Late-War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage
Modellers' Paint Reference Guide
by Brett Green
Part Six of "Late War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage" presents a model paint reference guide for the RLM colours discussed in Parts One, Three, Four and Five. Some notes on enamel vs. acrylic paints and thinning paints for airbrushing are also included. Comments and additional mixing suggestions are most welcome.
It is important to note that a number of these German late-war camouflage paints displayed wide variations in colour and shade. This was particularly the case with the mixed "sky" colours and RLM 81 Brown-Violet. RLM 81 ranged in shade from a dark red-brown colour to a fairly pale olive drab.
To further complicate the matter, even standardised RLM colours suffered from fading, weathering and repairs; or simply looked different depending on the available light and the observers distance from the aircraft.
This means that the modeller will have to take into account the scale of the model, the condition of the paintwork on the subject aircraft and their personal preference for a light, dark or bright finish. A great many of these variables are entirely subjective. For the reasons stated above, the model paint guide may not strictly relate to the Federal Standard Equivalent colours noted for RLM colours in previous parts of this series. The "correct" colour is largely judged by the eye of the individual modeller.
The following table may assist the modeller to select their preference from a range of
possible shades and brands. My preferred mixing options are highlighted in green:
Table 1: Suggested RLM Model Paint Equivalents
.Another Mixing Suggestion
E. Brown Ryle of KommanDeur Decals has offered his suggestions for various shades of RLM 81 Brown-Violet.
Mix 50% AeroMaster RLM 81 and 50% Floquil RLM 81. Brown suggests that this colour should be used on the upper wings of < .+ -, W.Nr. 211934 and upper cowl of Black 3, W.Nr. 210239, on KommanDeur Decal sheets KD4801FD and KD4701FW respectively. He also notes that RLM 81 may be obtained by mixing RLM 70 Black Green with RLM 23 Red at a ratio of 5 parts Black-Green to 2 parts Red. This is one of the RLM 81 shades used in the Monogram Luftwaffe Painting Guide, and the colour Floquil used for its RLM 81.
Enamel paints generally provide a tougher finish and a higher gloss, while acrylic
paints dry much faster and are less messy to clean up. Some modellers claim that acrylic
paints have a grainy finish and are more challenging when used for fine-line and mottle
work. However, I have had no problems getting a very good finish from acrylic paints. It
is entirely a matter of personal choice.
A Note on Thinning Paints
Model paints must be thinned for airbrushing.
The amount of thinner depends on many factors. These include the brand of paint, the temperature, the air pressure being used, the width of the desired spray and the required thickness of the paint coat. Most manufacturers will recommend a thinning ratio on the paint jar, but the best recipe for success is experimentation and practice. The typical ratio range of thinner to paint is probably between 20/80 and 50/50.
When spraying a Luftwaffe mottled finish, or fine-line work, a higher proportion of
thinner may be required.
Thinning enamel paints is pretty straightforward - Aeromaster, Humbrol, Tamiya and
Gunze all offer enamel thinners, or modellers may choose to use a generic brand of Mineral
Gunze and Tamiya Acrylic paints are quite tolerant to most thinners. I prefer to use either an iso-propylene alcohol thinner (actually a suspension base for medical creams available from pharmacies) or Tamiyas Acrylic Thinner, but other thinning media will work too. Methylated spirits may be used to thin acrylic paint but take care as it will accelerate the drying process. This may result in a slightly "chalky" finish. Water may also be used, but this will slow the drying process resulting in the risk of paint runs or overly thick coats.
Some acrylic paints are more temperamental. Aeromaster, Floquil, Polly "S" and Pactra acrylics may only be thinned with distilled water or Polly "S" thinners. Even then, when used for fine-line spraying, these paints will tend to clog in the airbrush and "string". One way to correct this problem is to add a few drops of Acrylic Retarder Medium to the thinned paint mix. This will slow the drying process enough to allow very fine work. Acrylic Retarder is available under many different brands from art supply shops.
The table above will be a starting point for these base colours. Happy painting!
Monochrome photograph Copyright (c) 1998, Charlie Swank. All rights reserved.
Material appearing within this document may not be copied, stored or reproduced in any
device or publication, in whole or in part, without the expressed written consent of the
Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage - Part One
Commentary on the Evolution and Usage of
Luftwaffe RLM Colours 81, 82 & 83 by David E. Brown
and Painting a Late War Bf 109