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Luftwaffe Colours 1935 - 1945

Michael Ullmann

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ISBN 10: 1902109074 / ISBN 13: 9781902109077
Published by Hikoki Publications, 2008
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Luftwaffe Colours 1935 - 1945

Publisher: Hikoki Publications

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 2nd.

About this title


Much has been written about the Luftwaffe but no aspect has been more controversial than the question of camouflage and markings of the aircraft.

In this comprehensive study, the author follows the development and use of many colours used and establishes the links between the then standard RAL colours and those adopted by the German Air Ministry.

Using much original documentation he reveals how and why these finishes were developed and applied to both military and Lufthansa aircraft - in such detail that anyone with an interest in the subject, either as an historian, model-maker or aircraft preservationist - can recreate Luftwaffe colours with unprecedented accuracy.

Supplemented by over 300 photographs, over 40 drawings and 16 pages of detailed colour aircraft profiles, Luftwaffe Colours presents a remarkable insight into the art of WWII German camouflage markings.


First published in 2002, under the Hikoki label, (now owned by Crecy), if you already have it on your bookshelf don't despair - this is a rewrite with 104 extra pages.
It is divided into twenty-four chapters, of varying lengths covering every aspect of Luftwaffe paintwork. This is arguably the most comprehensive book published in English to date and I make no attempt to describe it chapter by chapter - that will be your pleasure. But, just to give you an idea of some of the subjects covered...
There is one chapter discussing paints from 1935 that were used on Zeppelins and Lufthansa machines; there is one on tropical colours; maritime aircraft; snow schemes and even gliders. The author also deals with aircraft interiors and there is a chapter on the dark camouflage of JG 54, plus one covering markings and insignia.
In the latter part of the book we get down to the real technical stuff with reprints, in English, of official documents, namely LDv 521/1 1938 Part 1, LDv 521/1 1941 Part 1 - Powered aircraft, LDv 521/2 1943 - Gliders, LDVI3 1938 - Handling of aircraft paints, Sammelmitteilung No 1 - Collected Communication 1, July 1944 and Sammelmitteilung No 2 - Collected Communications 2, August 1944.
Do not get the idea this is just a book of words though, there are a massive number of photographs, nearly 300.
As you might expect with a book on this subject, artwork illustrations plays significant part. The majority of these are side and top views and, importantly, they are produced in 'flat colours' - that is to say they do not follow the modern trend of 'artistic shading' and they are devoid of any national and unit markings. This is very important because the reader needs to get an accurate idea of the camouflage pattern which otherwise could be compromised with 'shadows' and insignia.
This surely must be the ultimate student's textbook on the subject - if you can get the materials you can even mix your own paint, would you believe!
And finally, the price - this edition is the same as the previous one, even with all those extra pages! Excellent value...

Ernie Lee -- Model Aircraft Monthly 2008

If ever there was a topic that caused more arguments, debate, and disagreements amongst scale modelers than "Luftwaffe Colors", I'd be interested as to what it is. When you factor in things like WWII ending 63 years ago, the fading of photos taken with color or monochromatic film, restorations, field mixes of colors, enemy paints thrown into the mix, oxidation, and a million other variables, one wonders if it isn't impossible to reach a consensus. In recent years though, advancements have occurred in answering some of those questions. Through improved technology, and more and more artifacts (read; wrecks) surfacing, the aviation history and modeling communities have been provided with better evidence, if not hard answers, as to what may have been worn by the aircraft we all so love to read about and replicate in scale.

Following 1994's "The Gordian Knot" and 1997's German-Language "Colours of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945", comes the Second Edition of Michael Ullmann's 2002 "Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945". It is an outstanding investigative text which comprises 360 pages printed on high-quality gloss-finish stock (104 more than the original's 256), over 300 black & white photos, 16 pages of color photos, 40 drawings, and a set of color chips. Several of the technical drawings, once in black and white, are now presented in color. In this edition, like the original, Ullmann follows the development of colors used and establishes the links between the then-standard RAL colors and those adopted by the German Air Ministry.

The assertions made in this book are clearly stated as being "based exclusively on original documents". However, the author is intelligent enough to add the following disclaimer: "We now know that old colour photos and colour remnants are unreliable as evidence, that shades varied from one manufacturer to another, and that people have poor colour memory...In the opinion of this author, in the light of the above facts, a scientifically precise reproduction of the colour shades is out of the question today."

As such, this book does not intend to imply that it is the definitive authority on what is, and is not, beyond reproach. Instead, Ullmann uses the vast wealth of information he has complied over the years to present the best possible explanations of the colors so many have debated for so long, and what they most likely are, based upon said information. After reading this book, and considering the documents and sources used for his conclusions, I'm confident that there are few authors that can be more definitive than Ullmann is here.

Having said that, I did notice a few contradictory statements throughout the book, largely in photo captions. On page 125, a Bf-109G lays resting where it crashed. It displays a `saw-toothed" pattern on the wings, and the author describes the colors as "74/75/76"; the standard "Daylight" camouflage scheme. However, the color contrast on the wings is so dramatic, I would offer that they are not, in fact, RLM 75/76. In fact, the lighter of the two colors is in stark contrast to the presumed RLM 75 on the horizontal stabilizers. Again, on Page 96, is a wonderful picture of a JG.3 "Freidrich". Ullmann speculates that the ring camouflage is "either RLM 74, or possibly a Dark Green." To my eye, it is a match for the presumed RLM 74 on the wing, which is, of course, dünklegrau; almost purplish-grey in hue. Is this important? No. I simply would have worded the captions differently. The differences could be the angle of the flying surfaces' light reflection, or a myriad of other factors. The bottom line is they're great photos with dubious captions.

Like the original edition, this book is not a book of color profiles. It is a "scholarly work", one that Mr. Ullmann has clearly devoted a large portion of his adult life to. It covers everything from the historical aspect of RLM (RiechsLuftarhtMinesterium) colors and their derivation from RAL (Reichsausschuss für Lieferbedingungen, or Reich Committee for Conditions of Supply) documents, to the L.Dv.521 series of regulations directly applicable to paint application, to the different types of camouflage applications, aircraft types, markings regulations, and informational tables. Sound like a pretty dry read? Well, it's actually not. While watching paint dry may not be a lot of fun, reading about the arcane development of Luftwaffe paint regulations, including the type of lacquer specification, etc., and how it relates to one of my favorite subjects is actually quite enjoyable in the presentation by Herr Ullmann. Compared to the Merrick series (VOL.1 & VOL.2) it is an easy read. Additionally, I want to make clear, that while it is not a "color profile book", there are, in fact, numerous small color camouflage pattern diagrams.

There are also many, many diagrams of marking specifications, reproduced directly from factory documents. These should answer any questions one has regarding dimensions, placement, size, etc. of the national markings used by the Luftwaffe. The hundreds of photos in the book, most of which were included in the First Edition, are a consortium of all types used by the Luftwaffe in World War II. If you do not own the First Edition, then I will offer that a lot of these pictures have not been previously seen by the reader. The extra pages in this edition may mislead one to think that there are 100+ pages of new material. That is a misnomer. There are about 10 pages of new material over the 1st Edition; the other pages are due to some photos being enlarged over the previous versions, and re-formatting of the page layouts.

One issue I find to be a disappointment about this book is the set of Color Chips. They're really very small (29x16mm), and they have a glossy finish to them. I think it would be beneficial if they were larger, and had a matte, or at least semi-matte finish. Adding a glossy finish to the chips, in my opinion, further clouds the issue of color accuracy. A few of the colors differ slightly from the larger ones provided in VOL.1 of Merrick's work, but I feel confident that both of these authors have infinitely more wisdom concerning this issue than I. I will take it on faith that the colors were mixed using authentic documents by professionals. The similarities between the two sets of chips, however, are just as striking.
In conclusion, is this book worth the money spent? Absolutely. While it may not appeal to the average "it looks like a Focke-Wulf to me" modeler, it is an invaluable source of archival data for the modeler who is more concerned with color accuracy. It will also have great appeal to the historians among us, or the Luftwaffe and General Aviation enthusiasts. Additionally, it is a pleasant read, considering the arcane subject at hand. If you already have the First Edition, you may want to seriously consider whether or not you need to add this to your collection. But, if you don't have any of Michael Ullmann's works, you definitely can not do any better than to add this book to your library! -- 2008

Luftwaffe Colours by Michael Ullmann (Hikoki)

This publication is a larger re-issue of a work released several years previously (30% more pages, due to the average print size of the illustrations being much larger) which earned its author the status of expert within the model aircraft community.
The book starts by addressing the topics of colour and of paint, then enters into the heart of the matter by discussing the colours applied to Lufthansa and Zeppelin aircraft, then the colours of the Luftwaffe in their entirety. The author then tackles the the questions of "tropical" colours and naval aircraft, followed by snow and night camouflage. The publication continues with a chapter devoted to the colours of the JG54 and concludes with topics including gliders, export colours, brands and aircraft interiors.
All possible colour blocks have been reproduced using the following standard scales: 1/72, 1/144 and 1/288, which is extremely useful for determining templates.

For model enthusiasts, this publication may not provide all the required answers. As the author states on page 13: "it is the opinion of the author, in light of the facts detailed below, that a scientifically accurate reproduction of colour tones is currently out of the question". Thus the author, conscious of the scientific truth of the situation and wanting to avoid any assumptions (which counts towards his integrity), goes into greater depth regarding the theoretical aspects of the questions presented (RLM norms and editions, paint manufacturers' specifications). For the reader, this is the principal source of frustration. Here we have a subject where a definitive answer is almost impossible to provide, thus we would be happy enough with "beyond reasonable doubt" (as say jurors and financial auditors) but this is not provided. We would also rather the author "got his hands dirty" and put forward his own theory of model decoration... for example, it seems remarkable that this publication does not include any aeroplane colour profiles!

Conclusion: the most detailed study produced so far on German aircraft paintings...but may constitute a source of frustration for model enthusiasts.

Now some of you may be thinking that you've seen this book before. Well yes and no. Author Ullman did produce an earlier version of this book that was ten dollars cheaper and had a hundred fewer pages in it. This is an expanded version with all that has been learned since the last edition added in or changed.

It is still very much a scholarly work that is full of photographs, camouflage charts and color profiles. Color information on the Luftwaffe is probably one of the best researched aircraft camouflage subjects around. This is probably the best researched book on the subject currently available. It is not a color profiles book, but a scholarly work that cites the various official documents on color to show how these planes were intended to be painted and marked. We all know that these requirements were often amended on the field and differed somewhat from place to place where the aircraft were built. We also know that as the war situation grew worse, these specifications were followed less and less to the letter and more with what was on hand.

Nonetheless, the Germans were still following these requirements pretty closely and I've always been amazed that even when it was known that the end was near, there were still people concerned about the proper camouflage of an aircraft. Now I could go on and say more about it, but for the sake of brevity, I'll refer you to the earlier review. All that was said about that edition can be said about this.

So here it is. Pretty well all you would want to know about the subject and the culmination of years of research and inquiry. It is a book that every Luftwaffe camouflage enthusiast should have on their shelves, even if they have the earlier edition. It is a book that I know I'll be referring to time and time again over the years and one that I can most highly recommend to you. -- Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness - Nov 2008

Revised and updated, this is an incredible exposition on a fascinating but often misunderstood subject. With high production values, the book includes a colour chip chart for
definitive presentation of the Reich's chosen hues. The basis of this huge work lies in the official documents that dictated every era and theatre, be it night or day operation, frontline or trainer, of the Luftwaffe's operations. Many of the original Reichsluftfahrtministerium (State Air Ministry) pages are reproduced to illustrate the complex patterns required. These are supported by a clear and well laid-out narrative plus plenty of black and white photos and modern day colour artwork.
-- March 2009 - Flypast

The first edition of Michael Ullmann's Luftwaffe Colours was an incredible achievement in color research, providing a detailed analysis of the actual paints used on Luftwaffe aircraft. While many thought that the first edition would be the final word on the origins and composition of Luftwaffe colors, this new volume shows that research continues on. The author has added more information, and re-examined his original research, and has found that his theories on late-war colors continue to hold up. Other additions include the link between RLM colors and the RAL register and the inclusion of more primary source documentation. The result, while useful in the conclusions for the modeler, goes far beyond what most would expect and is, in fact, a richly detailed historical text that will likely form the foundation of all future Luftwaffe color research.

For those not familiar with the first volume, or for those who need a refresher, this book is about color and the use of pigments in a carrier liquid to present those colors on a solid surface. To properly understand the final result (i.e. paint on a plane), there needs to be a bit of background presented, and the first section does just that by answering the important question, "What is color?". This ...

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