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 Post subject: USN Measure 17
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:37 pm
Posts: 21
Oh look... It's El Santo coming in with yet another weirdo camouflage question. Must be Friday or something...

This time, I'm trying to figure out what colors were used in Measure 17, the experimental dazzle scheme that served as a sort of trial run for the widely used Measure 3X series. The best documented of the three ships to use Measure 17 appears to be the Sangamon-class escort carrier Santee. Here are some photos:

Obviously these shots have some pretty extreme variations in exposure, and the second one looks badly discolored with age. Then of course all the shadows cast by the various projections at the gallery deck level complicate things even more. Put it all together, and I can't even make up my mind how many colors I'm looking at! Very conservatively, the first image could be taken to show three: a dark gray, a light gray, and an almost-black. The other photos seem more consistent with four colors, however, and there are some oddities in the second and third that make me wonder if there might even be five. In any case, I'm pretty confident that the broad, flat triangles that peak at the hangar deck level forward the sponsons for the 5" guns are Ocean Gray 5O, and that the very dark, rounded triangles pointing down from the flight deck somewhat forward of those are either Dull Black 82 or Navy Blue 5N. The long zones along the waterline amidships and the wraparound section at the stern have me thinking Haze Gray 5H, and the contrast between those and the very light spots surrounding the aforementioned dark triangles suggests Pale Gray 5P. In the portside shot, though, it looks to me like maybe there are two light grays, with slightly different shades on either side of the darkest bits. In that case, maybe there's some Light Gray 5L in here, too, and the low contrast with 5P on the one hand and 5H on the other is the reason why none of the schemes in the 3X series ever combined 5L with either of the other two shades.

Then, as if I weren't already sufficiently flummoxed, along comes the painting of Santee in the Squadron-Signal book, Escort Carriers in Action. It clearly shows four colors, but the only one that seems to agree with any of the guesses I've made based on the photos is the darkest shade, which the artist represents as Navy Blue 5N. For the other three colors it shows a lighter and not-at-all-grayish blue (Thayer Blue? Sapphire Blue? Maybe even one of the Royal Navy blues?), a purplish gray (Haze Gray?), and a dull green of about the same reflectance as the purplish gray (Haze Green, then?). I find it very hard to reconcile those choices with either the color photos or my general knowledge of the USN's overall thinking with regard to how best to camouflage its blue-water ships. Then again, Measure 17 was an experimental scheme, so maybe?

Do any of you know for sure what's really going on in this oddball scheme?

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 Post subject: Re: USN Measure 17
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:45 pm 

Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 8:02 pm
Posts: 3437
Ms 17, along with Ms 15 and Ms 18, are among those camo schemes that there is little consensus about the colors or if they even "officially" existed. Ms 16 (Thayer Blue) was an official scheme and had fairly wide use. Also, at least some of the South Atlantic Fleet units were painted in "Mountbatten Pink" in 1942-43.

The three ships credited with being in Ms 17 are USS AUGUSTA (CA-31), USS SANTEE (CVE-29), and USS CHICOPEE (AO-34) and were apparently painted as such at Norfolk Navy Yard.

Experimental patterns that have been called Ms 15, were applied to USS INDIANA (BB-58), USS HOBSON (DD-464), and USS TALLULAH (AO-50), at the same timeframe as the ships painted in so called Ms 17 camouflage measure. All were also apparently so painted at Norfolk Navy Yard at about the same time. At least on USS HOBSON, all that was done was painting WHITE over the 5-H in her pattern. How long USS HOBSON wore this scheme is unknown to me. She had it applied in early August 1942 and photos dated in September and/or October 1942 show her with it. By April 1943, she had repainted to Ms 22.

Whether given official Measure numbers or not, they were all experimental and as such did not necessarily remain applied on the subject ships for long. For example, USS INDIANA only had her "Ms 15 experimental scheme" while completing and was painted over to Ms 22 during her post-shakedown availability and went to the Pacific in October 1942 in Ms 22. And I don't know "with certainty" the exact colors of paint used on all these ships. But, what I have read is that Ms 17 used four colors, all from the standard Blue-Grays in use by the USN at the time; 5-N, 5-O, 5-H, and 5-L. Whether those are the actual colors used or not, I don't know. These were experimental schemes and could have easily used experimental paints.

This brings me to the only color images I have scanned at NARA from 80-GK transparencies or color "copy" negatives.

The first image (80-GK-418) is of USS HOBSON (DD-464) supposedly taken during Operation Torch. The original(?) transparency I scanned is a 4x5 color transparency. This is a close-crop of a fairly distant shot. The colors appear to be 5-N, 5-O, and white.


The second image (80-GK-436) is of USS SANTEE (CVE-29). However, the transparency isn't available at NARA, but a 4x5 copy color negative made from the transparency, was available and is what I scanned. The color isn't as good as if this was a transparency.


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