Forgive me for my audacity in daring to suggest a new idea on this hotly debated public, but I've never seen this angle examined, and at the risk of making a complete fool of myself, I would like to submit for your perusal the following hypothesis.
Originally Posted by Dan_San_Abbott
I have the original Fok.DR.I wing drawings, In the bill of materials, the colors called out are:
1. Signierschwartz, black crosses.
2. Oberzuglack. top clear coat.
3. Anilinfarbepulver, Anilin dye powder. Olive-brown upper and side surfaces.
4. Weisedeckfarbe, white cross field lacguer.
5. Blaulackfarbe, under side sky blue.
THERE ARE NO OTHER COLORS OF PAINTS, LACQUERS OR COLORED DOPES.. The Fok.DR.I is painted olive brown on the top and side surfaces and sky blue on the under surfaces.
And Eric Goedkoop said:
If I recall our numerous earlier go-rounds correctly, the color of this anilinfarbepulver is not specified on any existing document. Pigment is called for, not any specific pigment or pigments.
First of all, aniline is a base for the preparation of dyes. Mixed with the appropiate pigment, you can get several colors. If brown and green were used to paint DrIs, those pigments ought to have been specified separately in the factory specs. Since nothing was specified, we must assume that anilinfarbepulver
was a default color, in our case olive brown.
Second, we have to take into account that the Germans switched from reddish brown and green camouflages to mauve and green. Whatever the reason, wether being more effective as a cammo or more cost effective from the factory viewpoint, it doesn't make sense in the case of the Dr I to go back to brown and green. It's a step back, and adds more man hours to finish an airplane in two colors than in one. That doesn't make sense at all in view of the wartime pressures and the "frugality" of Anthony Fokker.
Third, the photographic evidence used for some to claim they can see different color streaks. It could be dismissed attributing it to the vagaries of black and white photography of the time, but that's not conclusive enough.
I will counter with an argument wich I think has not been put forward:
You forget that the Fokker streaky finish was a hand job. Being a manual job It's impossible that it produces uniform results, instructions or not, let alone considering it was carried out by badly fed workers working long hours.
Think of it, the heavy dark colored streaks wich suggest a different color are the result of the worker dipping the brush too much in the can and leaving a solid streak of color. That these streaks appear side by side to streaks that seem like a lighter color is just the result of the worker trying to follow the instructions and , he has been ordered to paint the fabric in streaks, not solid olive. Or if you want to see it this way, too much paint in one brush stroke, means too little in the next ones, the worker has a limited amount of paint and has to stretch it out, so either by excess or defect the application is uneven. That leads to the contrast of darker and lighter areas on some examples, that coupled with photographic reproduction leads some to think multiple colors were used.
Those are arguments that support the idea that DrIs were painted in a single color. But what was it? Aniline is the base, but it can't be applied directly, it has to be mixed with a pigment to produce a powder that can then be mixed with something else to be applied as paint, if understood correctly the process.
Here comes the interesting part. The first dye ever obtained with aniline was mauve
in 1856. Suddenly, the German fixation with such color in the painted green and mauve cammoflauge and the printed lozenge fabric makes sense. It's not only a color that blends more effectively with the landscape and the sky (recent experiments by the US Navy concluded that the best cammo for aircraft would be a pale pink, but the idea was not pursued because it would look goofy, cost, and irrelevant in the age of radar
) , but is a color that can be easily obtained. Germany was at the head of dyestuff technologies at that time. In fact, that was the cargo the German merchant submarines carried to the then neutral US in 1916 to trade for vital raw materials. Makes sense they would choose a color easy to obtain.
What has this to do with Fokker streay color, whatever it may be?
Aniline is oily and, although colourless, it slowly oxidizes and resinifies in air, giving the sample a red-brown tint.
The surviving fabric samples of MvR DrI are a maroon color. It was overpainted in red over the streaky olive brown... what if the maroon color was the result of the oxidization of the underlying aniline based pigment? (remember the red in some of MvR airplanes was quite translucent, so if the base darkens, the red top coat would become darker as well, that's my reasoning)
This is conjeture, but to confirm the hypothesis of olive brown, this a question that needs to be posed to chemist. How can you obtain a brown dye, or better, pigment, with aniline? I hope the answer is that such is one of the easiest, cheapest colors that can be obtained if not the one that fits best those criteria.
Of course, there may be easier to obtain colors, such as mauve, but of all possible combinations, we are interested only in those that could be used as cammo, a shade of green or brown.
There's one last question. Why olive brown? that is, a greenish brown? Why not plain brown? Seems that from oxidation of the aniline, the color would be a reddish brown, so we would be back to the starting point. If reddish brown as in early German camo was easy to obtain, why the change to mauve? (unless it's more effective as a cammo, in combination with green)
Doesn't this oxidation and darkening process remind you of PC10? I don't recall the specifics of application of the streaky cammo and varnish, but I wonder:
What if the anilinfarbepulver
was brown and the varnish produced a similar "green shift", after all, it altered the undersurface blue to a turquoise shade.
Perhaps the pigment was olive brown in origin, but I think it's worth examining that angle.