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Black and white patterns on rockets were originally intended as roll patterns. They helped as a visual back-up for acceleration sensors measuring the roll, as discussed in this previous question What is the purpose of the black-and-white patterns on some rockets?.

However, many modern rockets don't have these patterns, implying they are no longer necessary, which makes sense as accelerometers have become more than accurate enough to just smack on a few extra for redundancy and be fine, I'd assume.

Nonetheless a few recent missiles revealed by North Korea do have these roll patterns (see for example this ICBM or sub-marine launched missiles). I find this quite weird as I'd assume North Korea to have access to modern accelerometers through China.

So the real question becomes: Could there be other reasons to have these black and white patterns apart from aiding in roll measurements?

Or do the North Koreans just like the old school look of the rockets as much as I do?

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    $\begingroup$ In a country where trust in other people doesn't exist & people are constantly looking over their shoulders, where someone can be eliminated for making a mistake, relying on "trusted" methods - black & white patterns - is a way of minimizing mistakes. If they use accelerometers from China, having a second method to compare results is also very useful. $\endgroup$ – Fred Jan 15 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe they couldn't get hold of an accelerometer with a display large enough to be read with their omnipresent binoculars. Jokes aside, it doesn't cost much extra and gives nice optical cues, so why not do it? $\endgroup$ – asdfex Jan 15 at 15:09

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