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Topic review - Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941
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  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Yeah, I wondered about the sub sinkings! Portland’s log mentioned that on 12/12/41 USS Indianapolis reported seeing a torpedo. Portland immediately launched her planes to investigate but there is no other mention of this incident in the log.
I would love to get my hands on USS Mahan’s logs as well to see if any truth to the 2nd sub sighting.
Wilcox definitely embellished some things in the article but the basics of the trip are well documented here.
Post Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2021 1:19 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Jeff, interesting reading, but there are factual errors (notably the TWO IJN Sub sinkings didn't happen, with an aircraft from USS ENTERPRISE sinking the first IJN sub on 10 December 1941), likely written as such to get USN approval for publication (having a LIFE reporter "help censor sailor's mail"?). The paint falling off of the escorting destroyers is not too surprising. Since it appears that the destroyers of DesDiv 9 were the escorts while the reporter/photographer were onboard, they were the units with "experimental" camouflage schemes. Those destroyers were initially painted in September-October 1941, and had been quite active as escorts prior to the Pearl Harbor Attack, much less when the LIFE crew were onboard. If the specific destroyer they saw with peeling paint, was USS DRAYTON with the Sapphire Blue paint, it isn't a surprise. This paint was a limited experimental mix that was given high marks for concealment in multiple conditions, but had very poor adhesion and wear while in use.
Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:54 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Rick, here is the LIFE article that was written about task force 12. The author was aboard USS Portland with Bob Landry. Along with Portland’s deck logs this article helps immensely to piece together all the photos that Landry took during that trip.
https://www.navycruisers.org/cruiser5jan42/index.html
Some points of interest that caught my eye was he specifically talks about what color the wood decks were painted and he talks about how the paint on the destroyers started to come off. He also comments on USS Arizona’s aft turrets when they arrived back at Pearl on 12/13/41.
Very interesting read!
Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 4:57 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Yeah, Portland's deck logs were very clear when he boarded and disembarked.
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2021 7:05 am
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Ok, I had seen the last two images among the LIFE Photos in past searches, and had wondered if the destroyer could be USS MAHAN. But, I had no clue which ships Landry was on or had been on among this confusing collection of photos (no dates, times, or ID's of ship(s) the photographer is aboard). I take it you have found deck logs that track Landry's movements at least in part. Thanks.
Post Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2021 1:25 am
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
Rick,
As we discussed on the SN site a few days ago, Bob Landry of "LIFE" magazine captured some images of DESDIV 9 while they were in this camouflage experiment. He was the photographer aboard USS Salt Lake City during the trip to the Marshall Islands and captured images of USS Lamson in MS-2A.
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Amazingly, he was also the photographer aboard USS Portland as part of Taskforce 12 which left Pearl on 12/5/41 enroute to Midway. DESDIV 9 was also part of that Taskforce. He captured a few photos of the destroyers during this trip as well.
Most of the shots are of USS Porter and none of them are very close but he did manage to get a couple of nice ones.
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Here is USS Mahan crossing between Portland and Chicago.
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These next two shots are of either Drayton or Flusser crossing in-between Portland and Lexington.
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Once it was determined that the Taskforce was going to go looking for the Japanese Navy, Bob Landry was transferred off of Portland and onto USS Mahan for safe passage back to Pearl. Once aboard Mahan, he took a few onboard shots of Mahan clearly showing 5-O on everything above the hull.
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Post Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2021 10:09 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
I think I have found out why USS MAHAN (DD-364) appears to have her lower band already painted with 5-N instead of 5-S in this April 1942 image at MINY. That I posted earlier. Because the lower band had been repainted with 5-N prior to her yard period.

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I passed over earlier reading of this 22 November 1941, note in the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) Bombing Squadron 6 "Observations and Comments" in aerial viewing of the DesDiv 9 destroyers, a suggestion for USS MAHAN's camouflage scheme. The suggestion was to use the newer "dark" color paint (5-N) in place of the previous "dark" color (5-S) on the lower hull band. The date of this letter, 22 November 1941, is somewhat significant in that it would imply that the changing of USS MAHAN's lower band color was considered and perhaps changed either shortly before the attack after this 22 November 1941 memo, or shortly after from 5-S to 5-N.

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Post Posted: Sun Sep 05, 2021 2:33 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
This is very cool stuff Rick! Thanks for sharing it with us!
Post Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 5:14 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
With the change of authorized camouflage paints from 5-D and early versions of 5-O and 5-H, to new Blue-Gray paints made from a white base that different amounts of tint was added to produce 5-S, a new 5-O, and a new 5-H. Also new camouflage measures were introduced and most of the older ones were deleted.

The Pacific Fleet Command, issued orders for a DesDiv to be painted in the new measures, plus a new experimental paint called Sapphire Blue. DesDiv 9 was selected for the experiments since they were in overhaul at MINY and could get the new paints mixed for the evaluation. The descriptions of the camouflage measures and which units had the schemes applied varied throughout the next few months.

DesDiv 9 designated on 29 August 1941 to wear the following measures;
Ms 1A (5-S),
Ms 2A (5-S, 5-O, 5-H, 5-L),
Ms 12A (5-S, 5-O, 5-H),
Ms 1B (Sapphire Blue)

The Sapphire Blue paint was available until mid-September 1941, and the destroyers in DesDiv 9 didn't finish their overhauls and get painted until mid-September as well. Evaluations didn't start until mid-October, plus USS PORTER's overhaul and King Board modifications weren't done until early in November 1941, so she wasn't available for the first observations.

The assignments of which measures were applied to each destroyer and a brief description of modifications made to the paint used, which had to be used as substitutes for unavailable paints. Also, note the notation used for each measure changed over time.

As of 6 October 1941 memo;

DD-356 PORTER Ms 1A (5-S)
DD-364 MAHAN Ms 12A
DD-366 DRAYTON Ms 1B (Sapphire Blue)
DD-367 LAMSON Ms 2A
DD-368 FLUSSER Ms 1A (5-S)

As of 15 January 1942 dated memo, which was drafted MUCH earlier. Evaluations started in mid-October 1941 and probably was drafted soon after;

(DD-356 PORTER wasn't listed because she was still in overhaul)
DD-364 MAHAN Ms 12 (5-S, 5-O, 5-H) and 5-S applied to decks
DD-366 DRAYTON Ms 11 Mod (Sapphire Blue)
DD-367 LAMSON Ms 2 Mod (5-S, 5-O, 5-H) and 5-S applied to decks
DD-368 FLUSSER Ms 11 (5-S)

As of 18 January 1942 dated memo (corrected);

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Note that USS FLUSSER was NOW stated to be painted in 5-N. on 21 November 1941, PacFlt Command directed that a destroyer in DesDiv 9 be painted with the "new" 5-N paint. USS FLUSSER (DD-368) was selected. She arrived at PH on 26 November 1941 after escorting USS LEXINGTON and departed on 5 December 1941, with the USS LEXINGTON Task Force.

DD-356 PORTER Ms 11 (5-S)
DD-364 MAHAN Ms 12 (5-S, 5-O, 5-H) and 5-S applied to decks
DD-366 DRAYTON Ms 11 Mod (Sapphire Blue) and 5-S applied to decks
DD-367 LAMSON Ms 2 Mod (5-S, 5-O, 5-H) and 5-S applied to decks
DD-368 FLUSSER Ms 11 (5-N) applied to all vertical and horizontal surfaces

The evaluations for these destroyers wasn't as well organized in respect to ALL of them being evaluated on the same day and place. A 16 October 1941 dated report for USS DRAYTON (DD-366) with her Sapphire Blue paint occurred on 14 October 1941, during passage of USS LEXINGTON from Mare Island to San Diego and then Pearl Harbor. The units of DesDiv 9 escorted USS LEXINGTON during this passage.

21 November 1941 Speed-o-Gram that lead to USS FLUSSER being repainted with 5-N at PHNY

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The only known color Image of USS DRAYTON (DD-366) taken on 14 October 1941.

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B&W photos of USS DRAYTON (DD-366) take on 14 October 1941 as part of a series of photos.

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A B&W photo of USS FLUSSER (DD368) taken on 14 October 1941, while she was wearing 5-S all over including her decks. After the USS LEXINGTON TF arrived at PH from San Diego on 19 October 1941, USS FLUSSER was assigned as a "fill-in" to escort USS ENTERPRISE during an exercise. The second photo shows USS FLUSSER when she was alongside USS ENTERPRISE dated 20 October 1941, but from Deck Logs, likely the date is 25 October 1941. FLUSSER was picking up ammunition from USS ENTERPRISE for USS LEXINGTON.

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B&W photos of USS PORTER (DD-356) on 3 November 1941 at MINY as she was finishing her overhaul. She was painted with 5-S paint at this time. Note the two MAHAN Class destroyers in the background, the one to the left is USS PRESTON (DD-379). Note that she has an upper band of what looks like 5-D paint, but has lighter paint below that band.

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I don't have good views of USS MAHAN (DD-364) and USS LAMSON (DD-367) while they were painted in the graded schemes. However, this image shows USS MAHAN in the process of being painted with 5-N. Note that her lower hull was already painted with 5-N and shows worn and faded areas. Further, notice crewmen are atop the forward funnel applying 5-N paint. This points to the likelihood that USS SHAW still is wearing 5-O on her superstructure and above the 5-N band on the lower hull. Question is when did USS SHAW repaint the 5-S lower band with 5-N prior to her yard period?

USS MAHAN (DD-364) on 28 April 1942, at MINY.
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USS DRAYTON (DD-366) on 14 April 1942 at MINY after overhaul/upgrades accomplished. She likely was repainted with standard 5-N by the time of this photo. Note her hull paint. The hull apparently shows application of 5-N in multiple areas and not a uniform appearance. Also, some wear to the paint can be noted.
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Something that was interesting in the 16 December 1941 directive that made Ms 11 w/5-N paint the standard camouflage scheme for use on PacFlt surface ships. The directive specifically exempted the "experimental measures" applied to the DesDiv 9 destroyers, USS FLUSSER, USS LAMSON, USS MAHAN, andUSS DRAYTON, plus USS PORTER. That would explain why either USS MAHAN or USS LAMSON, appears in the background of this photo most likely dating from the carrier raids in February-March 1942.

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Revised on 5 August 2021 with additional images and notes.
Post Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 1:46 am
  Post subject:  Camouflage Evaluations of Destroyers by PacFlt in 1941  Reply with quote
My focus here is to look at the series of Camouflage Evaluations that were held in the Pacific Fleet during the summer and fall of 1941.

I'm going to repost these images from an earlier discussion to get this going and add additional images. I have frankly not been researching USS ARIZONA or the other battleships in records at NARA. My interest is in USN destroyers and I got curious about the destroyers used in camo experiments in the late 1930's and during the summer-fall of 1941. Finding photos or transparencies is not easy. But, I have come across a few images of the units that took part in the evaluations.

The first series of evaluations took place between June and August 1941, and involved battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers. Units from each category were painted in various schemes as described in Ship Camouflage Instructions (Ship 2) issued in January 1941, plus variations. Then various surface units, submarines, and aircraft units made observations and submitted comments.

I'm going to focus on the schemes applied to USN destroyers, since there are more photos of them and in subsequent follow-on evaluations initiated in September 1941, only destroyers were utilized. One of the more famous color photos from the 1941 period of the FIRST group of destroyers involved in camo evaluations is the first image below, 80-GK-14467.

For the first round of the 1941 Camouflage Evaluations, two Destroyer Divisions (DesDiv) were selected, DesDiv 6 and 17.

The Destroyers of DesDiv 6 were MAHAN Class units. The measures assigned to each unit were;

USS CUMMINGS (DD-365) ... Ms 1 (dark gray)
USS CASE (DD-370) ... Ms 3 (light gray) with Ms 5 (painted bow wave)
USS SHAW (DD-373) ... Ms 2 modified (graded system, where the 5-O was applied was different that Ships-1 directions)
USS TUCKER (DD-374) ... Ms 1 modified with a lighter dark gray

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The Destroyers of DesDiv 17 were SIMS class units. The measures assigned to each unit were;

USS MORRIS (DD-417) ... Ms 2 (graded as specified)
USS ROE (DD-418) ... Ms 4 (black)
USS WAINWRIGHT (DD-420) ... Ms 3 (light gray) plus Ms 5 (false bow wave)
USS BUCK (DD-420) ... Ms 1 (dark gray)

The destroyers of DesDiv 17 were transferred from the Pacific fleet to the Atlantic fleet in June 1941, cutting short their part of the evaluation. Once in the Atlantic, they were repainted to the schemes directed in the Atlantic fleet, of Ms 2 and then Ms 12 graded schemes. I have not located any views of these four in the Pacific camouflage schemes as described above. But, there is a document dated 13 May 1941, summarizing aerial evaluations done on 11-12 May 1941, off Hawaii. The five page report is too long to post all the images here, but the bottom line was that the Dark Gray (5-D) and Black were too dark. This was an observation echoed throughout the evaluations. An aside; The CO of ResDiv 17, Commander Swenson, was assigned to be in charge of the camouflage evaluation data analysis. He had been assigned to NRL for a number of years where the camouflage research was centered in the USN and had been involved with the earlier late 1930's camouflage experiments. Commander Swenson, was promoted and became Capt. Swenson, CO of USS JUNEAU.

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The color on transparency 80-GK-14467 has shifted to bluer over time, so isn't an "exact" true color, but you get an idea. The destroyers of DesDiv 6, plus USS CLARK were directed to moor at the aircraft carrier pier at San Diego in October 1941, due to the Destroyer Base being too crowded. The destroyers in this photo are, in order closest to furthest away.

USS CLARK (DD-361) ... Ms 1 (dark gray)
USS CASE (DD-370) ... Ms 3 (light gray) with Ms 5 (painted bow wave)
USS CUMMINGS (DD-365) ... Ms 1 (dark gray)
USS SHAW (DD-373) ... Ms 2 modified (graded system, where the 5-O was applied was different that Ships-1 directions)
USS TUCKER (DD-374) ... Ms 1 modified with a lighter dark gray

One of the things I want to point out, is we read that 5-D faded and "chalked". Looking at the hull of USS CLARK, you can see that happening and that she has been "touched up in several places.

I spent a fair amount of time researching this photo because of several "mysteries". Why is the photo dated in October 1941, do these destroyers still show the experimental schemes they had evaluated several months earlier and the USN had already moved on to another set of schemes to study? Did these destroyers get repainted before the Pearl Harbor Attack? Why are they tied up to a pier normally used for Aircraft Carriers and not at the San Diego Destroyer Base? From Deck Logs I found the answers to many of these questions. There were a large number of ships at San Diego at the time, plus they were scheduled for "short yard periods" (as such they cycled from this mooring to go into the yard and then return for the next unit to go in) and to escort USS LEXINGTON back to Pearl later in the month. USS CLARK was there waiting for her overhaul. From the deck logs listing in what order these units were moored, as best I could tell, this image was taken between 14 and 19 October 1941.

One thing I found interesting was that the DesDiv 6 units DID NOT GET REPAINTED and returned to duty prior to the Attack at Pearl Harbor. However, several of them were in the process or had been scheduled for restricted interim overhauls at Pearl including for some having their hull shell plating "renewed". So they were being or about to be repainted then. As we know, USS SHAW (DD-373) was in the Floating Drydock during the attack, exploded and sank. The other three were to get the same work done on a schedule dated 1 December 1941. The following images show USS SHAW after her sinking during the attack. USS SHAW was in a graded scheme earlier, but as all destroyers in the Pacific Fleet were directed on 18 November 1941, she was most likely being repainted to Ms 11 with 5-S paint. The unburned portions of the ship do show that she no longer is wearing graded scheme. But, being a grayscale image on B&W print, telling the exact color is unknown.

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Photos of the other three units during the attack period aren't available or are too distant. But here is a photo of USS CASE (DD-370) at MINY dated 12 February 1942. Again, exact color is unknown, but directives said that 5-N should be used. Also, a photo of USS TUCKER (DD-374) dated 11 March 1942 also shows her repainted, likely in 5-N.

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The first round of evaluations took place mostly during May to August 1941. Reports were issued by different commands doing evaluations by August and a consolidated report was issued on 13 September 1941. However, even before the consolidated report was issued, Ship Camouflage Instructions (Ship 2) were revised by adding new measures, Ms 11 and Ms 12, and canceling most of the old ones. This resulted in PacFlt ordering a new evaluation on 8 September 1941, to involve four different schemes to be applied and evaluated on five destroyers from DesDiv 9 plus USS PORTER. This evaluation will be discussed in the next posting.

Edited on 5 August 2021 to add page 1 of 13 May 1941 memo on DesDiv 17 aerial evaluations.
Edited on 5 August 2021 a second time to add the note about USS SHAW's application of her measure.
Post Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2021 1:52 am

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