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what happened to camouflage ?

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what happened to camouflage ?

Old 15th Mar 2014, 04:46
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what happened to camouflage ?

I can see that as low level tactics have made way for higher altitude ops that aircraft have tended to be painted lighter greys, such as what has happened to the RAF mud mover fleets over the last decade or so. But it now seems almost all military aircraft in the west are devoid of any form of disruptive camouflage scheme. If two or more tones of paint are used they are joined with essentially straight lines. And if there are different tones used they are just different shades of grey - greens and browns seem to have disappeared completely.

Can anyone shed any light on why camouflage patterns have disappeared (no pun intended)?

I was surprised that the dazzle schemes produced by Keith Ferris in the 1980s never caught on, they seemed like they would be very effective. Still, the Canadians implemented the false canopy on their Hornets - can anyone comment on how effective it was to operate against?
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 04:55
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Cost cutting is one reason, believe it or not.

I've seen different squadrons and types all go to the one shade of paint.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 08:02
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It's an example of 'jointery' making optimal use of the UK's defence resources.

When John Major was PM, his office decided that rationilization was needed and turned to him for leadership...

"Grey. I like grey. Grey is good. Pass me the peas please, Norma. Grey. Oh yes, absolutely. Have we got any grey?"

Now many year ago, it was RN tradition to paint everything and anything a fetching tone of battleship grey. So the Great Lord Pusser ordered lots of paint. Millions and millions of tins of the stuff. But then along came defence cuts and soon there was rather more paint than ships.

But Pusser was a wily cove. "Mr Major - I have a solution. You can paint the RAF's aeroplanes with some of my nice grey paint. I've got plenty to spare. You won't need to paint them in two-shades-of-sh*t, shiny white, hemp, brown or anything else. Just grey, lovely grey!"

"Thank you - I shall see that it is done"

And lo, it was.

Except for the trainers. They used the black paint which Pusser had left over from the bit below the waterline of his old battleships. But there wasn't quite enough left in Pusser's locker, so the ageing old Dominies were painted to look like a skunk, with some of Pusser's finest white flagpole-paint on the fuselage top surface.

But Pusser's paint was too heavy for the wretched little rented plastic pigs to which the RAF turned for elementary flying training when they could no longer afford to buy their own aeroplanes, so they are au naturel in Bundesweiss fibreglass...
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 08:04
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Were disruptive schemes more effective when aircraft were parked in the open than when they were airborne? With the move to HASs and the lack of a counter-air threat, the need for camouflage patterns may have diminished; painting a single colour would take less time - and therefore reduce costs.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 08:19
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Funny BEagle! Made me laugh.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 09:39
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what happened to camouflage ?

The cost cutting story is likely to be correct. In Darwin a couple of years ago, I spent some time with a contractor painting cammo on many of the army's vehicles and there is no doubt that it's a very time consuming and exacting process. The various shades and shapes are very precise in their layout but of course, to the man-in-the-street, they appear to be random.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 09:45
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'Moral Superiority grey'

Hmm - developing BEagle's theme.

I like it, definitely the colour for the RAF's remaining flying machine . . .
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 10:26
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I also understand that the recent "paint job" is for effective hiding throughout the whole electromagnetic spectrum rather than just the visual portion of it.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 11:23
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Just a couple of points that might be of some interest.

"Barley Grey" is nothing to do with wheat, being named after the British gent who concocted it.

"Ghost Gray" is nothing to do directly with looking like a ghost, rather coming out of the "Compass Ghost" camouflage project in the Vietnam era.

The KC10 grey scheme of some years ago was initially left over paint at Mac Air ( allegedly ), before all the "European One" etc. stuff kicked in retroactively.

As the Human Visual system can only (IIRC) realistically separate about 60 grey levels under varying conditions of contrast and illumination anyway ...........
It all sounds like a bit of a scam to me.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 11:35
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Modern aircraft don't need low level camouflage because they go so fast. They swoop down from on high at the speed of light and the enemy only have time to think "Wassat?"

Before they realise it's an attacking aircraft it has dropped the weapons and zoomed back in to the heavens.

My aged aunt's cousin used to live next door to a pilot so it must be true.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 11:53
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The Canadians have gone back to using it on their new Chinooks, nice scheme too

CH-147F Chinook | Helicopter | Aircraft | Royal Canadian Air Force

With the Georgia situation ongoing it is surprising to see a lot on both sides wearing British DPM on the news.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:11
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I suppose now that radar technology is good and aircraft have IR sensors. The colour is irrelevant .

I never understood why Nimrods were painted that hemp colour?
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:32
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Want that a mixture of high and low altitude and on concrete pan Camo, no point painting it Camo then sitting it on a huge concrete apron.

Similar to the low level pink photo recon spits, they found it was the best Camo for ground fire low on the horizon.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:34
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Hemp was good for large aircraft parked on concrete aprons at ISK, Marham, St. Mawgan, Brize, etc...but only for the naked eye. Trouble is ISK also had a hangar painted brightly in the 80s so you could see for it miles, giving the game away should you have wished to fly your BACKFIRE 'feet dry' instead of fire some ungentlemanly stand-off weapon.

As always the US led, and still lead, the way on camo to defeat sensors of various kinds, including Mk.1 eyeball and IR. Greys provided a middle ground solution to the 'whilst airborne' and 'while on the ground' problem of hiding a plane as best you can. Squadron and national markings were also much reduced in size and sometimes colour due to the IR signature of the decal once applied out of the large water dish and onto the airframe. Look at the daft finishes on F-22 and F-35 now to see what's coming our way in a few short years....unless the F-35 is cancelled of course

Until you've heard a Sidewinder growl in your ears as a SAC stood with a lit match just a few feet in front of the aircraft in a non-official demo test, you'd think all this IR stuff was make believe!
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:38
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Haraka you said: "The KC10 grey scheme of some years ago was initially left over paint at Mac Air ( allegedly ), before all the "European One" etc. stuff kicked in retroactively."

All KC-10As were initially delivered white upper/grey lower fuselage, they then went to the predominant dark green scheme from 1985 (including new builds) before eventually taking the mid-grey camp from 1992-93.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:40
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We used to use a torch to test them.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:41
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We worked with camouflage in the now-defunct "Survival to Operate" office in ACAS's empire, and indeed were visited by Mr Barley.

Amongst the assorted old items in our office library was a WW2 Camouflage Manual, which noted that disruptive patterns (in hangars) needed to be a minimum of 10 yards across (or some similar figure) to be effective at any distance. Anything smaller would just resolve into a "dark shape" with no disruptive capability at all.

The cute little wiggly lines on aircraft are/were almost pointless unless being examined through a cam net at a range of a few hundred yards.

In addition, one needs to consider the background (dark or light, sky or ground) and the AOB of the aircraft. Bank 90 and your wiggly dark two-tone top scheme gets replaced by light underside (sky) scheme. So one size does''t fit all, especially in the case of manoeuvring fast jets. The Hemp scheme for Nimrod and Tankers was evolved to provide some colour conformity with concrete airfield surfaces when on the ground (As Nutloose has said while I was typing!) ... an airborne scheme not deemed necessary, as the aircraft would not (hopefully) operate in hostile airspace.

We did discuss with Mr Barley the idea of "one wing dark on top and the other light" and reversing that on the underside. Similar treatment for fuselage sections. But BIG areas. The idea was that in a manoeuvring fight, the mix of dark/light effects might serve to confuse the aggressor as to which side was up and which way it was turning. We were going to commission a trial job on a Hawk to determine usefulness, but then The Wall came down and our Team was disbanded.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:57
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I read somewhere about the Vulcan on exercise in the USA or Canada, they had a light underside and although the upper Camo worked well at low level, when in a sharp bank the underside was exposed resulting in it being seen from miles away, therefore they applied a wrap around scheme in the field so to speak.. It still didn't get around the fact that the damn thing cast a visible shadow that could be seen for miles.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:59
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If they get it too good....how would we find our own airplanes?

The US Army does not waste money on such projects....they stick to Tent, (GP, Medium) Tint and keep marching.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 13:12
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The Dutch new CH-47F are grey as well , think their remaining As532UL Cougar fleet one or two are painted grey (I think?!) and the Swedes As332M.

From the first days in Op Enduring Freedom noticed a lot of aircrew had mix/match standard NATO green survival vests and desert sand colored flight suits unlike a decade earlier in Desert Storm all had sand coloured combat survival vests and matching flight suits.

Back in Desert Storm, the USMC AH-1W/UH-1N and OV-10A were in desert camou and the AV-8B we're in mottled grey / light blue / sand as with our 'pink' strike aircraft and helos and AAC. Islander pair and Tristar and Victor tankers lol

Also in the ground wise, the US have white pick ups, crew vans, some trucks , some 4 x 4 , obligatory white and red striped paramedic GMC ambulances on their bases while the only white vehicles I've seen on our bases have been the Bedford ambulance and the new Pinzgauer off road 6 wheeler ambulance!
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