|Many USS Little Rock sailors
don't know that their ship had two "official" paint schemes during her
time as CL 92. As with most ships
during the WWII and post-WWII era, the ship's paint scheme was designed
to camouflage the ship so as to make
more difficult for the enemy to identify its class, speed,
Painting naval vessels so as to camouflage them was a "science" unto itself. Over the years many paint schemes were utilized by the US Navy to make vessels appear in some way different than reality. There are many sources of information on the internet that provide a more elaborate description of the various schemes in the past. One excellent source is Wikipedia's page on "Dazzle Camouflage" paint schemes, and another is US Navy Camouflage provided by Snyder & Short Enterprises of Sacramento, CA.
Below are two photos of USS Little Rock CL 92 which show the significant differences between the two paint schemes. Note that a quick giveaway, although not always infallible, is the smaller hull number used in the Measure 22 scheme.
USS Little Rock CL 92 with Measure 22 Camouflage paint scheme.
(Note lighter upper portion of the hull and the small hull number.)
A Short History of US Naval Camouflage in WWII
"Measure 22 was also introduced in the June 1942 revision as another graded system to replace Measure 12. This measure was intended for use on combatant ships in areas where bright weather with fair visibility predominated, and high angle aerial observation was unlikely. Navy blue (5-N) was applied to the hull up to the height of the main deck edge at its lowest point with the upper edge of this navy blue area horizontal. Haze gray (5-H) was painted on all remaining vertical surfaces and all masts. Deck blue (20-B) was applied to all decks and other horizontal surfaces. The undersides of overhanging horizontal surfaces were painted with white (5-U) to lighten shadows. This measure was often referred to as two-toned North Atlantic gray and a great many ships wore this camouflage while in the Atlantic."
"Some two-color paint schemes attempted to harmonize with both sea and sky near the horizon. The US Navy painted some ships dark gray with white structures above bridge level. Both the US Navy and the Royal Navy painted ships dark gray on the hull and light gray on the superstructure and turrets. USN Measure 12 was a graded system with sea blue low on the hull below the first continuous deck, with ocean gray above that. The top of the masts were painted haze gray. This measure was modified with ocean gray above navy blue low on the hull below the first continuous deck (painted parallel to the waterline rather than the main deck). This bold contrast on a horizontal line near the horizon reduced visibility to surface observers and created the illusion of greater range. This camouflage was considered most effective for gunnery engagements with surface units or shore batteries in areas where aerial observation was unlikely. It was used in the Atlantic and European coastal waters from the end of 1942 through the end of World War II. It was worn by shore bombardment ships in the Pacific from late 1944 after the destruction of Japanese naval aviation capability at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Similar Admiralty standard schemes were applied beginning in 1944 when it was assumed enemy forces would have radar. Ships were painted light gray overall, except for a sea blue patch low on the hull, either between the main gun turrets or the entire length of the hull...."
A Definition of Ship Camouflage
SHIP CAMOUFLAGE INSTRUCTIONS
UNITED STATES NAVY
SHIPS - 2
Bureau of Ships
Second World War
"Ship Camouflage may be defined as the means by which the visibility of a ship is reduced, or the means by which deception is caused in course or range estimation, or in class identification."
"The most common method of attaining these ends is through some form of special painting...."
"Effectiveness (Measure 22).... This measure is intended for use on combatant ships in areas where bright weather with fair visibility predominates, and high angle aerial observation is unlikely, and there is a likelihood of a gunnery engagement. There will be some reduction of visibility when viewed from low-flying planes, and from higher altitudes at extended ranges...."
"Useful for combatant ships operating in areas where greatest danger might be expected from gunnery action either from shore batteries or from enemy surface ships. Moderately high visibility to aerial observation at close ranges...."
Measure 22, Graded System
(Source: Ships-2, Rev. 2, June 1942)
Navy Blue 5-N
To be applied to the hull to the height of the main deck edge at its lowest point.
The upper edge of this Navy Blue area should be horizontal.
Haze Gray, 5-H
All remaining vertical surfaces and all masts and small gear.
Deck Blue, 20-B
Wood decks except on submarines and carriers shall be darkened to the color Deck Blue.
Deck Blue paint shall be used in lieu of stain for this purpose.
Canvas covers visible from the outside vessel are to be dyed a color corresponding to Deck Blue.
Dark Blue Grey
Pale Blue Grey