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 Post subject: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:24 pm
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Hello everyone,

I'm trying to figure out the camouflage history of CL-50 Helena. From what I was told, she only had Measure 11 (Sea Blue) and Measure 21 (Navy Blue) during her service in WWII. Would anybody be able to clarify this?

Also, I saw that Helena in her early days had the green "Cruiser Division 9" ID stripes on her #2 and #4 turret. I ran into Ron Smith's work on Helena, and he had pointed out that USS Helena retained the stripes when she left Mare island even after her 1942 refit where she was painted in MS21.

http://www.modelshipgallery.com/gallery ... index.html

Did she lose her stripes by her final engagement in Kula Gulf?

I apologize for my lack of knowledge on the subject, I'm quite new to naval history.


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 Post subject: Re: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:25 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2005 11:02 am
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Location: EG48
Hey Woozer, sorry this took me a while to get to. I'm no expert on Helena, but I'll do what I can.

First off, there's some confusion around Measure 11 due to how the Navy operated in WWII. Helena was in Measure 11 at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor; I can tell by pictures of her that confirms this memo I found in the Mare Island Navy Yard files at the regional National Archives facility at San Bruno was followed. Note that Measure 11 was "defined" in the "SHIPS 2 - First Revision that was dated September (the month after this memo was issued) and distributed to the fleet in October. Where the confusion comes in is that the Navy decided to discontinue 5-S Sea Blue in favor of 5-N Navy Blue but still had Measure 11 "on the books" and the revision that officially defines Measure 21 was not issued until June of 1942. The Atlantic Fleet ordered 5-S's substitution with 5-N in November and the Pacific Fleet in December. A lot of history books and web sites didn't know about this when written, so there is a lot out there that simply says "Measure 11" without taking into consideration this change.

She would have most certainly come out of repairs in July in 5-N and not 5-S. I'm reasonably sure the stripes were painted out by the time of her loss - there's no evidence of them in this photo from March 1943 on her Navsource page. I can't tell from that photo or the other 1943 photo of her, but it looks like a few of her 20mms were painted in either 5-S Sea Blue or 5-O Ocean Gray when she left from repairs at Mare Island in July 1943:

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"Let the evidence guide the research. Do not have a preconceived agenda which will only distort the result."
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 Post subject: Re: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 7:59 pm 
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Talked with Ron Smith for a bit today and wanted to pass on that I checked with him and the turret tops themselves (#2 and #4) were painted a light gray when they had the markings. He thinks he saw documentation that it was supposed to be 5-L Light Gray but it's possible that they simply didn't repaint the #5 Standard Navy Gray. He's also of the opinion that she was already in 5-N Navy Blue by the time of the attack.

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"Let the evidence guide the research. Do not have a preconceived agenda which will only distort the result."
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 Post subject: Re: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:47 am 
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@Tracy -- interesting note about the 20mm gun shields being painted either in 5-S or 5-O. I would have guessed these shields are painted in 5-N (per the Ms21 requirement) and the lighter color visible in this photo is because of the unique angle of these gun shields when compared with the rest of the ship. Have you ever seen examples of a ship in Ms21 having gun shields (or other areas of the ship) painted in non-standard colors? Possible these guns and shields were removed from a ship and mounted aboard CL-50 and not repainted?

For whatever my humble opinion is worth, I agree with you gents on the turret top striping not being present in 1943 especially based on the AWM photo linked earlier. It's doubtful to me the ship would have left Mare Island with the turret tops still striped -- my guess is that the yard photos were taken to show physical alterations to the ship, and the presence of turret top striping was not considered as it was to be painted out before the ship left the yard. But as usual, this is only a guess...


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 Post subject: Re: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:42 pm 
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I don't have "absolute" answers, but based on observations of many 19-LCM yard photos and post yard photos taken at sea during "checkout" trials post overhauls/repairs, one of the LAST things done was painting, particularly decks or other walked on surfaces. Also, depending on when those 20-mm guns were installed, they may still be painted in the "AS DELIVERED" paint or with primer. I have never been certain if the on mount shields were "furnished" items as part of the gun mount or made locally to a drawing. In any case, I wouldn't suggest painting a model of USS HELENA with "5-H" shields on her 20-mm guns. This was likely a short-lived condition.

It doesn't add much to providing an answer, but this image is a cropped distant view of USS ST LOUIS and USS HELENA as seen in the background from USS O'BANNON in early July 1943 at Tulagi. Too far away for any real detail study.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: CL-50 Helena Camo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:55 pm 
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For what it's worth, early in the war BuOrd directed that shipboard weapons be delivered in 5-O Ocean gray as that was the color in Measure 12 that most ordnance was mounted and it was easier to overpaint in 5-N than the other way around. So, it's possible that the guns were and in 5-O.

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