Photo reconnaissance Lockheed F-5 Lightning with “invasion stripes” photographed against the English countryside from the vertical camera installation of another photo Lighting. Circa summer/fall of 1944.
(Official US Air Force photo http://www.maxwell.af.mil)
Another photo showing the “invasion stripes.” These stripes are the alternating bands of black and white painted on the wings of this What are these Spitfire. What were these for? They served as “recognition marks” for all Allied aircraft participating in D-Day.
For security reasons, instructions to paint these stripes on thousands and thousands of American and British aircraft, were not issued until June 3 and did not reach all units until June 4th. The invasion was originally set for the fifth so many units had less than 24 hours to paint invasion stripes on their planes.
This job was done by ground crewmen and they were in such a hurry that most “invasion stripes” you see in photographs of aircraft from that time look like they were slapped on by a few guys with improvised paint brushes who were in a hurry. And that is exactly what happened.
Front line aircraft in France had the stripes taken off after 30 days and all other aircraft had to remove them by November of 1944 do the Germans would not copy them.
Unfortunately, this did not end “friendly fire” incidents since Allied ships and ground troops opened fire on any aircraft they saw. They could spot an aircraft at quite a distance and open fire before they saw the stripes. Since Allied aircraft often bombed their own troops and ships, the exchange of fire is understandable if lamentable.