RAF Camouflage on WW2 US Army Air Force Aircraft

RAF Camouflage on WW2 US Army Air Force Aircraft


RAF Equivalent Schemes

Upon the entry of the US into World War II, many USAAF aircraft were painted in approximations of RAF camouflage schemes. These included equivalents to the Temperate Land Scheme (Dark Earth/Dark Green) over Sky or the Desert Scheme (Middle Stone/Dark Earth) over Azure Blue. The aircraft most commonly associated with these patterns is the P-40, which was the main US fighter in service at the time of Pearl Harbor and which had already seen combat in the hands of the American Volunteer Group (the 'Flying Tigers') in China where they wore TLS colors. Many aircraft intended for lend-lease were also painted in RAF schemes only to be taken over by the USAAF after Pearl Harbor. It was also the case that many UK-based USAAF aircraft used actual RAF paints, most famously some units based at RAF Duxford (DG over Sky) and RAF Boxted (OG/DG over MSG). There was usually no attempt to replicate RAF patterns and as a result, USAAF patterns varied significantly between aircraft and could be highly irregular.

US equivalent paints initially followed DuPont standards intended to match RAF paints. Of the Temperate Land Scheme colors of Dark Earth (71-009) and Dark Green (71-013), the former was noticeably lighter although the latter was very close. They best match FS 30219 and FS 34096 respectively although FS 34079 has been suggested for Dark Green as well (it is very similar). Confusingly, a second variant of Dark Earth (71-035) came in use later and this was much darker, being closer to the RAF color and also fading less. It closely matches FS 30118. In contrast, Sky (71-021) has been a source of controversy. Although the DuPont standard closely resembles the RAF original, it is noticeably lighter and is closest to FS 35670 which is not a military color. The next nearest would be FS 35622 which happens to be known as a 'Duck Egg Blue' but is even lighter still. In color photographs, however, it frequently ends up resembling different types of gray, often a light tan grey (closest to FS 36622) as well as a sky gray which could reflect attempts to match Sky Grey rather than Sky Type S. To what extent this reflects an actually different paint shades or simply different color characteristics of the photo is up to debate: most color photos of US versions of Sky are in factory-fresh aircraft whereas most photos of RAF Sky are of aircraft in the field and thus dirtier. Furthermore, factory-fresh photos of RAF Sky are often of early Hurricanes and Spitfires which may have been painted Sky Blue, which in black and white appears lighter and would contrast more sharply with the topside colors just as the DuPont colors do.

As for the Desert Scheme, Middle Stone (71-069) was similar in brightness thus probably looking identical in black and white but lacked the mustard tone of its MAP counterpart. It is closest to FS 30266. When paired with the later Dark Earth (71-035) it would have had much greater contrast than the RAF originals or with 71-009. In contrast, Azure Blue (71-062) was very close to the RAF version aside from being a bit darker and has been matched with FS 35231.

Once the newer ANA colors were developed, US factories were ordered to use designated ANA equivalents instead of DuPont matches. In many cases, these varied significantly from their RAF colors. Although some colors like Dark Earth (71-035), Middle Stone, Sky, and Azure Blue received their own ANA successors, the colors used in the Day Fighter and Temperate Sea Scheme did not. Instead, both schemes used the same equivalents for their greens and grays, these being Olive Drab 613 (closest to FS 34088) and Sea Grey 603 (closest to FS 36118) respectively. While they were close enough to the TSS, they were far less of a match to the DFS: Olive Drab was too dark and too brown and Sea Grey was also too dark and lacked Ocean Grey's distinctive blue tint. Additonally, the US equivalent to Medium Sea Grey was ANA 602 Light Grey. This is often matched to FS 36440 but it is believed that it was somewhat darker but still unsuitable as an equivalent to Medium Sea Grey and was said to have been discontinued shortly after introduced in favor of ANA 621 Dark Gull Gray which was of similar brightness although still somewhat warmer. As with USAAF aircraft, it is likely that stocks of Olive Drab No. 41 were used before switching to ANA 613 which leads to the possibility that only few late-builds ever used it if at all.

A comparison between US and RAF paints is provide below with the disclaimer that Hex equivalents will never be fully accurate to an original paint chip.

MAP - DuPont Color Comparison (1940-1943)

Dark Green (1)
71-013 34083
Dark Earth (1)
71-009 30140
Dark Earth (2)
71-035 30118
Middle Stone
71-069 30266
Sky (1)
71-021 35622
Azure Blue
71-062 35231

MAP - ANA Color Comparison (1943-1945)

Ocean Grey
ANA 603 36118
Dark Green (2)
ANA 613 34088
Medium Sea Grey (1)
ANA 602 36440
Medium Sea Grey (2)
ANA 621 36231
Sky (2)
ANA 610 34424
Dark Slate Grey
ANA 613 34088
Extra Dark Sea Grey
ANA 603 36118

Color Guide on RAF Camouflage Colors on USAAF Aircraft

>The following paint chart includes only the US equivalents to the Temperate Land (plus Sky) and Desert (plus Azure Blue) schemes as those were the only two to have been used extensively before the ANA equivalent colors were designated. DuPont numbers are in the topmost header row. Rather than merely repeat the matches for RAF paints from previous sections, the paint chart takes the closest FS equivalents mentioned in the text in parenthesis under the assumption that modelers will want to make their Lend-Lease models look sufficiently different from home-produced RAF aircraft, the exception being Azure Blue which is virtually identical.

  • Sky (71-021 / ANA 610): Anyone wishing to replicate the tan grey seen on many color photos would be best served using the widely available FS 36622. Otherwise, the closest equivalent to the DuPont shade is FS 35622 which is a pale blue-green known for its Israeli Defence Force use. It is frequently labeled 'Duck Egg Blue' which, ironically, is the same name that was colloqually given to Sky Type S in Air Ministry Orders. In contrast, ANA 610 was much closer to the original RAF Sky Type S and is matched to the post-war FS 34424. As a result, late war Lend-Lease aircraft (mostly Fleet Air Arm) can get away with using the RAF original. For convenience, the paint chart includes ANA 610 / FS 34424 as matches and FS 35622 as close equivalents in parenthesis even if the former are available.
  • Middle Stone (71-069 / ANA 615): The close equivalent is FS 30266. Beware of any ANA/RAF matches as they will likely be closer to the original and thus too mustard-like compared to the US version.
  • Dark Earth (71-009): The close equivalent, FS 30219, is widely available and is included in parenthesis. It is usually labeled Sierra Tan and was a late addition to the ANA range (ANA 628).
  • Dark Earth (71-035 / ANA 617): The close equivalent, FS 30118, is widely available and included in parenthesis. It is often labeled Field Drab.
  • Dark Green (71-013): The close equivalent, FS 34083, is relatively rare and so the similar and more widely available FS 34079 is included in parenthesis. Both FS colors are labeled forest greens, with the former being the air force and the latter the army versions. FS 34079 also has a late addition ANA predecessor (ANA 631).

ANA 610

ANA 609
Azure Blue

ANA 615
Middle Stone


Dark Earth (1)

ANA 617
Dark Earth (2)


Dark Green

TLS Lower (Upper Camo) (Upper Camo) Upper Camo
Desert Lower Upper Camo (Upper Camo) (Upper Camo)
Gunze Aqueous (H314) - - (H310) - (H309)
Gunze Mr. Color (C314) (C370) - (C310) - (C309)
Humbrol - (157) - (118) - (116)
Model Master 2049** / (1722) 2048** 2052** (1742) 2054** / (1702) (1710)
Revell - - - - - -
Tamiya - - (XF-59) (?) - - -
Vallejo Model Air (71.328) 71.108** (71.291) (71.125) 71.139** (71.294)
Vallejo Model Color - 70.902** (70.977) (70.874) (70.873) (70.893)
AKAN (72074) (70004) (6/82044) (72003) (6/82045) (72002)
AK Interactive (AK 2154) (AK 2017) - (AK 2103) - (AK 2101)
AK Real Colors (RC241) (RC291) (RC030) (RC225) (RC085) (RC027)
AMMO by Mig - - - (A.MIG-202) - (A.MIG-206) (?)
Colourcoats ACRN36 (ACRN34) - (ACUS18) - (ACUS20)
Hataka HTK-_234* / (HTK-_092) (HTK-_028) - (HTK-_012) - (HTK-_016)
Lifecolor (UA 139) (UA 098) (UA 081) (UA 015) UA 092** (UA 001)
Mission Models MMP-080** MMP-092** - (MMP-066) - (MMP-058)
Mr. Paint (MRP-225) MRP-143 (MPR-368) (MRP-103) MRP-145 (MRP-101)
Xtracolor (X149) (X026) - (X102) (X101) (X110)
Xtracrylix - (XA1026) - (XA1002) - (XA1110)
Arcus - 521 524 528 522 -

Photos of US Army Air Force Aircraft in RAF Colors

Robert T. Smith standing next to AVG P-40 Tomahawk China November 23 1941 A P-40 from the Flying Tigers in US Temperate Land Scheme over Sky. Note how DuPont 71-021 differed considerably from RAF Sky in some photos, although the topside camo was closer to their RAF equivalents.
RAF camouflage on Douglas Boston 1941 A quality color shot of an A-20 in US Temperate Land Scheme over Sky, which in this photo also looks more like a light tan gray. The Dark Earth appears to be the older 71-009.
North American Mustang Mk.IA at the North American Aviation factory Inglewood October 1942 This excellent photo of early P-51s at North American's Inglewood factory shows a more evident duck egg green tone to the Sky 71-021 and certainly closer to the RAF version. The aircraft in the background is in OG 41.
Jerry Carver stands in front of Bill Skinner's 308th Squadron Spitfire Lonesome Polecat Pomigliano Italy 1944 The USAAF operated Spitfires in the MTO like this Mk VIII. The unconventional demarcation suggests it has been repainted with Desert Scheme / Azure equivalents.
Colonel Francis Stanley 'Gabby' Gabreski  along with his ground crew in front of P-47D Thunderbolt Francis Gabreski's famous P-47 painted in actual RAF colors from the Day Fighter scheme (Ocean Grey, Dark Green over Medium Sea Grey). The pattern, however, was quite unique.
P-47D-23-RE 42-26293 'Belle of Belmont' 63rd FS Another P-47 of the 56th Fighter Group (which else) has a Day Fighter scheme that is closer to the actual RAF pattern.


  • 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)
  • Bell, Dana, Air Force Colors Volume 2 ETO & MTO 1942-1945, Squadron/Signal Publications (1980)
  • Elliot, John M., The Official Monogram US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide Vol 2 1940-1949, Monogram Aviation Publications (1989)
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