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A brief primer on invasion stripes

71 years ago today the Allied forces launched Operation Overlord, the invasion of Nazi-held Normandy. To avoid confusion and “blue-on-blue” incidents, Allied aircraft of all nations had “invasion stripes” painted with the idea that such a large, conspicuous identification marking would instantly identify Allied aircraft to other Allied forces (at that stage of the war and especially during a beach invasion friendly anti-aircraft fire was considered far more dangerous than the actual enemy).

That’s the quick and dirty explanation of invasion stripes and...really there’s not much more to tell about such a functional and utilitarian identification marking. Except....

On most displays today the invasion stripes look as if the plane came from the factory that way, and the exact markings and masking has been obsessed over by model-makers for decades.


Images from here and here.

But what most people (even many people who dump a lot of time and personal money into researching this) don’t know is that often they were hastily painted on by ground crews or whoever happened to be around with a free hand, especially in the days leading up to the invasion. Towards the end of the war they may have been applied under more professional circumstances but the classic stripes associated with the invasion itself often had left much to be desired, from a pure QC standpoint.


More pictures and discussion here.

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