Fletcher-class Destroyers

Abbot’s Camouflage

Navy Camouflage Palette
5-U
White
BK
Black
5-D
Dark Grey
5-S
Sea Blue
5-P
Pale Grey
5-N
Navy Blue
5-O
Ocean Grey
5-L
Light Grey
5-H
Haze Grey
20-B
Deck Blue

One simple question is not easy to answer: What color was Abbot?

Most of the surviving photographs are in black and white, but it is still obvious that Abbot changed colors several times during World War II and again after re-commissioning in the 1950s and ’60s.

The U.S. Navy used many different camouflage techniques, called measures, during World War II. Each measure was numbered, and each paint color had a name and number. Generally, hulls had different colors than decks. On some destroyers exotic dazzle or wavy patterns were used, and on others just a liberal coating of dark blue-gray.

Some of the most common World War II colors are shown in the chart above. Rather than try to explain all Fletcher camouflage schemes, only Abbot’s three schemes are explained below. Links to excellent sources for naval camouflage information are listed at the bottom of this page, and examples can be seen on the main Fletcher page.

USS Kidd (DD 661)

No matter which camouflage measure was used, most surface warships shared certain features. A stripe of very dark or black antifouling paint known as boot-topping, which hid oil stains and discouraged the growth of barnacles, was generally used at the waterline; this coating was known as Mare Island 145A and it contained copper oxide and possibly mercury oxide in a plastic-like paint. An efficient dark red antifouling paint that contained copper oxide was employed on the bottom of the hull. This color was known as Norfolk 65-5F or 65A, but it would not normally be seen when the ship was at sea.

In the recent photo at right, Abbot’s sister ship Kidd is seen in Measure 22 camouflage (used 1944 to 1945) with the boot-topping barely visible between the red antifouling keel paint and the prominent navy blue stripe. Abbot did not have a logo on its forward stack until the 1960s, and in 1944 to 1945 its hull number was painted in white near the bow along the border between the navy blue stripe and the haze gray (see photo below) but otherwise the appearance is identical.

The early dark blue — almost purple — camouflage schemes were notoriously susceptible to oxidation and fading, so after a few months ships with Measure 21 often appeared to be painted with a lighter shade of blue. The navy began to run short of blue pigment toward the end of the war, causing a shift to grayer colors such as Measure 22.

Here is the chronology of Abbot’s camouflage in World War II:

U.S.S. Abbot camouflage 1943-1945
USS Abbot (DD 629) 1943
1943
(Measure 21)
USS Abbot (DD 629) 1943-45
1943-1945
(Measure 22)
USS Abbot (DD 629) 1945
1945
(Measure 13)

Sources:
shipcamouflage.com
Battleships and Cruisers
Snyder & Short Enterprises