Combat aircraft are painted in a matte paint to prevent them from reflecting moon/sunlight too much.

But what about liveries used for airshows? Those colorful paintjobs, are they also always matte, or are they sometimes painted in more shiny paint.

  • $\begingroup$ Not a direct answer, since she is no longer an active combat aircraft, but one of the past paint schemes you'll ever see is "Miss Demeanour". Certainly not matte! $\endgroup$ Mar 30 '20 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ Oddly enough, in WW2 the US Navy painted its night fighters in gloss black. It was found during testing that it when a searchlight lit up a matte finish, it glowed a uniform grey, whereas a gloss finish only reflected pinpoint highlights and was actually harder to pick out. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Mar 30 '20 at 12:29

Matte paint creates drag and reduces the top speed. The sheen of the paint is often adjusted to suit operational conditions. For example during WWII an aircraft being prepared for a special high-speed mission, such as a dangerous reconnaissance flight, might have its matte camouflage waxed over to give it that edge of speed. Many combat jets have routinely been finished in a semi-gloss, as a compromise between the two. Special schemes for airshows do tend to be high gloss.


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