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 Post subject: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:52 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
I am asking the question here for two reasons:
Someone who's looking to restore a 'critter' in a WW2 Army paint scheme asked me recently what the best paint color and markings would look like for the WW2 era (the engine is a small pre-war Plymouth, I'm told, and was never a Army locomotive), and I don't have anything that mentiones the best colors used then.
I am planning a model railroad and have toyed around with something similar as a scale model anyway.
I know what markings were relatively common, I have plenty of photos of that. It's the colors that are throwing me off. I think black was used a lot after WW2, more so than during the war itself, stateside. I do know that OD green wasn't a common color for locomotives, I can tell that much from period photos, and I know Navy units were often painted in the blue-grey color that was common for them.
But does anyone know where there are any good color photos of stateside Army diesels being used during WW2?

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Don't know if this will help, but you may find it interesting anyway:

http://www.hodrrm.org/AboutUs/OurCars/L ... fault.aspx

http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ance ... elmain.htm

http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/dr0102/grk001.jpg

http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/dr0403/us1368.jpg

http://www.robertsarmory.com/whitcomb.htm

http://www.robertsarmory.com/whitcomb-15.jpg

Judging from the available photos, I don't think you would go wrong with black or the "navy" Sky Blue.


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:01 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I'm almost positive this diesel is in black; note the color shift compared with the undoubtedly green cars behind it.

http://members.trainweb.com/bedt/wardea ... urn14a.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:03 pm 
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Thanks for the links, folks, but all of them posted so far are postwar, Navy, or outside the US during WW2. None assist with the primary question, sadly.
Just as an FYI for anyone further, I have spent a long time looking online for what I am trying to find and I have almost every book on the subject, including most of the TMs and techincal specs used by the Army RR service in WW2. None mention colors for stateside diesels.

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:51 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA
I can't speak for all locations or builders but I know that the 1940-built Brookville I've been working on, built for Raritan Arsenal in New Jersey, was specified to be OD green. However, this was pretty much custom-built to one officer's plans, so I don't know how typical this would be. I don't have my copy of the purchase contract here, but it specifies the paint code for the green paint, and the internet tells me that that code was a olive drab. I'm pretty sure, though, that most other Army equipment did not have the silver/aluminum roof and steps ours did! (I suspect that on 12/8/1941 or so, somebody ordered that bright roof painted over -- quickly. )

[url]http://www.blrhs.org/brookville_railcar.htm[/url]

Interestingly, the Army spec for green paint appears to have changed right before that time and previously had been a gloss. The builder's photo of our unit shows a very high gloss, so we believe that Brookville, which had built some similar previous units for other arsenals, simply bought more of what was already on hand -- the old gloss -- and used that not realizing that the specified color was not the same as on previous orders. There is no correspondence indicating any dissatisfaction with the paint, though.

So pre-1940, gloss olive green, post-1940 may be a flat olive drab if new or repainted. I'll look up the spec number and the mix code for the paint we've been using over the next week or so. Send me a PM if you want to discuss further...

Also, the 'official' shade of OD green has changed several times since then, as I understand it, so some military buffs will debate the accuracy of any given color with the same angels-dancing-on-a-pin detail and earnestness as some Pennsy buffs discussing Brunswick Green and "Freight Car Color". Not all rivetcounters are railroaders.

Nick


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:14 pm 
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Hmmm. Interesting. I knew that many speeders were OD green, I had no idea any still existed like this.
The OD green used in WW2 was actually a semi-gloss on vehicles, which is where most people with restored Jeeps screw up their paint jobs (all use flat OD green, more like a model paint). My 1944 Willys MB Jeep was painted with 1943 dated GI OD green vehicle paint, back in the early 90s, and when it's next to a modern restoration, you can see a massive difference in that my Jeep has a 'sheen' that other Jeeps lack. Beats me why nobody makes the paint ot the correct formula.
Yep, rivet counters are everywhere and some military types would put anyone here to shame in that regard!

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:02 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 3:03 pm
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Location: Wichita, Kansas
I did a lot of research into this several years ago on a military unit we own here in Kansas. The units were painted black with either white or silver lettering. They were under the US Army Transportation Corp and carried that logo on them. I will have to go down to the museum and look up the paper work I have on this and will confirm it later.

John Deck


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:54 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:07 pm
Posts: 642
Smaller "critters" used at ammunition plants and such were generally painted black, but yellow was also used for visibility. Larger locos were more universally black, but it all depended on the whim of the ordering officer. Hence there were some that were OD green. I once cared for Plymouth b/n 4812, a WWII ammo plant 5 tonner. Examination of the layers of paint showed black at the base, then multiple coats of yellow over that. Navy locos were almost universally their special shade of gray with yellow/black zebra striping around the frame. Air Force locos were mostly blue, but I've seen a few in yellow or black. As many locos got swapped between the service branches, all bets are off and almost any color could show up at any given location.


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:56 pm 
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There's a substantial problem with documenting RR equipment from the WW2 era in that people don't often understand the massive changes the military went through right after WW2. Paint colors changed, entire branches of the military transformed into organizations that the WW2 vets hardly recognized.
For example, the USAF didn't exist until well after WW2 was over.
And most of all for this topic, paint types changed radically.
Many of the books and magazine articles on the subject of military RRs in WW2 have a great deal of incorrect info, as many people don't seem to know these changes took place and what is often called WW2 is quite often from the very late 40s and into the 50s instead...

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:18 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
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Black is the only color I've seen USA switchers in. As per the IRM's 8537.

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPi ... id=2060530

The rumor I hear is that the Army is protective of the Transportation Corps insignia, and may not allow reproduction.
Anyone else out there know more about that?


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
My understanding, and I've only got secondhand to thirdhand information at best, is that the supposed regulation is that you're to remove military markings from any equipment that enters commercial use and/or is used in any form where its use could possibly be construed as actual military use. The obvious idea behind this is so that you can't readily impersonate military personnel or combat aircraft. An obvious exception is historic equipment enshrined permanently in a museum or on a plinth--witness numerous Sherman tanks preserved outside American Legion buildings as an example.

EDIT: Someone contacted me back-channel and suggested the supposed "rule" or whatever was only applied to equipment sold or transferred through government surplus liquidation, and continue to this day. If you care, go check for yourself.

The "enforcement" of this supposed rule on locomotives has been selective at best. I've run into, as an example, a preserved, functional Humvee prototype that was used by a military contractor for radio equipment installation design. This prototype, which never entered military ownership, was acquired by a military and radio historian for both preservation and actual use during radio "field days." They apparently got very persnickety about exactly what he could keep and how he could paint it. I've heard guys with ex-military gear being told "you can do A, B, and C but not X, Y, and Z," and this doesn't even begin to cover the operability of armaments. Things get really messy with Huey helicopters......

There are several examples of military locos where there were allegedly orders to repaint the loco (South Carolina RR Museum, TVRM, an ex-Navy Baldwin S12 at the RR Museum of Pa.), and a couple others with apparently no such requirements. I think the grand test will be to see what happens if someone tries to operate a former Army 2-8-0 in Army colors stateside (there are some running in USATC colours in the U.K.).

As for the original topic: Note that photography of any military equipment during the Second World War, even stateside, was strongly discouraged, in a far more Draconian manner than even the railfans confronting the most boneheaded security guards today confront. Color photography? Surely you jest.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
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Of course, if requests by a legitimate museum for permission to use historic lettering and insignia were rejected, one could have a bit of fun with it and write directly to the President with a well- written letter that might get him curious! As Commander in Chief, I'm sure he he could, if so inclined, either grant permission or "suggest" to high ranking officials that it would be appropriate.

Hey, it's worth a try, and the results might be fun... if it doesn't work, wait a few years and try again!

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:34 pm 
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Guys, there's nothing at all wrong or illegal about painting a locomotive in Army colors.
There is a law that states you can't dress in a complete military uniform if your intent is to pass yourself off as a current member of the military. That's it.
There is an entire hobby around preservation of military vehicles, I've seen oodles of Humvees painted exactly like the ones currently used by the military. Heck, I have a WW2 Jeep in my garage, painted like ones used in Europe during WW2.
Go to an airshow, you'll find lots of aircraft with current and recent US military markings.
RR museums usually repaint ex-military units probably because they want their own paint jobs. But there's no law that would prevent them from keeping the military paint jobs.
As for the Army Trans insignia, there's nothing that would stop you from using it. Heck, Microscale makes decals of that in HO scale.
My problem is I know the markings pretty well, and the trans coprs insignia wasn't used very much until after WW2 was over. Yes, it did exist in WW2 but became standard afterward. The majority of photos so far here are of 1950s Paint jobs and markings (especially the solid black with yellow stripes, with sans-serif typeface lettering). Like I posted earlier, the markings. I know well. It's the paint color I'm still unsure about.
Quote:
Color photography? Surely you jest.
Surely you jest. There are numerous books of color photography taken stateside during WW2. Do a Google search, you'll be shocked how much of that exists today. The National Archives probably has thousands (if not tens of thousands) of color photos taken in the US between 1941 and 1945 of military subject.
I just can't find any taken of Army 'critters' stateside within that timeframe.

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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
Let me rephrase that:

Color amateur photography of military rail equipment on military bases (the obvious home of military-owned switchers) during wartime. You ain't gonna find it.

Military-requested photographs of military equipment for documentation, propaganda, or public-relations uses, or photojournalism of the military stateside during the era? Sure. But just like you're not very likely to find photos of "critters" at the "typical" historic photo archives (newspaper, historical society, Library of Congress, etc.), you're even less likely to find amateur photography of the same in that time period--the railfans generally "went into hiding" or knew better than to arouse suspicions.

For the record, I went and looked for such photos yesterday at the Md. Rail Heritage Library. It was a very short search.


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 Post subject: Re: US Army diesel switcher colors, stateside during WW2?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:38 pm 
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Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Color amateur photography of military rail equipment on military bases (the obvious home of military-owned switchers) during wartime. You ain't gonna find it.

Really? Funny, I have several prints of exactly that, taken at various military bases, all before VJ day. I just don't happen to have any shots of military diesels, that's all. Several steam and some shots of the crews. Mostly civilian operators entering military bases, but a bunch of shots, nonetheless.
While not as common as b/w obviously, countless photos were taken in color within military bases. Most were indeed by government photographers (by both OWI and War Department) but plenty of photographers had access to color film back then. Heck, I have color 8MM movie film taken by a B-17 pilot in England...
Just because you haven't found it in one archive, don't say it's not out there. I could wallpaper a large room with all the color prints I have taken stateside by GIs, and that's just from my own personal searches over the years.
Like I've posted here several times, I've spent a lot of time searching archives over the years for photos of US Army RR operations, both in the US and overseas. I've just never needed something this specific before on colors...

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