Shades of O.D. & Neutral Gray

Tools n' Tips Article by David Rapasi on Aug 12 2011


Throughout the '20's and '30's the Air Corps and the Navy had maintained separate and unrelated standards for colors.

By 1939, agreement was reached on a single "Army-Navy standard for all peacetime colors; paints remaining in stock continued to be used until depleted.

In August of 1942 all camouflage colors were brought under similar control.

Quote from Air Force Colors Vol. 1, by Dana Bell

"OLIVE DRAB: QM Spec color #22 was a good match for Air Corps OD, though the latter was a bit lighter, a little stronger, and a bit yellower. The ANA spec was the same as the 3-1 color, but the Navy made little use of Olive Drab in any case. The camouflage color was Dark Olive Drab (#31 or #41) which was darker and greener, but the word "Dark" was rarely used, and was dropped in June 1943".

WWII Army aircraft used a variation of the British camouflage schemes but most USAAF aircraft did not use multiple shades on the top side of aircraft.

Instead many were camouflaged in simple Olive Drab above and Neutral Gray below.

The QMS and ANA paint chips show the different colors used for Olive Drab and the equivalent FS paint Chips.


Quote from Air Force Colors Vol. 2, by Dana Bell

"In May of 1942 the Joint Aircraft Committee's Subcommittee on Standardization agreed to eliminate redundant paints needed for camouflaging AAF, US Navy, and British aircraft produced in the US.

Under this plan, AAF Neutral Gray (QMS #43) and Navy Blue Gray (QMS #12 & M-485) were superseded by RAF Extra Dark Sea Gray, which became known simply as Sea Gray.

However, enough Neutral Gray (QMS #43) had been stockpiled by mid-'42 that some aircraft produced in 1944 were still being painted the older color".

"Sea Gray ANA No. 603; F.S. Equivalent, 36118."

The QMS and ANA paint chips show the different colors used for Underside Gray and the equivalent FS paint chips.

The color chips are from Don Color.

The Hue, Saturation, and Brightness numbers are from Adobe Photoshop, the RGB numbers are from MS Paint.


Photos and text by David Rapasi