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US bomb stripes and colors from 1957 and up

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  • Member since
    March 2005
  • From: near Nashville, TN
US bomb stripes and colors from 1957 and up
Posted by TarnShip on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:07 AM

I posted this in another thread, and realized that it would be more useful as a reference tool down in this section

It covers US aircraft ordnance since the invention of the low drag bombs and later

ahh, bless you Stik, for helping to debunk the "red stripe myth"

what so many modelers call Red stripes, and so many others call Brown stripes,,,,,,,,were Red-Brown stripes just slightly darker than the South East Asia camouflage Tan color,,,,,,in other words,,,,,Red-Brown FS 30117

here is the list of colors and their usage, keeping in mind that the codes were for safetie's sake, so , even though you could vary your Olive Drab body color for paint batches, weathering, etc,,,,,,,,NO ONE that kept his stripes ever painted a Red-Brown stripe where a Light Red stripe should go, etc

Olive Drab 34087,,,,,,bomb body, etc,,,,,varied in shade somewhat

Yellow 33538,,,,,,,,,,, High Explosive,,,,the nose stripes on bombs, missile warheads, etc

Red-Brown 30117,,,,,Low Explosive,,,,denotes rocket motors on rockets and missiles

Dk Gull Gray 36231,,Chemical weapons bodies,,,,,a different gray than the "modern bomb color gray"

Red 31136,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Irritant agent, such as tear gas, etc

Black 37038,,,,,,,,,,,,,Armor defeating,,,,,,not used much since the sixties

Dark Green 24108,,,,,Toxic Agent,,,,,nerve gas, etc,,,,the bomb body is the Dk Gull Gray, the stripes are Green for Toxic, or Red for Irritants, with different numbers of stripes for each specific chemical in each group

Silver/Aluminum,,,,,,,17178 Countermeasures

Light Green 34449,,,,,Smoke or Marker (some stores would get the Light Red, instead)

Light Red 31158,,,,,,,,Incendiary or Highly Flammable,,,,,,Napalm, some stores that could be considered as Smoke, but, used to start smaller fires than Nape,,,,,,,this is the real color of that Red "drop tank" in the Osprey Skyraider book,,,,,,,those are really MK 79 Napalms

White 37875,,,,,,,,,,,,,Illuminating

Light Blue 35109,,,,,,,Training

Orange 32246,,,,,,,,,,,Training/Tracking,,,,,,this is the "other" Orange named International Orange, it is much "oranger" than the Redish tinted International Orange 12197,,,,but, both were in use during the same years

in addition, there is a newer bomb body color of 36375 for bombs and some guidance pods,,,,and some parts of modern bombs use both Olive Drab (34088) and 34095 for different parts,,,,,,,,,and some 36118 on guidance pods

the notes are my own, added for the fun of it, lol

A later post that explains the One, Two, and Three stripes on the bomb noses

okay, Stik,,,,,I will give the one vs two vs three Yellow stripes info

for many years, since the 1950s sometime, and right on up through the years with the new Douglas shaped Mk 80 series bombs,,,,,,,they were given one Yellow 33538 stripe at the nose area, the location could and did vary a bit, it wasn't always right on the nose behind the fuze

then, there were three very serious carrier fires during the Vietnam conflict, causing a re-think in the bombs, and the handling of them onboard ship

they came up with an Ablative coating, to slow down the "cook-off" rate, increasing the time that the fire crews had to put out a fire, and cutting down on the number of cook-offs before the bombs could be jettisoned overboard on little chutes place strategically around the edge of the flight deck

these Ablative Coating bombs got Two of the Yellow stripes, spaced the same distance apart as one stripe width

some say they didn't make it into Vietnam conflict,,,,but there are photos of "two stripe bombs" as early as 1971 being dropped and on the flight deck of carriers,,,,,so, yeah, they made it into the conflict (see Osprey A-7 units of Vietnam, page 37 for photo of VA-192 in 1971)

so, at the same time that Navy aircraft on deck would have the two stripes,,,,,Navy, Marine and USAF aircraft could be seen on land with only one stripe,,,,,,two stripes became somewhat common later on, on any Navair aircraft,,,,,but, USAF still used one stripe, since they didn't need the Ablative Coating

another stripe was added in more modern times to denote a bomb filled with a certain explosive filler,,,,,,,for example, the Thermally Protected BLU-111A/B, which is a bomb (1st stripe) with Thermal Protection (2nd), filled with PBXN-109 Explosive Filler (3rd stripe),,,,,with a 36375 Light Ghost Gray body


I hope this helps with the painting of external ordnance


almost gone

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, December 20, 2013 7:51 PM



F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton




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