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American Lockheed Lightning participating in the Normandy campaign showing the D-Day invasion stripes.
An ex-USAF C-47A Skytrain displays at Cotswold Airport, England, in 2010. This aircraft flew in the invasion of Normandy

Invasion stripes were alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of World War II Allied aircraft, for the purpose of increased recognition by friendly forces (and thus reduced friendly fire incidents) during and after the Normandy Landings. The bands, consisting of three white and two black bands, wrapped around the rear of an aircraft fuselage just in front of the empennage (tail) and from front to back around both the upper and lower surfaces of the wings.

Stripes were applied to fighters, photo-reconnaissance aircraft, troop carriers, twin-engined medium and light bombers, and some special duty aircraft, but were not painted on four-engined heavy bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force or RAF Bomber Command, as there was little chance of mistaken identity — few such bombers existed in the Luftwaffe. The order affected all aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, the Air Defence of Great Britain, gliders, and support aircraft such as Coastal Command air-sea rescue aircraft whose duties might entail their overflying Allied anti-aircraft defenses. To stop aircraft being compromised when based at forward bases in France, D-Day stripes were ordered removed a month after from the upper surfaces of airplanes, and completely removed by the end of 1944.

The use of recognition stripes was conceived when a study of the effects of thousands of aircraft using IFF on D-Day concluded that they would saturate and break down the existing system. Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commanding the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, approved the scheme on May 17, 1944. A small scale test exercise was flown over the OVERLORD invasion fleet on June 1, to familiarize the ships' crews with the markings, but for security reasons, orders to paint the stripes were not issued to the troop carrier units until June 3 and to the fighter and bomber units until June 4.

Marking description[edit]

Geoffrey Page, commander of 125 Wing, about to take off on a ground-attack sortie in his Supermarine Spitfire (1944). The roughly–applied nature of the invasion stripes painted on his aircraft can be seen

The stripes were five alternating black and white stripes. On single-engined aircraft each stripe was to be 18 inches (46 cm) wide, placed 6 inches (15 cm) inboard of the roundels on the wings and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane on the fuselage. National markings and serial number were not to be obliterated. On twin-engined aircraft the stripes were 24 inches (61 cm) wide, placed 24 inches (61 cm) outboard of the engine nacelles on the wings, and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane around the fuselage.

In most cases the stripes were painted on by the ground crews; with only a few hours notice, few of the stripes were "masked".[1] As a result, depending on the abilities of the "erks" (RAF nickname for ground crew), the stripes were often far from neat and tidy.

Operation Starkey[edit]

The stripes for this two-day deception operation in 1943 were black from the wing tip to a position on the wing where the chord is 5 feet, then four bands of alternating white and black. This was the same for the upper and lower surfaces. These were applied to all aircraft operating at low level. For single engine aircraft the stripes were 18 inches in width. For twin engine aircraft, including the Westland Whirlwind, the stripes were 24 inches in width.

Hawker Typhoon[edit]

A Hawker Typhoon of No. 56 Squadron RAF, painted with recognition stripes under the wings (April 1943)

An earlier use of black and white bands was on the Hawker Typhoon and early production Hawker Tempest Mark Vs. The aircraft had a similar profile to the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the bands were added to aid identification in combat. The order was promulgated on 5 December 1942. At first they were applied by unit ground crews, but they were soon being painted on at the factory. Four 12-inch-wide (300 mm) black stripes separated by three 24-inch (610 mm) white, underwing from the wingroots. From early 1943 the Typhoons also had a yellow, 18-inch-wide (460 mm) stripe on each of the upper wings, centred on the inner cannon. All of these markings were officially abandoned 7 February 1944.

The Luftwaffe's Jagdverband 44[edit]

The late-war specialized all-jet Luftwaffe fighter squadron, Jagdverband 44, possessed a number of Fw 190 D piston-engined fighters to protect their units' Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters during the jets' takeoff and landing operations, as the jets were most vulnerable to Allied piston-engined fighter attack at those times. The Fw 190D aircraft of this so-called Platzschutzstaffel (airfield protection squadron) used a solid red color scheme, with narrow white stripes, under the wings and central fuselage to identify them as "friendly" Luftwaffe fighters, for similar reasons as the "invasion stripes" had been used in Operation Overlord ten months earlier over Normandy. The Staffel was nicknamed 'Die Würger-Staffel'.


A Hawker Sea Fury launches from HMS Glory in 1951

Invasion stripes were re-introduced on British and Australian Fleet Air Arm aircraft operating during the Korean War in 1950. Similar stripes were also used early in the war on F-86 Sabres of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing.


The stripes were used again by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and the French Air Force during the Suez operation of 1956. Single-engined aircraft had yellow/black/yellow/black/yellow stripes one foot wide. The pattern was the same on multi-engined aircraft but the bands were 2 feet (61 cm) wide.


Soviet tanks in 1968

During the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the special marking of the invasion forces was also necessary as they used mostly the same types of vehicles and aircraft as the armed forces of Czechoslovakia. Their marking consisted of one long white strip going in the middle of the car from the front on the roof to the back. And two additional strips in the middle of both sides.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ D-Day was originally scheduled for June 5.
  • Robertson, Bruce. 'Aircraft Markings of the World 1912-1967'. Harleyford Publications, Letchworth,. England. 1967.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_stripes — Please support Wikipedia.
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31857 videos foundNext > 


Invasion Stripes

World War II re-enactors created a realistic living history tableau Monday as they painted black and white stripes on a World War II C-53 transport.

War Thunder - Custom Skins - Invasion Stripes - How To

In this War Thunder Video Tutorial, I demonstrate one technic for placing "Invasion Stripes" on your aircraft in Photoshop. . Please check out my channel for other skinning Tips & Tricks,...

Painting Invasion Stripes

A bit on how I mask and paint invasion stripes. Sorry about the sniffles. Fall is coming here in Colorado. :P.

Applying Invasion Stripes at Oshkosh 2013

Reenactors created a remarkable living history tableau as they used water-based paints to recreate invasion stripes on a C-53 at Oshkosh on Monday, July 29, 2013. Vocalist Theresa Eaman ...

Invasion Striped RAF Spitfire and Typhoon Flypast.

2014 saw the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and it was commemorated at the Waddington airshow with a flypast from old and new defenders of the UK airspace, both wearing invasion stripes. If you...

American P-47 fighter planes painted with D-Day Invasion stripes land on dirt air...HD Stock Footage

Link to order this clip: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675060430_Allied-planes_US-P-47-aircraft_D-Day-Invasion-stripes_planes-landing-in-France_dirt-field Historic Stock Footage Archival...

Battleground Europe: WWIIOL - Invasion Stripes P-38 Guncam

Video dedicated to the U.S. Air Force P-38. Filmed using Fraps, edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. Music: Ted Nugent - Stranglehold www.battlegroundeurope.com.

P47#23, Invasion Stripes 4

All the white has been shot. Let's take a look at what we've got. Bonus...Country music!

8 Bells Lecture | Brian Duddy: Invasion Stripes: The Wartime Diary of Capt. Robert Uhrig, USAAF...

Brian Duddy, "Invasion Stripes: The Wartime Diary of Captain Robert Uhrig, USAAF and the Dawn of American Military Airlift" Eight Bells Book Lecture, Naval War College Museum, Nov. 21, 2013....

31857 videos foundNext > 

53 news items

FlightSim.com (press release)
Sat, 25 Apr 2015 05:05:10 -0700

At this past year's air show (2014) I took a photo of one dressed up in U.S. Navy colors replete with invasion stripes doing a low pass for the crowd. The military heritage of the Navion only increases its appeal (in my mind, at least), so when I ...

Warbirds News

Warbirds News
Sat, 11 Apr 2015 05:03:12 -0700

That December the Mustang received new paintwork complete with D-Day invasion stripes and coded VF*G, and at this time the members referred to the aircraft as 'Old Red Nose'. Although the founding aircraft in the Confederate Air Force, as was, she didn ...

Western Daily Press

Western Daily Press
Thu, 22 May 2014 00:25:39 -0700

A Eurofighter Typhoon adorned with commemorative D-Day invasion stripes has been unveiled ahead of the 70th anniversary of the landings. The state-of-the-art jet has been specially painted with the famous black and white markings in tribute to the role ...

The Aviationist (blog)

The Aviationist (blog)
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 05:00:00 -0700

Both aircraft were painted with the characteristic “invasion stripes”, alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of allied aircraft during WWII Normandy campaign to increase recognition by friendly forces and reduce friendly ...

ABC Online

ABC Online
Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:51:33 -0800

A British World War II veteran who secretly slipped out of his nursing home to join the D-Day commemorations in northern France last year has died aged 90. Bernard Jordan, whose 'Great Escape' was hailed around the world as the embodiment of his ...

Forces TV

Forces TV
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 05:45:00 -0700

... Britain Memorial Flight) Spitfire at RAF Coningsby its maiden flight in specially painted 'D-Day Invasion Stripes'. A newly painted BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) Spitfire at RAF Coningsby its maiden flight in specially painted 'D-Day ...
Wall Street Journal
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:05:47 -0700

Aerial view on June 8, 1944, of a A-20 G Havoc light bomber with D-Day "invasion stripes" painted on its wings. Plumes of smoke rose from the Forest Cerisy, where a German machine-gun position blocked the U.S. advance. Allied domination of the air was ...
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 18:43:42 -0700

The lead plane, Impatient Virgin, flew four combat sorties on June 6, 1944, supporting the invasion. Today it is part of the Historic Flight Foundation collection at Paine Field. It is painted with “invasion stripes” — alternating black and white ...

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