Why US Planes Were Painted “Silver” In WW2

Why US Planes Were Painted “Silver” In WW2 | World War Wings Videos

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The United States would end up making thousands of aircraft during the Second World War.

For the most part, you’ve seen these planes painted in Green or a similar form of camouflage color. But have you ever noticed why other aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang was only painted in silver? Here’s why:

Blending In

The main reason why planes were painted in such colors in WW2 was so they could blend into their surroundings.

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These colors were particularly useful when the planes were parked on airfields, as the green and brown colors could hide them from Axis bombers looking for an easy target. Still, why were some painted silver?

Became Obsolete?

By 1943, the Allies had already secured aerial superiority against the Germans around Britain. This meant that painting Allied aircraft in drab colors were already kind of “obsolete.”

Photo by Bernard Spragg.

With the need of painting aircraft gone, Military officials decided that they could save more cash, weight, and time, if they didn’t paint their planes.

Paint on planes can add up pretty quickly, adding around 8 lbs per gallon of paint used. When added to a huge plane like the B-24 Liberator, it could add several hundred pounds of weight in the process.

Why They’re Silver

Subsequent tests with unpainted aircraft showed an increase in speed because it lacked the usual drag caused by the paint. Moreover, foregoing painting the aircraft meant more time could be assigned to building more.

Photo by Crefollet

As such, in December 1943, it was decided that all future aircraft were to be left unpainted. That’s why we can see so many “silver” WWII-era planes – most of them are just showing their bare metal frame!

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