Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Late-War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage

Part Three

Commentary on the Evolution and Usage of
Luftwaffe RLM Colours 81, 82 & 83

By David E. Brown

David E. Brown is an enthusiastic researcher into the complex and sometimes contradictory area of Luftwaffe camouflage colours. He will be known to many Luftwaffe enthusiasts through his various postings to RMS newsgroup, and as one-half of "Experten Decals".

David has kindly granted permission to reproduce his excellent and very comprehensive chronological commentary on the use of late-war colours on Luftwaffe aircraft. This piece is not strictly limited to discussion about colour usage on Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. However, David's work is largely based on RLM instructions and other primary source documents. This complements and adds depth to the first two parts which are based solely on personal observation of one aircraft.


Late-War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage - Back to Part One

1. Introduction
2. History of WNr.163824
3. The Treloar Centre Bf 109 G-6 - General Features
4. Camouflage and Markings of WNr.163824
Table 1:   Colours Used on the Fuselage of WNr. 163824
5. Conclusion

Late-War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage - Back to Part Two

6. WNr. 163824 Photo Gallery
7. Links
8. References

Late-War Luftwaffe Fighter Camouflage - Part Three

Commentary on the Evolution and Usage of Luftwaffe RLM Colours 81, 82 & 83 by David E. Brown

Experten Historical Aviation Research, Inc.

Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright (c) 1997, David E. Brown. 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, for the purpose of profit without the expressed written consent of the author. This material may be used for personal use and the free exchange of information if appropriate credit is given to the author. Many thanks.


Like many others, I too have been confused with the apparent complexity and paradoxes surrounding the Luftwaffe’s late-war colours, RLM 81, 82 and 83. After getting tired of bouncing back and forth between various contradictory references, I decided to compile all that has been published to date on these colours in a single document and try to sort out the facts using a chronological framework as a basis. This was created strictly for my own use and was a rather rough compilation with lot’s of notes, comments and quotations (plus expletives!).

However, my good friend Steve Slade has bugged me for some time to tidy it up a bit and some day post it to r.m.s., much like I did a while ago on the question of the Luftwaffe shades informally (and incorrectly) designated "RLM 84". In the course of picking away at this file I began to think somewhat more deeply about the whole question of these colours and try to make some sense of it all. This is the result.

To create this compilation, I have studied the literature and documents available to me and in addition to noting the dates and identities of the Luftwaffe and RLM orders as well as Allied intelligence crash reports, I have quoted those portions which are relevant to the late-war camouflage colours. Following these, I have attached my own comments, interpretations and questions. I believe that the reader will be best served by having primary data in front of him and thus draw his own conclusions on the true nature and use of these colours, and may or may not wish to consider comments made by myself or other commentators. As a service to readers, I have also included my commentary on "RLM 84" which was posted on the internet discussion group "rec.models.scale" in 1996.

Finally, the only comment that can be considered as an unequivocal statement of fact is this: This is definitely NOT the last word on this subject! Enjoy.


• Notes •

1) The following are translations of German terms used throughout this text:

- Luft Druckvorschiften Air Service Manuals

- Oberflächenschutzliste Surface Protection Schedule (camouflage pattern)

- Reichsluftministerium RLM - German Air Ministry

- Sammelmitteilung Collected Instructions

- Versuchsnummer Test or experimental number

- Werknummer Work or serial number


2) Following the 1980 publication of their landmark book "The Official Monogram Painting Guide to Luftwaffe Aircraft", the authors, Kenneth Merrick and Thomas Hitchcock, later determined that their designations for RLM colours 82 and 83 as presented in the text were in fact reversed. In their subsequent "Errata - Omission" sheet, they stated:

Since publication of this book, the authors have not discovered definitive official confirmation for the true identity of the colors 81, 82 and 83 . . . the so-called late-war colors. However, the preponderance of evidence from all sources suggest that Color 81 was Brown-Violet, Color 82 was Bright Green and Color 83 was Dark Green. This does not negate the fact that there existed considerable contradiction between various aircraft painting charts regarding the true description of these three late-war colors.


"The Foundation" November 1941 - July 1943

November 1941

Luft Druckvorschiften L.Dv.521/1:

This comprehensive 52-page document was issued by the RLM and formalized the changes in Luftwaffe camouflage that were taking place since July 1940. Within this important document were listed the prescribed camouflage colours to be used on various German aircraft as defined by their roles (Smith and Gallaspy, 1976, p.45):

a) Trainers

Camouflage (Any appropriate colours can be used, but as stated earlier, silver finish is forbidden.)

b) Fighters

Colours 74, 75, 76, 65.

c) Destroyers

As above.

d) Bombers & Transports

Colours 70, 71, 65.

e) Naval aircraft

Colours 72, 73, 65.

f) Tropical aircraft

Colours 78, 79, 80.


COMMENT: Following release of L.Dv.521/1, a period of stability reigned, as little changed in the way that Luftwaffe aircraft of all types were camouflaged for over two and a half years. The period prior to November 1941 was a time of significant change for the Luftwaffe, as from July of 1940 it had seen high levels of activity over water and an effective camouflage was urgently needed. Fighters shot down over Britain revealed a variety of grey colours which are believed to have been local unit mixes based on existing Luftwaffe colours and possibly stocks of captured French paint (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, pp.22, 24). Interestingly, although this camouflage formalization took place in November 1941, the 74/75/76 scheme was first observed on Fw 190 As and Bf 109 Fs in the Spring of that year. Their approved Oberflächenschutzliste are known to have been issued on June 24th and August 15th of that same year respectively, and later on May 18, 1942 for the Bf 109 G (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.24, 27).


"The Plan" August 1943 - June 1944

August 21, 1943

Message GL/C-E 10 Nr.10585/43 (IVE) Az.82b 10:

The RLM announced the impending introduction of new camouflage colours. This message was referred to in the July 1, 1944 Sammelmitteilung Nr. 1 as quoted below (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, p.95):

The impending introduction of camouflage colours 81 and 82 in place of 70 and 71 was announced in message GL/C-E 10 Nr.10585/43 (IVE) Az.82b 10 of 21st August 1943.


COMMENT: It would appear that the numerical designations of these two colours, 81 and 82, were all that was stated in this message. All published sources say that the colours were never official described with a colour name and paint chart. This seems quite unlikely in this writer’s view.


April 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 163B?

This document has so far remained undiscovered but no doubt was drawn up and issued for this aircraft. What the colours could have been listed is not certain, but it is probable that they were 74/75/76, the then current fighter camouflage colours. It is known that the first Me 163Bs were received by Operational Test Detachment (Erprobungskommando) Ekdo.16 on December 24th and 31st, 1943 (Spaete, 1989, pp.197). Following a working-up period, I./JG 400 was formed on May 1, 1944, though deliveries were very slow to the unit, with only a single aircraft received in May, three in June and twelve in July. Series production of the Me 163B is likely to have been initiated in April 1944 (Spaete, ibid., p.217).


COMMENT: The slow production and delivery of the Me 163B resulted in it wearing a variety of camouflage colours from the time of the first deliveries (December 1943) to the cessation of production (February 1945). It is known from the many published photos and other documentation that most of Ekdo.16's aircraft were Me 163 BVs (V: "Versuchs", or test/experimental) and many were uncamouflaged, being painted in either RLM 02, or more likely, RLM 76. Other aircraft are known to have had very dark, low contrast upper wing colours, which do not suggest the 74/75 greys, but more likely the 70/71 greens. Their fuselages are interpreted as being painted in 76 with a mottle of 75.

The well-photographed aircraft "White 05" is thought to be a Me 163 BV variant, as it and other similarly painted Ekdo.16 aircraft appear to be missing their Werknummern. However, photos indicate that all V-aircraft did at one time have their Versuchsnummer painted on the tail in black, but given the dark colour of these aircraft's tails could be difficult to see. Alternatively, if the aircraft were delivered directly to the unit initially in overall 65 and soon in 76, the number could easily have been over-painted at the unit level when the camouflage colours were applied.

As Me 163 production slowly increased, aircraft with moderate-contrast schemes suggestive of 74/75/76 begin to appear. Aircraft with such schemes (or variations) have been documented during the restoration of these aircraft and faithfully reproduced (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, pp.48-49). There is also colour photographic evidence of Me 163s painted in the 81/83 scheme (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.50; Sheflin, 1983, pp.18-19). What is unknown is when this change-over to the late-war colours took place and if it was officially documented. The date of this change could not have been any later than February 1945, as production of the aircraft ceased during this month with a total of 364 aircraft completed and delivered to Ekdo.16, I. II. and IV./JG 400 and IV./EJG 1 (Smith and Kay, 1972). It is thought likely that an order authorizing this change must have been issued sometime in late 1944-early 1945.


June 16, 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 234C:

Released by Arado and approved by the RLM, designating the ‘green’ 70/71/65 camouflage scheme to be worn by the Arado 234 C four-engine jet bomber-reconnaissance aircraft (Smith and Creek, 1994, pp.247-249).


COMMENT: As befitting an aircraft for these roles, the Arado 234 bomber was to be painted in the accepted 70/71/65 scheme. Shortly thereafter on July 1, 1944 (see below), the RLM instructed the change to the ‘new’ green 81/82 scheme. However, throughout its production run, most Ar 234 were continued to be painted in the old 70/71 colours (Smith and Creek, 1994, p.247). Although the above reference was for the four-engine C-variant of the Ar 234, photographic evidence shows that the twin-engine B-variant had an identical camouflage pattern, with the former having slight differences to account for the paired engines under each wing (ibid.).


June 17, 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 262A?:

It is most probable that Messerschmitt created and had approved by the RLM this document designating the 'grey' 74/75/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Me 262A (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.46).


COMMENT: Considered as a fighter-bomber, the RLM naturally conferred the then-current grey 74/75/76 camouflage scheme on the Me 262. As noted above, the Arado 234 was to be used as a bomber-reconnaissance type and was to wear the green 70/71/65 scheme. As far as the author is aware, no reproductions of the 74/75/76 Me 262 Os 8 document/diagram have been discovered to date. All camouflage drawings so far published detailing this scheme are based on the examination of photographic data.


"The Die is Cast" July - August, 1944

July 1, 1944

Sammelmitteilung Nr. 1:

This document was issued by the RLM Technical Department (GL/C-10 IV E) and contained a number of orders which were to have an important effect on Luftwaffe camouflage and markings, and also referenced the above August 21, 1943 message (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.95-96). Although not included in the translation, this document is claimed to be the first to mention colour "83" , and the manner in which this information was transmitted left no doubt that colour "83" was already known to aircraft production centres for some time (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.32):

The impending introduction of camouflage colours 81 and 82 in place of 70 and 71 was announced in message GL/C-E 10 Nr.10585/43 (IVE) Az.82b 10 of 21st August 1943. The introduction of these colours is henceforth prescribed as follows:

1) All new aircraft types whose mission would have called for the use of colours 70 and 71, are from now on to be painted in colours 81 and 82.

2) For types currently in production, colours 70 and 71 are to be superceded by colours 81 and 82 as soon as possible. Available stocks of 70 and 71 are naturally to be used up. As it may be supposed that these colours will not be exhausted simultaneously, and in order to avoid re-orders of small quantities of 70 and 71, the use of residual stocks in the following combinations is authorized:

Colour 82 to be used with 70 (replacing 71)

Colour 81 to be used with 71 (replacing 70)

Should, however, stocks of one colour be so large as to unduly delay the implementation of the regulation camouflage, efforts must be made to trade away these stocks to sub-contractors, company plants or to other aircraft manufacturers.

3) The method of application (mottle scheme) of these colours is unchanged.

4) Aircraft plants will report implementation of the colour change, together with the modified OS-lists (Oberflächenschutzliste) to GL/C-E 10 IV.

The delivery of colour sample cards for the RLM-shades 81 and 82 is for the present not possible, thus testing of the paint for correct colour-shade is omitted.



1) An extremely important distinction is made here regarding the types of aircraft planned to wear the new 81/82 scheme which appears to have been overlooked by researchers. At the time of this order, the only aircraft still being finished in the old 70/71 colours were bombers and transports, as since November 1941 (or earlier ) fighters and destroyers were painted with the 47/75/76/65 colours. The July 1st order quite clearly refers only to "All new aircraft types whose mission would have called for the use of colours 70 and 71...", i.e., bombers and transports. No mention of fighters and the 81/82 colours is made. Yet paradoxically, the evidence is clear that most of the new Ar 234 B jet bombers were painted in the 70/71 scheme up until production ceased in April 1945. Perhaps stocks of these colours (as held by Arado) were never exhausted and thus the new colours were not required. Considering this example and other similar ones, one is forced to ask when the decision was made to paint fighters with the new 81/82 colours. And why.

2) Another very important clue to the relative shades of 81 and 82 is presented here. Of the two older colours 70 and 71, the former was a 'dark' shade while the latter was a 'light' shade, enough such that there was an observed contrast between the two, albeit a limited one. The use of combinations of 70/71 and 81/82 as specified indicates that for the new colours, 81 was the darker and 82 the lighter shade respectively. This makes perfect sense given the colour combination suggestions expressed here.

3) This point reinforces the inference that the RLM was trying to make the change-over process to the camouflage colours as least disruptive as possible.

4) Here we are given a strong suspicion that several Os-lists may have existed for a specific aircraft type: the standard one and one or more "modified" lists. Unless one has access to or knowledge of all the Os-list variations for each aircraft type, it is therefore impossible to state unequivocally which was the 'true' or 'correct' camouflage scheme.

For colour 83, whose existence is acknowledged in this order, no official documents have been discovered which without a doubt identify RLM 83 with the colour name "Dunkelgrün". This relationship is interpretive and based on photographs, crash reports, comparative analysis with surviving aircraft, wreckage fragments, etc. (Smith and Creek, 1994, p.247; Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.134, 136-137). Interestingly, Hitchcock (1983, p.13) states that "Colour 83 has been officially recorded only as 'green'."

As the war progressed, the use of this dark green became commonplace. Perhaps the phase-out of Graugrün 74 began much earlier than is believed and a simple order was issued by the RLM to the effect that from this point forward, replace colour 74 with colour 83 without any alterations to the camouflage pattern. This might explain why no Oberflächenschutzliste have been discovered for the Bf 109 and Fw 190 fighter aircraft which actually describe (let alone identify) this colour. Indeed, the RLM perhaps thought there was no need to bother and therefore none were produced. Could the 75/83 scheme actually be a long-lived transition scheme to the later 81/82 colours? Or could the use of 81/82 on fighters be an effort to use up stocks of these new colours once intended for bombers that were no longer in production?

It is quite significant that the 75/83 scheme first appears on the Bf 109 and Fw 190 fighters (and their variants). The ramped up demand for fighter production from late 1943 onward and resultant need to simplify and shorten production times must have had a profound influence on the camouflage colours used on these aircraft.

In the above document, even the RLM Technical Department acknowledged that it was unable to supply manufacturers with the proper colour sample cards for colours 81 and 82 (note: still un-named by the RLM). Therefore, testing of the correct colour shades, presumably by the manufacturers themselves of the paints received from their subcontractors, was omitted and/or not required. Perhaps that given the variability of colour shades of these new paints the RLM could not (or would not) assign them a descriptive name. However, the following documents tend to suggest that either the paint manufacturers, the aircraft companies, or both decided on their own to do just that, which could also explain the variety of names encountered for these colours!

Finally, the introduction of these new RLM colours appears as an exact parallel to the situation in November 1941 where the L.Dv. 521/1 contained colour samples for new colours 74, 75 & 76, yet not for 78, 79 & 80 (and 77), even though these latter colours and their uses were described! (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.45-46). Evidence suggests that the 'grey' scheme was in use from at least March 1941 (Merrick and Hitchcock 1980, p.24), and the new 'desert' colours were introduced to North Africa by the end of that year (ibid., p.100).


August 15, 1944

Sammelmitteilung Nr. 2:

This document was officially issued on this date and contained the following paragraphs (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.96, 125, 129):

The temporary day finish 7126.76 is introduced to replace 7126.65. The new blue finish will be used to re-camouflage aircraft in permanent night finish for daylight missions. Insignia will not be overpainted. The use of masking tape will be necessary, as the finish will be applied by brush.

Note: 7126.76 is intended primarily for use at the unit level. Camouflage colours and their application to aircraft have lately been entirely revised. Firms producing camouflage charts will receive from Erprobungsstelle Travemuende a camouflage atlas containing all the necessary information. With the publication of this atlas, it is forbidden to use any other colour shades and schemes, including special requests from operational units without the express permission of E-Stelle Travemuende.

As a result of the new revision, the following colours will not be used in the future: 65, 70, 71 and 74. Colour 70 however, is still prescribed for (metal) propellers.


A further comment on the style and application of national markings is of interest as it mentions together the existence of all three 'new' colours (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, p.129):


It is apparent that, despite repeated instructions for simplification, economy measures, etc., crosses and swastikas are still being applied in the same manner. Only the outlines of the crosses and either the black portion or the white surrounds of the swastikas are to be painted as follows:

On light colours 76 and 21 (i.e., snow camouflage) only the black outlines of the crosses and the black swastika. On dark colours 72, 73, 75, 81, 82 and 83 only the white outlines of the crosses and swastika.


COMMENT: Even by the middle of August 1944 the RLM Technical Department still had not sent paint samples of the 'official' camouflage colours to those companies producing the camouflage charts. This appears to indicate that these charts were produced by separate companies and only after their completion would they be sent to paint producers and aircraft manufacturers. How long this would have taken would be anyone's guess, given the deteriorating supply and economic conditions in Germany at the time. However, until the paint companies received these charts, variability in camouflage colour shades could only have increased with a corresponding decrease in actual paint quality.

It was also ordered that colours 65, 70, 71 and 74 would not be used in the future. Is this merely a reiteration of the previous July 1st order, were manufacturers ignoring the order, or perhaps by this time stocks of these colours were dwindling and those of 81 and 82 were becoming more widespread and being used on an increasingly regular basis? The latter is suggested as the instructions regarding simplification of national markings specifically excludes these colours and mentions 81, 82 and 83 together, surprisingly, as 'dark' colours. This mention of colour 83 appears to coincide with Fw 190s being painted in a new grey and green scheme, the latter colour 83 replacing the darker 74 Graugrün (Aders, 1986, pp.22-23; Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.32).

This is probably an appropriate time to discuss the colour informally known as "RLM 84". The designation "RLM 84" is a spurious one and should not be used and perpetuated. This notation appeared in the literature during the first half of the 1980's to describe a series of four green-blue to grey-blue light-coloured paints found on the undersurfaces of late war German aircraft, mostly fighters. The colours were first described by Merrick and Hitchcock (1980) and actual paint samples were presented for four of these shades, but most significantly, no RLM notation was given nor was claimed.

The earliest documentation of the use of the term "RLM 84" appears in an article published by Ivie and Sheflin (1985). In their article, the authors several times note an example of the sky colour in photo captions and a colour profile / photograph of a Fw 190 D-9 as ". . . 84, the undocumented blue-gray undersurface color seen on several late war planes." (p.6); ". . . the undocumented Gray-Blue undersurface color 84." (p.9); and finally "The undersurfaces are believed to be in a form of the undocumented Blue-Gray color (provisionally numbered 84), a color sampled on several Luftwaffe aircraft after the war." (p.31). Correspondence with Sheflin (personal communication, 1996) confirmed that the "RLM 84" designation was indeed a provisional one (as stated in the previous quotes) and reflected his own attempt to reconcile the observed and confirmed usage of these colour shades by Merrick and Hitchcock with the then-current understanding of late-war Luftwaffe colours and the RLM numbering system. It was not in any way based on official documentation.

Pointedly, since 1980 when Kenneth Merrick and Tom Hitchcock published the Monogram Painting Guide, not one official Luftwaffe document has been discovered by serious researchers that specifically refers to "Farbe (colour) 84". There is no doubt that these colours, (and perhaps other similar ones) were widely and systematically used during the last year of the war, though most importantly were found only on fighters and related aircraft. However, all painting charts and instructions (Oberflächeshutzliste or Os-liste) for aircraft known to have been painted in these shades specifically state that the underside colour was to be RLM 76, or, to remain unpainted in natural metal. Indeed, the last Os-liste for the Me 262, "8-262 A-1", published by Messerschmitt on February 23, 1945, described the 'new' 81/82/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Me 262A with the paints listed in the plans/document described as "Farbton 81 = braunviolett" and "Farbton 82 = hellgrün 82" with the underside colour designated as "Farbton 76 = Lichtblau" (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.47; Smith and Creek, 1983, p.20; Radinger and Schick, 1993, p.110). If a new underside colour was officially introduced, its application was likely limited to those aircraft produced / recycled over the proceeding 8 weeks or so until capitulation.

There are two possibilities regarding how these various underside colours may have originated. The first is that the four known "sky" colours were not new colours purposely introduced by the RLM, but were in fact poor quality examples of RLM 76. Given the extreme stresses suffered by the German economy at the time and the dispersal of component manufacturing and assembling/final construction, the shortages of raw materials dictated that all manners and means of substitution and stretching of materials was considered and/or implemented. For paints this could include changes in pigment and dye types (inorganic to less stable organic), poorer quality bases, use of primers as camouflage colours, reducing the number of coats, omission of primer paints, leaving specific parts unpainted and so on. It is instructive to recall that these strains on the system were being experienced since 1944. After the cancellation of the bomber program in mid-1944, considerable stocks of high quality paints remained which included RLM 65, 70, 71, 72 and 73. Wisely, the RLM stressed that existing stocks of these and other paints (e.g., RLM 75) were to be used up and used in conjunction with newly introduced colours. Documented camouflage schemes and colour samples from aircraft such as the Do 335, He 162, Me 163 and others confirm this.

An alternative explanation would require that these underside shades were in fact variations of a new RLM colour which was to be designated as "84". Although based on a hunch, Ivie and Sheflin (1985) may in fact have been correct in their supposition of these new colours' correct identity. While no official documentation has been discovered, these colours were encountered with increasing frequency on late-war aircraft. Considering that whenever the RLM introduced a new series of camouflage colours, it also included a new underside colour as well: e.g. 74/75/76 (Lichtblau), and 78(Himmelblau)/79/80. It would not be improbable to expect that the new 81/82/83 camouflage colours might also have included a new underside colour too: 84? Could perhaps the very late introduction of this colour/shades and lack of documentation be indicative of a test phase for this paint or a new experimental colour?

Regardless of its status, the question remains as to the actual creation of this "sky" colour (and its variations). It may have been an entirely new colour based on non-strategic materials, mixes of older RLM colours, or served as the base for the other newer colours, RLM 81 and 82. As has been documented by Merrick and Hitchcock (1980) there were at least four (and perhaps more) variations of this underside colour which the authors (not the RLM) described as "graublau", "grünblau", "graublau", and "lichtblau". This would not be unusual as such variability is known to have existed within batches of RLM 76 which was officially known as either "Lichtblau" or "Weissblau". This colour variability invariably reflected the paint manufacturers' considerable difficulty in obtaining the proper raw materials and maintaining quality control of their paint production during this late phase of the war. Their inability to match their paints to the official shade may have compelled them to approximate the proper shade utilizing materials immediately available to them, in other words, stocks of the redundant RLM colours 65, 70, 71, 72 and 73 . Could a thinned RLM 02 mixed with lightened RLM 65 do the trick? Could perhaps primer paints have been used instead of 65? How about really thinned and whitened 65 with a touch of 71? Or 72? Or 73? The possible colour combinations and percentages are as numerous as the aircraft that were built.

To conclude, it may never know where, when, and how these colours were created, and by whom. So far researchers have yet to discover a single document where a colour was designated as "84", but the fact remains that a series of undersurface colours differing from the prescribed RLM 76 was applied to German fighter aircraft by manufacturers (and dispersed subassembly contractors?) during the last months of the war. This author believes that for identification purposes, respecting our current state of knowledge, these colours NOT be referred to as "RLM 84". It is proposed that they be designated using the simple descriptive colour names assigned to them by Merrick and Hitchcock (1980) as noted above and each referred to as the "late-war underside colour, XXXXX variant". This proposed nomenclature should help clarify matters until such time that new research and data will conclusively settle the question on these fascinating colour shades.


"Reality Strikes" September - October, 1944

September 13, 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 155:

Released by Blohm & Voss and approved by the RLM, designating the 'green' 81/82 camouflage scheme to be applied to the BV 155. The colours were designated as "Olivbraun 81" and "Hellguen 82" (Hitchcock, 1990, inside front cover & p.19). The following is an exact translation of this document, courtesy of Kenneth Merrick:

Sch/01 Advance announcement B&V 13 Sept. 1944

Camouflage BV155

The E-stelle Travermuende authority provides the following:

The BV155 shall have on the uppersurface the colours 81 Olivebrown and 82 Light Green. The mottling spacing and placement should be similar to the Bf 109 camouflage scheme. The fuselage sides, side of the vertical tail and leading edge of the wing and horizontal stabilizer should be painted in colour 76 (no name given). Hereafter, except for the wing and horizontal stabilizer’s leading edge, the aircraft should be then in a cloudy overspray with colour tones 81 and 82. Also, we look ahead to simplify the paint schemes which we should know shortly and will publish. Afterwards, the above mentioned aircraft which will be used for day service, camouflage on the undersurfaces should be deleted.

With the mottle scheme, it should be applied on the aircraft sheet metal between the camouflage and its painted line. The pattern is to be soft flowing lines. The colour scheme is to be sprayed on at the present time. In case of needed puttying, (aircraft putty 7270.99) it should be applied on bare metal beyond the border lines of the paint scheme and the bare metal should be polished in the usual way but no camouflage on top of the putty. The painting of the undersurface is being deleted to economize.

A/c materials test division for surface protection.


COMMENT: Here is what the author believes is a perfect example of a camouflage document typical of the period. It is important in that it is the first to describe the use of colours 81 and 82, and provides evidence that the descriptive names of these shades were assigned by the manufacturer. Significantly, such was the supply crisis that even at this early date it was ordered that the undersides of the aircraft were to remain unpainted. Another point to ponder: Could "Olivbraun" in fact be RLM 80 Olivgrün, which could have been inserted as a substitute from excess and redundant stocks for the as yet still officially un-described colour RLM 81


September 1944

Factory Camouflage Directive, Fw 190 A:

It is most probable that this document or a related order (possibly a document only and not an Oberflächenschutzliste), existed in some form and specified the 75/83 scheme for the Fw 190 D-9 as well (see above comments).


COMMENT: First operational use of the Dora took place in early October 1944 with III./JG 54 whose aircraft were camouflaged in the 75/83 scheme that is well documented with photographic evidence.(Smith and Creek, 1986, p.10). However, a change occurred in the camouflage colours used in early 1945, from the standard 75/83 scheme to the 81/82 combination, and it is most probable that a variety of transition schemes existed (e.g., 81/83, 82/83, 75/81, etc.) Furthermore, the seperate production and finishing of the Jumo 213 engines in RLM 83 (or possibly 71) would have also complicated the prescribed and transitional camouflaged schemes


October 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 109K:

This was released by Messerschmitt and approved by the RLM, designating the 74/75/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Bf 109K (Hitchcock, 1979, p.18-19).


COMMENT: The existence of this document is known only through other documents and specifics on camouflage colours and schemes is unknown. Given physical and photographic evidence, it is very probable that the Bf 109 K had two late-war schemes; 1. Grauviolett 75 / Dunkelgrün 83, and 2. Braunviolett 81 / Dunkelgrün 83. (The vintage of this reference identifies Dunkelgrün as RLM 82, not RLM 83 as is currently accepted).

As noted previously, the 75/83 scheme might be thought of as a transitional scheme from 74/75 to 81/82. For the different G-variants of the Bf 109, it is noted that there could be as many as four to six different camouflage colour formats depending on the aircraft version (Hitchcock, 1979, p.13). When these schemes were introduced is unknown, but likely progressed from the 'grey' to 'green' scheme from mid 1944 to early 1945. The chaos begins.


"Chaos and Compromise" - November - December, 1944

November 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 152:

Released by Focke-Wulf and approved by the RLM, designating the 'green' 81/82/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Ta 152 (C or H?). The colours were designated as "81" and "82", however, no descriptions of the colours were provided (Ethell, 1990, pp.10-11, 22-23).


COMMENT: Photographic evidence strongly suggests that although the 81/82 scheme was applied to the Ta 152 H series, the Ta 152 C-1 aircraft were finished in the 75/83 scheme as worn by the Fw 190 D-9. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the Ta 152 C-1 has a size and shape virtually identical to the Fw 190 D-9.


November 26, 1944

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 335A:

Released by Dornier and approved by the RLM, D.Luft.T.2335 designated the 'green' 81/82/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Do 335A interceptor (Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, p.136). The colours were designated in the plans as "Dunkelgrün 81" and "Dunkelgrün 82" (Smith and Creek, 1983, p.23; and Lutz, 1983, p.31).


COMMENT: This is the third of only four confirmed Oberflächenschutzliste (BV 155, Ta 152, Do 335 and Me 262) which specifies the use of colours 81 and 82. Not surprisingly, each of the manufacturers described the colour differently, with Dornier designating and interpreting these colours as "Dunkelgrün". Comparison of original paint chips from the Smithsonian's Do 335 with its Me 262 found that Dornier's "Colour 82" was a very close match for Messerschmitt's Hellgrün 82. There was no match at all for Dornier's Dunkelgrün 81, however, the closest match was the dark green found on the Point Cook Australia Me 163, in all probability Dunkelgrün 83 (Hitchcock, In: Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.136-167; and Hitchcock, 1996, pers. comm.).

These findings therefore suggest that the Smithsonian Do 335 was originally painted not in the old 70/71 scheme (in which the first Do 335s were painted throughout most of 1944) nor the new 81/82 scheme (as planned), but a hybrid or transitional scheme of Hellgrün 82 and Dunkelgrün 83. However, upon its restoration the Do 335 was painted in the prescribed new 81/82 scheme and not those colours originally found on the machine (Smith and Creek, 1983, p.15).

Autumn 1944?

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 156C?:

To date, the only known evidence which actually links official paint chips to colour designations 81 and 82 is this document/plan for the Fieseler 156 Storch. Smith and Creek (1994, p.247) claim that: The colours . . . are best described as a darker variation of American wartime Olive Drab and a light medium green not unlike the postwar American Field Green.


COMMENT: Surprisingly, the source and date of this document/plan are not cited in the above reference. Beyond their numerical designations '81' and '82', descriptive names to the colours are not given in this reference. It is supposed that this document dates from sometime in the Autumn of 1944. Prior to this date, the Fi 156 wore a variety of camouflage colours and schemes, based on their theatre of operation. However, most were completed in colours 70/71/65 (Merrick, 1977, p.41).


December 1944

A.I.2 (g) Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report Serial No. 263 January 8, 1945:

This is a detailed examination of a Fw 190 D-9 "Black 12", WNr. 210079, which crashed from a low-level bird hit on its radiator while taking part in the January 1, 1945 "Bodenplatte" raid on Allied airfields. Regarding the camouflage, the report stated:

The camouflage is a mottled on the fuselage, with the green predominating. The upper surfaces of the wings are a rather brighter green than is usual with German aircraft, whilst the undersides of the wings are light blue. The spinner is black with a white spiral.


COMMENT: A change in the camouflage colours worn by Focke-Wulf 190 D-9 is indicated during this month, and perhaps sooner. There appears to have been shift away from the 75/83 scheme to the 81/82 scheme, and although no official documents have so far been discovered, it is likely that a revised Oberflächenschutzliste or other order was issued to factories as intended by the RLM (Smith and Creek, 1986a, pp.22-23). This use of a "brighter green" colour is at odds with what the RLM intended for the Fw 190 D-9, but likely reflects the growing seriousness of disrupted supplies and raw materials and the subsequent effects on aircraft production.

From this crash report, it is obvious that the "brighter green" uppersurface colour was new to Allied intelligence and caught their attention. Their comments were certainly a good description for RLM 82 Hellgrün and the "greeny-grey" label fits well for RLM 02 Grau. Curiously, the other uppersurface colour failed to elicit a response. Perhaps the wings were indeed painted a single colour, or, it was in combination with the oft-encountered RLM 75 Grauviolett? Regardless, by the end of the war, colour photos of late war Doras reveal them to have moved into the green 81/82 scheme (e.g., Smith and Creek, 1986a, pp.16-17)


December 1944

A.I.2 (g) Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report Serial No. 265 January 29, 1945:

The subject aircraft, an Me 262 A coded 9K+MK (M in white), WNr. 170273 of 1./KG 51, was shot down by flak on December 25, 1944. Regarding the aircraft's camouflage, the report stated simply:

The machine was camouflaged with the under surfaces in light blue, whilst the upper surfaces were in shades of bright green.


COMMENT: This sighting of "bright green" is a full two months before the "official" Me 262 document on camouflage colours described as "Braunviolett 81" and "Hellgrün 82" was published. This writer interprets the colours as 82/83, with the latter (most probably Dunkelgrün) having its green tones enhanced due to its juxtaposition with the brighter Hellgrün 82. In this writer's opinion, this was merely another transition camouflage scheme with the use of colour 82 and a darker contrasting colour (83 being substituted for 81) on bomber aircraft as was intended by the RLM in its July 1, 1944 order Sammelmitteilung Nr.1 (see above).


"Collapse" January - May, 1945

January 18, 1945

Factory Camouflage Directive, He 162 A:

This document (possibly Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 162A?), and another on February 28, 1945, specified that the He 162 was to be painted in parts (major components), and although the colour designations 81 and 82 were presented, their descriptive names were not (Smith and Creek, 1986b, pp.22-23); Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.45).


COMMENTS: This aircraft, like the Me 163, is known to have had examples painted in the redundant colours 70 and 71, possibly in combination with the newer 80-series paints , e.g., 70/82 or 71/81 (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.45). The aircraft's undersides were in many cases left unpainted.


February 20, 1945

Jagdgeschwader Markings - B.Br.Nr.2/45 g.Kdos.:

This is the famous and oft-quoted RVD Order issued by OKL. Since mid-1944 several units on the Western Front had been wearing colourful tailbands for recognition purposes and it was not until late February 1945 that the Luftwaffe formalized the unit, colour(s) and pattern designations for the Jagdwaffe. Even so, several of the units never wore their assigned Reichsverteidigung bands. For the interest of the reader, the text of the order is quoted in full, although the accompanying sketches are not included:


20 February 1945

"B.Br.Nr.2/45 g.Kdos.

Subject: Jagdgeschwader Markings

Encl: 1

By the order of the Reichsmarschall and for purposes of improving aerial recognition, Jagdgeschwader aircraft are to be marked by fuselage-encircling colored stripes as indicated in the appended enclosure. Attention of troops down to platoon level is to be drawn to these markings which should simplify the recognition and distinction of our own aircraft."



Colour of Stripes

RLM Designation

J.G. 1

bright red


J.G. 3



J.G. 11



J.G. 27

bright green


J.G. 53



J.G. 54

bright blue


J.G. 5

black / yellow

(22 / 27)

J.G. 7

blue / red

(24 / 23)

J.G. 26

black / white

(22 / 21)

J.G. 52

red / white

(23 / 21)

J.G. 77

white / green

(21 / 25)

J.G. 301

yellow / red

(27 / 23)

J.G. 2

yellow / white / yellow

(27 / 21 / 27)

J.G. 4

black / white / black

(22 / 21 / 22)

J.G. 6

bright red / white / bright red

(23 / 21 / 23)

J.G. 51

bright green / white / bright green

(25 / 21 / 25)

J.G. 300

bright blue / white / bright blue

(24 / 21 / 24)

(* RLM designations in brackets are the author's and are NOT on the original document!)


COMMENT: Although this is not entirely relevant to this discussion, it is included for completeness sake and general interest. Of the colour descriptions noted in the document, one is worthy of comment. One would be hard pressed indeed to describe Blau 24 as being a 'bright' colour. Colour photos and wreck fragments suggest that a lighter shade of blue existed and was used for the RVD bands of JG 300 (J. Crandall, 1996, pers. comm.: J.H. Kitchens, 1994, pers. comm.; and Smith et al., 1979, p.50). Was this a field-mixed lighter shade of RLM 24? An unknown new colour?


February 23, 1945

Oberflächenschutzliste 8 Os 262A:

Released by Messerschmitt and approved by the RLM, this document designating the 'green' 81/82/76 camouflage scheme to be applied to the Me 262A. The colours are described in the plans/document as "Braunviolett 81" and "Hellgrün 82" (Merrick and Hitchcock, 1980, p.47; Smith and Creek, 1983b, p.20; Radinger and Schick, 1993, p.110).


COMMENT: Here finally is the classic late-war Me 262 camouflage scheme described. However, how was the plan transformed into reality? Photographic evidence reveals a lot of strange Me 262 schemes out there: overall dark-coloured Me 262s of Kommando Nowotny (RLM 70/71?) in November 1944, overall dark-coloured Me 262s of JV 44 (RLM 81) in April 1945, et cetera. Realistically, given the collapsing economy and severe transportation difficulties, what proportion of all Me 262s produced were actually finished in the prescribed 81/82 scheme? How many shades of 81, 82 and 83 were likely to have been manufactured given these circumstances?


Interpretations and Conclusions


On their own these various fragments of orders, reports and observations provide varying degrees of useful information, some of which is extremely important, others less so. When considered alone, they provide useful, but limited information. However, when considered in a chronological context and with an appreciation of the historical events which occurred over this interval, these seemingly isolated items reveal important relationships and establish trends which offer a clearer understanding of the genesis and usage of the late-war Luftwaffe colours.

From the available data quoted and discussed above, this writer believes that a several important trends in the evolution of the Luftwaffe's camouflage system for its various aircraft types can be identified. However, before the discussion proceeds, it was thought useful to tabulate the various colour names and their known (and/or interpreted) RLM designations (Tables 1 and 2). Two methods were selected, one by colours as listed alphabetically, the other ranked by the RLM colour designation:


Table 1: Ranking by colour name (alphabetic)


Camouflage Colour


RLM Designation








dark green

71, 81, 82, 83*








bright green



light green



olive brown



olive green





(* Note: No official documents have been discovered which link RLM 83 with the colour name "Dunkelgrün". However, Hitchcock (1983, p.13) states: "Color 83 has been officially recorded as 'green.' " but fails to identify the source, date and context of this official record. The relationship of "83" to the descriptive name "Dunkelgrün" is interpretive, and based on photographs, crash reports, wreckage fragments, etc. (Smith and Creek, 1994, p.247; Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.96, 100, 124-125, 129, 134, 13-137)).

Table 1 is clear in noting that the RLM's descriptive colour names for those discussed here were limited to a single RLM numeric designation, except one. From the data, the name "Dunkelgrün" was assigned to no less than four defined colours; first to RLM 71 in 1937 and later in 1944 to RLM 81, 82 and 83. There is no question that the RLM designated 71 as Dunkelgrün, but did it also do the same for the remaining three colours? Given the RLM's past history and actions, the evidence strongly suggests that it did not.


Table 2: Ranking by RLM colour designation


RLM Designation

Camouflage Colour







dark green









olive green






dark green



olive brown



dark green



bright green



light green



dark green




(* Note: As above.)

Table 2 ranks the colours by their RLM numeric designations, with results that reinforce the belief of an orderly of camouflage colour system in existence until the introduction of the new late-war colours 81, 82 and 83 in July of 1944. It is obvious that a break down in the system occurred soon after, with a total of eight names existing for three colours, one of which, Dunkelgrün, being common to all. The question is where this break-down occurred, and why.

Table 3 reveals that it was in the October-November 1944 period that a change-over from the mid-war grey scheme to the late-war green scheme began to take place. Most importantly all the aircraft affected were fighters but strangely official documentation for these important changes remains elusive. Coupled with this, the first Allied encounters with aircraft wearing one of these colours, usually Hellgrün 82, are noted as occurring in late December 1944. This is almost six months from their official introduction. What caused this long delay?


Table 3: Chronology of Camouflage Schemes and Colours





‘Darker’ Colour

‘Lighter’ Colour



Me 163 B**

70 Schwarzgrün

71 Dunkelgrün



Me 163 B**

74 Dunkelgrau

75 Grauviolett



Ar 234 C***

70 Schwarzgrün

71 Dunkelgrün



Me 262 A**

74 Graugrün

75 Grauviolett


Blohm & Voss

BV 155***

81 Olivbraun

82 Lichtgrün



Fw 190 D**

83 (not given)

75 Grauviolett



Bf 109 K**

74 Dunkelgrau

75 Grauviolett



Bf 109 K**

83 Dunkelgrün

75 Grauviolett



Fw 190 A/F**

83 (not given)

75 Grauviolett



Ta 152 H***

81 (not given)

82 (not given)



Do 335 A***

81 Dunkelgrün

82 Dunkelgrün



Fi 156 C**

81 (not given?)

82 (not given?)



Me 163 B**

81 Braunviolett

83 Dunkelgrün



Me 262 A*

82 Hellgrün?

83 Dunkelgrün?



Fw 190 D*

82 Hellgrün?

(no other colour?)



Bf 109 K**

81 Braunviolett

83 Dunkelgrün



Bf 109 K**

81 Braunviolett

82 Hellgrün



He 162 A**

81 (not given)

82 (not given)



Fw 190 D**

81 (not given)

82 (not given)



Me 262 A***

81 Braunviolett

82 Hellgrün


*** Confirmed Oberflächenschutzliste

** Suspected Oberflächenschutzliste

* A.I.2 (g) Crash Report

It is important to place the dates of these orders and documents into the context of the war situation that the Germans were facing. By July 1, 1944, the Allied armies were beginning to expand the Normandy bridgehead, and concurrently, the tempo of the strategic airwar was stepped up. Throughout late 1943 and early 1944 the Allied bomber offensive ranged deeper into occupied Europe with increasing strength and devestating results. This situation demanded that the Luftwaffe devote most of its energies to the formation and training of fighter units, and most importantly, the production of fighter aircraft. With the steady erosion of the air situation and losses of experienced pilots, the writing was on the wall.

In response to these pressures and the serious fuel famine, the Luftwaffe disbanded most of its conventional bomber forces in July-August, 1944, which by this time were limited to operations on the Eastern Front. The units included KG 1, 2, 30, 54, 55, 76 with the remnants of the bomber slowly withering away as attrition and lack of fuel took their tolls. However, their most important component, their experienced pilots, were quickly transferred to the expanding fighter force. By September, the reorganization of the German aircraft industry was bearing fruit as production of fighter aircraft was reaching new record numbers. Production of conventional bombers such as the He 177, He 111 and Ju 88 was virtually at an end.

With this perspective in mind, consider now what the Luftwaffe had planned since mid 1943. At that time, it would appear that the RLM had decided the low-contrast 70/71 camouflage colours for bombers and the grey 74/75 fighter colours, originally designed for continental Europe and maritime operations respectively, were unsuited to the wider range of terrains and climatic regions over which it was now fighting. Browns and greens, more reflective of freshly plowed fields and mixed forest vegetation and crops would be more suitable over a wider range of geographic and climatic regions. Furthermore, the perceptible shift in the war's course demanded that defensive considerations now be given more importance, including the camouflage of aircraft on the ground.

It is now time to review the important July 1, 1944 order. It is striking to note that nowhere in the quoted document are "fighters" refered to and this is made most clear in Point 1): " All new aircraft types whose mission would have called for the use of colours 70 and 71, are from now on to be painted in colours 81 and 82." In July of 1944, the only aircraft whose missions called for colours 70/71 were BOMBERS and like aircraft. Additionally, the order states that it was for NEW aircraft of this type that were to be so painted. However, by this time, bomber units were soon to be disbanded and production of these aircraft, and newer types would shortly cease. A classic case of events overtaking planning!

So what to do? The RLM, in recognition of the deteriorating economic conditions, demanded that all older paints be used up prior to drawing upon stocks of newer colours, whenever they would become available, and provided suggestions on the use of substitute colours with and in place of the newer colours. It even acknowledged that the colours could not be tested properly and that the required colour charts remained uncompleted. It is understandable then why formal colour names would not be assigned, but this decision opened the door to those manufacturers who felt the need to have some sort of descriptive name for the paints applied to their aircraft. Others, however, did not. Thus, in this writer's opinion, most of the names for the late war colours were derived from the manufacturers and NOT from the RLM.

By the late summer of 1944, the RLM and German industry undertook a major shift towards the manufacture of fighter aircraft at the expense of all other types. Previous plans for the continued development of newer aircraft, especially bombers, were quickly canceled as was existing production. The RLM also had a problem with their new camouflage colours, as the aircraft for which they were intended were no longer being built. Additionally, these new colours were no doubt becoming increasingly difficult to produce, and indeed transport, due to raw material shortages and the collapsing transportation system. Thus, it is entirely prudent that existing stocks of older colours be used up by all the factories regardless of the types of fighter aircraft that they made, with various colour combinations of old and new colours considered acceptable. Furthermore, this increased aircraft production owed much to the dispersal of various sub-contractors who manufactured and finished major aircraft components who themselves were under difficult conditions and would be increasingly forced to paint their components in whatever paints were made available to them.

From the data tabulated earlier, the October-November 1944 period indicates that much turmoil and confusion was taking place regarding the introduction of new fighter types and their camouflage. This writer suggests that prior to or at the beginning of this period, the RLM decided that FIGHTERS should now wear these camouflage colours originally planned for BOMBERS. The RLM appears to have described and introduced the colour RLM 83 in late 1943 and photographs and crash reports indicating that this colour, most likely known officially as "Dunkelgrün 83" appeared on fighter aircraft in August-September 1944. In addition, the current 75/83 schemes would be phased out and the new colours used in combination with them until such time that they were exhausted. As the A.I.2 (g) Crash Reports reveal, the first aircraft wearing Hellgrün 82 were encountered later in December of that year.

It is unknown how long this interpreted transition period of fighter camouflage occurred, but it is probable that not all manufacturing plants completed, let alone initiated this change. Some may have had to due to lack of paint stocks, others may have sufficient quantitiesof the older colours for use until their production programs ceased. Aircraft produced by Messerschmitt show a wide range of schemes and colours in photographs, even within a specific sub-type of Bf 109s.

With all this activity, two questions remain: Did the RLM ever formalize the descriptive names for colours 81 and 82, and if so, was an approved colour atlas eventually released? From its prior actions, there appeared to be a noticeable lag time between the RLM’s stated intentions, the manufacturers’ usage of new colours, and the release of approved colour samples and descriptive names. As the war progressed, this lag period began to lengthen, no doubt due to deteriorating military and economic conditions. Regarding the colours 81 and 82, fate was particularly cruel in that the aircraft intended for their use were no longer being produced, and excess stocks of older colours were being used up. Furthermore, the actual production of the paints and their transportation to dispersed production centres and component manufacturers must have been hindered by Allied bombing.

Eventually however, limited quantities of these new colours reached some of the major production centres. On February 23, Messerschmitt published its approved Oberflächenschutzliste for the Me 262, and in it the two colours were described as "Braunviolett 81" and "Hellgrün 82". Of all the previous descriptions published earlier by other manufacturers, these by far best describe the shades of these colours.

As far as is known, no other Oberflächenschutzlistes appear to have been issued after this one. Thus, it is quite possible that this document reflects the official RLM description of these two new colours, and if so, it is likely that Messerschmitt (and others?) also received a colour atlas with paint samples. Accepting this, then those preserved aircraft wearing these colours likely came close to the shades the RLM demanded. Until such time as the RLM’s last colour atlas is found, the precise shades of Braunviolett 81 and Hellgrün 82 will remain unknown. Given the probable variability in paints manufactured at this time, the comparison of what was intended versus what actually existed is a moot one.

To summarize then, the evidence is clear that the two RLM colours 81 and 82 were intended to replace the older colours Schwarzgrün 70 and Dunkelgrün 71 respectively and were planned for application on new types of bombers and similar aircraft. As a conservation measure, the RLM ordered that all older colours were to be used in combination with the newer ones until such time that they were used up. However, before this change-over could be enacted, bomber units were in the midst of being disbanded and production of bombers was stopped. There also appears to have been a change in fighter camouflage taking place at about the same time, with RLM colour 83 "Grün" replacing 74 Graugrün.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 1944, the war situation demanded increased fighter production from dispersed facilities, and aircraft were leaving assembly areas in a myriad of schemes. Aircraft wearing combinations of old and new camouflage colours are known through photographic evidence and by November 1944 the newer RLM colours 81 and 82 were becoming available to factories and started to appear on fighter aircraft. By February 1945, the 81/82 scheme and variations with 83 were likely formalized by the RLM and as such was identified by Messerschmitt in documents related to the Me 262 as 81 Braunviolett and 82 Hellgrün.

As documented earlier, this utilization of new paint colours months prior to their official release occurred several times previously and so a repeat of this situation should not be considered at all anomalous. Thus, it is quite probable that the Messerschmitt designations of Braunviolett and Hellgrün for RLM colours 81 and 82 were the official ones, and if so, it is also probable that an official colour atlas with paint samples for these two colours was indeed published.

Therefore, for but a few more months, some fighters of the Luftwaffe would have been camouflaged in new colours originally intended for bombers. By the end of the war the situation was such that single-coloured Me 262s and even unpainted ones were encountered in increasing numbers by the Allies, not in the skies but scattered and decaying in dark forests and on abandoned airfields.


A Final Word

As stated at the beginning, the writer stated that this document was created for his own internal consumption, though was later expanded and formalized for sharing with other enthusiasts. Any comments, corrections, additions, clarifications and the like are sincerely appreciated and readers are asked to direct these to the author. Hopefully, with the help of enthusiasts throughout the world, the full story of the evolution and usage of the Luftwaffe’s late-war colours on the various aircraft types will someday become more fully understood.




Aders, G. 1986. 1986. Monogram Close-Up 8 - Fw 190 F. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Ethell, J. L., 1990: Monogram Close-Up 24 - Ta152. Monogram Aviation Publications, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 32p.

Hitchcock, T. H., 1979: Monogram Close-Up 16 - Bf 109 K. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Hitchcock, T. H., 1983: Monogram Close-Up 7 - Gustav: Messerschmitt 109G Part 2. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Hitchcock, T. H., 1990: Monogram Close-Up 20 - Blohm & Voss 155. Monogram Aviation Publications, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 32p.

Ivie, T., and Sheflin, S. W., 1985: The Last of the Luftwaffe - "Roundup In The Sky" Furth, Germany - 8 May 1945. Airfoil, Vol.1, No.3, Airfoil Publications, Costa Mesa, California, pp.4-10, 31-38.

Lutz, R. P., 1983. Dornier Do 335 in detail and close-up. Airfoil, Vol.1, No.1, pp.26-39.

Merrick, K. A., 1977. German Aircraft Markings 1939-1945. Sky Books Press Ltd., New York, 176p.

Merrick, K. A., and Hitchcock, T., A., 1980. The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 (including Appendices and Supplements); Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 144p.

Radinger, W., and Schick, W., 1993. Messerschmitt Me 262 - Development, Testing, Production. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Altglen, Pennsylvania, 118p.

Sheflin, S. W., 1983. The Last of the Luftwaffe! Airfoil, Vol.1, No.1, pp.17-23.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1983a. Monogram Close-Up 23 - Arado 234 B. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1983b. Monogram Close-Up 17 - Me 262 A-1. Monogram Aviation Publications, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 32p.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1983c. Monogram Close-Up 21 - Do 335. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1986a. Monogram Close-Up 10 - Fw 190 D. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1986b. Monogram Close-Up 11-Volksjaeger. Monogram Aviation Publications, Boylston, Massachusetts, 32p.

Smith, J. R., and Creek, E., J., 1994. Monogram Monarch Series Number 1-Arado 234 Blitz. Monogram Aviation Publications, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 264p.

Smith, J., R., and Gallaspy, J. D., 1976. Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-45, Volume 2. Kookaburra Technical Publications Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 164p. (Also published by Monogram Aviation Publications under the title "Luftwaffe Colors").

Smith, J., R., and Gallaspy, J. D., 1977. Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-45, Volume 3. Kookaburra Technical Publications Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 164p. (Also published by Monogram Aviation Publications under the title "Luftwaffe Colors").

Smith, J. R., and Kay, A. L., 1972. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Putnam, London, 745p.

Smith, J. R., Pentland, G. G., and Lutz, R. P., 1979. The Modellers Luftwaffe Painting Guide - With Color Chart. Kookaburra Technical Publications, Melbourne, 88p.

Spaete, W., 1989. Top Secret Bird - The Luftwaffe's Me-163 Comet. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana, 270p.


BACK TO PART ONE - History, Features, Camouflage and Markings of WNr. 163824

BACK TO PART TWO - Photos, Links and References

GO TO PART FOUR - Building a Bf 109K
Explores an unusual use of primer colours as camouflage on some late-war Luftwaffe fighters

GO TO PART FIVE - Focke-Wulf 190A-8 in Grey
A detailed examination of one colour and one monochrome photograph of Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8, Werknummer 681497 of 5./JG 4.

GO TO PART SIX - Model Paint Mixing Guide


Text Copyright (c) 1997 by David E. Brown

Page created on Wednesday, May 20, 1998
This page last updated on Friday, May 18, 2001

Back to The Reference Library

Back to HyperScale Home Page