Military Aircraft Markings
Articles Blog

Military Aircraft Markings

September 9, 2019

You needed to quickly identify
who was on your side and who was not; you wanted to be seen and
noticed. National markings came into
play, as well as camouflage, to hide yourself from the others as
well. Bulls-eye on the side of
airplanes is not really a bulls-eye, it’s to identify what
country the subject is from. The roundel, where they took a
round emblem and put the French national markings so the blue,
white and red. British adapted theirs as well,
it went red, white and blue. Americans had a star on a blue
background. Germany, of course, had the iron
cross. It’s not an aiming point on the
aircraft, it’s to figure out who is who that you’re up against. A fin flash is found on the
vertical stabilizer. It is generally a square pattern
repeating the nation’s colors. Canada fell under British rule,
so the Canadian air force used British roundels and fin flashes
on all of its aircraft until shortly after the end of World
War II. In addition to national
markings, planes would have a unit, an aircraft identifier
code. Most squadrons were identified
by two letters. The planes of the squadron would
be lettered beginning with A, then going through the alphabet. After Z, the letters would
repeat, but with a bar under or over the letter. Main camouflage colours were
green and brown, eventually switched to kind of grey and
green as we got over different parts of Europe. The bombers at night time
obviously wanted to not be seen from the ground, so a lot of
their aircraft were painted black on the undersides. Each nation tended to have their
own system that they had been developing. If your aircraft puts out at a
higher altitude, you want to blend into the clouds. Those that run at a lower
altitude, if they’re being looked down upon, they want to
blend into the ground. British and some of the low
level fighters tended to use the greens and browns to blend in. Whereas the Germans, who always
were the “Hun up in the sun”,
they wanted to blend into the clouds,
so they tended to use grey. From the start of the war
through towards the end, the Allies pretty much stuck to
their initial plans of how to identify the aircraft. There were minor changes. The Luftwaffe started the war
with bright yellow nose and yellow wing tips, bright
bands of colour. Whereas if you look at the later
mark at the end of the war, the colours were very subdued. You could tell the mindset had
gone from, “We’re number one” to “Let’s just survive this”. As the Americans became dominant
in Europe, they dropped all camouflage
colourings and left bombers and fighters in bare aluminum. After distinguished operations
throughout World War II, the time had come for a uniquely
Canadian roundel and identity. A Canadian maple leaf was
incorporated into the roundel. Today, a stylized 11-point maple
leaf is a proud element of all Royal Canadian Air Force

Only registered users can comment.

  1. German camo did not become more subdued towards the end of the war (BECOZ WE WAZ KICKIN THEIR ASS<MAN!!),,they stasrted to run out of paint in fact so some tanks went out in red primer!
    Some aircraft were a hotchpotch of whatever was at hand…

  2. 2:06 makes me realize that geometric camouflage style (modern digital) would have been the best choice over the farm lands of Europe.

  3. The dropping of camouflage for bear aluminium was a wight issue, the allies came to realizes aircraft weighed less when not painted therefore had a longer range on their fuel.
    The biggest change in camouflage was the white and black strips brought in for and after D-day so allied planes wound not get shot down by allied ground troops in the western front

  4. or as the germans joked durng the war.."if its camoflaged, its british if its slver its american if you cant see it its ours! " 😀

  5. Germans late in the war didn't try to be 'subdued' because of embarrassment over losing – they were running low on everything, including paint and time. Just slap a coat of paint on the plane and send it off to the front, where it was desperately needed. No time for complicated camouflage that didn't actually accomplish anything anyway.

  6. Here's some questions for you experts:- 1. What was the purpose of the RAF Sky coloured fuselage band? 2. What was the difference between RAF "A" and "B" camo schemes and how were these allocated? 3. What change enabled almost all RAF aircraft to become faster in 1942 (particularly night fighters)? 4. Why were roundels and flashes not usually painted over flying surfaces?

  7. Why in early war the british roundels had even amounts of a colour and at the end not. For example there was more blue then yellow on late war british planes

  8. The Americans dropped camoflauge to save paint for tanks and ground vehicles which needed the paint more as the us had air superiority in all fields of combat by that stage. The only paint used was in necessary elements such as identification elements and paint over the hood of the fuselage in front of the pilot so as to prevent glare fro reflecting off of it.

  9. In the Pacific War, British and Commonwealth Air Forces changed their markings away from the traditional British roundels for a number of reasons, one being that new, inexperienced American fighter pilots and aircraft gunners, newly arrived in the theatre of operations, were quick to shoot at anything with red in its markings.

  10. Used the wrong US flag, just saying. During the War, it would be the 48 star flag. You used the 1959-now 50 star flag.

  11. Immediately false, you can’t tell a sourkraut by its cross. You can find the Red star on an Il-2 in a Formation, but Only shapes are reliable in most circumstances. That’s why WW2 aircraft identification papers are black with their shapes. Lies LIES. LIES!

  12. I Like how u mention that the Germans used lighter colors to blend in with the clouds because they’re so high up while showing an FW-190 haha

  13. I forgot who said it, but I once heard a quote about the Americans from a German pilot, who said something along the lines of:
    "We knew the war was lost when the Americans started sending aircraft up without paint, because that meant they were making planes faster than they were making paint."

  14. I wish I could remember where I read that the yellow noses on German fighters were reserved for aces. Wrong it turns out. The idea was to avoid friendly fire. Maybe it was a thing at some point?

  15. The Luftwaffe DID actually use the roundels on RAF bomber fuselage's as their BILLSEYE,as this was where the mid upper gun turret was situated.process of attacking an RAF Bomber,rear turret first,mid upper turret next,cockpit last.This was from a Lancaster pilot.

  16. by the end of the war, many German camouflage schemes were actually meant to hide aircraft while on the ground from allied attacks. This is why you see such low demarcation lones between the lighter and darker tones

  17. Germans had yellow nose and wingtips in eastern front where there was many different countries fithting as their allies against soviets. Those allies also had the same identification coulour on their aircafts for the same reason. Yellow identification colours were used on Western front but it was not standard at all. During the Last years of the war the german aircraft colours changed the same time as their allies dropped out. The colouring changes werent done out of fear but rather out of practicality.

  18. As a side note along with the Canadians using a maple leaf the Australians use a kangaroo and the New Zealanders use a kiwi bird.

  19. Americans: "yeah we are kicking some ass so lets just take the bomber's camo and just say fuck it am-I-right "

  20. The absence of paint on later USAAF bombers was also a way of reducing weight. Paint on a B-17, or a B-29 could add up to hundreds of pounds of oil based paint, so removing the paint was economical as well. More ordinance, fuel, ammo, etc.

  21. 0:46. Iv always thought that the symbol. In YouTube When the video is in full screen. The symbol to exit full screen looks just like the Iron cross

  22. The Germans still used coloured bands in the later stages of the war to identify units. They also used bands of colour to identify theatres of operation. IIRC at the start of the war the large yellow noses were identification panels similar to the black and white D-Day bars used on British, Canadian and American tactical aircraft in 1944.

  23. Red circle = Japanese
    Red star = Soviets
    Blue circle with red, white and yellow = British
    Blue circle with white star = US
    Iron cross or swastika = Germany

  24. What are you talking about? I dont see any planes??? All i see is a propeller flying by itself and a circle with 3 colours????

  25. If its green= RAF
    if its blue= ita USAF
    if its brown= soviet air force

    If there is no planes in the sky= LUFTWAFFE

    old german joke from ww2

  26. The German Luftwaffe identification flashes on the nose, wing tips and tail were white for the invasion of Poland and the battle of France. They only changed to yellow for the Battle of Britain.

    RAF Hurricanes operating in Murmansk in northern Soviet Russia had red stars painted on the undersides following a friendly fire AA incident.

  27. "If you can see blue, they are British. If you can see silver, they are American. And if you can't see them at all, they are German." – supposed joke by the Germans about the disappearance of the Luftwaffe as the war dragged on.

  28. 0:46 that’s a balkenkruez, or something
    i may have typed in incorrectly but i dont think thats an iron cross

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *