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Camouflage, Colors and Markings Topics related to Camouflage, Colors and Markings of WWI aircraft

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Old 21 March 2005, 02:31 PM   #1
edvalerio
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German Naval AC Camouflage

I recently joined the forum and have just finished burning up my eyeballs going through all the back-threads dealing with German AC camo - especially the lozenge systems. The amount of work you guys have put into researching this subject is truly astounding, making it rather odd to me that nowhere does Kriegsmarine AC camo appear to be discussed. Not only did there seem to be some sort of evolutionary process involved, but the end result was some really sexy lozenge schemes peculiar to seaplanes only. I have seen the two types of lozenge types on decals produced by Americal/Gryphon, but have no idea whatever if the colors are accurate, or indeed why there are two schemes in the first place. I know some companies had particular practices (i.e. H-B W29s and W33s appeared to leave horizontal surfaces in a solid color, Sablatnig used a stripey scheme on occasion, etc) but that's about it as far as my knowledge goes. Can any of you folks provide a thumbnail history of Kriegsmarine AC schemes in general, and perhaps some insight into the whys and wherefores of the two differently-colored lozenge schemes? Any help would be most appreciated.

Thanks much- Ed
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Old 21 March 2005, 03:19 PM   #2
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Hi Ed,

Welcome to the Forum ! There was a very good article on the matter in Over the Front, Volume 9, number 2, Summer 1994 by Dan-San Abbott - pages 168-172.

BTW, there was no Kriegsmarine at the time, it was the Kaiserliche Marine.

Best from Johan
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Old 21 March 2005, 04:30 PM   #3
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The German Navy Aircraft Camouflage Scheme.

edvalero:
The See-Flugzeug Versuchs-Kommando, SVK (Seaplane Testing Command) established a document that specified the the colors and placement on all Naval Aircraft. We are fortunate in that this document is available. It is titled "Allgemeine Baubestimmungen fur Seeflugzeug der Kaiserlichen Marine" (AAB General Construction Requiements for Seaplanes of the Imperial Navy.)
On 3 April 1917, the SVK an amendment to the AAB advising the manufacturers of the new finishing requirements, they were:
1. Standard National insignia, the black iron cross with a 5cm white border surrounding the cross to be painted on the outer ends of the upper surfrace of the upper wing and on the bottom of the lower wing, on both sides of the fuselage and rudder.
2. The Marine (Navy) number applied to every part of the plane.
3. On all surfaces visible from above, top and bottom wings, tailplane and the top of the fuselage and floats are to be painted in hexagons 30 cm in diamenter in three colors greyblue, grey-violet and grey-brown.
4. On all surfaces viewed from the side will be grey-blue, sides of the fuselage,rudder, floats and all struts.
5. On all surfaces as viewed from below shall be painted light grey, fuselage,and floats.
6. The under surfaces of the wings and tailplane were to remain the natural linen color.
The SVK revised the the AAb in April 1918 and introduced the new printed fabric with irregular hexagons in three colors, blue grey, grey-violet and grey-brown. The Irregular hexagons were 155mm x 200mm and skewed 5 degrees on the width of the fabric.
1. The new directive specified the top surfaces of the of upper and lower wings, fuselage and floats were to be covered with the new printed fabric.
2. The sides of the fuselage, floats and all struts were to be painted grey-blue.
3. All under surfaces were to be painted light blue. While this did include the under surfaces of the wing and tailplane, it permitted them to be in the natural fabric color.
4. The rudder color is to be white.
These are the correct colors of the Kaiserliche Marine aircraft. The decal of regular hexagons are incorrect when applied after April 1918. Most decals are printed in the incorrect colors. The only colors ever used were grey-blue,
grey-violet and grey brown.
Blue skies,
Dan-San
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Old 22 March 2005, 05:39 AM   #4
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German Naval AC Camouflage

Thank you for the prompt help, gentlemen. However, questions beget questions, true?

For Johan: Is there any way I can get a copy of the article you mention? I'd be happy to pay for it.

For Dan-San: Thanks for the comprehensive rundown on the naval lozenge camo. Am I to understand though, that all those 'regular' hexes from mid-1917 to mid-1918 were actually hand-painted? Before your comprehensive summary, the most info I had came from the sheet that comes with the Americal/Gryphon decal sheets, where they seem pretty insistent that- aside from the scheme you describe- there was also one in the 'bluer' color range, and furthermore, it was the more widespread of the two. They also only show the regular hexes for both. Do you consider all this stuff simply spurious?

Also, I have the volumes of Nowarra's '50 Jahre Deutsche Luftwaffe' covering from 1910-1918, which show tons of seaplane photos, many earlier than mid-1917. The schemes up to the introduction of the lozenges all seem to be solid color, but in the photos (all of which admittedly are rather poor, and few showing undersides) range from the very light to rather dark. Did the differing AC manufacturers simply follow differing practices as they saw fit, or was there some sort of official instruction on the matter?

As before, any help would be most appreciated.

Ed
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Old 22 March 2005, 10:20 AM   #5
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Kaiserliche Marine colors.

Ed:
In my posting, I listed all the colors EVER specifie by the SVK. The AAB applied to all manufacturers with no exceptions.
The 30cm regular hexagons were hand painted in the specified colors.
The "bluer" hexagons", I believe originated with the late Pete L.Gray in the late 1950s or early 1960s with his pieces printed in Aeromodeler Magazine,
to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude for his contributions in the study of WW1 camouflage on British and German aircraft. Dr. Merrill may insist all he wishes, however it does not change the facts relative to the SVK specified colors. The colors of the 30 cm painted regular hexagons and the printed irregular hexagons were the same, grey-blue, grey-violet and grey brown.
Blue skies,
Dan-San
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Old 22 March 2005, 10:26 AM   #6
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Hi,

Ed, If you go to :

http://www.overthefront.com/main/index.html

you will find that the number I mentioned is still available !

Best from Johan
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Old 27 March 2005, 08:38 AM   #7
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Just got the Windsock Datafile on the Hansa-Brandenburg W 29. The section in the back on camouflage and markings is by Ray Rimell, and has this to say about 'Naval lozenge':

"There are at least two known versions of the patterned fabric used on German naval aeroplanes which can be authenticated from surviving specimens and colour references. That there may even be more is not disputed but so far firm evidence is awaited. It would appear from photographs, cine film and study of original material that the regular hexagons in the pattern measured 15 centimetres across the flats and that three colours were used in each of the basic patterns. Grey-blue, purple and brown made up one of the known patterns; light violet grey blue, light blue and mid blue the other, more widely used, version - see accompanying tables. There is evidence that a larger, painted (?) version of the scheme also existed".

All upper surfaces, including the float tops, were covered with this fabric. The "dark" version was usually used on the W 29, but the "light" version was not uncommon, and at least once light on the flying surfaces and dark on the floats. Christiansen's W 29 appears to have had the "light" version. On wings the fabric was usually applied with the length of the bolt running chord-wise, and the tailplane and control surfaces span-wise. The bolts of cloth were matched to provide a continuous pattern. Rib tapes for the "dark" version were pink, and for the "light" version blue, or cut from the fabric.
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Old 27 March 2005, 01:59 PM   #8
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German Naval AC Camouflage

Thanks Tripehound, for the info from the Windsock W29 datafile. Before joining this forum and hearing from you gentlemen, the only reference to the naval lozenge camo was from the writeup (copywrite date 1992) supplied by Americal/Gryphon with their 2 sheets of naval hex decal sheets. The writeup, and indeed the coloration of the decal sheets, follow what was said in the Windsock datafile closely enough so that one could surmise both came from the same source material. Interestingly, the decal writeup cites the source for the lighter 'non-brown' scheme as an actual piece of fabric from an Agean-based AlbW4 owned by one Rodney Gerrard. Unfortunately, it is nowhere mentioned whether these were hand-painted hexes or pre-printed fabric. I scaled the hexes off the decals, and indeed they are meant to represent regular hexes of approx. 15cm across the flats.

Now, here is my problem: Dan-San cites an official document wherein a) no 'light' scheme is even mentioned, and b) the 'dark' scheme (that is the one with the brown in it that everyone seems to agree existed) is made up of hexes whose circular diameter is 30cm, which gives us a hex whose flats are something like 22cm across- a very significant difference. Also, according to Dan-San's document if I understand him correctly, all these hexes would have been handpainted, since the docoment only mentions preprinted fabric composed of non-regular hexes.

In other words, here we have three good (I understand Americal/Gryphon enjoys a reputation for doing decent research, as does Windsock and of course Dan-San) sources which do not add up. Clarification, anyone?

As ever- Ed
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Old 28 March 2005, 07:55 AM   #9
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The patterns were pre-printed. The dark fabric sample examined was from an H-B W 29 and the light sample was from an Albatros W 4. DSA's document, also in the possession of Peter Grosz, the author of the Datafile, has this, dated April 1918:

"All aircraft surfaces visible from above, that is the top surfaces of both wings, the fuselage, the floats, the tailplane and elevator, are grey-violet in regular hexagons of 15cm side length."

The "grey-violet" may be the light version. There's a difference between 'side length' and 'across the flats'. This may have come from different translations. I can shed no further light on this. The ABB document also says the three colors will be determined "in conjunction with the SVK", and that "Samples of the colour tones can be obtained from the SVK". Further, the Datafile, in the paragraph on Variations, states:

"None of the logical distinctions seem to apply for there is no evidence to suggest that one scheme succeeded the other chronologically, nor were the schemes apparently related to manufacturers or areas of operation."
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Old 28 March 2005, 09:25 AM   #10
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Hi Ed,

Dan-San is completely right with the colors, let there be no possible discussion about that.
However, the early planes (1915/1916) do seem to have had some variations. I've seen darker fuselages on for example the FF33 De-Porr, I've seen fuselages with the large 33 cm camouflage pattern, and this was also the case on the planes of the Torpedostaffeln, such as the Gotha WD14, but there are also photo's of completely white or very light greyish FF41A's, HB GW's and of these last ones I even very strongly doubt there was any camouflagepattern on the wings.
Concerning variations from unit to unit, there still is little known on the matter.
The Zeebrugge HB planes in 17/18 seem to have had a dark stripe on both sides of the fuselage near the tail, but that is on most of the planes, not on all of them, probably depending on the Staffel they were part of. This is, for me anyway, still as good as unknown territory.
Concerning Oostende, as there as good as no known photo's it is even harder to say.

Best from Johan
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