US Color Coded War Plans
(1904-1939)
by Ryan Crierie

COLOR CODE

COUNTRY

Bl (No color)

Brazil (1904)

Ci (No color)

Chile (1904)

Ca (No color)

Colombia (1904)

Dk (No color)

Denmark (1904)

Hd (No color)

Holland (1904)

Va (No color)

Venezuela (1904)

BLUE

Generic Mobilization Plan

BLACK

Germany

ORANGE

Japan

RED

Great Britain

CRIMSON

Austria (1904)

CRIMSON

Canada

SCARLET

Australia

GARNET

New Zealand

RUBY

Indian Empire

WHITE

France (1904)

GOLD

France

SILVER

Italy

OLIVE

Spain

GREEN

Russia (1904)

GREEN

Mexico

BROWN

Netherlands East Indies

PURPLE

U.S.S.R.

LEMON

Portugal

CITRON

Brazil

SAFFRON

China (1904)

YELLOW

China

YELLOW

Spain (1904)

INDIGO

Iceland

EMERALD

Eire

GRAY

Italy (1904)

GRAY

Azores

GRAY

Combination of Caribbean Countries

TAN

Cuba

VIOLET

China Intervention

WHITE

U.S.A.
(Domestic)

RAINBOW

Actions under the auspices of the League of Nations

NOTES:

  • Plan BLUE was the “generic” mobilization plan against an unspecified enemy; in effect it was the “pull off shelf” emergency plan if war occurred between the United States and a country not covered by a specific Color Plan.

  • BLUE also stands in for the US in various war plans, because it would be impolitic to specifically name specific countries. Thus, BLUE fights RED in War Plan RED, instead of the United States fighting Britain.

  • Some colors are repeated because over time, their meanings and assignments changed.

Bibliography:
The Blue Sword: The Naval War College and the American Mission, 1919-1941 by Michael Vlahos
The Defence of the Undefended Border: Planning for War in North America, 1867-1939 by Richard A Preston. (BLUE and RAINBOW's meaning)
American War Plans 1890-1939 by Steven T Ross

Last Updated: 2/12/2009