In the WWII movie Greyhound (2020), at about 25:00 we can see a sailor painting a Swastika symbol on the ship. This happens right after they have sunk a Nazi U-Boat.

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Why was this sailor painting a Swastika on the ship? Was it a count of U-Boat kills? Is it realistically depicted in the movie?

1 Answer 1


Those are victory or kill marks. It was very common for tanks, planes and ships to mark their kills on both the Allied and Axis sides during the war.

kill board on a naval vessel with various markings for military, supply and merchant ships

Image source

The "Rising Sun" flags indicate the sinking of a military naval combatant vessel, the red dot flags are supply ships, and the pennants indicate merchant vessels. The half flags indicate an assist - some other ship claimed the kill.

At some point since the War, it's become more common to use generic symbols rather than national flags, but the practice still continues.

  • 17
    I remember in "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (I think the movie, but it could have been the TV show) one of the pilots kept crashing his own plane, and they painted small us flags on his new plane. One character remarked that if he crashed that plane, he'd become a Japanese Ace. :)
    – NomadMaker
    Sep 19, 2020 at 3:52
  • 2
    The train kill mark en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Barb_(SS-220)#/media/…
    – Joshua
    Sep 19, 2020 at 21:22
  • @Joshua: That's a badass flag. That crew must be named "Ambassadors of Death".
    – Rahul
    Sep 20, 2020 at 7:50
  • Wait, train kill from a warship? That sounds like a story worth listening to
    – slebetman
    Sep 21, 2020 at 1:09
  • 2
    @slebetman From a submarine. Apparently she landed a shore party that went in and set explosives. Sep 21, 2020 at 4:56

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