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Camouflage of the Do 335:
A Critical Re-evaluation

By Michael Ullmann 


do335cs_1.jpg (31003 bytes)



1. Introduction


This short article was written with the intent to conclude the ongoing discussion on the identity of the paint colours applied to the Dornier 335.  Using official documentation, this writer hopes to provide conclusive answers to the following important questions:

  • What were the actual camouflage colours applied to the Do 335?

  • What were the camouflage colour combinations? RLM 70/71, RLM 81/82, one or more combinations of these four colours, or unknown colours?

  • What colour was applied to the aircraft’s underside: RLM 65 or RLM 76?

  • What evidence exists to confirm the conclusions described herein? 



2. About the Author


Michael Ullmann is an employee of Dornier GmbH in Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance, Germany and is responsible for the preparation of technical documentation for equipment currently in use with the German armed forces (Bundeswehr).  He has been seriously researching Luftwaffe camouflage colours for over eight years, actively collaborating with other well-known authors and researchers, and is the author of several self-published books on the subject.  His latest work, “Oberflächenschutzverfahren und Anstrichstoffe der Luftwaffe 1935-1945“ (Surface Protection Procedures and Paint-Materials of the Luftwaffe 1935–1945) was published by Bernard & Graefe in 2000, has received critical acclaim from recognised researchers and enthusiasts alike.  Hikoki Publications will publish an expanded English language version of this book (with actual paint chips) in early 2001 under the title “Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945”.



3. Definitions and Specifications


To better understand the subject of Luftwaffe camouflage paints, and specifically those relating to the Do 335, it is necessary to define several items and concepts.


3.1     Role of the Do 335

In 1942, the Reichsluftministerium (RLM) tendered a formal request to the German aviation industry for proposals for a fast-bomber (“Schnellkampfflugzeug”).  In response to the request, Dornier submitted its P 231/3 design for consideration, and a development contract for three prototypes was awarded in early 1943.  An important fact to remember for this discussion is that the RLM identified the Do 335 as a “single-seat, twin-engine “combat aircraft” (in German; “Kampfflugzeug”).


3.2 The L.Dv 521/1 "Behandlungs - and Anwendungsvorschrift für Flugzeuglacke" Teil 1, Motorflugzeuge, November 1941 (Treatment - and Application Order of Aircraft Paints, Part 1, Powered Aircraft)

During the period of development for the Do 335, the L.Dv 521/1 (1941 edition) was the current official document specifying the particular camouflage colours to be used on all Luftwaffe aircraft.  It clearly indicated the required paint colours for combat aircraft as follows:



The colours 61, 62 and 63 are no longer to be used. 70 and 71 replaces these colours for all land based combat aircraft, 72 and 73 for all naval combat aircraft and 74, 75 and 76 for fighters and destroyers. 

To determine the colour for the camouflage, determine as follows:

  1. Trainer (High visibility paint)

  2. Fighter (Colours 74, 75, 76, 65)

  3. Destroyer (as for b)

  4. Bomber and transport (Colours 70, 71, 65)

  5. Naval aircraft (Colours 73, 72, 65)

  6. Tropical aircraft (Colours 78, 79, 80)



On the basis of this document and specifications, the Do 335, a fast-bomber (“Schnellkampfflugzeug”), was to be painted in RLM 70, 71 and 65.


3.3     The Luftwaffendienstvorschrift D. (Luft) T., 2335 A-1 Teil 0

This Part 0 of the descriptive handbook for the Do 335 contains general statements about the aircraft. It is of particular importance for this discussion that Part 0 contains a three-side-drawing of the aircraft’s camouflage (Chapter D).  The Handbook in turn references the camouflage drawing to the Dornier construction drawing “D0 335 A-0, Sheet 10”. Accordingly, this drawing was used for identifying the camouflage colours, noted there as:

  • Upperside: Dunkelgrün 81 / Dunkelgrün 82
  • Underside: Hellblau 65
  • Propellers: Grün 70

 The Do335 aircraft Handbook was issued on 22 December 1944 but with the subject information dated a month earlier, 26 November 1944.  In the context of these two different dates, it is therefore important to understand the process of issuing of Handbooks for the Luftwaffe, why such variations occur, and, their significance. 

The draft of an aircraft Handbook was written by its manufacturer (here, Dornier), and then submitted to the RLM.  Simultaneously, the Handbook was delivered to the testing-command and to the responsible proving grounds, like Peenemünde, Travemünde or Tarnewitz, for additional review.  All these very different departments made alterations and/or corrections to the Handbook based on their own work, and simultaneously submissions based on the ongoing technical development of the airplane had an influence on the Handbook.   

Alterations and corrections to the Handbook could be multiple and various.  For example, they could range from simple things like misspellings to items relating to revised technical content or impending directives that would regulate the actual layout of a handbook.  These directives were produced by the RLM, and in the case of the Collected-Communications (Sammelmitteilungen) 1 and 2, directly influenced the camouflage of the Do 335.  Eventually however, the Handbooks must go to press to be made available concurrently with the aircraft’s actual production.  In the case of the Do 335 Handbook, the printing deadline was probably November 1944, which is supported by the notation “Information dated 26 November 1944 “on the Handbook’s cover page.  

At the time of printing, all information that was available up to that point was to be included in the Handbook.  Any new information received after the press run naturally was not included in the book.  Given the circumstances of the time and the existing but rudimentary information-technology (telephone, mail, telegraph), it was indeed difficult to collect all the required information in a timely manner.  Normally, information was distributed to individual specialists and organisations in different locations and was then circulated between them.  Importantly, the checking of the Handbook drafts was occurring at the same time the specialists’ reviews were taking place and being collected.  Once received, all material and data had to be checked, incorporated into the document, and then prepared for actual printing (type-setting, photography, layout, engraving, press set-up, acquisition of inks and paper and so forth).  The time necessary for this entire laborious process to be completed suggests that for the Do 335 the actual deadline for receipt of all information and revisions from individual specialists, teams and institutions could not have been any later than sometime in mid-1944.  This interpretation has a profound influence on the evolution of the Do 335’s camouflage.  


3.4     Plans for camouflage painting of the Do 335 from Luftwaffe Regulation D.Luft.T. 2335 A-1 Part 0




3.5     The Colours RLM 81/82/83

A mysterious air continues to surround these colours.  The answer to the simple question remains elusive: What did these colours look like?  Although it is surely one of the most actively discussed subjects in interested circles, the theories have yet to provide definitive answers in this lively debate.  Fortunately, some documents still exist that shine light into this darkness. 

As described above, the Do 335 was to be camouflaged in accordance with its task in RLM 70/71/65. The1 July 1944 RLM Sammelmitteilung 1 provides the following statements regarding the introduction of RLM81/82: 


Comparison of this information in Sammelmitteilung 1 with the Handbook drawing of the Do 335 obviously reveals the influence of this information on the aircraft’s camouflage:

  1. 81/82 as a substitute for 70/71. The drawing shows that RLM was simply exchanging 70/71 with the newer RLM 81/82.

  2. The layout of the camouflage scheme doesn't change in accordance with the Sammelmitteilung 1! 

  3. Aircraft plants were required to report the transaction of the colour change to the RLM. Here, the document dates are especially important. The Sammelmitteilung 1 dates from July 1944.  Dornier made the required alteration to the Do 335 drawing accordingly and reported this to the RLM.  Review and approval of the reported alteration took several months and so consequently only the draft of the revised drawing was included in the Handbook.

  4. It is important to note that there is no mention of changing underside colours in the Sammelmitteilung 1, and RLM 65 remained as the required colour for the Do 335 in accordance with the L.Dv. 521/1.  This in turn reveals that the revised Dornier drawing appears only in the Handbook and that Colour 76 was not included in the change.

 So, what did these new colours 81 and 82 actually look like?   

The original research on these colours was conducted in the 1970s by Smith and Gallaspy, Merrick and Merrick and Hitchcock and were based on analysis of paint samples from surviving aircraft, RLM document, and, company documents.  When all these data were evaluated, there existed considerable confusion in precisely identifying these colours.  Both colours 81 and 82 were discovered to have at least three descriptive names: Braunviolett / Dunkelgrün / Olivbraun and Hellgrün / Dunkelgrün / Lichtgrün respectively.  Pointedly, these names were all sourced from aircraft manufacturers’ documents and no single RLM document has yet been discovered that unequivocally assigns an official name to colours 81 and 82. 

Information on colour 83 is equally confusing. Still, only one RLM-Document exist or better today known that confirms the existence of 83, this Document is the Sammelmitteilung 2. Again, the colour is known by two names: Grün and Dunkelgrün, the former officially known as simply Grün while the latter designation is an interpretive one based on researchers study of photographs, wreckage fragments, crash reports and the like. 

The Dunkelgrün colour description in the Do 335 Handbook for both colours 81and 82 is at variance with the current state of knowledge on late-war Luftwaffe colours.  While no official RLM documentation has yet been discovered to confirm their descriptive names, those noted in the Messerschmitt Me 262 OS-Liste of 23 February 1945 best match their appearance as preserved on Me 262s and other aircraft: Colour 81 Braunviolett and Colour 82 Hellgrün. 


3.6     Determination of the Underside Colour

The Do 335-drawing fixes RLM 65 as the underside colour since the Sammelmitteilung 1 makes no statement on changing underside colours.  However, Sammelmitteilung 2 of 15 August 1944 addresses this subject with the following:



This instruction therefore states that instead RLM 65, RLM 76 was introduced as its replacement.  This Sammelmitteilung also includes the reason for this change:



The discontinuation of RLM 65 was undoubtedly due to industry-wide standardisation initiatives, which resulted in fewer paints to produce, store and ship. 

As in the previous sections, the issue date of the Sammelmitteilung 2 is also important.  These instructions, issued on 15 August 1944, apparently could not be incorporated into the Do 335 Handbook even though they appeared three months earlier than the latter’s printing.  Still however, based on inspection of the NASM Do 335 in 1973 prior to its later restoration and repainting by Dornier, it can be regarded as highly probable that all Do 335s produced from late-autumn 1944 onward had their undersides finished in RLM 76.  Finally, the document reconfirmed the exclusive use of RLM 70 for propellers and is noted in the Do 335 Handbook camouflage drawing.  However, for some reason Dornier identifies colour 70 Schwarzgrün as simply “Grün”.



4. Do 335 Aircraft and Painting Chronology


From the facts presented in the prior chapters, documents and other information, a diagram can be created where the temporal context of the chronology of events related to the Do 335 can be graphically illustrated.  



On the basis of this diagram, it is possible to determine, with high probability, which colours specific Do 335 aircraft were painted.  However, it is important to recognize that the time interval from approximately June to October 1944 was a period of transition, and, some confusion.  There was by necessity a transitional period from the deletion of the older colours to introduction and full implementation and usage of the new RLM colours 81 and 82.  As confirmed by official documents, the concurrent use and application of both the new and old colours together on an aircraft were permissible and indeed encouraged.  

Photographs of Do 335 aircraft invariably reveal variable contrast between the two uppersurface colours.  Early Versuch-series have a low to moderate contrast between the two uppersurface colours and not the noticeable contrast between Braunviolett and Hellgrün as seen on late-war fighter aircraft such as the Me 262.  In all probability these aircraft were painted in RLM 70 Schwarzgrün and RLM 71 Dunkelgrün.   

For later A-series aircraft such as the NASM Do 335 A-02 (WNr.240102 / VG+PH) both colour and black/white photos show a somewhat greater colour contrast.  Personal inspection and sampling of paint by Thomas Hitchcock in October 1973 indicated that this aircraft was painted in a medium and dark green, definitely not 70/71.  Presuming the colour designations for the two colours in the Dornier Do 335 Handbook was correct (and by implication official RLM designations), these two greens were labelled Dunkelgrün 81 and Dunkelgrün 82.  However, comparison of the lighter colour with that found on the NASM Me 262 A-1a (WNr.500571) provided a perfect match.  On the Me 262 this colour was designated by Messerschmitt in its 23 February 1945 Oberflächenschutzliste as Hellgrün 82.  The darker green was completely different than the brown shade on the Me 262 yet matched perfectly with the green on the Point Cook, Australia Me 163.  Confusion?  No, because what we have are perfect examples of the different hue’s of 81.


4.1     Color Combination 81/82 or What?

As shown above the Do 335 has to be painted in 81/82 accordingly the drawing set and the drawing in their L.Dv.  Perhaps it is hard to believe for someone who is not a German, but this was an order and an order had to be obeyed.  It is easy to imagine that the paint shop manager ordered the paints for applying the camouflage pattern accordingly to the drawing set for the Do 335.  He received from Dornier stocks of paint in cans and on the can label was printed, according to regulations in the L.Dv. 521/1 issue November 1941, the colour numbers, in this case 81 and 82.  But what was the hue of the paint inside the can?


4.2     Different Hues of Colours 81 and 82

The very different hues of colour 81 as identified from actual preserved aircraft and paint chip samples is a reflection of German industry’s response to the Allied bombing offensive.  This included various economy measures, substitution of raw materials, relocation of plants and factories, and the dispersal and subcontracting of war production facilities.  Today, it is a well known fact that because of the bombing raids on all major industrial plants in Germany, in late 1943 / early 1944 war production and manufacturing shifted to smaller companies and firms outside the big cities.  This is important to remember when considering the fates of German paint manufacturers who produced and delivered paints to the various aircraft plants.  For example, Herberts, the large paint company located in Wuppertal was completely knocked out during bombing raids in 1944, yet the smaller Wiederhold company located in Hilden (a small town west of Düsseldorf) was never touched by bombs and produced paints until the end of the war. 

The Do 335 was built either at Friedrichshafen or Oberpfaffenhofen (today a suburb of Munich) and the Me 163 was built by Messerschmitt during its production phase at three different locations: Obertraubling, Böblingen and also at the Junkers factory at Dessau (Junkers was a subcontractor).  It is very important to realize that Böblingen was only about 100 km northwest of Friedrichshafen and in September 1944 the complete production plant, including all spare parts and paint stocks was relocated to Junker at Dessau.  It is very probable that these two plants both received required paints from the same paint manufacturer and this resulted in the Me 163 and the Do 335 being painted with the same paints having the same hues.  

Unfortunately, no records exist today that give us information about the paint manufacturers that supplied camouflage paints to Messerschmitt and Dornier during the war.  But why was the 81 of the Me 262 so different in their hue that that seen on the Me 163 and other aircraft?  First of all, production of the Me 262 reached its peak late in 1944 / early 1945 and was produced / completed in various locations scattered over middle and southern Germany.  During the early introduction phase of colours 81/82 the RLM was unable to provide genuine and approved paint samples of 81/82 to the contracted paint manufacturers.  This resulted in paint cans that were identified as containing colours 81 or 82 but the actual paint inside had varying hue depending on the manufacturer.  Later, the standard was set and therefore the Me 262 was painted in the official hue of dark brown (Braunviolett) as determined by the RLM.  

With the above information and interpretations, one might legitimately ask:  Was the Point Cook Me 163 was painted in two shades of 81?  Or, was the other colour in fact 82 and the bright green on the Do 335 colour 81?  The evidence suggests that this may indeed be possible.  

While accepting possible slight variations due to the printing process, colour photos of the Point Cook Me 163 in its original finish (Smith & Gallaspy and Merrick & Hitchcock) were compared with colour photos of the fuselage and wing of the Do 335 (Smith, Creek & Hitchcock) and, reproduced paint chips for the NASM Do 335 (Merrick & Hitchcock).  This writer believes that these images and paint samples provide evidence that both aircraft received the same paint colours which are informally termed here as the “early 81/82 scheme”.  This scheme was in existence prior to the setting the standard for 81/82 that was produced in mid-1944 from a paint company located in the southern part of Germany that supplied Dornier and Messerschmitt’s co-contractor Klemm in Böblingen with these “not-standardised” colours 81 and 82.  

But some questions remain.  Discussions with Thomas Hitchcock (D.E. Brown) confirmed that the dark brown from the NASM Me 262 and Point Cook Me 163 were of the same shade, and, the bright green from the Me 262 and the Do 335 prior to their respective restorations were of the identical hue.  Yet the bright medium green from the Me 163 and dark green from the Do 335 were different.  Is this the evidence that the Me 163 was painted in 81/83 and the Do 335 in 81/82, or, 82 and a darker shade of 83?  This writer cannot answer this question, but based on the evidence to date and previous discussion believes that the Do 335 A-series aircraft were painted in what I informally term as the “early 81/82 scheme”.  It is important to note that the NASM Do 335 was built at least several months earlier than the Point Cook Me 163, and, that colour 83 appeared later than 81/82 according to the RLM Sammelmitteilungen 1 and 2.  Therefore, it is possible to consider that the Me 163 was painted in two shades of 81; one being the standardized shade and the other the “early” shade from the relocated Böblingen-stocks.



5. Suggested  Colours for Modelling the Do 335


81/82, 81/83 or 82/83?  A mass of questions remain, but this writer believes that the most important advice to the modeler is to focus on a particular aircraft’s correct colour shades and not to be confused by the paints’ RLM number.  Based on this writer’s research as presented here, it is therefore recommended that modelers paint their Do 335 kit (A-series aircraft) in a Olive Drab shade of RLM 81 and one of the available bright green shades of RLM 82 that is often mislabeled by model paint manufacturers as RLM 83.  Paint chips based on samples from the NASM Do 335 presented in Merrick and Hitchcock’s “Monogram Painting Guide (p.37) closely approximate the aircraft’s probable colours.



6. Remaining Questions and Answers


The one of the most important question concerns Dornier’s single descriptive name of Dunkelgrün for colours 81 and 82 as appearing in the aircraft Handbook.  RLM never issued color names for hues beyond 73, because a colour name was from the point of view from RLM no longer necessary.  The reason for this change was due to the use of very simple mechanical computers (called the “Holerith-Maschine”) for military logistics of the entire German armed forces.  The “Holerith-Maschine” could only perform operations with numbers and not names or something similar.  The use of this machine was also the reason for the change of colour denotations for primers and so on from dashes “- -“ to “99”.  Therefore, in being left with simple numeric designations for the various paint colours, all aircraft and paint manufacturers were forced to provide their own names for the colours though were restricted to internal use only.  This, and the variation in paint hues from the respective suppliers are the main reasons for the existence of different names and hues for colours 81 and 82 during the early phase of their introduction during the second half of 1944.  It is probable that researchers have yet to fully appreciate the difficulties experienced by the German aviation industry during the last year of the war, and more importantly, their responses to these conditions. 

Regrettably, no documents exist in the Dornier archives over this critical summer period in 1944 regarding the evolution of Luftwaffe camouflage and markings.  However, the available evidence indicates that Dornier never used any of the RLM recommended transitional camouflage schemes during this period.  This writer hopes that someday more official drawing sets and Oberflächenschutzlisten for late war aircraft will be discovered to shine more light into this darkness, especially documents that will give us a more detailed understanding of colour 83.



7. Acknowledgements


The author wishes to extend his sincere thanks to David E. Brown for editing, revising and critically reviewing this document as well as providing input into the evolution of the late-war colours.  David E. Brown in turn expressly thanks Thomas H. Hitchcock for sharing information on his study of the camouflage colours for the NASM Do335.




8. References


Bentley, A.L., 1975:  Warbirds Dornier Do335 – The Luftwaffe’s Arrow.  Scale Models, Vol.6, No. 70, July 1975, pp.348-357. 

Brown, D.E., 1997:  Commentary on the evolution and usage of Luftwaffe RLM colours 81, 82 & 83.  Experten Historical Aviation Research (Hyperscale website). 

Lutz, R.P., 1983:  Dornier 335 in detail and closeup.  Airfoil, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1983, pp.26-39. 

Lutz, R.P., 1982:  Do-335.  IPMS-USA Quarterly Vol.17, No.4, pp.5-18. 

Merrick, K.A., and Hitchcock, T.H., 1980:  The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945.  Monogram Aviation Publications, Boyleston, 144p. (including Addenda, Errata & Omission Supplements – 5p.). 

Smith, J.R. and Creek, E.J., 1983:  Dornier 335 – Monogram Close-Up 21.  Monogram Aviation Publications, Boyleston, 33p. 

Smith, J.R., Creek, E.J., and Hitchcock, T.H., 1997:  Dornier 335 Arrow – Monogram Monarch Series Number 2.  Monogram Aviation Publications, Sturbridge, 184p. 

Smith, J.R, and Gallaspy, J.D., 1977:  Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings 1935-1945: Volume 3.  Kookaburra Technical Publications, Melbourne, 164p. 

Ullmann, M., 2000:  Oberflächenschutzverfahren und Anstrichstoffe der Luftwaffe 1935-1945 (Surface Protection Procedures and Paint-Materials of the Luftwaffe 1935–1945). Bernard & Graefe, Bonn, 296p. (to be published in English by Hikoki in early 2001 under the title “Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945”)


9. Documents

Luftwaffendienstvorschrift D.(Luft).T., 2335 A-1 (Dornier 335), 22   December 1944. 

Luft Dienstvorschiften L.Dv.521/1:  Behandlungs - und Anwendungsvorschrift für Flugzeuglacke" Teil 1, Motorflugzeuge, November 1941 (Treatment - and Application Order of Aircraft Paints, Part 1, Powered Aircraft) 

Sammelmitteilung Nr.1, 01 July 1944. 

Sammelmitteilung Nr.2, 15 August 1944.

Text & Images Copyright © 2000 by Michael Ullmann
except Title Image Copyright © 1998 by Charlie Swank
Page Created 18 October, 2000
Last Updated 15 December, 2004

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