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Wooden carrier deck colors / details

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  • Member since
    September, 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Wooden carrier deck colors / details
Posted by Aaronw on Thursday, October 14, 2010 6:42 PM

I've started to make simple bases for my aircraft models, grass, dirt, tarmac etc. For my naval aircraft I was thinking about doing a small piece of generic carrier deck, nothing really fancy and certainly not specific to a particular ship, but I would like to make it generally accurate to each nation. This would be a small piece of deck equal to or slightly shorter than the wingspan.

The little research I've done would suggest wooden decks largely went away shortly after the Korean war, when most WW2 carriers were upgraded or scrapped. So I guess my question would cover WW1-Korea, later carrier decks resembling tarmac.

I've found some wood planks that are close enough in size (based on the wheels of a fighter sitting on deck).

For the US deck color I understand kind of a medium brown into the early years of WW2, not sure after that though, I've seen reference to Insignia blue, blue grey and medium grey. A good color (most popular if there were several options) and approximate time frames would be very handy. By looking at the height of deck hands there should be a black / dark grey metal grate every 6-8 feet running with the planking, I'm pretty sure I can find something in plastic or etched metal for that.

Japan, also medium brown but a bit lighter than the US (more tan?), throughout the war. It looks like their planking ran the length of the deck, not cross deck like the US. The drain / grating goes across the grain of the planking, but much wider spacing so I can probably ignore it.

British WW2 carriers with armored decks look more like the decking on modern carriers, so I guess I'll stick with a tarmac base for them. Does this go all the way back to WW1 with the British? I do have a few WW1 and interwar RNAS / FAA aircraft kits, so it would be nice to know if the Royal Navy used wood decks at any point.

France???

I think that pretty well covers the nations that had any significant Naval aviation prior to 1946 (and I assume no carriers built post war used wood decking).

Also appropriate an color for deck stripping would be handy. I am not currently intending to go into that much detail but it would be nice to have in case I change my mind.

Thanks

 

I know there is some commercial decking, but the stuff I've seen is either paper / card stock or rather expensive plaster, resin etc. I can build these little bases for $5 or less so want to make my own. 

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Carmel, CA
Posted by bondoman on Thursday, October 14, 2010 7:13 PM

Verlinden makes a chunk of deck cast in resin, in both 1/48 and 1/72. Just needs paint.

White Ensign sells 1/48 and 1/72 PE tie down strips.

Both are for USN.

Here's where I start with color research.

http://www.shipcamouflage.com/

  • Member since
    March, 2004
  • From: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Posted by subfixer on Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:31 PM

I know that when I transferred off of USS Lexington in 1976, she still had a wooden flight deck with the old style metal strip tie downs. I am fairly sure all of the Essex Class CVs had them until they were retired. The Lex wasn't decommissioned until 1991, I believe, so having a jet on one of those old flight decks wouldn't be incorrect. But in those later years they would be painted deck gray.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: EG48
Posted by Tracy White on Friday, October 15, 2010 12:14 AM

There were a couple of USN changes. Pre-war they used a mahogany deck stain and yellow for lines, like what you see here:

http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=477db3997db2c41f&q=uss enterprise WWII source:life&prev=/images%3Fq%3Duss%2Benterprise%2BWWII%2Bsource:life%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DG%26tbs%3Disch:1

Note that this was during the filming of a movie, so the paint was pretty fresh.

By 1941 the Navy was experimenting with blue deck stain for camouflage; by the time the US was attacked at Pearl *ALL* carriers had their decks in some shade of blue deck stain. While there was some variation due to experiments, the standard "Norfolk No. 250N Blue Flight Deck Stain" was rapidly adopted. This stain was very close to the 20-B "Deck Blue" *paint* used on metal decks and wood decks of other ships (battleships, cruisers, etc.)

However, in 1943 the colors were changed to #21 Flight Deck stain, which more closely matched the lighter 5-O Ocean Gray used on navy ships in some camouflage. It didn't last too long, around mid 1944 the Navy began issuing  #21 Flight Deck stain (revised), which once again went back to the deck blue color and was a close match to Glossy Sea Blue when fresh (except without the gloss, of course). This lasted throughout the war and into Korean.

Now, take into affect the amount of abuse these decks took, and you have a lot of leeway, what with the oil, old wood, fresh wood, rubber stains, etc.

Tracy White Researcher@Large

  • Member since
    September, 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Friday, October 15, 2010 5:10 PM

Thanks, that give me a good head start and since most of my completed models are pre-war or early WW2 I'm probably safe with brown for now, leaving me time to get a good idea for the deck blue color. I knew some of the Essex class carriers served into the 60s with wood decks, but had no idea they were still around in the 90s. I got to go on board several carriers that came into Alameda NAS (Coral Sea, JFK, Enterprise, Carl Vinson probably others) when I was a kid, but all had a surface resembling asphalt.  

Bondo that site should be very helpful, I had not run across it searching for carrier deck color. I know about the resin decks but they cost more than the kits I would put on them.

  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • From: Frisco, TX
Posted by B17Pilot on Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:54 AM

Verlinden or Accurate Miniatures (can't remember which) has a color print out of WWII flight deck on cardstock. I think you get like 4 sheets to the pack.  I used it for a base for my US WWII Naval aircraft collection.

  

  • Member since
    January, 2006
  • From: Sarasota, FL
Posted by RedCorvette on Friday, October 22, 2010 9:49 AM

subfixer

I know that when I transferred off of USS Lexington in 1976, she still had a wooden flight deck with the old style metal strip tie downs. I am fairly sure all of the Essex Class CVs had them until they were retired. The Lex wasn't decommissioned until 1991, I believe, so having a jet on one of those old flight decks wouldn't be incorrect. But in those later years they would be painted deck gray.

Some of the Essex carriers were converted to re-inforced steel decks to accomodate jet aircraft.  I was onboard Lexington in early 1975 and thought it had a steel deck (at least the angle), but I don't trust my memory that well.

Mark

FSM Charter Subscriber

  • Member since
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  • From: San Francisco, CA
Posted by telsono on Friday, October 22, 2010 4:15 PM

Going off the top of my head, I remember from a wood science class I took in college the prof talked about the woods used for aircraft carriers. Teak was the preferred would and the red brown color wouldn't be a mahogony stain, but the natural color. As teak is sourced from the Thai/Burma area, Dec. 7th ended the supply chain. Douglas-Fir was substituted on the newer carriers in WWII, and that would have to have been stained and subsequently painted.

If you paint and seal wood several times, it has the feel of metal. A couple of months ago I was certifying a fumigation chamber and the floor was wood. You couldn't tell that that floor was wood, there was no give. Originally this was a sea container that was converted to this use.

This prof worked as an inspector in a plant making the tail elevators for F4U Corsairs during WWII. These were actually made from Fir, with tolerances that were previously unheard of in woodworking before.  

Mike T.

Beware the hobby that eats.  - Ben Franklin

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. - Ben Franklin

The U.S. Constitution  doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. - Ben Franklin

  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, October 23, 2010 9:10 AM

telsono

Going off the top of my head, I remember from a wood science class I took in college the prof talked about the woods used for aircraft carriers. Teak was the preferred would and the red brown color wouldn't be a mahogony stain, but the natural color.

Teak rapidly weathers to a gray, however.  In fact, weathered teak almost looks like some of the shades of gray camouflage. It is a lot of work to keep it natural color.  From what I've seen of naval ships, they seem to let it weather.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: San Francisco, CA
Posted by telsono on Saturday, October 23, 2010 11:30 AM

Don - thanks for the additional information about the gray patina. One of the characteristics of teak that makes it a good maritime wood is the silica inclusions in it. This silica is toxic to alot of organisms that would destroy the wood and will also makes it stronger to wear (silica = sand).

Mike T.

Beware the hobby that eats.  - Ben Franklin

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. - Ben Franklin

The U.S. Constitution  doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. - Ben Franklin

  • Member since
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  • From: EG48
Posted by Tracy White on Saturday, October 23, 2010 12:55 PM

Mike... sorry.. no.

Tracy White Researcher@Large

  • Member since
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  • From: Carmel, CA
Posted by bondoman on Saturday, October 23, 2010 6:12 PM

I would like to know what species of wood was used to surface aircraft carrier decks. Teak only comes from sources that were certainly within the Japanese sphere of influence. Certainly prewar they would have sold it to us, but after Pearl Harbor, what did all the CVE's use????

  • Member since
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  • From: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Posted by subfixer on Saturday, October 23, 2010 11:49 PM

I believe that during the war that Douglas fir was used on the Essex class. Sometime after the war a teak veneer was laid over a thicker fir layer.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • Member since
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  • From: Carmel, CA
Posted by bondoman on Sunday, October 24, 2010 12:12 AM

Bogue class?

  • Member since
    March, 2004
  • From: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Posted by subfixer on Sunday, October 24, 2010 3:17 AM

I would hazard a guess that it would be the same for that class as well. Fir was a very commodious commodity. Now, off to the commode to make some commotion.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Sunday, October 24, 2010 12:29 PM

Fir was the standard wood for WW 2 carrier flight decks.

There were several thaings to consider for a carrier deck, that didn't apply to surface combatants that used teak.

Fir was a lighter wood.  While the under deck was thin steel it couldn't be thick and armored in the early ship designs, because the hulls would be too unstable with that much weight above the waterline.  Fir was lighter, easy to get and store aboard for patching the deck.  Being a lighter wood too, IIRC, was easy on the a/c if they nosed over landing in the barricades.  The fir would chip easier and could save the engine.  The prop was destroyed, but the radial engine might be OK.

During the Essex moderizations, the SB-125 angled deck sections were steel, but the forward flight was still wooden.

The Midway-class was the first with all steel armored flight decks.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

  • Member since
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  • From: Carmel, CA
Posted by bondoman on Sunday, October 24, 2010 2:25 PM

Thanks for the info, Mike. I got to thinking- 50 Casablanca class CVE's were built, all in a batch, in Vancouver WA. Now what is in abundance around there? Spruce and Fir.

  • Member since
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  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Sunday, October 24, 2010 4:45 PM

Wow it has grown since I last checked.

I always thought Teak was the preferred deck material, and had assumed it was available in the jungles of South America. I would have thought Redwood would have offered the most similar replacement, having good resistance to water, rot and age. Douglas fir would not have been my guess, but it does make a lot of sense for US Navy use, since it is one of the most successful commercial timber trees in the US. Sitka Spruce would seem reasonable too since it was widely used for many aircraft parts (and helicopter rotors) and is plentiful in the Pacific NW.

So it fairly safe to assume the later carriers with Doug fir decks would have always been painted / stained in the blue or grey colors? The brown pre-war decks were teak or at least stained in the same color if Douglas fir?

 

Tracy, was the mohogany brown stain just the color or are you saying the early decks were mohogany? I'm not sure what you are saying no to Mike about (the material used for decking, color or other comments).

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Sunday, October 24, 2010 5:52 PM

The decks were stained a mahogany stain as mentioned before.  It wouldn't be brown but would lean toward a reddish brown.  Actually quite colorful when the planes had yellow wings.

The WW 2 decks would be the deck blue colors throughout the war.

The stain would weather to a grayish color, but it would still have the blueish tone.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: San Francisco, CA
Posted by telsono on Monday, October 25, 2010 2:31 PM

There is alot a pros and cons for woods in different situations. Although Redwood can withstand weathering well, its not as tough in other situations where resilience to shock is required. During WWII, the woods that were available in greater quantities were the Doug-Fir and Redwoods. Doug-Fir gets yeomans use in many situations and I believe it was the replacement for teak as they could enough of it. scarcity during wartime is always a consideration.  Oaks would probably make a good decking for aircraft carriers, but scarcity of material would be a problem.

Look at tool handles, the preferred materials are ash and hickory as they take up the shock better. Hickory doesn't have good qualities for taking nails, just too hard, so Hickory flooring (a rare use of it) is pre-drilled with nail holes when it is used. Teak has this good shock absorbing quality as well. Mahogany has great qualities as a furniture and musical instrument  material (easily carved) but not that for heavy (structural)use. 

Here's a short description on sources of certain woods. In many rainforests you may only have one tree of that species per square mile. This lack of density keeps the pest insects from eating them all up. I saw an attempt of a pure grove of mahogany in Puerto Rico, it was a mess. In Fiji they can do it, because they don't have the pest insects. Mahogany is native to Puerto Rico for one country.

Teak - South East Asia tropical rain forests

Mahogany (true) - The Caribbean, South and Central America

African Mahogany (Khaya) - A mahogany relative, but with different characteristics, a good wood in its own right.

Philippine Mahoganies (luans) - A commercial grouping of several related and unrelated woods, not near the quality of the previous two. None of these trees are related to Mahogany.

The need for different timbers change over time. Remember that "Old Ironsides" had her sides built from live oak. The oaks of Kent carried the Royal Navy over the waves. There are locations (some are very swampy) along the eastern seaboard which are called "Naval Reserves". The reason was that they are good sources of live oak, and conifers (pitch and tar). After the Revolution the British tried to buy out all the materials they could for themselves as England didn't have the old oaks and such for naval supplies. Our flegling government saw the threat to a stategic supply and nationalized it. I believe many of these areas have been given over to the National Parks system, although some are used for military training areas.

Mike T.

 

Beware the hobby that eats.  - Ben Franklin

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. - Ben Franklin

The U.S. Constitution  doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. - Ben Franklin

  • Member since
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  • From: EG48
Posted by Tracy White on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 5:53 PM

Not on topic to carriers per se, but at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor the US Navy was experimenting with different woods for battleship decks. I came across documentation (including wood chips!) in the national archives discussing sections of Colorado and Maryland which were laid in Manggachapui and one other that I can't remember off the top of my head. The Navy wasn't particularly blown away by either.

Tracy White Researcher@Large

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: San Francisco, CA
Posted by telsono on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 6:16 PM

It would have been another wood that would have been cut by the fighting in the Pacific. Its from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Some of the trees in the genus Hopea. Probably, pre-war, the idea to gather lumber from the forests of the Philippines was a subject to study.

Mike T.

Beware the hobby that eats.  - Ben Franklin

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. - Ben Franklin

The U.S. Constitution  doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. - Ben Franklin

  • Member since
    January, 2010
Posted by CrashTestDummy on Thursday, October 28, 2010 3:36 PM

In the mid-70's I went with my Dad to a Society of Experimental Test Pilots Convention in San Diego.  While there, we toured the Carrier Bon Homme Richard that was in port, docked behind a more current, and much, much larger carrier (don't remember the name).  They were repairing part of the rear flight deck, which was wooden, covered by a tar-like/painted surface that had some coarse grit in it for added traction.

The rear end of the deck, the angled part mentioned below, was steel, and wore the marks (some deep, tire-shaped dents) of low approaches.  They were replacing the damage done by such low approaches.  I got a piece of the surface at the house somewhere.  I seem to remember it was either black, or a very dark green.

Gene Beaird,
Pearland, Texas

RedCorvette

 

 subfixer:

 

I know that when I transferred off of USS Lexington in 1976, she still had a wooden flight deck with the old style metal strip tie downs. I am fairly sure all of the Essex Class CVs had them until they were retired. The Lex wasn't decommissioned until 1991, I believe, so having a jet on one of those old flight decks wouldn't be incorrect. But in those later years they would be painted deck gray.

 

 

Some of the Essex carriers were converted to re-inforced steel decks to accomodate jet aircraft.  I was onboard Lexington in early 1975 and thought it had a steel deck (at least the angle), but I don't trust my memory that well.

Mark

  • Member since
    March, 2004
  • From: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Posted by subfixer on Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:57 PM

The angle deck  was steel in 1975. The waist and forward part of the flight deck was still wood.

 

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

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