Grand Messerschmitt project: Camouflage

The project has finally progressed to a point where I could start airbrushing actual camouflage. For paints I chose Tamiya acrylics and Mr. Color lacquers. Normally I paint everything with Tamiya, but in this project I am experimenting with Mr. Color, and so far the results have been absolutely excellent (albeit a bit stinky).

Here is what I have used:

Finnish field green (olive green)x4096Tamiya XF-61
Finnish blackTamiya XF-1
RLM 65 Hellblau (Finnish “DN-väri”)x5414Tamiya XF-23
RLM 74 Graugrünx6081*Tamiya XF-24
RLM 75 Grauviolettx6173Mr. Color #37
RLM 76 Lichtblaux5622Mr. Color #117
RLM 71 Dunkelgrünx4079Mr. Color #17

* Tamiya XF-24 or Tamiya XF-63? I think the appearance of the latter is just too dark for this small scale.

Frankly, it is amazing how much contradicting or misleading information about German colors is out there, considering that we still have samples and formulae from companies such as Warnecke & Böhm, plus all the research on the topic. And don’t even get me started on seaplane colors (I will discuss that in a future blog post)…

Good reference sources for German colors are “Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945” (by Merrick & Hitchcock; Monogram Aviation Publications 1980) and “The Modeller’s Luftwaffe Painting Guide” (Smith et al; Kookaburra Technical Publications 1979). Also, the “Official Luftwaffe Color Chart” from Eagle Editions is great – it comes with paint chips from the aforementioned Warnecke & Böhm, Gmbh. For Finnish colors a good reference is “Suomen Ilmavoimien maalaukset ja merkinnät” (Keskinen et al; Apali 1996).

For airbrushing, I thinned the Mr. Color paints about 50/50, and Tamiya about 70/30. Uniform surfaces were sprayed at about 20 psi using the Badger 105 Patriot gravity-feed, double-action airbrush equipped with a “medium” needle. For the mottle patterns I used my other Patriot, with a “fine” needle, and used approx. 7 psi pressure (more or less the lowest pressure where the airbrush still actually functions).

Let me discuss each of the aircraft and their camouflage:

Bf 109G-2 “MT-213”: I started the whole camouflage effort by masking and airbrushing this one, since the colors are different from all the other models in this project. In April 1944, “MT-213” had just emerged from overhaul, and had been painted in the Finnish “sotamaalaus” (“warpaint”) pattern: olive green and black camouflage pattern, with RLM 65 undersides. The aircraft also had the “Eastern Front” identification stripes (in yellow). I did these by first masking and then spraying white (as a “primer”), and – without removing the masks – over-sprayed with yellow. I also painted white roundels to prevent any color from showing through thin decals.

Bf 109G-6 “MT-431”: This one, like all the remaining aircraft, was first sprayed with RLM 76 for undersides and RLM 75 for the top side, after which I masked the wing, the horizontal tail, the dorsal spine, and the top of the cowling for a splinter pattern and airbrushed with RLM 74. Next step was the mottle pattern on the fuselage and vertical tail using RLM 75. The Luftwaffe mottle camouflage is tricky, because every aircraft is different, and there is actually considerable variation in the “density” of the splotches, making some aircraft appear darker than others. The RLM 75 was followed by some more RLM 74. I believe I have managed to match the patterns very closely based on photographs of the individual aircraft. Finally I masked the aircraft for the Finnish warpaint pattern and sprayed some black. This aircraft received a partial camouflage when it was overhauled, and no olive green was used.

Bf 109G-6 “MT-452”: Again, standard Luftwaffe camouflage but based on photo evidence, the mottle pattern is denser. I also sprayed some RLM 02 as if the aircraft had been “patched” – this is just a conjecture looking at black and white photos of the aircraft (my model will represent the aircraft post-war, with considerable wear and tear).

Bf 109G-6 “MT-456”: This one has the most “normal” looking Luftwaffe standard scheme, and appears considerably less dense in the mottle pattern compared to the other two G-6s. The painting process was finished by adding yellow identification stripes and roundels for national markings.

Bf 109E-7 of JG 5: The E-7 received the standard Luftwaffe 74/75/76 pattern, but also got an overspray of RLM 71 on the fuselage. There are several photographs of this aircraft, and let’s say that some dark green is sort of a “best guess” – not just mine: the painting on the cover of Günther Scholtz’s memoir shows green, and the decal sheet I am using suggests RLM 70. But again, for this scale real RLM 70 looks awfully dark, so I opted for the ever so slightly lighter color.

What remains now is a lot of detail work, coating the models with Future, applying decals, more Future, and then a semi-gloss varnish.

Previous: Cockpit detailing, part 2 | Next: Canopies & wheel wells

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