Since I continue to see questions about USN WW2 interior colors I'll post this
again. This is the latest refinement of the original document.
This is an updated version of something I've posted here a few times. Since
I continue to see questions on this subject I'll post it again. There are a
few changes since the last time I put it out here.
USN Aircraft Interiors: The answers here are complex. Until recently
everyone assumed that the interior of all USN WWII aircraft was FS 34151
Interior Green. This is not always the case as is obvious from the Accurate
Miniatures, TBF/TBM Avenger instruction sheet. Mr. Larry Webster an aviation
archeologist and airplane restorer has extensive knowledge in this area. In
addition to being a friend of mine Mr. Webster has many original parts from
WWII USN aircraft to document his conclusions. Additionally he is a director
at the Quonset Air Museum and is a volunteer with the New England Air Museum.
Here is some help on this subject with all credit to Larry Webster. Credit
must also go to Dana Bell, author and friend for his help in this area. His
article in the October 1997 FineScale Modeler magazine should be required
reading. His 3 volume set Air Force Colors contains some useful info.
TBF-1 / TBF-1C, Avenger. Exactly like the AM instructions show
FS 34058 Bronze Green forward from the bulkhead with the window (in front of
the turret). FS 34151 Interior Green for the rear crew areas. Light Gray
(Grumman Gray) inside the cowling (FS 36440 is very close). Torpedo bay: FS
34151. Remember on all of these a/c the general rule is that the wheel bays,
landing gear struts, wheel centers, landing flap bays, etc. are the under
surface color. On the Avenger the inside of the flap itself was the upper
surface color with the inside of the flap well on the under surface of the
wing being the bottom color.
TBM-1C / TBM-3, Avenger. FS 34151 Interior Green. Everything from the inside
of the cowling all the way back was interior green. The landing gear and bays
were the undersurface color, i.e. Insignia white bottom would be white. Glossy
Sea Blue TBM-3 a/c would have GSB landing gear and flap interiors. The inside
of the flaps would be similar to the TBF-1 above.
F4F-3 / F4F-4, Wildcat. FS 34058 Bronze Green. Some may have been painted FS
34151. Bronze Green is the first choice. See the Squadron F4F Walk Around. The
Aero Detail No. 22 also has some good photos. The inside of the engine cowling
and main gear bay were Light Gray, as was the interior of the fuselage all the
way back to the tail. The only area that was Bronze Green was the pilot's
portion of the cockpit above the 'Floor'. The fuel tank under the cockpit was
light gray or black with an interior green supporting structure. The area
below the floor was Interior Green. Tom Cheek who fought the Japanese at
Midway says that he painted his cockpit red to keep him alert! Anything is
FM-1 / FM-2 Wildcat. Interior FS 34151, Interior Green, Similar to the TBM.
Wheel bay (cutout for the tire) was the exterior color. The engine accessory
area (the area behind the firewall) was Light Gray. Tri-color FM-1's likely
had Light Gray engine cowling interiors and the rear fuselage was Light Gray
F6F-3 Hellcat. The first 100 F6F-3s almost certainly had Bronze Green
interiors. The rest had FS 34151 cockpits. The engine cowling and the fuselage
interior including the area behind the cockpit where the small windows are
located was Light Gray FS 36440 (Grumman Gray). Remember on all of these a/c
the general rule is that the wheel bays, landing gear struts, wheel centers,
landing flap bays, etc. are the under surface color. The area ahead of the
main spar in the wheel bay was interior green. This area was unmasked and so
may have had some white over spray. Interior Green should be the dominant
F6F-5 Hellcat. Cockpit: FS 34151. Later a/c with BuNo's higher than about
80000 had the interior above the consoles in black Any F6F with the rear
windows will have the rear fuselage in Light Gray. (Grumman Gray Take note:
those building David McCambell's Minsi III.) The inside of the engine cowling
could be Light Gray, Interior Green, or Zinc Chromate Yellow FS 33481,
respectively according to production batch. Later F6F-5's may have had a Flat
Black cowling interior ahead of the baffle seal between the front and rear
cylinder banks. The remainder was Interior Green. This was most likely done at
overhaul. The inside of the fuselage on the F6F-5 without the windows would
normally be FS 33481 ZCY. Very late a/c with BuNo's in the 94000 range had
Interior Green fuselage interiors and black upper cockpits. This is exactly
like the USN specs. at the time. All other areas of the airframe that were
exposed to weather were painted Glossy Dark Sea Blue, ANA 623. Remember on all
of these a/c the general rule is that the wheel bays, landing gear struts,
wheel centers, landing flap bays, etc. are the under surface color. There
should be no Interior Green visible on the exterior of any factory finished
F6F-5. Note: ANA 623 is not FS 15042. FS 15042 is a Korean War color and is an
FS 595 color that is close too, but not the same as ANA 623 color used during
WWII. Although the variation is very slight they are different.
F7F Tigercat. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green, the upper area above the
consoles was black. All other internal areas should be FS 33481 Zinc Chromate
Yellow including the Rear Cockpit. The Squadron F7F In Action clearly shows
the rear cockpit in FS 33481 ZCY with black upper areas. Engine cowls:
Interior Green or Zinc Chromate Yellow or Interior Green. Wheel bays: Interior
Green FS 34151. Landing Gear: Support structure is Interior Green. The landing
gear struts and wheels are Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623.
F8F Bearcat. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles was
black. The seat was black. Inside of the engine cowling was Zinc Chromate
Yellow, Interior Green or possibly Flat Black. All other visible areas were
Glossy Sea Blue similar to the F6F-5.
F4U-1 Birdcage, Corsair. Cockpit: Well this is tricky. The best evidence is
black. Photos of F4U-1s taken at the time show the cockpits as being a very
dark color. The F4U-1 E & M manual calls for Dull Dark Green. Photos and some
wrecks show flat black. A photo of 'Pappy" Boyington in Bruce Gamble's book,
The Black Sheep, shows him sitting in a Birdcage with a black armor plate and
upper seat. This a/c also has no headrest. All other areas of the F4U-1
Birdcage Corsair would normally be 'Salmon'. Salmon is a pale pinkish/brown
primer made by mixing Indian Red pigment with Zinc Chromate Yellow. The
closest Munsell match is 2.5 YR 6/8 or between FS 32276 and FS 32356. This
color was applied to the whole F4U before the final camouflage finish. The
landing gear bays were this color. The insides of the main gear doors were
Light Gray. Sometimes this was only over spray over the Salmon. Note: there
were canvas covers on the inner and outer wheel bays that were either Olive
Drab or Light Gray. The closest paint that I have found to the Salmon samples
in my possession is PollyScale Railroad, Southern Pacific Daylight Orange. The
E & M manual call for the wheel bays, engine cowling and accessory cowlings
were painted in Non-Specular Light Gray to match the underside of the
aircraft. Recovered wrecks show these areas to be Salmon. Color photos show
the cowling interior to be Non-Specular Light Gray.
F4U-1A Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. All other areas of the
F4U-1A were Zinc Chromate Yellow, FS 33481. Early F4U-1A's may have been
Salmon. Landing gear: Light Gray or Aluminum Lacquer. This was true well into
the F4U-4 production. Some a/c may have had Insignia white landing gear after
overhaul or repaint.
F4U-1D Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles
was black. This matches the Navy's directives at the time very well. Inside of
the wheel bays and engine cowling were also Interior Green FS 34151. Wheel
bays could have been Zinc Chromate Yellow, FS 33481. Landing gear was Light
Gull Gray or Aluminum Lacquer. After overhaul aircraft could have had the
landing gear, wheel centers and wheel bays painted Glossy Sea Blue.
F4U-4 Corsair. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. The area above the consoles
was black. Inside of the engine cowling was Zinc Chromate Yellow, Interior
Green or possibly Flat Black with the area ahead of the cylinder seal in
Glossy Sea Blue. All other visible areas were Glossy Dark Sea Blue similar to
the F6F-5. Landing Gear: Aluminum Lacquer or Light Gray. After overhaul
aircraft could have had the landing gear, wheel centers and wheel bays painted
Glossy Sea Blue.
SBD-1 thru 6 Dauntless. Cockpit: FS 34151 Interior Green. Dive Flap interiors
were ANA 509, Insignia Red FS 31136. The wing supporting structure and dive
brake linkage was the bottom color. Some SBD's had very dark green cockpits
that were nearly black due to mixing variations with the different batches of
SB2C-1, -3, -4 Helldiver. Cockpit: Curtiss Cockpit Green similar to PollyScale
RLM 63 green. This color was distinctly different than other interior green
colors because it was browner than other interior greens. Color photos of
SB2C-1 a/c show this. There is considerable debate over the exact shade of
this color. There was much variation in the different batches of Interior
Green and this may have been just one variation. Note the wheel bays and
landing gear struts, unlike most other USN a/c of the period were Curtiss
This answers most of the common questions. A whole lot of research needs to
be done on this area. A lot depends on the production block of the a/c in
question. Remember that these a/c could and did undergo maintenance, combat
and severe weathering. Remember Tom Cheek and his red Wildcat interior. Colors
change and S@#t Happens. The term used then was SNAFU. CHECK PHOTOS OF THE
AIRCRAFT YOU INTEND TO MODEL.
References: Mr. Larry Webster, Grumman Expert, Wreck Hunter, Aircraft Restorer
and all around Great Guy. Dana Bell, A fine gentleman and expert. John M.
Elliot; The Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide,
Vol. 2, 1940-1949. Doll, Jackson, Riley; Navy Air Colors, Vol. 1, 1919-1945.
Any errors contained in the above are the sole responsibility of the author.
Any additional comments or suggestions are welcome.