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Anti-flash white

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Title: Anti-flash white  
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Subject: Shades of white, Avro Vulcan, Blackburn Buccaneer, Explosion protection, Andrei Durnovtsev
Collection: Explosion Protection, Shades of White
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Anti-flash white

An RAF Victor bomber circa 1961 in anti-flash white with pale roundels and fin flash.

Anti-flash white is a brilliant white color commonly seen on United States, British and Soviet nuclear bombers.[1] The purpose of the color was to reflect some of the thermal radiation from a nuclear explosion, protecting the aircraft and its occupants.


  • United Kingdom 1
  • United States 2
  • Soviet Union/Russia/Ukraine 3
  • China 4
  • Aircraft 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

United Kingdom

A Blackburn Buccaneer at the 1962 Farnborough Airshow in anti-flash white with pale roundels.
A BAC TSR-2 in anti-flash white with pale roundels.

Anti-flash white was used on the Royal Air Force V bombers force and the Royal Navy Blackburn Buccaneer when used in the nuclear strike role. British nuclear bombers were given – though not at first, until the problem was considered – pale pink and blue roundels and fin flash rather than the traditional dark red, white, and blue.

Anti-flash white was applied to several British prototype aircraft, including the British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2. Paint used on the British Avro Vulcan was manufactured by Cellon, and that on the Handley Page Victor by Titanine Ltd.[2]

United States

A E-6 Mercury airborne, painted in anti-flash white
A B-52D with anti-flash white on the under side.

Many Strategic Air Command nuclear bombers carried anti-flash white without insignia on the under side of the fuselage with light silver-gray or natural metal (later light camouflage) on the upper surfaces.

The United States Navy A-5 Vigilante carried anti-flash white without insignia on the under side of the fuselage.

The Boeing E-6 in TACAMO role was painted anti-flash white but its roundels were not subdued.

Soviet Union/Russia/Ukraine

A Tupolev Tu-22M with anti-flash white on the under side.
Ukrainian Tupolev Tu-160 in all over anti-flash white with pale fin flash.

Like the United States, some nuclear bombers had the under side of the fuselage painted anti-flash white with the upper surfaces painted light silver-gray. The Tupolev Tu-160 of the 1980s was the first to be painted anti-flash white all over.


Some variants of the Xian H-6 had the under side of the fuselage painted anti-flash white.


In addition to these military aircraft, Concorde was painted white to reduce the additional heating effect on the aluminium skin caused by the sun whilst the aircraft was flying at high altitudes, the skin temperature already being raised to over 90 °C (194 °F) at Mach 2 by aerodynamic heating.

Aircraft with at least part of the fuselage painted anti-flash white on nuclear delivery variants:

 United Kingdom

 United States

 Soviet Union/ Russia/ Ukraine



See also


  1. ^ "B36 in "anti-atom" finish over Kent" (PDF).  
  2. ^ "Titanine aircraft finishes are used on the Handley-Page Victor".  
  3. ^ Philip J. R. Moyes (1964). Bomber Squadrons of the R.A.F. And Their Aircraft. MacDonald. p. 98. 
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