October 1943, the Royal Navy did not have any seaborne aircraft. This was to change with the arrival of the Escort Carrier H.M.S. Battler. The Battler was carrying a mixed patrol squadron, for anti-submarine warfare, of Fairey Swordfish and Supermarine Seafires. These particular aircraft arrived wearing the Temperate Sea Scheme of


Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Grey upper surfaces, and Sky undersurfaces.


They carried the name ROYAL NAVY, with the aircraft serial number, 4 inches tall (in black), on the rear portion of the fuselage.
To conform with the Admiralty's directive of September 1943, the upper wing roundel’s red center was simply painted over in blue and a white disk was applied in it’s place. The fuselage side roundels (originally Type C1) were completely over painted and were repainted in the Blue and White scheme.
In January 1944, after the creation of the SEAC (South East Asia Command), H.M.S. Illustrious arrived on station carrying Fairey Barracudas and a fighter complement of Grumman Hellcats. The Hellcats, along with other US-built aircraft, were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme, but were painted using the US versions of the British paint.


The US versions were known as ANA (Army-Navy) colors. These color equivalents were:

ANA 613 - Olive Drab

ANA 603 - Sea Gray upper surfaces,

ANA 610 - Sky lower surfaces.

As more and more escort carriers began to arrive in the Indian Ocean, so did the number of ship-based aircraft. These aircraft, which were designated as anti-submarine squadrons, were Wildcats, Swordfish, or Avengers. These particular aircraft, from the escort carriers, had their sides and lower surfaces painted in white. The upper surfaces were carrying the same August 1943, India Command patterns and markings described earlier.


Unlike the Atlantic and Mediterranean based aircraft, the aircraft of the Eastern Fleet did not carry the individual carrier "deck letter" on their fuselage sides. Instead, they used single letter squadron codes and individual aircraft letters which were 24 inches tall (sometimes 18 inches).
By the time of the attacks on the Dutch East Indies and Sumatra, during April through October 1944, the Eastern Fleet had aircraft available from the carriers H.M.S. Illustrious, H.M.S. Indomitable (later replacing Illustrious), H.M.S. Victorious, and H.M.S. Indefatigable to fight with. The aircraft which they carried were all US-built Grumman "Hellcats", Eastern-built Grumman "Avengers" and Vought "Corsairs."


The US-built aircraft were painted in the US-designated ANA colors Extra Dark Sea Gray, Dark Slate Grey, and Sky.
In August 1944 the carrier H.M.S. Indomitable also carried the same type aircraft and they too were painted using the same US colors.

Establishment of the British Pacific Fleet

In November of 1944, the much anticipated split-up of the Eastern Fleet was realized. It was split into two forces: The Eastern Fleet and the all-new British Pacific Fleet (BPF) consisting of Capital Ships. At first the US Navy was hesitant to allow the participation of a British Pacific Fleet, in the Pacific waters, due to the Royal Navy's lack of ability to replenish itself. It was finally approved by the Joint Chiefs providing that the Royal Navy could maintain itself independently with its own oilers and supply ships.
The 1st Carrier Squadron of the BPF was composed of four Fleet Carriers, cruisers, and other vessels. The Eastern Fleet (a.k.a. East Indies Fleet) provided an Escort Carrier Squadron, which would provide CAP (Combat Air Patrols) and long range spotting for the battleships. This command would fall under the watchful eyes of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s SEAC. The escort carriers carried a small number of Barracuda and Avengers for bombing, and several squadrons of Hellcats and Seafires to work in the Photo and Tactical recon role. Previously, in late 1943, the carrier squadrons had organized into Tactical Units such as Fighter Wings and Torpedo/Bomber/Recon (TBR)Wings.

In February 1945 there was a new directive for aircraft of the Eastern Air Command. This directive ordered that aircraft be painted with the following ID markings:


The cowling was to be painted with a 17" white ring

The tail and wings would have white ID bands of 18" width on the tail and 28" width on the wings.

Aircraft of the East Indies Fleet (with the exception of Photo-Recon aircraft) carried these markings. On the Hellcats the wing bands were carried so that they covered the inboard edge of the upper wing roundels.
In March 1945 the BPF joined the US ships of Admiral Spruance’s Fifth Fleet. This fleet was renamed Task Force 57 and began a series of airstrikes against airfields around Okinawa. The air portion of this carrier strike force was called the 1st ACS (designated as CU 57.1.1) and was made up of Avengers, Corsairs, Hellcats, Seafires and Fireflies. TF112, which was in the supporting fleet of supply ships and tankers, had escort carriers carrying two Hellcat squadrons (20th ACS) for CAP and aircraft replacement for the Fleet Carriers.
Also in March 1945 there was a revision to the national insignia used by the BPF. The insignia was to have panels similar to the US national insignia and was to be made up of a blue ring, with a narrow white border, and a white circular center. This insignia is sometimes wrongly referred to as the SW Pacific marking. This is not the case as the RNZAF and RAAF did not use these markings. Only the BPF.
The marking was derived from the "medium" and " large" roundels discussed earlier, and imposed over a white star of similar size to the US insignia. This new marking was applied on the upper left wing, lower right wing and aircraft sides.


The dimensions used were :


32" outer ring/12" inner ring on the "small" roundel,

42" outer ring/14" inner ring on the "medium" roundel,

48" outer ring/18" inner ring on the "large" roundels.


The white border markings were from 2 to 3 inches in width, while the rectangular panels were to be extended on either side of the roundel by ½ the roundel diameter (i.e., 16", 21" or 24").


In actual use, the Corsair II & IV and Hellcat II carried the 48" roundels, the Seafire, Avenger, and Firefly carried the 42" roundel, while the Hellcat I carried the 36" roundel.
During early 1945, the East Indies Fleet started receiving some of their Hellcat II’s (F6F-5's) and a few Wildcat VI’s (FM-2's) in US Sea Blue (ANA 623). The ROYAL NAVY logo and the aircraft serial numbers were in white. As soon as they were received, the national insignia were replaced with the August 1943 pattern India Command insignia with white 2 inch borders. The US painted Sea Blue Hellcats and Corsairs, of the new squadrons, began entering the BPF soon after. No Avengers were ever delivered to the BPF or East Indies Fleet in this color.
Aircraft Identification in the British Pacific Fleet
In March 1945, a new aircraft identification practice came back into use. It was based on the pre-war system of using the carrier "deck letters", which were placed on the upper forward portion, on each side of the tail. The aircraft also carried a 3 digit number, either 18 or 24 inches in height, on the fuselage sides. These numbers ranged from 111 for the fighters (Hellcats/Corsairs), from 270 on 2 seat aircraft (Firefly), and 370 on aircraft with a three man crew (Avengers/Barracudas). These markings were used by the airplanes of the fleet carriers until the BPF was disbanded in 1946.


BPF Carrier Air Group Codes – WW2

1st AC Squadron Fleet Carriers (Adm Sir Phillip Vian)


Air Group

Tail Code

HMS Formidable



HMS Illustrious



HMS Implacable



HMS Indefatigable



HMS Indomitable



HMS Victorious



11th AC Squadron Light Fleet Carriers (R.Adm Harcourt)

HMS Colossus



HMS Glory



HMS Venerable



BTF112, Fleet Train Carriers (R.Adm Fisher)



Tail Code

HMS Arbiter

1843 Corsairs


HMS Ruler

885 Hellcats/Avengers


HMS Speaker

1840 Hellcats


Fleet Air Arm Camouflage and Colors of W.W.II
By Scott Spencer
Sea Camouflage, Scheme 1A
This scheme came from a revision to Scheme 1, which was first introduced in 1936. It was found that several of the colors from Scheme 1 were just not appropriate and did not have the desired effects. They found that a compromise mix of the pigments would produce some very nice shades of gray-greens. Therefore, in the latter part of 1937, changes were made to the camouflage colors:


Dark Slate Gray (FS 34096: Methuen #28 [E-F]3)

Light Slate Gray (FS 34159: Methuen #26E3) were introduced first.


Next came a replacement for the aircraft sides and bottom surfaces: This new color was called Sky Gray (FS 36463: Methuen #22C2).

These three colors became the operational colors of the Fleet Air Arm and most aircraft manufacturers based their production colors on these mixes in 1938-39.
When war came and began to spread into the Mediterranean, the British felt the colors being used presented too much of a contrast and the generally 'blue' conditions in the Med presented a camouflage problem.

Around mid-1940, to help with this problem, FAA reconnaissance aircraft were allowed to paint their bottoms in Sky Blue (FS 35622: Methuen # [23-24]A2) for daytime ops, while those flying at night used flat black. When Azure Blue (FS 35231: Methuen #21B5) was developed, the aircraft were allowed to use this instead. Further development of another bottom color resulted in the production of Sky Type 'S' (FS 34424), but this was a priority color for the RAF and very few FAA aircraft obtained this color until March 1941.

Temperate Sea Scheme
In the latter part of 1940, all the references to 'Sea Camouflage' were dropped. This order, from the Ministry of Defence, was the first to make 'all' FAA aircraft change to the Temperate Sea Scheme, no matter if the aircraft were ship-based or land-based. It also standardized the markings, demarcation lines, etc., for the FAA's aircraft. This order was applicable to all aircraft, no matter where they were allocated or which theatre they might have been operating in.

The standardized colors chosen were:

Extra Dark Sea Gray (FS 36099), a dark blue-gray color

Dark Slate Gray (FS 34096), an oily dull gray-green, for the upper surfaces.

The lower surfaces were painted in Sky (FS 34424).

These new colors became standard in March of 1941.

As I have mentioned in my article about colors and markings of the East Indies and British Pacific Fleets, the US built lend-lease aircraft (Wildcat, Hellcat, Avenger, and Corsair) were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm in the US paint equivalent of British standards.* For a listing of several British W.W.II paint standards, see the chart below. The Hellcats and Corsairs of the BPF were delivered in the standard US Navy color of Gloss Sea Blue - ANA 623 (FS 15042).
* The US colors translate to these ANA colors:
Extra Dark Sea Gray: ANA 603 Sea Gray (FS 36118)
Dark Slate Gray: ANA 613 Olive Drab (FS 34130)
Sky: ANA 610 Sky (FS 34424)

(ANA Bulletin #157, Sept.'43)

British Standard Colors in W.W.II

Colour                                                       FS#                                 Methuen

Dark Slate Grey                                          34096,                               28(E-F)3

Light Slate Grey (counter shading)             34159,                               26E3

Dark Sea Gray (counter shading)               36118,                                21E3

Sky Grey (Pre-/Early War)                          36463,                                22C2

Sky                                                             34424,                               30(B-C)2

Roundel Red                                              31350,                                    ?

Identification Yellow                                    33538,                              (4-5)A8

Identification Blue (Dull)                             35044,                                 20F5

Identification Red (Dull)                             30109,                                 8D7

Medium Sea Grey                                      36270,                                22D3

Light Green (Pre-/Early War)                    34102,                                30F4

Dark Green (Pre-/Early War)                     34079,                               30(F-G)2

Grey-Green Primer(Cockpits)                   34226,                                 27D3

Identification White                                    37778,                                N/A

Identification Green                                   34187,                                28(D-E)8



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A conversation between William Reece, Joe Taylor and Peter Mossong via the forum.

Edited to remove reiterations.


Mostly notes on the F4U-1, with some on other a/c.




Response to Compilation of WWII US aircraft cockpits: Bronze Green, Interior Green, or another color


F4F: Most were Bronze Green, a few very late Interior Green

FM-1: Most were Interior Green a few early a/c Bronze Green

FM-2: Interior Green

F6F: First 100 Bronze Green, All others Interior Green

F4U-1: Black

F4U-1A, -1D, -4: Interior Green

F4U-2: Black

OS2U: Early a/c Aluminum Lacquer, Later a/c Black

SB2U-1, SB2U-2: Aluminum Lacquer

SB2U-3; Black

B-24D; Bronze Green


Larry and I based our findings on original photos, Vought documents and numerous pieces of wrecked aircraft that were recovered. I would expect Boyington's mount to have an Interior Green (FS 34151, technically ANA 611)cockpit with an Instrument Black instrument panel. The remainder of the interior of the aircraft would have been Zinc Chromate Yellow (very close to FS 33481). This would include the interior of the cowling except for the unpainted stainless steel firewall and of course the cockpit. The interiors of the gear doors would have been the exterior color (Insignia White). The tail wheel door interior is most likely white as well though Interior Green or ZCY are options as well. The landing gear and wheels would most likely have been Non-specular Light Gray (close to FS 36440) or Aluminum Lacquer. The wing fold interiors would most likely have been Sea Blue (never Interior Green or Zinc Chromate Yellow).


If you build with the cowl flaps open you'd want to the inside of the firewall to be stainless steel up to just inside where the cowl flaps meet it. The oxygen bottle in the cockpit is gloss or semi-gloss Light Green (Willow Green, ANA 503 or FS 14187) not yellow. I would expect that BuNo 17915 (a later -1A) did not have had the belly window or any Salmon tinted primer. Don't forget to close the step hole in the right inner flap, only F4U-1Ds had that though lots of restored a/c have it. Check the Detail and Scale about the landing light on the bottom of the wing. I know it was dropped sometime in production but I'm at work so I don't have access to the info about when it was deleted.


First, let me say that the following is the result of years (decades?) of research gathered from photos, wrecks and documentation. In general for most USN WW2 era a/c you're correct that the wheel bays, gear struts, wheels, landing gear doors and fittings are the exterior color. However for a factory fresh and most in service F4U-1D, Corsairs the wheel bay would be Zinc Chromate Yellow, close to FS 33481. I wrote a monograph some years ago and it's on this website. Do a search on my name in Hyperscale's search function.


Just from photographic evidence, it looks as if a lot of landing gear struts were in Aluminum Lacquer. Wreck evidence and New Old Stock (NOS) parts indicate that Non-specular (flat) Light Gray (close to FS 36440) was very common. Grumman F6F-5 aircraft generally followed the rule "Paint it blue and send it through". Grumman was focused on maximum production and that was one way of achieving that goal, much like deleting the Insignia Blue surround on the national markings. I would also say that it appears many overhauled Corsairs left with Aluminum Lacquer landing gear. Corrosion was a constant battle for carrier based aircraft. I expect that high wear parts such as landing gear were often painted or touched up much like modern USN tactical paint scheme aircraft are.


I wrote the following regarding the F4U-1D:


F4U-1D Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles was black. This matches the Navy's directives at the time very well. Inside of the wheel bays and engine cowling were also Interior Green FS 34151. Wheel bays could have been Zinc Chromate Yellow, FS 33481. Landing gear was Light Gull Gray or Aluminum Lacquer. After overhaul aircraft could have had the landing gear, wheel centers and wheel bays painted Glossy Sea Blue.


I will also add that the interior of the landing gear doors could be either ZCY or Glossy Sea Blue. Also, note that the first production batches of the F4U-1D were delivered in the Three Tone scheme. I have also been unable to find a photo of a never overhauled F4U-1D with the anti-glare area in Flat Sea Blue. I would also say that applies to WW2 era F4U-4 a/c. I frequently see models of F4U-5 and -5N a/c with Flat Black anti-glare areas. This is wrong and against the directives of the time and contradicts (color) photo evidence. It should be Non-specular (flat) Sea Blue.


William Reece


F6F-3 Hellcat Primers and coatings

January 29 2008 at 11:28 PM

William Reece


About a week ago someone posted about camouflage colors being applied to a seemingly NMF F6F-3 Hellcat. I did some digging and found my copy of the 3/3/43 revision of the F6F-3 specs. for the application of the protective coatings and finish. I'm going to summarize this to keep it less technical. Here goes.


This applies to F6F-3, Hellcats, BuNo. 04775-05054 and 08894-09038 which would be the first two production batches of Hellcats for the fleet. Later aircraft are generally similar.


The first section deals with finish requirements according to Navy requirements of Spec. SR15-C. It states that Non-specular Sea Blue, Semi-gloss Sea Blue, Intermediate Blue and Insignia White are the colors for the airframe exterior. These colors replace aluminized lacquer as an exterior finish. That would have been the prototype Hellcats. They also replace the earlier Non-specular Blue-Gray and Non-specular Light Gray finish.


A shop coat of primer was required. This was applied as soon as possible after parts or assemblies were fabricated. This was thinned zinc chromate primer and comprised the first coat of the finish. The first coat of the finish system was this zinc chromate shop coat.


Tinted primer replaces aluminized zinc chromate primer. Tinted primer is made by mixing ten ounces of black enamel with one gallon zinc chromate primer. “The color resulting from the above will vary and is not required to match any color standard.” (My quotes). The result of this is Interior Green, similar to ANA 611 or FS 34151.


Tinted primer replaces semi-gloss Bronze Green on the interior of the cockpit.


It’s interesting to note that 11 gallons of Zinc Chromate and 15 gallons of Tinted Zinc Chromate were required for each Hellcat produced.


It’s also interesting to note that 5.5 ounces of Indian Red paste were required as well. I have seen this ‘Salmon’ primer on the structure of the elevators of recovered parts.


The exterior was considered a Class ‘A’ surface and was to receive 1 coat of zinc chromate primer (shop coat) and 2 coats of the appropriate camouflage color. This also included the cockpit which received two coats of ‘darkened primer’ (My quotes). This resulted in the cockpit having two coats of interior green primer.


It also states that ready mixed non-specular gray should be thinned with 1 ¼ parts thinner to 1 part non-specular gray. This was applied to the entire interior surface of the airframe excluding the cockpit.


The firewall was not to be painted. The entire airframe was to be painted with zinc chromate primer and then the finish coats according to the type of service the part was subjected to. The exception was Class ‘D’ surfaces which were anodized parts.


It is interesting to note that in the painting chart dated April 15,1944 the National insignia (Stars with Bars) on the upper left wing was not required to have Insignia Blue applied to the border. A photo of a Hellcat with this exact style insignia appears in the old Aerodata International book on US Navy Fighters of WW2. Further the Insignia White on the National insignia was to be painted with a 1:1 mix of Non-specular Light Gray and Non-specular Insignia White.


Hope this all makes sense.

William Reece


Hellcat Bronze Green

March 8 2008 at 10:25 PM

William Reece


Response to Hellcat question...........YES ANOTHER!


Only about the first 100 or so Hellcats had Bronze Green interiors. They would have NS Blue Gray over Gray with the 'Grumman Wave' paint scheme, fairings over the inner two 50 cal guns on each side, landing light under the port wing and the forward leaning antenna mast. All the rest would have Interior Green, ANA 611.




To get William Reece's postings to Hyperscale all together, here's his comments on the F4U Corsair colors and comment on the F4U-2 . . .


Corsair window area and interior

August 24 2005 at 11:49 AM

William Reece



Okay here's my take on the F4U-1 paint under the window. It's Non-specular Blue-gray. No doubt. I can only find one photo, of nearly 100 (the one posted) where it appears something other than NS blue-gray. Light and shadow sometimes have an effect but in clear, straight on shots it's always the exact same tone as the exterior and in the one color photo that is straight on it's NS blue-gray. I see this as a non-issue and totally as a matter of photography and light.

On to the interior. This is much more open to speculation. Some photos (the Boyington pic) and recovered wrecks seem to suggest Non-specular Black in the cockpit. That's what I went with on my Tamiya -1. The E & M manual clearly states Dull Dark Green (DuPont). I suppose it could also be Bronze Green but there is no evidence to support that. Bronze Green would also be very dark in a B/W photo.

Salmon primer was a mixture of Indian Red paste and Zinc Chromate (yellow) primer. It was used in the same way as other tinted zinc chromate primers were used; to indicate a second protective coat. It was sometimes visible in the wheel wells of factory finished Non-specular Blue-gray over Non-specular Light gray F4U-1 Corsairs (one would also assume -2's as well). The wheel wells may also have been Non-specular Light gray or some combination of the two.


The last batch of -1's were delivered in the new (at the time) three tone camouflage. These a/c probably had the wheel wells painted in zinc chromate yellow.

Hope this helps,

William Reece


Need to find a pic of one without the windows!



It's my understanding that occasionally the rear windows were removed since they served little practical purpose, probably (due to the severe angle at which the pilot looked back through them) actually restricted vision, and their removal had no detrimental effects on aerodynamics.


Mr. Reece, while we have you on the line . . . Colors for F4U-1a

joe taylor


I had saved your previous posting as a primer for WWII U.S. Navy planes and I am completing the F4F-4 now using it.


The next plane up shortly is my Tamiya F4U-1a and I have some questions because your post above seems to be different at least as respects the wheel well color. I may be mistaken because I don't have your initial post with me.


The three-color camo scheme.


Interior green or black pit?


Wing interiors exposed behind flaps YZC?


Wheel wells white or YZC?


Wheel legs White or aluminum?


Thanks for your help.


F4U-1A Interior

William Reece


I see that Modeldad posted my latest version of USN aircraft interiors in a later thread. As far as I know I will still stand by all of that. I need to add the F2A, SB2U and TBD since I have much better handle on those aircraft than I did several years ago.


Joe, to answer your questions for the F4U-1A Corsair;


All F4U-1A's were tri-color and all -1D's were overall Glossy Sea Blue (this may have excluded test and prototypes)


Cockpit is Interior Green ANA 611 (FS 34151) that's the whole thing visible on any model. The instrument panel is instrument black. The Detail and Scale F4U book is dead on accurate.


Any area you can see from the outside is camouflage color. That would be the flap bays and wing folds. I still see models with the wing folds in Interior Green. They were Non-specular Sea Blue ANA 607 (FS 35042). The underside flap bays are Non-specular White ANA 601 (FS 37875/37925) There should be no Zinc Chromate Yellow, Salmon or Interior Green showing with the flaps down or the wings folded.


Wheel bay tops; Zinc Chromate Yellow


Gear door interiors; NS White. Rarely Interior Green or Interior Green with White overspray.


Inside the fuselage above the Tail Wheel; Zinc Chromate Yellow. Generally the tail wheel doors are White inside and out but could be Zinc Chromate Yellow.


I think the gear legs were Aluminum Lacquer. Larry Webster and I differ here. He insists that they were Non-specular Light Gray. I don't think photos support that but either is acceptable.

Hope that helps,



F4U-ID colours.

Peter Mossong


Hi William. Sorry, but I have to disagree with your statement that all -ID's were Glossy Sea Blue except for prototypes etc.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force received many of the early production batches of the -ID's, and they were received in the so called 'Tri-Color' scheme.

I have full Bu.No. and constructors numbers to back up my statement and, other than the lack of Colour photographs, there are enough good clear 'Official' RNZAF photos in the various archives here in New Zealand to show Corsairs in what I prefer to call the 'Four Tone Scheme', with underwing pylons which did not appear on any so called -IA's!

Many also had the early 'barred' canopy of the -IA, and the larger diameter props.




It's my understanding that occasionally the rear windows were removed since they served little practical purpose, probably (due to the severe angle at which the pilot looked back through them) actually restricted vision, and their removal had no detrimental effects on aerodynamics.


Mr. Reece, while we have you on the line . . . Colors for F4U-1a

joe taylor


I had saved your previous posting as a primer for WWII U.S. Navy planes and I am completing the F4F-4 now using it.


The next plane up shortly is my Tamiya F4U-1a and I have some questions because your post above seems to be different at least as respects the wheel well color. I may be mistaken because I don't have your initial post with me.


The three color camo scheme.

Interior green or black pit?

Wing interiors exposed behind flaps YZC?

Wheel wells white or YZC?

Wheel legs White or aluminum?


Thanks for your help.


Hope that helps,




William Reece



I suppose I should have said all US Navy F4U-1D's. I've yet to find any photos of USN -1D's in anything other than Glossy Sea Blue.


I would be most interested in those BuNo's you have regarding RNZAF Corsairs. BTW your site is very interesting. Thanks for the link. Larry Webster and I both think that the change over to Glossy Sea Blue occured with the change to -1D production so this is new information to me. I wonder if it's possible that the RNZAF repainted them to the tri color scheme (you're correct with the 4 colors BTW), though that doesn't seem likely. I suppose it's also possible that Vought was using up the older paint to fill the RNZAF order.




RNZAF F4U-1D colours.

Peter Mossong HyperScale Forums


Hi William,

All the RNZAF's F4U-1A and -1D Corsairs came from pooled US Navy/Marines stocks at Espritu Santo and Guadalcanal, and were not specifically produced to an RNZAF order. Only the 60 FG-1D's were received as a special order.

These a/c were not repainted by the RNZAF when received, and many served until the end of their operational life (and eventual ferry flights back in NZ) in the original (and in many cases VERY faded and worn) scheme. Some were repainted in several schemes, but this was done when time and operations allowed. I'll send you the serials file which covers them all. Bu.No. and makers serials are included.

Cheers, Pete M.

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This is a helpful follow-up to the previous 'discussion' post. Mr Reece describes the interior callouts for the particular a/c.



Concise description of Internal colours.


William Reece



USN & USMC Aircraft Interiors of WWII

William Reece


USN Aircraft Interiors.

The answers here are complex. Until recently everyone assumed that the interior of all USN WWII aircraft was FS 34151 Interior Green. This is not always the case as is obvious from the Accurate Miniatures, TBF/TBM Avenger instruction sheet.

Mr. Larry Webster an aviation archeologist and airplane restorer has extensive knowledge in this area. In addition to being a friend of mine Mr. Webster has many original parts from WWII USN aircraft to document his conclusions. Additionally he is a director at the Quonset Air Museum and is a volunteer with the New England Air Museum. Here is some help on this subject with all credit to Larry Webster.


Credit must also go to Dana Bell, author and friend, for his help in this area. His article in the October 1997 FineScale Modeler magazine should be required reading. His 3-volume set Air Force Colors contains some useful info.


TBF-1 / TBF-1C Avenger.


Exactly like the Accurate Miniatures instructions show. FS 34058 Bronze Green forward from the bulkhead with the window (in front of the turret). FS 34151 Interior Green for the rear crew areas. Light Gray (Grumman Gray) inside the cowling, (FS 36440 is very close) and accessory area.

The stainless steel ‘Dishpan’ firewall was unpainted and often quite bright.

Torpedo bay. FS 34151. Remember, on all of these a/c the general rule is that the wheel bays, landing gear struts, wheel centers, landing flap bays, etc. are the undersurface color. On the Avenger the inside of the flap itself was the upper surface color with the inside of the flap well on the under surface of the wing being the bottom color.


TBM-1, -1C, TBM-3C, -3E Avenger.


FS 34151 Interior Green. This also included the crew areas and fuselage interior. Early TBM-1s and –1C’s had cowling interiors like those of the TBF-1 with Non-Specular (flat) Light Gray from the firewall forward except for the dishpan. Later production aircraft would have had everything from the inside of the cowling all the way back in interior green.

The landing gear and bays were the undersurface color, i.e. Insignia white bottom would be white. Glossy Sea Blue TBM-3 a/c would have GSB landing gear and flap interiors. The inside of the flaps would be similar to the TBF-1 above.


F4F-3 / F4F-4, Wildcat.


FS 34058 Bronze Green. Some may have been painted FS 34151. Bronze Green is the first choice. The only area that was Bronze Green was the pilot’s portion of the cockpit above and below the 'Floor'. The fuel tank under the cockpit was light gray.

The inside of the engine cowling and main gear bay were Light Gray, as was the interior of the fuselage all the way back to the tail. Tri-color aircraft would have had Insignia White wheel bays (cutout for the tire). Tom Cheek, who fought the Japanese at Midway, says that he painted his cockpit red to keep him alert! Anything is possible.




FM-1 / FM-2 Wildcat.


Interior FS 34151, Interior Green. Similar to the TBM.

Wheel bay (cutout for the tire) was the exterior color.

The engine accessory area (the area behind the firewall) was Light Gray. Tri-color FM-1s likely had Light Gray engine cowling interiors and the rear fuselage was Light Gray also.


F6F-3 Hellcat.


The first 100 F6F-3s almost certainly had Bronze Green cockpit interiors. The rest had FS 34151 cockpits. The engine cowling and the fuselage interior including the area behind the cockpit where the small windows are located was Light Gray FS 36440 (Grumman Gray). Remember on all of these a/c the general rule is that the wheel bays, landing gear struts, wheel centers, landing flap bays, etc. are the undersurface color. The area ahead of the rear main spar in the wheel bay was interior green. This area was unmasked and so may have had some significant white over spray. Interior Green should be the dominant color.


F6F-5 Hellcat.


FS 34151. Later a/c with BuNo’s higher than about 80000 had the interior above the consoles in black Any F6F with the rear windows will have the rear fuselage in Light Gray. (Grumman Gray Take note: those building David McCambell's Minsi III.)

The inside of the engine cowling could be Light Gray, Interior Green, or Zinc Chromate Yellow FS 33481 respectively, according to production batch. Later F6F-5’s may have had a Flat Black cowling interior ahead of the baffle seal between the front and rear cylinder banks. This was most likely done at overhaul. The remainder was Interior Green.

The inside of the fuselage on the F6F-5 without the windows would normally be FS 33481 ZCY. Very late a/c with BuNo’s in the 94000, range had Interior Green fuselage interiors and black upper cockpits. This is exactly according to the USN specifications at the time. All other areas of the airframe that were exposed to weather were painted Glossy Dark Sea Blue, ANA 623. Remember, on all of these a/c the general rule is that the wheel bays, landing gear struts, wheel centers, landing flap bays, etc. are the under surface color. There should be no Interior Green visible on the exterior of any factory finished F6F-5. No F6F-5 aircraft were factory finished in the tri-color paint scheme.

Note: ANA 623 is not FS 15042. FS 15042 is an FS 595 color that is close to, but not the same as, ANA 623 color used during WWII. Although the variation is very slight they are different.


F7F Tigercat.


FS 34151 Interior Green. The upper area above the consoles was black. All other internal areas should be FS 33481 Zinc Chromate Yellow, including the Rear Cockpit. The Squadron F7F In Action clearly shows the rear cockpit in FS 33481 ZCY with black upper areas.

Engine cowls.

Interior Green or Zinc Chromate. Wheel bays: Interior Green FS 34151. Landing Gear: Support structure is Interior Green. The landing gear struts and wheels are Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623.


F8F Bearcat.


FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles was black. The seat was black. Inside of the engine cowling was Zinc Chromate Yellow, Interior Green or possibly Flat Black. All other visible areas were Glossy Sea Blue similar to the F6F-5.



F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair.

Recovered wrecks show the inside of the main gear doors to be Salmon however. Color photos of early Corsairs show the cowling interior to be Non-Specular Light Gray.


F4U-1A Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. All other areas of the F4U-1A were Zinc Chromate Yellow, FS 33481. Early F4U-1A's may have been Salmon. Landing gear: Light Gray or Aluminum Lacquer. This was true well into the F4U-4 production. Some a/c may have had Insignia White landing gear after overhaul or repaint.


F4U-1D Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles was black. This matches the Navy's directives at the time very well. Inside of the wheel bays and engine cowling were also Interior Green FS 34151. Wheel bays could have been Zinc Chromate Yellow, FS 33481. Landing gear was Light Gull Gray or Aluminum Lacquer. After overhaul aircraft could have had the landing gear, wheel centers and wheel bays painted Glossy Sea Blue.


F4U-4 Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles was black. Inside of the engine cowling was Zinc Chromate Yellow, Interior Green or possibly Flat Black with the area ahead of the cylinder seal in Glossy Sea Blue. All other visible areas were Glossy Dark Sea Blue similar to the F6F-5. Landing Gear: Aluminum Lacquer or Light Gray. After overhaul aircraft could have had the landing gear, wheel centers and wheel bays painted Glossy Sea Blue.


SBD-1 thru -6 Dauntless. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. Color photos of the SBD-1 aircraft confirm the interiors were Interior Green. The stainless steel ‘Dishpan’ firewall was unpainted and often quite bright. Dive Flap interiors were ANA 509, Insignia Red FS 31136. The wing supporting structure and dive brake linkage was the bottom color. Some SBDs had very dark green cockpits that were nearly black due to mixing variations with the different batches of paint.




SB2C-1, -3, -4 Helldiver. Cockpit: Curtiss Cockpit Green similar to PollyScale RLM 63 green. This color was distinctly different than other interior green colors because it was browner than other interior greens. Color photos of SB2C-1 a/c show this. There is considerable debate over the exact shade of this color. There was much variation in the different batches of Interior Green and this may have been just one variation. Note the wheel bays and landing gear struts, unlike most other USN a/c of the period were Curtiss Cockpit Green.


This answers most of the common questions. A whole lot of research needs to be done on this area. A lot depends on the production block of the a/c in question. Remember that these a/c could and did undergo maintenance, combat and severe weathering. Remember Tom Cheek and his red Wildcat interior. CHECK PHOTOS OF THE AIRCRAFT YOU INTEND TO MODEL.



Mr. Larry Webster, Grumman Expert, Wreck Hunter, Aircraft Restorer and all around Great Guy.


Dana Bell, A fine gentleman and expert.


John M. Elliot; The Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Vol. 2, 1940-1949.


Doll, Jackson, Riley; Navy Air Colors, Vol. 1, 1919-1945.



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