Luftwaffe camouflage colors and patterns
Confirming the identities of the camouflage colors and patterns worn by Bf109Es during the Battle of Britain presents an intriguing but complicated challenge. While it is known for the most part that the undersurface color was usually a readily identifiable light blue, e.g. Light Blue 65 (RLM 65 Hellblau), the diversity in upper surface patterns and colors is far more difficult to ascertain.
Splinter Scheme or Single Color?
A careful study of photographs of early Bf109s reveals that the upper surface splinter camouflage patterns of Black-Green 70 (RLM 70 Schwarzgrun) and Dark Green 71 (RLM 71 Dunkelgrun) were applied with sharply defined, angular demarcation lines in keeping with standard Luftwaffe camouflage practice. The splinter patterns applied to the Bf109B, C and D variants were similarly typical for the E-1 and E-3 which, as with the earlier models, displayed considerable variation on the fuselage sides where the pattern in plan view was extended down to meet the undersurface color. This remained essentially unchanged until the final months of 1939 when a more simplified form of 70/71 splinter pattern began to make its appearance on some E models.
By the outbreak of war in September 1939, the camouflaged upper surfaces of Bf109s were regularly identified as being 'dark green', implying the use of a single color rather than the two dark greens officially specified by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) in L.Dv.521/1 issued in March 1938. Did these observations accurately record that a single upper camouflage color was being used or did the low tonal contrast between them prevent clear identification of the two colors or, more simply, was this due to fading through in-service use and weathering?
During late 1939 - early 1940 and with the Luftwaffe fully committed to its wartime operations, the probability of a single upper camouflage color being applied to individual aircraft or those of a specific unit is entirely credible. Although no valid or supportable documentary evidence of any Bf109s with a single upper camouflage color during this period has yet been discovered, it remains entirely plausible to assume that, for whatever reason, some aircraft may have received a single color finish to the upper surfaces on either a temporary or permanent basis.
In the recent careful examination of a number of good quality original photographs, the presence of a single upper surface color on some aircraft is strongly indicated as may be seen in the accompanying photographs. In the careful scrutiny of these original prints, to date, no discernible evidence of a second color has been determined with complete certainty. Nevertheless, and until factual evidence to the contrary is discovered, it may perhaps be presumed that contemporary references to a single dark green are nothing more than a broad generalization of the camouflage color, the singular 'dark green' reference possibly being due to the low tonal contrast between these two colors?
The Colors Change
The fighting in Poland made it clear that while the standard 70/71 Bf 109 camouflage scheme at the outbreak of war was more than adequate for ground concealment, the same did not apply to aerial combat. As a result of these findings, numerous field trials to find a suitable replacement were undertaken during the winter of 1939-40 utilizing various combinations of the colors Grungrau (aka RLM) 02, 70 and 71. The successful outcome of these trials resulted in a new camouflage pattern of 02 and 71 that was considered more practical for air-to-air combat than the earlier scheme. Accordingly, an order was issued dictating that 02 would replace Black-Green 70 in the pattern. Concurrently, the demarcation for the undersurface Blue 65 was increased in height to cover approximately three-quarters of the fuselage sides, including the entire vertical tail surfaces. Although this change effectively restricted the upper colors to the strict plan view of the aircraft, the actual height of the demarcation varied considerably between aircraft, most prominently on the rear fuselage between the rear of the cockpit canopy and base of the fin.
Beginning in early 1940 with production of the Bf109E-4, the 02/71 scheme was applied as a factory finish, whereas the earlier E models already in service appear generally to have been repainted at either local or unit level, with the attendant broad interpretation of the contents of the order. Some units were noticeably slower than others in implementing the change and even for those repainting their aircraft promptly, it must be realized that not all aircraft within a single unit would or could be repainted at the same time. On some aircraft the 02 replaced the Dark-Green 71 rather than the Black-Green 70 as directed, while on many others, only the smaller areas of tail and fuselage were repainted, leaving the wing and fuselage upper surfaces in the earlier colors. That this occurred is evident from photographs and the contents of intelligence summaries, which indicates that a number of Bf 109s in these 'unofficial' finishes survived well into the early autumn of 1940. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that many of these may have been either older aircraft or those held as reserve or 'spare' aircraft, retaining their finishes until they were either lost on operations or underwent major servicing, at which time the newer scheme would, presumably, have been applied.
With these changes, which included revisions to the size, style and placement of the national insignia, several different examples of a simplified splinter scheme, including 'mirror' image reversal patterns, began to appear. In these, the color divisions were far less angular than those of the original patterns and are often seen in photographs to have a 'feathered' rather than sharp demarcation. Although official confirmation for this simplification is unavailable, it is reasonable to assume that they were implemented as a means both to expedite service requirements and to save on materials and cost, regardless of whether the finish was of factory or in-service origin.
As the aerial battles developed above the south-eastern coast of Britain and the English Channel in the early summer of 1940, it soon became clear that again, more changes would be necessary to the camouflage worn by Bf 109s. Whereas the 02/71/65 scheme had worked sufficiently well over France and the Low Countries, it was found that this was not the case in the air war against England. The high demarcation level of Blue 65 on fuselage sides and tails made the aircraft stand out conspicuously against the waters of the Channel and the English countryside. To overcome this, several methods were employed to tone down the blue, the most common being an application of mottling to fuselage sides in either 02 and/or one or both of the upper colors. One of the earliest reports of this occurred in mid-July when Bf109s of JG51 were reported as having a fine, pale grey 'overspray' applied to their fuselage sides; an indication perhaps of one of the first uses of 02 in this manner. Taking into account the requirement to tone these areas down, it is entirely feasible that an order was originated, either at RLM level or from local area command with RLM approval, allowing individual units, notably JG2, JG53 and JG54, to determine the extent and style of application as was dictated by their operational requirements. As the variations in mottling are far too extensive to describe in detail, it must be realized that while little similarity existed between individual units, a general uniformity of style and pattern was usually seen amongst aircraft of the same unit. Believed for the most part to have been 02, it was usually sprayed on the sides of the fuselage and fin in varying degrees of density and pattern. On some aircraft this was occasionally intensified, usually where a color transition was made such as at the roots of the wings or tailplane, by the random inclusion of one or both of the upper colors. By contrast, the mottle applied by some units was in a much coarser form, suggesting the use of a brush or sponge, frequently so dense that it took on the appearance of an almost solid color. Noticeably, many aircraft wearing this coarse, stippled finish (e.g. JG2) also displayed a modified fuselage cross where the proportions of the white segments were reduced in area to decrease their visibility. Similarly, the height of demarcation between upper and lower colors was often altered, with segments of the upper fuselage colors being extended down the fuselage sides to random depths along its length. However some units, notably the third Gruppe of JG26, were markedly reluctant to add any form of additional camouflage to their aircraft and, throughout 1940, retained the high demarcation finish with fuselage crosses and numerals repainted in a smaller format than usual to help conceal the aircraft at higher altitudes.
With more fighter engagements taking place over the sea and increasing numbers of replacement aircraft entering service, camouflage variations became all the more widespread, often becoming more varied when easily interchangeable parts such as cowlings, rudders, armament access panels and battery hatch covers were swapped between aircraft to expedite servicing. Additionally, two further anomalies appeared for which, to date, no firm explanation has been determined. The first was a lighter centre to wing crosses that mayor may not have been a part of the random light camouflage overspray occasionally seen on wings or was perhaps, evidence of the overall mottled finish seen and documented as being applied to some Bf109Es during 1940. Although no documentary evidence to support this has been found, it is reasonable to assume that the additional color was applied to reduce the visibility of the wing crosses and blend them in to the upper surface camouflage, thus helping to conceal the aircraft from observation from above.
The second anomaly and one which is evident in many photos of Bf109s from the period, was the use of a light color that wrapped around the upper leading edges of the main wings and may clearly be seen in photos such as those of the aircraft of Oblt. Paul Temme of Stab/JG2 who force-landed beside Shoreham airfield on 13 August. From the detailed examination of photographs of aircraft with this feature it is currently believed that this was in fact, a continuation of the underside Blue 65 or similar light color, extended to encompass the areas of wing leading edge visible in a head-on view. Whether this was an attempt to break up the outline of the wings when viewed from head-on or an application characteristic of the location where the camouflage finish was applied has not, to date, been determined with Grey Camouflage?
Although often totally destroyed, all enemy aircraft that came down in the British Isles during the Second World War were thoroughly examined by intelligence teams from the Air Ministry and RAF. The reports created from these examinations were known as Crashed Enemy Aircraft Reports, and recorded such information as Werk Nummer, engine type, armament, additional or special equipment and markings and colors. However, and to the disappointment of many post-war researchers, there were no set guidelines in these reports for describing the shades of the colors found on downed German aircraft. Generally, any examination of the paint was confined to an evaluation of the type of finish and occasionally, some undamaged panels would be tested for paint durability.
By mid-August, the first uses of greys and blue-greys as an upper camouflage color were making their appearance in these reports, appearing with increasing frequency as the battle progressed. 'Light Navy grey', 'two shades of grey', 'light grey with dark grey mottling', 'Battleship grey' and 'camouflage grey' were some of the descriptions recorded, along with mention of varying shades of green-grey and blue-grey. Were these an indication of the earliest use of the greys 74 (RLM 74 Dunklegrau) and 75 (RLM 75 Mittelgrau) that would become the standard fighter camouflage the following year or, as recent research and the variety in their descriptions suggest, that they were colors created at unit level?
See color plates, it can be seen that by mixing various percentages or combinations of RLM 02, 65, 66, 70 and 71, a number of grey and blue-grey shades could have been created, all of which would have been suitable for use, thus providing a perfectly credible probability that this is, in fact, what happened. As the use of the greys 74 and 75 was not officially promulgated until the November 1941 issue of L.Dv 521/1, the likelihood that the assorted greys used during 1940 were those from which the 74 and 75 were developed is a wholly convincing possibility.
Gruppenstab and Staffel Markings and Colors
The origins of markings for Stab personnel date back to the pre-war period, being allocated to three officers of the Geschwaderstab: the Kommodore, his Adjutant and the officer in charge of flying operations. Correspondingly for the Gruppenstab, similar symbols were allocated to the Gruppenkommodore, Adjutant and Operations officer.
The entry into service of the Bf109 made it apparent that the earlier Stab symbols would need revising. Accordingly, Fl.inst. 3 Nr.730/37 9 issued on 14 December 1937 by the Generalstab der Luftwaffe included a set of instructions and diagrams for the application of markings to fighter aircraft. Apart from containing detailed instructions on the dimensions of numerals and their spacing, new locations and dimensions for Stab symbols were designated, including a vertical bar symbol to be applied aft of the fuselage cross to signify III.Gruppe instead of the earlier wavy line symbol. A horizontal bar aft of the fuselage cross identified the aircraft of II.Gruppe while those from I.Gruppe carried no symbol. All symbols were to be applied in black with white edging and a thin black outline although it is evident in photographs and other records that these markings were not always applied in either the colors or locations officially specified. Despite the clearly worded instructions regarding the III.Gruppe marking, at least two Jagdgeschwader, JG2 & JG52 declined to effect the change, retaining instead the earlier wavy line Gruppe symbol. In similar fashion, III./JG2 and JG54 also declined to follow the wording of the directive by using white as the predominant color for their Stab symbols, usually outlining them with a thin black edge. Likewise, II./JG51 also declined to display their Gruppe bar by using the designated area to display their 'weeping bird' emblem instead of the required symbol.
The ordinary Staffe aircraft carried a number which identified the individual aircraft within the Staffel, and the color in which it was painted identifying the Staffel within the Geschwader. These numbers were generally applied in one of two forms with the figures from 2 to 9 appearing in either a 'rounded' or 'squared' style that usually remained constant within the various Staffeln.
Although regularly positioned ahead of the fuselage cross, some units did adopt alternative locations for these numbers. III./JG27 chose to apply them to either side of the cowling beneath the gun troughs while III./JG54 placed theirs on either side of the forward fuselage, just aft of the rear edge of the engine cowling. Likewise, there were also exceptions to the rule for Staffel colors; on several occasions, red was recorded as replacing the normal black of the second, fifth and eighth Staffeln, the third (Jagd) Staffel of LG2, used brown instead of yellow and 5.Staffe/ of JG53 is recorded as using grey numerals throughout 1940.
Spinners too received their share of colors. These were often repainted in black and white in the form of halves or quarters or would merely have a segment of white applied to the base Black-Green 70 spinner color. In many instances the spinner tip or cap, if fitted, would often be painted in the Stab or Staffel color. While there are no reports of the 1944 'Spiralschnause' style of design being used at this time, those colored bands that were painted on Bf109E spinners during 1940 are recorded as being applied in concentric circles.
The Red Band of JG53
For a short period during 1940, all three Gruppen of JG53, and only JG53, displayed two distinct anomalies in their markings, the purposes of which have yet to be fully resolved.
The first anomoly concerns the replacement of the 'Pik As' (Ace of Spades) emblem. According to RAF Air Ministry Weekly Intelligence Summary NO.50, Hermann Goring ordered the emblem be removed and replaced with a red band and the Geschwader renamed the 'Red Ring Geschwader'. While there is some evidence to suggest that it may have stemmed from some personal antipathy on the part of Goring, or possibly from some ideological difference with the leadership of the Geschwader, (H-J von Cramon-Taubadel is understood to have had a Jewish wife), the actual reason for the order has yet to be determined. In the past, several valid theories for this change have been examined in depth, but most have been subsequently disproven although one, containing some merit, submits that it may have been nothing more than a temporary identification feature. However, there was one event which transpired at this time and another which may have been of some significance. During early August, at around the time of the appearance of these red bands, Goring replaced the majority of the Jagdwaffe Kommodore with younger men, although two units serving with Luftflotte 3, JG27 and JG53, retained their existing Kommodore until October. Then, at the beginning of that month, after Obit. Gunther von Maltzahn took command of the Geschwader from Obit. Hans-Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel, the 'Pik As' emblem began to reappear on JG53's aircraft in a somewhat newer and larger format than previously seen. As a matter of interest, the first recorded incident of a Bf 109 E being brought down over England where the red band had replaced the' Pik As' emblem occurred on 16 August. On that date the aircraft of Fw. Christian Hansen of 2./JG53 force landed at Godshill on the Isle of Wight and when examined was reported in Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report NO.11 as having a "...red band around nose 6 in wide".
The second anomoly, and one frequently recorded as a political gesture on the part of the Geschwader, occurred almost concurrently with the reintroduction of the' Pik As' emblem. Many aircraft from II. and III Gruppen had the Hakenkreuz on their fins overpainted, with several pilots using these areas to display their individual Abschuss tallies rather than in the more usual location on the rudder (e.g. Lt. Schmidt, Adjutant of III./JG53). How long this lasted is not known for certain but some aircraft of III.Gruppe were recorded as still without their Hakenkreuz in late November.
The requirement that visually, a military aircraft should be invisible to its foe but instantly recognisable to friendly forces is something of a practical impossibility, and throughout the history of military aviation, numerous methods to resolve this problem have been examined. With the Luftwaffe it was no different. In mid-August, the first incidents involving Bf 109s carrying distinctive yellow markings were being reported by RAF pilots. Originally interpreted as denoting aircraft belonging to a 'squadron of aces', this assumption was incorrect.
The earliest examples of the use of these markings occurred when aircraft of JG26 and JG54 were recorded as carrying areas of yellow paint applied to wing and tailplane tips and also to top sections of rudders and on occasion, to the vertical trailing edge section of the rudder. There is little doubt that these markings were established as an aid to instant recognition in the air where such conspicuous markings were invaluable to both sides. In appreciation of this value, the Jagdwaffe were quick to increase the use of such colors to include cowlings and entire rudders. Whereas the application of either yellow or white paint to wing and tailplane tips remained relatively constant from unit to unit, this was often not the case where cowlings and rudders were concerned.
On rudders, it first appeared in the form of an inverted triangular area on the top section as may be seen in photographs of Gerhard Schopfel's Bf109 of III./JG26 circa mid-August. Not long after this, other Bf109Es, often noted as being from III./JG54, were recorded as having approximately one-third of the rear vertical rudder surface painted yellow or possibly, white, while on the Bf109s of other units, the entire rudder was finished in one of these colors. When the whole rudder was painted, the exact area covered often varied as occasionally, a section of the original Blue 65 would be left on which the pilot would display his 'Abschuss'tally, usually marked as black or red vertical bars that often identified the nationality of the victim and the date of the victory. In addition to these variations, at least two Bf109Es of the period are documented where the entire fin and rudder were also painted in yellow but based on currently available information, these are seen to be the exception rather than the rule at this time.
With cowlings, it can be seen from photographs that the area covered by white or yellow paint varied considerably between aircraft, often extending rearwards as far as the base of the windshield. Any unit emblems that would otherwise be hidden by this paint were usually masked off carefully, and two such units, I./JG3 and III./JG27, masked off the distinctive JG3 'Tatzelwurm' and JG27 numbers so as to leave them on a conspicuous rectangular background of the camouflage color. From late August on, it is unusual to find a photograph of a Bf109E without some part of its airframe covered in either yellow or white paint, and to date, no significant explanation for the use of the two different colors has been ascertained, suggesting that they may have been used somewhat indiscriminately. In addition to the use of yellow and white for these tactical markings, it is also claimed by some sources that red was likewise used for the same purpose. However, despite several detailed investigations, no photographic or documentary evidence whatsoever has been discovered to support this.
Although some references suggest that the change from yellow to white occurred at the end of August, it is evident from the contents of Crashed Enemy Aircraft Reports for the month of September that both colors were being used concurrently by different units during that time. As far as current research has shown, it would appear that this use of white lasted only for a period of approximately three or four weeks and was seemingly confined in the main to units based within a small sector of occupied France. During the last week of August, the fighter units of Luftflotte 3 were placed under the control of Luftflotte 2 when the bomber units of the former were temporarily withdrawn from daylight operations in order to join the nightly attacks on centres of industry in the Midlands. However, whether or not this was in any way connected with the use of the white tactical markings for the single-engined fighter force, remains a matter of speculation for the present.
German Aircraft Markings
Much of the information here was complied by John Bradley.
In July 1933 the Hakenkruez or Swastika was applied on the port side of the aircraft in a Red band with a White circle. The opposite side of the aircraft carried the tri-coloured band. These colours were, top to bottom, Black, White, and Red. Most aircraft themselves carried civilian registrations that followed a specific set of guidelines for both land and sea-planes.
This code/registration system is as follows:
Class Registration Personnel and Weights ----- ------------ --------------------- A1 D-Y... 1 Person, all up weight 500 Kg A2 D-E... 1 to 3 Persons, all up weight 1,000 Kg B1 D-J... 1 to 4 Persons, all up weight between 1,000 and 2,5000 Kg B2 D-O... 1 to 8 Persons, all up weight between 2,500 and 5,000 Kg C D-U... Single engined D-A Multi-engined all up weight over 5,000 Kg
Identical to landplanes except for the following:
A1 All up weight is 600 Kg A2 All up weight is 2,200 Kg B All up weight is 5,000 Kg C All up weight is over 5,500 Kg
NOTE: All though the B1 group is set down for codes commencing with D-J... no example has ever been found, all aircraft in this group have been registered as D-I...
The remaining three letters in the registration system were allocated in alphabetical sequence that started at AAA and ended with ZZZ. Therefore the codes in each class were as follows:
A1 D-YAAA to D-YZZZ A2 D-EAAA to D-EZZZ B1 D-IAAA to D-IZZZ B2 D-OAAA to D-OZZZ C D-UAAA to D-UZZZ D-AAAA to D-AZZZ
D-IAAA to D-IZZZ was normally allocated to experimental military aircraft.
In the Spring of 1936, a series of changes came into force. These included the application of the Balkenkreuz. On the fuselage it was placed at the mid-point between the wing and tail unit. On the wings they were placed at either end of the registration markings which in truth meant that they were normally placed near the wing tips.
The combination of the military markings (Hakenkreuz and Balkenkreuz) and civilian registrations (D-.... ) lasted for only a brief period. By June of 1936, two additional marking changes came into effect. The Hakenkreuz replaced the tri-coloured tail band on the starboard side of the aircraft, and military codes were issued to replace the registration letters. As it would take some time to fully implement these new orders, some aircraft were seen to carry a combination of the old and new codes.
A third set of markings was also adopted at this same time. The Jagdgeschwadern were give colours to add to their aircraft. These colours were normally applied to the nose of the aircraft.
The colours and the units were:
JG 131 Black JG 132 Red JG 134 Brown JG 232 Green JG 233 Blue JG 234 Orange
Part of the new marking changes mentioned above included the adoption of a set of military codes. This new system consisted of 5 characters with two to the left and three to the right of the Balkenkreuz.
A breakdown of this system reveals the following means of identifying the aircraft to its unit:
[*] Note that because both the land and sea based reconnaissance Staffeln / Gruppen never reached sufficient size to form full Geschwader, the second character in their respective codes were always a zero.
An example would be 32+F25 which was a Do 23 from KG 253.
Unit identification numbers also contained information, as follows:
It should also be noted that the last number of the unit identity was repeated as the first number of the code group (i.e. Hs 123 of St.G. 165 coded 52+J13).
Seven numerals were allocated to identify the various aircraft classes. They are listed below as:
Numeral Type of Duty Example ------- ------------ ------- 0 Armed reconnaissance Ku.Fl.Gr. 206 [*] (Sea based) 1 Short Range Reconnaissance Aufkl.Gr (H)/114 (Land based) 2 Long Range Reconnaissance Aufkl.Gr. (F)/125 (Land based) 3 Fighter JG 132 4 Heavy fighter JG(s) 141 [**] 5 Heavy bomber KG 154 6 Dive bomber St.G. 165 7 Transport 8 Multi-purpose
[*] Coastal units or Ku.Fl.Gr. acted as independent units containing the normal three Staffeln that are normally associated with any Gruppe. However, the Gruppe identity coincided with the first numeral of the unit identity i.e. I/Ku.Fl.Gr. 106, II/Ku.Fl.Gr. 206, III/Ku.Fl.Gr 306 etc.. The unit identity could also be determined by reading the first three numbers in reverse i.e. an He 59 coded 60+A13 belonged to Ku.Fl.Gr. 106 or a Do 18 coded 60+A42 belonged to Ku.Fl.Gr 406.
[**] The 's' designation stood for schwere which meant heavy. Though seen in documentation, it was not usually seen in more general documentation. Only four heavy fighter units were formed. These being JG 141, JG 142, JG 143, and JG 144. They were all later redesignated as Zerstorergruppen.
Within the training organization, the code system was based on that used by the other units. There was a minor difference that must be noted here. It is shown in the table below.
First Letter: Always an S to denote a School aircraft First Numeral: Luftkreis Second Letter: Flight identity within the school Third and Fourth Numeral: Numerical identity of the aircraft within the entire school
An example includes an He 46 coded S2+A38 from a Flugzeugfuhrerschule.
Each school had flights that were believed to have been termed Staffeln to conform with other Luftwaffe units. These flights were identified by letters.
In addition to the powered aircraft within the Luftwaffe, there were also a number of gliders especially at the A-schules were the ab initio training was carried out. These aircraft carried only the Hakenkreuz on the tail and no Balkenkreuz as these aircraft were engaged on second line duties. A three part code was devised that used the letter D followed by a number in Roman numerals, which identified the Luftkreis. This was followed by a number in the Arabic style which was the aircraft's individual identity. A hyphen was used to separate the three elements of the code.
During this pre-war phase, Geschwader, especially fighters, were broken down into:
the Geschwaderstab; I Gruppe consisting of 1, 2, and 3 Staffeln; II Gruppe consisting of 4, 5, and 6 Staffeln;and III Gruppe with 7, 8, and 9 Staffeln.
When the Lehr Geschwader was formed at Griefswald during 1937, it was to develop tactics and handling of various aircraft. It was eventually to expand to 8 Gruppen. The best known were LG 1 and LG2. There status was shown by their codes, L1 and L2 respectively, of which the L indicated that they were owned by a higher authority than the Luftkreis.
In October 1938, with the formation of Luftkreiskommando VII, the Luftkreiskommando consisted of:
Luftkreiskommando I Konigsberg Luftkreiskommando II Berlin Luftkreiskommando III Dresden Luftkreiskommando IV Munster Luftkreiskommando V Munchen Luftkreiskommando VI Kiel Luftkreiskommando VII Hanover
Luftwaffe aircraft engaged in second line duties such as training, communications, ambulance, transport etc, used civil registrations. In January 1939 the D prefix was deleted and substituted by the WL for Wehrmacht Luft to show military ownership. An example is WL-A+HAN, an He 59B-2 used in the ambulance role. Note that in this case the + is not a Balkenkreuz but a Red Cross on a circular White background. The exceptiom to this were those prototype aircraft which retained full civilian registration as well as the Hakenkreuz.
The expansion of the Luftwaffe in the years immediately preceeding the war required some administrative changes. In February 1939, the newly formed Luftflotten (Air Fleets) were created. Luftflotte 1 encompassed Northern and Eastern Germany plus East Prussia, Luftflotte 2 took in North-West Germany and Luftflotte 3 covered South-West Germany.
In March of 1939, Luftflotte 4 was formed to take in South East Germany, Austria, and Czechoslavakia. Within each of the Luftflotten was a Luftgau (Air District) which took over the duties of the old Luftkreis. These duties consisted in the main of administrative affairs. Operational functions were controlled within the Luftflotten by Fliegerdivision (Air Division). These were later renamed Fliegerkorps (Air Corps).
These new Luftflotten led to a reorganization of the identities of the Luftwaffe units within the Luftflotten. Those within Luftflotte 1 were allocated the numbers 1 to 25; Luftflotte 2 received the numbers 26 to 50; Luftflotte 3 received 51 to 75, and Luftflotte 4 acquired 76 to 99.
In addition Gruppen (not Geschwadern) whose identity ended in 0 or 1 were formed in Luftflotte 1; those ending in 2 were formed in Luftflotte 2; those ending in 3 were formed in Luftflotte 3; and those ending in 4 were formed in Luftflotte 4. This perpetuated at least one small aspect of the previous code allocations.
Just prior to the beginning of the war, colours were introduced to indicate the Staffeln within each Gruppe. These were White for the first Staffel, Red for the second, and Yellow for the third Staffel. It must be noted that these colours were used to designate the first, second, and third Staffeln within each Gruppe. The actual number of the Staffeln could in fact be a higher numebr than 1, 2, or 3. The table below shows the breakdown of the colours, Staffeln, and Gruppen.
Gruppe I II III IV Colour ------ - -- --- -- ------ Staffel 1 4 7 10 White Staffel 2 5 8 11 Red Staffel 3 6 9 12 Yellow
Stab Last Letter of Code Aircraft Letter Colour ---- ------------------- ---------------------- Geschwader A Blue or Green Gruppe I B Blue or Green Gruppe II C Blue or Green Gruppe III D Blue or Green Gruppe IV E (F) Blue or Green Gruppe V F (G) Blue or Green Gruppe I II III IV V ------ - -- --- -- - Staffel Colour White Red Yellow Blue Green Colour ------ ----- --- ------ ---- ----- ------- Staffel 1 4 7 10 13 White Last Letter H M R U X Staffel 2 5 8 11 14 Red Last Letter K N S V Y Staffel 3 6 9 12 15 Yellow Last Letter L P T W Z
If more than 15 Staffeln existed within a unit, they would receive the following letters:
Staffel 16 17 18 19 20 Last Letter Q J O E I [*]
[*] NOTE: These Staffeln may or may not have allocated to a VI oreven VII Gruppe.
Within the bomber units, the aircraft distribution was usually as follows:
3 aircraft Kette e.g. Stabskette 9 to 12 aircraft Staffel 27 to 36 aircraft Gruppe e.g. of three Staffeln 81 to 108 aircraft Geschwader e.g. of three Gruppen
A system replacing the five digit codes with a four digit system was instituted almost on the eve of the war. These codes are the more familiar Stammkenzeichen consisting of two digits then the Balkenkreuz then the remaining two digits. It must be noted that these codes too were not uniform in their application right away. Some of the older five digit codes are known to have carried until the last months of 1939, well after the Invasion of Poland.
As of May 1936, a Geschwader consisted, usually, of a Geschwader Stab, with four aircraft; three Gruppen Stabs., with three aircraft each for a total of nine; and nine Staffeln with nine aircraft each for a total of 81 aircraft. The total number of aircraft for the entire Geschwader was 94.
A Gruppe consisted of three Staffeln; a Staffel consisted of three Ketten; and a Kette had three aircraft.
Geschwader designations consisted of three digits. The first stood for the unit's number in the Luftkreis. The second stood for the type of unit, and the third digit was the number of the Luftkreis.
Around the time of the Battle of Britain, the breakdown of numbers of aircraft for the fighter organizations were as follows:
2 aircraft Rotte 3 aircraft Kette e.g Stadskette 4 aircraft Schwarm e.g. Stabsschwarm 12 to 14 aircraft Staffel 36 to 42 aircraft Gruppe e.g of three Staffeln 108 to 126 aircraft Geschwader e.g. of three Gruppen
The breakdown of the Gruppen within the Geschwader and subsequent Staffeln are as indicated:
GESCHWADERSTAB I GRUPPENSTAB II GRUPPENSTAB III GRUPPENSTAB ------------- ------------- --------------- 1 STAFFEL 4 STAFFEL 7 SATFFEL 2 STAFFEL 5 STAFFEL 8 STAFFEL 3 STAFFEL 6 STAFFEL 9 STAFFEL
In 1941, tail bands were added as part of the markings for aircraft on the Eastern Front and the Mediterranean. A white band round the aft fuselage was carried by aircraft in the Mediterranean and southern Russia; a white band was carried in central and northern Russia and Scandinavia. Often wing tips and cowling were painted in the same color. In mid 1944 a more complicated system of 'Reichsverteidigung' (defense of the reich) tail bands was introduced for fighter units.
JG=093 : Single white band JG=094 : Black, white and black band JG=095 : Black and yellow band JG 11 : Yellow band JG 27 : Green band JG 51 : Green, white and green band JG 52 : Red and white band JG 53 : Black band JG 77 : White and Green band JG 300 : Blue, white and blue band.
The 'Gruppe' within the Jagdgeschwader was identified by markings within the band; a narrow horizontal stripe was added for the II. Gruppe and a narrow vertical one for the III. Gruppe. The Gruppe markings were placed inside or on top of the bands. According to the book, the total width of the band was 900mm. This was often ignored.
German fighter units had their own markings system, which is summarized below. For the non-alphabetic symbols, the following convention is used: '~' indicates the a curved line, resembling an U with down-turned tips. '|' indicates a vertical line, '-' a horizontal line, and '+' a cross. '<' indicates a forward pointing '<', but when this is repeated as '<<', the second symbol was painted inside the first one, often as a triangle. For the circle I use 'o', and for the solid ball '·'
A Jagdgeschwader was made up of three (later four) Gruppen, indicated with Roman numbers. Each Gruppe had three Staffeln, of 12 aircraft, labelled with arabic numbers; these were numbered continously -- 7. Staffel was part of III. Gruppe. The point has the meaning of 'th' in German, so '2.' means '2nd'. The Staff (Stab) of each Gruppe had also four aircraft, and so did the staff of the geschwader. Theoretical strength was thus about 124 aircraft. The aircraft of the officers had special markings, placed in front of the German cross:
Geschwader Commander: <<| or <<-) Geschwader Vice-Commander: <| Geschwader first officer: <- Staff Major: <|| Geschwader technical officer: <| Gruppe Commander: << Gruppe vice-commander: < Gruppe technical officer: <o Staffel commander: 1
The Staffel commander, known as 'Staffelkapitan' (but not necessarily having the rank of captain) was sometimes also identified by a small flag on the antenna mast.
The Gruppen were indicated by symbols placed after the cross:
I. Gruppe (none) II. Gruppe - III. Gruppe ~ or | IV. Gruppe · or +
While Staff- and Gruppe-markings were in black with white borders, a distinction between Staffeln was made by varying the colors of the symbols and numbers of aircraft:
1. Staffel, 4. Staffel, 7. Staffel:white 2. Staffel, 5. Staffel, 8. Staffel:red 3. Staffel, 6. Staffel, 9. Staffel:yellow Additional Staffeln: blue
So an aircraft with a Yellow 5 and a ~ painted on it belonged to the 9. Staffel, part of the III. Gruppe. There were, however, many exceptions on this system, which was complicated and only applied to jagdgeschwader.
Code Band Type Year Unit -------- ---- ------------- ---- --------------- +H[y]L y Fw 189A-1 1943 Nahaufklaringsgruppe 1 +F[w] y Ju 87G-1 1943 10 (Panzer) Staffel, SL 2 <<+O[b] y Hs 123A 1942 4. Staffel, SL 2 1H+F[r]K w He 111H-6 1943 2. Staffel, KG 26 1H+AK He 111 1940 1. Staffel, KG 26 1K Storkampfgruppe Lw Kdo Don 1K+EL He 46E 1943 3. / NsGr 4 20+K2 He 70F-1 1936 3. Staffel, Aufklarungsgr. (F)/123 2Z+OP Bf 110G-4/R1 1944 6. Staffel, NJG 6 3C+GR Bf 110E-1/U1 1941 7. Staffel, NJG 4 3U+Z[r]S w Bf 110E 1942 8. / ZG 26 3W+OD Fokker C.VE 1944 NSGr 11 4D+HH Ju 88A-1 1940 1. Staffel, KG 30 4M+K[w]H Bf 110E-1 1942 Erganzungs-Zerstorergruppe 4R+UR Ju 88G-1 1944 7. Staffel, NJG 2 4X NSGr 7 5+~ Bf 109E-3 1940 III. Gruppe, JG 2 5+~[y] y Bf 109F-2 1941 III. Gruppe, JG 54 5+I Bf 109E-3 1940 9. Staffel, JG 26 52+H[w]7 Hs 123A 1937 7./St.G. 165=20 5B NSGr 10 5D+LK Hs 126B-1 1941 2.(H)/Aufklarungsgruppe 31 5F+RM Do 17P 1940 4. Staffel, (F)/14 5J+GN He 111H-16 1942 5./KG 4 5K+DA Do 17Z-2 1940 Stab, KG 3 5K+GA He 111H-22 1944 KG 3 6A NSGr 12 6G+LR Ju 87B-1 1940 4. Staffel, StG 1 6G+A[g]C y Ju 87B-2 1941 Stab 2, StG 1 6J NSGr 8 7A+NH w Ju 88D 1(F)/121 7R+BK ? Ar 196A 2. Staffel, SAGr 125 7R+E[r]K w Ar 196A-3 1942 2. Staffel, SAGr 125 7R+H[y]L w Bv 138C-1 1943 3. Staffel, SAGr 125 7R+PL ? Bv 138C-1 1943 SAGr 125 8C Storkampfgruppe Lw Kdo Ost 9[y]+ y Bf 109G-6 1944 I. Gruppe, JG 52 9K+F[w]H Me 262A-2a 1945 1. Staffel, KG 51 9W+C[y]L Ju 88G-6b 1944 I. Gruppe, NJG 101 B3+B[y]L w Ju 88A-4 1942 I. Gruppe, KG 54 CB+AF Hs 123A 1942 4./Sch. G. 2 D3+CH y Fw 58C 1943 1./Storkampfgruppe Luftflotte 6 D3 NSGr 2 D5+D[r]S Bf 110G-4d/R3 1943 8. Staffel, NJG 3 E8 NSGr 9 F6+AL w Ju 88A-4 Aufklarungsgruppe 122 F8+E[r]K y Fw 200C-3 1943 2. Staffel, KG 40 F8+GL Fw 200C-3/U1 3. Staffel, KG 40 G2+B[w]H Ju 188D-2 1944 1. Staffel, (F)/124 G[b]+ b Hs 129B-2 1943 4. Staffel, (Panzer) Slachtgescwhader G9+I[r]N y Bf 110C-4B 1940 5. Staffel, Zerstorergeschwader 1 H1+EN ? Fw 189A-1 1941 5. Aufklarungsstaffel (H)/12 L1+DH Bf 110D 1941 1. / NJG 3 L2+E[r]N Hs 123A 1940 5. Staffel, LG 2 M8+GP Bf 110C-3 1940 6. Staffel, Zerstorergeschwader 76 M9 Storkampfgruppe Lfl.4 Q1+J[b]C y Ju 88A-14 1944 Stab II. ZG 1. S2+B[w]C Ju 87B 1941 Stab 11., StG 77 S2+M[w]R Ju 87R 1941 7 / StG 77 S7+EN Ju 87G-1 1944 5. Staffel, 2/StG 3 S7+K[w]H w Ju 87B-2 1942 1 / StG 3 S7+K[r]S w Ju 87D-1/Trop 1942 8 / StG 3 S9+CB Bf 110D 1940 Stab/Erprobungsgruppe 210 S9+C[g]D y Bf 109E-7B 1941 Gruppe-Stab, III. Gruppe, SKG 210 T6+AN Ju 87B-2 1940 5. Staffel, StG 2 T6+B[y] y Ju 87D-1 1942 III. Gruppe, StG 3 T6+H[y]L Ju 87B-2 1940 3 / StG 2 U5+D[y]L Do 17Z-2 1940 3. Staffel, KG 2 U5+H[y]T Do 17Z-2 1940 9. Staffel, KG 2 U5+N[y]T Do 216E-2/R19 1942 9. Staffel, KG 2 U8+JN Bf 110C-1 1940 5. Staffel, Zerstorergeschwader 26 U9+JC Go 145A 1944 2. / NSGr 3 V4+EU He 111H-3 1940 KG 1 V7+1E[w] Fw 189A-2 1943 1. Staffel, AGr 32 V8 NSGr 1 G1+AN He 111P-2 1940 5. Staffel, KG 55AGr : Aufklaringsgruppe ErpG : Erprobungsgruppe JG : Jagdgeschwader KG : Kampfgeschwader NJG : Nachtjagdgeschwader NSGr : Nachtslachtgeschwader SAGr : See Aufklaringsgruppe Sch.G. : Slachtgruppe StG : Stukageschwader ZG : Zerstorergeschwader
While it is a well-recognised fact that the RLM had a clearly defined administrative intent to regulate Luftwaffe camouflage practices, it must also be distinctly understood that, as surviving documentary and photographic evidence reveals, there were many exceptions to its established edicts. Unfortunately, since very few original documents or diagrams are available from which definitive information can be obtained, much of the interpretation for these variations must rely heavily on informed and educated speculation based upon such material and knowledge as is currently available.
The Colors, Camouflage, and Markings of the Luftwaffe
An Annotated Bibliography
The paint schemes of the Luftwaffe in World War II is a contentious topic and one which authors invariably remark upon in reconsidering their previous statements and assumptions. It first was considered by Karl Ries, whose initial volume, Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in World War II, was published in 1963. A decade later, the topic was revisited by Kenneth Merrick in Luftwaffe Colors 1935-40, with two subsequent volumes by J. R. Smith and J. D. Gallaspy. In 1980, Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock updated this material in The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945. Merrick's work would serve as the standard review of the subject for the next twenty years, until Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945 was published by Michael Ullmann in 2002. Merrick and Kiroff then released their two-volume Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945, published in 2004 and 2005. It was followed by a revised second edition of Ullmann's work in 2008. With the exception of Merrick's second volume (2005) and the accompanying photo archive by Merrick et al. (2007) and the recent publication by Ketley (2012), all of these books now are out of print—the most elusive probably being Merrick's first volume.
The colors used by the Luftwaffe were defined by the State Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium), which established a standard for color shades, their production and application. These directives were promulgated through a series of service regulations (Luftwaffen Dienstvorschriften) designated L.Dv. 521. The earliest edition to survive (L.Dv. 521/1) is dated March 1938 and included a color table (Farbtontafel) that was to be matched by manufacturers, aircraft repair depots, and front-line units. Other regulations, some of which had been established before the formation of the RLM itself in 1933, limited the number of colors and encouraged production from pigments that could be obtained in Germany. At a time of limited hard currency, such policies simplified purchase and storage, and minimized dependence on imported raw materials. Paints were supplied by different companies and, although aircraft manufacturers could choose which commercial products to purchase, they all were to adhere to these uniform standards, as represented by the Farbtontafel and later by individual paint chips.
In November 1941, L.Dv. 521/1 was revised and a new edition (still identified as Ausgabe 1938) issued. It stipulated that the pre-war colors RLM 61/62/63 were no longer to be used for land-based combat aircraft. Instead, bombers were to use RLM 70/71 (and RLM 65 on the underside), and fighters and destroyers, RLM 74/75/76, a gray scheme that seems to have been introduced some months earlier, perhaps as early as March or April. (Tropical aircraft were to use RLM 79/80, with RLM 78 on the underside.)
In August 1943 (less than a month after the firebombing of Hamburg), after preparations that must have begun sometime earlier, there was a notice announcing the future introduction of RLM 81 and 82, which were to replace RLM 70 and 71. Almost a year later (in July 1944, by which time losses on the ground exceeded those in the air), this change was made official with a Sammelmitteilung or collective communication. When stocks of existing paint had been depleted, RLM 70 and 71 were to be discontinued and RLM 81 and 82 used instead. If necessary, any surplus quantities were to be mixed: RLM 70 with 82, and RLM 71 with 81.
By the next month, in August 1944, there was a second set of regulations, Sammelmitteilung Nr. 2, which directed that RLM 65 was to be replaced on the underside of aircraft by RLM 76, a lighter shade of blue (no doubt due to the fact that cobalt, its principal coloring pigment, was needed in the production of high-grade steel). RLM 70 was to be used only on propellers, and RLM 74 completely withdrawn. There also was reference to another color, RLM 83, which is mentioned here for the first time, although the context suggests that it had been announced months earlier (at least to the paint manufacturers) and already was in service. RLM 74 likely had been phased out by then, as there is no mention of mixing any surplus stock, to be replaced by RLM 83, even though there is no directive to this effect.
In a simplified scheme of RLM 75 and 83, these gray and dark-green colors were more suitable for defensive camouflage and still not overly compromised in the air. It is a change that must have occurred one or two months before, perhaps as early as June 1944. By September, the need to conceal aircraft on the ground precipitated a shift to an even darker combination of RLM 81 and 82 (over RLM 76 on the undercarriage) for all land-based aircraft. RLM 83 no longer was to be produced, although it did continue to be used.
RLM 70, 71, and 74 had oxides of chromium as their primary pigment. In increasingly short supply, it was an important raw material needed in the production of jet engines (fittingly, the camouflage colors of the Me 163, Me 262, and He 162 were RLM 81/82/76). There is no official description of RLM 81/82/83 nor any surviving paint samples. Dornier referred to both RLM 81 and 82 as Dunkelgrün; Messerschmitt and Blohm & Voss described them as Braunviolett and Hellgrün, respectively. Lacking sufficient documentation, RLM 83 is another enigma. Although aircraft samples show considerable variation in shade, it seems likely that RLM 81/82/83 all were reissues of the nearly identical colors RLM 61/62/64 that had appeared in the Farbtontafel of 1936 but been withdrawn from service by the beginning of the war.
The Farbtontafel of 1936 was the first color table to be issued by the RLM and set the standard for those that followed: paint chips pasted on an outlined chart and identified by RLM number and name—although there were not always official color descriptions, which were thought to be of secondary importance. Samples not available at the time of printing (or issued after November 1941), such as the desert colors RLM 78 and 79, were represented by loose chips, which then were stuck on a blank page in the manual.
Such a card is inserted in the first volume of Ries' pioneering work, although he does not refer to it there but only later in his second volume, where the printed insert, which is titled Farbtonkarte nach LDv 521/2 November 1941, is correctly identified as L.Dv. 521/1. The Farbtontafel zur Behandlungs und Anwendungsvorschrift für Flugzeuglacke ("Color Table for Treatment and Application Regulations for Aircraft Lacquers") from 1938 is provided by Smith et al. and Merrick and Kiroff (2004), whose facsimile of the original includes matte paint chips. No single chart ever represented all RLM colors, however. Ries, for example, identified 21 colors (from RLM 00 [Wasserhell], a colorless lacquer, to RLM 76); Smith et al. and Warnecke & Böhm, 30 (from RLM 02 to 83); Merrick and Kiroff (2005), 29 (from RLM 00 to "84"), and Ullmann, 44 (from RLM 00 to 83).
In the Farbtontafel of RLM colors above, several shades have been omitted, including silver (Silber, RLM 01), black (Schwarz, RLM 22), and white (Weiss, RLM 21); additional marking colors, such as brown (Braun, RLM 26) and wine red (Weinrot, RLM 28); export and maritime colors; pre-war colors such as RLM 61/62/63/64; RLM 66 (Schwarzgrau) and RLM 72 (Grün); and the pale green-and-gray blue "sky colors" (Hellgrünblau) used at the end of the war, sometimes conveniently but erroneously referred to as "RLM 84," which may have been a variation of RLM 76 but more likely was a distinct but unnamed color of its own.
There are differences (some subtle, others obvious) in all these colors, and it is difficult to know which truly are accurate—or rather, which are most authoritative. Smith et al., for example, declare their printed chart to be "very accurate," its colors having been "very carefully hand-mixed" to provide a "very precise reference." The paint chips commissioned from Warnecke & Böhm GmbH are of interest in that they were provided by one of the Luftwaffe's principal suppliers. The reference in L.Dv. 521/1 (1941) to the formulations "of an original manufacturer" is, in fact, to Warnecke & Böhm. Certified to be authentic, the chips have been matched to archived material and by spectrophotometric analysis to original specimens, which themselves had been formulated from lead-based paints. Even though the manufacturer considers them to be "the most accurate and authentic source for actual color standards" as specified by the RLM, the publisher is more cautious and feels compelled to comment that paint often was thinly applied and varied from company to company. In fact, the Ikarol lacquers developed by Warnecke & Böhm, which could be applied in one coat, were in such demand that they were produced under license by ten different subcontractors, many their former competitors. Merrick and Hitchcock prudently limit their remarks to the subtle variations even in official color cards and say only that their listing of color chips is comprehensive. Here, the publisher is not so circumspect and guarantees them to be "perfect matches to the originals in both color and finish" and the work itself "the most authoritative and complete record of paint samples and related material yet published."
As more information has become available, Merrick and Kiroff reconsidered the subject in two magisterial volumes. The result is "as complete an analysis of the colours, markings and usage of German aviation paints as possible." By using original formulations, chemicals and pigments, and manufacturing equipment, they feel confident that they have provided "the only accurate source of Luftwaffe colours produced since manufacture ceased at war's end." And one cannot help but be impressed by the rough matte feel of these large paint chips. Such was the cost of production that the eventual price of the book had to be increased. (A quarter of a century earlier, Smith et al. had made a similar complaint, ruefully remarking that the color card had cost nearly half as much to produce as the book itself.) In his brief comment on his own tipped-in color chart, Ullmann admits that, although the intention was to match specified colors, there nevertheless were many variations in shade, differences which had to be accepted then and now.
It should be appreciated that RLM colors did not necessarily match those applied by the manufacturer or subcontractor. Paint formulations could vary from one batch to another and colors thinned or combined, especially toward the end of the war or in the field, when supplies became more scarce and conditions for proper application, more difficult. It was not enough that pigments be thoroughly mixed but that nozzle settings and air pressure, viscosity and proper spraying distance, room temperature and humidity, surface preparation and drying times all accorded to regulation. Once delivered from the factory, colors also oxidized, weathered, and faded—especially under the strong Mediterranean sun, where yellow, blues, and grays were particularly susceptible to ultraviolet light.
Attribution is complicated, too, by the fact that most photographs used in identification are in black and white, which makes it difficult, for example, to distinguish between RLM 70, 71, 81, and 83. Color photographs, which may seem more reliable, can be affected by shifts in the dyes of the film, which themselves have different light sensitivity. Even when published, photographs are subject to the vagaries of the printing process, especially if the print is not taken from the original negative but is a copy (or even a copy of a copy). Finally, there is the phenomenon of "scale effect," in which the appearance of color is affected by the perspective in viewing it: the further one is from a plane, for example, the lighter its color appears to be. Haze and mist (due to particulates in the air such as dust, smoke, or moisture) introduce a veil that reduces the perceived saturation of colors, some of which are more affected by scale than others—but all tending to fade to neutral gray over distance.
Nor do these colors unerringly duplicate those sampled. Even within the same color, the average RGB value of a five-pixel square sample can show tonal variations. They all will look different again when viewed on another monitor, given that the representation of color is device dependent. But none of these caveats really are significant. Whatever errors there are in the fidelity of the colors, they themselves are consistent, each having been scanned on the same flat-bed scanner, edited with the same software, viewed on the same calibrated high-resolution monitor, and utilizing the same color management profile. The intention, therefore, is not to present a definitive catalog of official RLM colors, which is not possible in any event, but simply to demonstrate that, in spite of sincere claims that the respective color charts are accurate (and there is no reason to assume that they are not), there still are variations between them—so much so that a single authoritative standard for RLM colors no longer seems possible.
Although "paint" and "color" are used here, the terms in RLM regulations were more precise: Lacke ("lacquer"), which consists of a binder dissolved in a solvent and colored by pigment that hardens or dries as the solvent evaporates, and Farbton ("color tone" or "shade"), the color's hue.
Ideally, a plane at 1/48 scale should look the same from one foot as a full-sized aircraft does at 48 feet. But the modeler may not know whether the manufacturer has applied scale effect in its paint formulation (and to what degree) or, if paints are identified by a RLM number, which standard was adhered to. There also are conversion charts with which to contend and even the temperature of the light source illuminating the model, the colors of which will appear differently under an incandescent or florescent bulb than the original aircraft in daylight. For the flight simulation enthusiast who wants to "skin" a plane, color fidelity is less problematic. One need only sample from the standards above.
References: Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in World War II (1963-1972) by Karl Ries, Jr.; The Modeller's Luftwaffe Painting Guide: A Supplement to Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings Vols 1, 2 & 3 (1979) by J. R. Smith, G. G. Pentland, and R. P. Lutz; The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 (1980) by Kenneth A. Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock; Luftwaffe Color Chart (1998) colors authenticated by Warnecke & Böhm GmbH; Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945 (2002) by Michael Ullmann; Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945: Volume One: Pre-War Development, Paint Systems, Composition, Patterns, Applications, Day Fighters (2004) by K. A. Merrick and Jürgen Kiroff; Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945: Volume Two: Code Systems & Markings, Night Fighters, Ground-Attack, Reconnaissance, Bombers, Maritime, Transports, Trainers (2005) by K. A. Merrick and Jürgen Kiroff.
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