Experten Decals No. 3
Camouflage, and Markings of
this study of the Focke-Wulf 190 D,
we continue the story of the Dora's service with JV 44 and JG 6
and its little known use by JG 1. Readers will note that we have designated
this as our third publication. This is not an error but reflects a fortuitous
and timely discovery of significant new data on two of the three aircraft
presented here. These new data permitted us to complete our ongoing study
of these aircraft ahead of schedule and move its publication date forward.
In turn, the completion of our second project on the Me 262 jets of the
Industrie Selbstschutzschwärme was temporarily deferred. However,
this project is still very much alive and we can assure readers that their
patience will be rewarded.
Rote (Red) 4 is the third Dora of the five known to have been assigned to the Papagei (Parrot) Staffel of Generalleutnant Adolph Galland's Jagdverband 44. As discussed in our first publication, the intended role of this small unit was to defend the airspace above JV 44's operational base at München-Riem (and later at Salzburg-Maxglan) during the jets' take-off and landings when they were most vulnerable to Allied fighter attack. This particular Dora displays the colorful and distinctive Papagei Staffel unit and personal markings that makes it such an attractive modeling subject. However, its true historical significance is that this aircraft is an example of one of the only seven Fw 190 D-11 variants built, and, one of the two used operationally by the Luftwaffe.
The second subject aircraft is Schwarze (Black) 4 of 6. Staffel, II./JG 6, which surrendered to U.S. forces at Fürth, near Nürnberg on May 8,1945. This aircraft is not as well known as its sister aircraft Schwarze 12 (WNr. 500570) and Schwarze <- (WNr. 211934), which together also flew into captivity at Fürth. However, like Schwarze 12 it is a prime example of the late-war combined use of primers and paints in camouflage schemes.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: PRODUCT PREVIEW
For purposes of better acquainting the online reader with this product, we have included a summary for one of the Doras studied in this title, Schwarze 4. Note: important bibliographic details and specific references to tables, figures and illustrations have been omitted for online publication.
SCHWARZE 4 - WNr. 211939 - 6. Staffel, II./JG 6
(Black) 4 was one
of four Doras flown to Fürth on May 8, 1945, and surrendered to
U.S. forces occupying the airfield. This particular aircraft provides
an illustrative example of late war camouflage and markings, and in particular
the incorporation of both official RLM camouflage and primer paints as
camouflage colors. Additionally, the use of one of the enigmatic late-war
“sky” under surface colors provides further insights into the production
and Pilot Background
All Fw 190 D-9 aircraft
surrendered at Fürth are believed to have been attached to 6./JG 6.
Beside our subject aircraft Schwarze 4, photographic evidence
identifies the others as Schwarze 12 (WNr. 500570), Schwarze
8 (WNr. 500581), and Schwarze Winkel-Punkt (chevron-dot) (WNr.
211934). Unfortunately, nothing is known as to the identity of the pilots
of these aircraft, nor if the aircraft previously served with another
As is obvious from
above, Schwarze Winkel-Punkt and Schwarze 4 have closely
related Werknummern (211934 and 211939 respectively), being separated from
each other on the production line by only four intervening aircraft.
Given such proximity during construction, it would be reasonable
to assume that both aircraft shared near identical camouflage patterns
and colors, as well as internal technical attributes.
However, the existence of many black and white photographs of these
aircraft, and in particular an excellent color transparency of the two
together, indicates that the aircraft had quite different camouflage patterns
and colors. Indeed, that they are genetically so close, but having quite
different camouflage schemes, poignantly illustrates the severe strains
suffered by the German armament industry at the closing stage of the war.
The black and white
photographs of Schwarze 4 reveal an aircraft with a camouflage
style common to many 211000-series Doras. These features include
the sharp demarcation line separating upper and lower surface camouflage
along the engine cowling, a similar but irregular boundary along the fuselage,
and sparse mottling on the tail fin. We interpret that for the most part,
the dominant fuselage upper surface color was one of the several shades
of Dunkelgrün 83, and from the rear of the cockpit to the tail
Grauviolett 75. Fuselage mottling was restricted to small patches
of Braunviolett 81 along the rear fuselage and tail fin, and a
sparse mottle of Dunkelgrün 83 located aft of the engine cowling
to the Balkenkreuz.
The underside color of Schwarze 4 is confirmed as being Lichtblau 76. However, in all photographs, the 1 meter long fuselage extension ahead of the tail is noticeably lighter than the under surface color. It was initially believed that this difference was illusionary, and based of the different reflectivity of light of this flat, boxy surface as opposed to the rearward tapering of the aircraft fuselage. However, our examination of numerous published and unpublished photographs of Doras infers that regardless of lighting conditions, this particular part of the aircraft was painted in a lighter color, as was also the radio access door. We believe that this color was most likely a light shade of Lichtblau 78; as it has been well documented that this color exhibited quite a range of tones, from medium bluish gray clear to almost a slightly off-white. Indeed, much evidence exists indicating that RLM 76 was "frequently more white than blue" and that the color was sometimes referred to as "Weissblau" in official German documents.
It must be stressed
that at this stage of the war, a significant portion of aircraft production
was dispersed and many components were manufactured and supplied to assembly
facilities from smaller firms scattered throughout Germany and its environs.
The strained economic conditions during that period produced situations
where supplies of certain raw and strategic materials were exhausted and
alternate materials had to be found and substituted in their places. Additionally,
drastic measures were undertaken to conserve and reduce the use of consumable
materials. We believe that
as conditions rapidly deteriorated, this use of substitutes was correspondingly
accelerated and likely found its way into the production of aviation paints
Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge
As indicated previously, Schwarze Winkel-Punkt and Schwarze 4 share very similar Werknummern (211934 and 211939 respectively), being separated from each other on the production line by only four intervening aircraft. Given such proximity during construction, it would be reasonable to assume that they both shared near identical camouflage patterns and colors. However, considering the many photographs of these aircraft, and in particular an excellent color photograph of the two together, this reasonable assumption can be proven to be incorrect.
The wing upper surface camouflage colors and patterns for both Schwarze 4 and Schwarze Winkel-Punkt provide the most convincing evidence of the economic strains and wartime pressures suffered by German aircraft manufacturers. This evidence is based on a color photograph of an aircraft dump at Fürth, Germany, which has previously been reproduced in whole or in part in several fine publications. However, much of the tremendous amount of camouflage information that this image presents to us has yet to be commented upon.
our research, the authors were most fortunate in being able to obtain two
first generation copy transparencies that came from different sources, with
both being taken from the original Kodachrome slide.
A detailed examination of the copy slides indicated that the color
renditions in each were virtually identical. This confirmation on the accuracy
of the reproductive process indicated that our copy slides mirrored the
original image very closely, and thus enhanced our confidence in the identification
of camouflage colors worn by these aircraft.
Click on image to enlarge
One of these transparencies provides us with an extraordinary view of the upper surfaces of two virtually consecutively produced Focke-WuIf 190 D-9s: Schwarze Winkel-Punkt and Schwarze 4. The former aircraft wears the common 75/83/76 camouflage scheme and pattern as observed on many other Doras. However, a close study of this aircraft's port wing leaves no doubt that where the camouflage pattern called for Grauviolett 75, it was painted Braunviolett 81!
Schwarze 4 paints a completely different picture. Its camouflage pattern is distinct from any previously described on other Doras. Most importantly is the contrast between the wing upper surface camouflage colors. The darker of the two is easily identified as Dunkelgrün 83 and is identical to the darker color on the upper wing of Schwarze Winkel-Punkt. This lighter color, a warm bun-gray, is unlike any previously identified official Luftwaffe camouflage color. Given the chaotic conditions near the end of the war, our investigation turned to the possibility that this color may have been a primer or like paint that was used as a substitute for an "official" camouflage color.
A close match to just
such a primer paint was found amongst the paint chip samples provided
by Merrick and Hitchcock which they identify merely as "Gray".
Our examination of the photographs presented here and the "Gray"
color chip under varying daylight conditions revealed that there was no
exact match to any particular Federal Standard 595a color, but the color
fell within the range of FS 26360/26405.
The "Gray" can best be described from the Monogram paint
chip as a warm greenish-gray color, with the FS colors being slightly
darker and greener than the primer paint chip. Crandall related to the
authors that he personally observed a very similar color applied to the
wheel wells, inside landing gear doors and main landing gear struts of
a very well preserved late-war Fw 190 D-9. This former 2./JG 26 aircraft,
Schwarze 8 (Werknummer 210968), was recovered from a lake in the
former German Democratic Republic in the spring of 1991.
There are very few comments in the literature regarding the (systematic?) use of primer paints as camouflage colors on various typos of aircraft in the last months of the war. Merrick and Hitchcock (as referenced in the printed version of this report) note that a gray primer paint, similar to the one noted above, was found along the fuselage side of the NASM JG 7 Me 262 during its restoration. A paint chip of this color is included on page 143 of their book and a comparative evaluation under natural light conditions reveals that falls between colors FS 36357/36559. When compared to the "Gray" color chip on page 35 of their book, this color appears lighter in shade with less of a green tint, and somewhat cooler in tone.
The Luftwaffe had since early 1944 begun to look for ways to save man-hours and materials in the construction of aircraft and components. This review eventually lead to the practice of not painting certain internal parts and surfaces, limiting of the number of coats of paint on exposed surfaces, use of stocks of previously discontinued camouflage colors with newer shades, using primer paints as camouflage colors, and so on. Indeed, this makes eminent sense when one considers that the service life of Luftwaffe aircraft was now so short and could be measured in the tens of hours instead of hundreds.
The reader is encouraged to review other references and photographs, which we believe strongly, infer the use of primer paints as camouflage colors. Indeed, in many published photographs taken during the last year of the war, many Luftwaffe fighters reveal upper surfaces with very light upper surface camouflage colors. For example, in a photograph of surrendered aircraft at Bad Abling, a Fw 190 A-8 is shown to have a very light upper surface camouflage color which appears quite close in gray tone to the Blaugrau 76 on an adjacent Me 110 G-4 night fighter. Although a precise identification of this color cannot be provided, we believe it is quite possible that the Focke-Wulf's lighter color could have been RLM 76, a much-lightened Grauviolett 75, or even a gray-colored primer.
In conclusion, readers researching late war Luftwaffe aircraft are pointedly reminded to always consider the conditions under which these aircraft were manufactured. Late war production practices were directly affected by the dispersal of component fabrication facilities, shortages in raw and strategic materials, substitution of poorer quality materials, reduction in quantities of materials used, the re-cycling of aircraft and aircraft parts, the short service life of aircraft, and so forth. Therefore, since uniformity of camouflage paint shades and overall quality was becoming increasingly unobtainable, one should realistically expect to find significant variations in prescribed German fighter camouflage colors and patterns produced during this period. We are confident that further research will confirm how variable late war Luftwaffe aircraft camouflage truly was.
National and Tactical Markings
As was common on late
war aircraft, Schwarze 4 wore the simplified "outline-style"
national markings in all positions. The various photos of the aircraft
reveal the standard black B4 and Bib type Balkenkreuze on the fuselage
and wing under surfaces respectively, and the white B6 style Balkenkreuz
on the wing upper surfaces. An all black H3 (420 mm) Hakenkreuz
is carried on the tail. The Kennzeichen and Ii. Gruppe bar
are very plain in appearance. Although slightly shaded, a close examination
of Plate 10 confirms that both markings were painted black, indicative
of aircraft from the 6. Staffel. The dimensions of the Gruppe
bar were about 800 mm long and 85 mm wide. This marking is the same
size on all four aircraft surrendered at Fürth, and with the similar style
black numbers support the belief that they all belonged to the same unit.
Maintenance and Other Stencils
A close examination
of all photographs of Schwarze 4 reveals that it wore the standard
maintenance and servicing markings in all locations.
Interestingly, the stenciling for the oleo compression indicator
on the main strut door was painted prior to the application of the Lichtblau
76 underside color. It is quite probable that the stencil was painted
on the aircraft's gray primer coat, and later was crudely masked off when
the underside color was painted on.
Where visible, the other maintenance markings look well preserved and are little worn. Published photographs of the Gruppe Technical officer's aircraft, Schwarze Winkel-Punkt (WNr. 211934) indicate that this aircraft was equipped with the MW 50 powerboost system, and it is quite probable that its stable mate, Schwarze 4, was also equipped with this system. The port side Werknummer is clearly visible and like other 211000-series aircraft was not doubt present on the starboard side of the fin as well.
Markings and Personal Regalia
does not reveal any markings or regalia attributable to JG 6 or any other
unit. Though not definitive, the lack of such markings and/or their remains,
plus the condition of the aircraft tends to suggest that this aircraft's
service history was brief and was restricted to one unit. In common with
the other aircraft identified with this unit, no personal markings are
recognized in any of the photographs. Also, the black and white spinner
spiral style is the same as seen on the other JG 6 Doras.
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