October 10, 1958: Flight Test Aircraft Get New Paint Scheme

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Following an Air Force directive, the 6515th Field Maintenance Squadron began painting all Edwards aircraft in a high-visibility orange paint scheme.  The new paint scheme was Intended to aid in recovery of downed aircraft and to decrease midair collisions.  All noncombat aircraft were to be repainted on nose, tail, and wingtips.

The continued evolution of the actual paint schemes is not clear, but evidence of the use of standardized orange also dates back to the World War II time-frame.  In that era, the War Department issued a color standard, known as FS-595, to assist vendors in meeting paint requirements for the booming aviation industry. “The Federal Standard color system provides a means of comparing colors visually. It has its origin in the US Military complex and is still used there as the primary source of color reference… The widespread application of the standard in the military is the reason for the prevalence of the FS-595B despite its apparent obsolescence as compared to more modern color designation systems.  FS-595B has also become a de-facto standard in many non-military applications such as historical color research or the modeling industry worldwide.” 

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