- US color standards
- Early War (1941-43)
- Sea Search scheme (1941-45)
- Mediterranean Theater (1942-43)
- Northwest African Air Forces (1943)
- Late War (1943-45)
- Night Fighters (1943-45)
- Photo-Reconnaisance (1942-45)
- RAF equivalent schemes
USAAF Aircraft Cockpits
US cockpit colors in World War II are the subject of much controversy and speculation. The earliest guidelines for cockpit colors were provided on 9 September 1938 (Specification No. 98-24113-A) which laid out the practice that would be common on many USAAF aircraft and which was based around two colors. The first was Green Zinc Chromate (described in the text as 'Yellow Green') which was to be applied on aircraft with open cockpits or with sliding enclosures such as fighters and other single-engined aircraft. The second color was Bronze Green No. 9 which was to be applied on aircraft with closed cockpits which are part of the fuselage such as bombers and other large multi-engined aircraft. This was introduced as early as November 1919 (US Army Specification No. 3-1) and is a very dark olive green which can be compared to a black-green, although like most cockpit colors it would look considerably lighter in practice.
An ammendment to the specification was made on 6 September 1942 (Amendment No. 6). The guidelines retained Green Zinc Chromate for aircraft with open cockpits or with sliding enclosures. However, a new color known as Dull Dark Green (which had been introduced in USN service in April) replaced Bronze Green for aircraft with closed cockpits. There is considerable speculation regarding its exact color and is generally believed to a darker version of Medium Green No. 42/ANA 612/FS 34092 with more of a blueish hue. More problems arise from the fact that it looks vastly different on many aircraft, in some appearing as a turquoise-like blue-green. The color is much closer to that of actual aged bronze (think of old bronze artifacts and statues) which lends itself to even more confusion with Bronze Green. In late 1942, Green Zinc Chromate was standardized by the USN into the color that would be introduced on 28 September 1943 to the ANA palette as Interior Green ANA 611. This would thereafter become the de facto 'Yellow Green' as previously specified.
A final wartime revision of interior colors was issued on 6 April 1945 (Specification No. 98-24113-B) which had it that all cockpits and other enclosed areas (like turrets as well as bombardier and navigator stations) that were visible were to be painted Medium Green ANA 612 (which I personally suspect was intended to replace Dull Dark Green given its similarity). Areas of cockpits that were reflected in glass were to be painted in Black ANA 604. In practice this meant that the upper half of cockpits (usually from the level above the bottom of the instrument panel) were painted black. Just a few days before the end of the war, on 18 August 1945 an amendment to the previous specification formally established Interior Green ANA 611 as the replacement for 'Yellow Green'. Given the winding down of aircraft production in 1945 it is likely that very few aircraft were ever painted with ANA 612 cockpits.
Unfortunately for the sake of consistency, not all USAAF manufacturers followed the basic guidelines and in many cases created their own proprietary cockpit colors. For example, Curtiss Cockpit Green was developed by local paint vendors and is believed to be a more heavily tinted version of GZC which appeared slightly brown. Northrop Cockpit Green was another such shade, believed to be closer to the typical version of GZC. Early P-38s used Olive Drab cockpits. Finally, there is also some confusion over the colors used by Republic which are thought to be approximations of Bronze Green and (later) Dull Dark Green. Bell Green was a similar dark color, believed to be close to Medium Green. It was common for USAAF aircraft to be built in more than one factory which means more than one cockpit color could have been used.
A summary of the suspected main cockpit colors used on major USAAF aircraft is as follows. All post-war aircraft used Interior Green and Black or overall Black cockpits:
- P-38 Lightning: Olive Drab (P-38E, F-4), Green Zinc Chromate/Interior Green (P-38F and later)
- P-39 Airacobra: Bell Green (All versions)
- P-40 Warhawk: Curtiss Cockpit Green (All versions)
- P-47 Thunderbolt: Republic Bronze Green (P-47C, Razorback P-47D); Republic Dull Dark Green (Bubbletop P-47D/M/N)
- P-51 Mustang: DuPont Gray Green 71-036 (P-51A), Dull Dark Green (P-51B), Interior Green (P-51D), Interior Green and Black (late P-51D/H)
- P-61 Black Widow: Northrop Cockpit Green (All versions)
- A-20 Havoc: Green Zinc Chromate/Interior Green (? color appears browner than usual)
- A-26 Invader: Interior Green (?)
- B-17 Flying Fortress: Bronze Green (B-17E and earlier); Dull Dark Green (B-17F/G)
- B-24 Liberator: Bronze Grean (B-24D); Dull Dark Green (B-24E and later)
- B-25 Mitchell: Bronze Green (B-25B/C/D); Dull Dark Green (B-25G and later)
- B-26 Marauder: Green Zinc Chromate/Interior Green (?)
- B-29 Superfortress: Dull Dark Green (All wartime versions)
Unlike exterior camouflage, vintage wartime-era color photos of cockpits are a rarity, which makes the problem of approximating the actual colors so much more difficult. Cockpit photos are also notoriously difficult to accurately assess given that colors tend to look lighter than they actually are. Furthermore, restored aircraft like those found in museums may have been repainted and the new color may not match the original. In conclusion, all information here is speculative and should not be taken as the final word on this controversial topic.
Color Guide to WW2 USAAF Aircraft Cockpit
- Bronze Green: Very few ranges offer specific matches for cockpit Bronze Green and Dull Dark Green that are specific to US interiors and given the controversy over their real shades, may or may not be accurate. Various shades of Bronze Green are used by the British Army and are close in terms of hue to the cockpit color, with Deep Bronze Green being closer to the color chip though perhaps too dark for a model cockpit. Different sources have quoted FS 24050 or 24052.
- Dull Dark Green: The fact that this color was never added to the ANA palette complicates matters as it makes it subject to interpretation. It is claimed to be closest to FS 34092 which is lighter but therefore suitable for a cockpit. However, many pictures of USAAF aircraft show a much bluer, turquoise-like hue. As a result, FS 34058 could seem more appropriate for this particular shade.
- Curtiss Cockpit Green: Versions of Interior Green that approximate the browner post-war FS 34151 would be more suitable. For an even more pronounced brown look, then Nakajima Cockpit Color could be an acceptable substitute although it is debatable just how different from GZC this color was.
- Northrop Cockpit Green: Believed to be close enough to GZC/Interior Green.
- Bell Green: Believed to be close enough to Medium Green No. 42/ANA 612.
- Republic colors: Believed to be close enough to Bronze Green and Dull Dark Green.
Green Zinc Chromate
Dull Dark Green
|General (Sep. 1942)||(Cockpit)||(Cockpit)|
|General (Sep. 1943)||(Cockpit)||(Cockpit)|
|General (Apr. 1945)||Lower Cockpit||Upper Cockpit|
|Gunze Mr. Color||C351||-||-||C27||C33|
|Vallejo Model Air||71.094||71.013*||-||71.137*||71.057|
|Vallejo Model Color||-||70.897*||-||70.850*||70.950|
|AK Interactive||AK 2306||AK 2205||AK 2106*||AK 2303||AK 735|
|AK Real Colors||RC262||RC264||RC230*||-||RC001|
|AMMO by Mig||A.MIG-220* (!)||-||A.MIG-077||A.MIG-220*||A.MIG-046|
|Lifecolor||-||(UA 111)||-||UA 004*||LC 02|
Photo Reference of WW2 USAAF Aircraft Interiors
- Archer, Robert D. and Archer, Victor G., USAAF Aircraft Markings and Camouflage 1941-1947, Schiffer Publishing (1997)
- Bell, Dana, Air Force Colors Volume 1 1926-1942, Squadron/Signal Publications (1995)
- Elliot, John M., The Official Monogram US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide Vol 2 1940-1949, Monogram Aviation Publications (1989)