Few modeling topics are more controversial than the color of German AFV camouflage.
Nothing quite gets everyone’s bowels in an uproar faster than debating what color to paint tanks, softskins and artillery during the Poland and France, 1940 campaigns. The regulations are very specific, but the surviving photographs are frequently ambiguous or even misleading. This is in part because vehicles on campaign get dirty and dusty, thereby inadvertently hiding their paint schemes. But mostly the surviving photographs are soldier snapshots taken with cameras whose lenses are nowhere as good as even today's cell phone cameras. The optics of the period don’t render the various colors accurately on Black & White film, so as a result, modelers for generations (and manufacturers, too) have defaulted to the “panzer gray” solution that many experts now agree is incorrect (the all-gray scheme was adopted after the Fall of France and prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union).
Fortunately, the three-color camouflage pattern used prior to the war is known, and tends to stand out in surviving photographs. Prior to July, 1937, new Wehrmacht vehicles were painted in a tricolor scheme known officially as feuersicherer Buntfarbenanstrich
(“fireproof multi-color camouflage”). The three colors were officially listed as
Nr. 17 Erdgelb-matt
(“matt earth yellow”)
Nr. 28 Grün-matt
Nr. 18 Braun-matt
Even after that, it wasn't until November, 1938 that the army was ordered to repaint ALL vehicles in the new Dunkelbraun
Nr.45 and Dunkelgrau
color scheme. Prior to that date, older vehicles in the feuersicherer Buntfarbenanstrich
pattern didn't have to be repainted.
While the colors were promulgated by THE Authorities in military paint schemes, the Reichsausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung
("State Commission for Delivery Terms & Quality Assurance"), or RAL, very little study seems to have been done on the actual color palette with the long, tongue-twisting name seems to have been done. Numerous armor books include pre-war camo illustrations, apparently Jentz and Doyle’s Panzer Tracts No.1-2, Panzerkampfwagen
is the only widely-available source with researched paint chips.
Worse for kitmakers, previously no paint manufacturers offered these colors. If you wanted pre-war camo, you were on your own. Now, after some research and trial & error, Andrew Preston of “Devil Over the Atlantic” paints has filled that void with the release of a three-bottle set of the pre-war colors.
The set comes with three 2 oz. bottles.
Preston has done a thorough job researching the paints from the few surviving sources. The result is a set that will allow model builders to embrace the Buntfarbenanstrich
(I should also reveal in the spirit of transparency that I worked with Andrew in vetting the early versions of these colors, and have encouraged him to fill this gap in the hobby's paint options).
Simply stated, this set is a watershed for German AFV builders.
With the war years thoroughly represented in kit form, the pre-war time period is now seeing a small boom as new kits like Bronco’s armored cars (e.g., the Panzerspähwagen
Kfz.13) and Sd.Kfz. 221s make their way onto the market. These offerings cry out for the vivid, distinctive pre-war paint schemes, yet previously modelers either had to forgo the pre-war version or come up with the paint scheme through trial & error.
That's easier said than done, since those resource books I referenced above (at least the ones I've examined over my two years as a reviewer on Armorama
tend to have widely-varying renditions of the pre-war scheme, veering from gaudy light greens for Nr. 28 Grün-matt
to very dark tones, while the Nr. 17 Erdgelb-matt
often looks like recycled Dunkelgelb
The paints themselves are very easy to use and can be used in airbrushes straight from the bottle at 20 psi more or less. They go on nicely with ordinary brushes and dry to an even tone and look. For the purpose of this review, I have hand-brushed them onto some scrap white plastic to show the colors and differing opacities. The paints were applied either feathered or with 1-3cm. wide stripes of RAL Nr.5 Schwarz-matt
(for more information go here
While we're still trying to persuade some of you to give up all-Panzer Gray paint schemes for Fall Weiß
("Case White," the invasion of Poland in 1939) and Fall Gelb
("Case Yellow," the 1940 campaign in France), there is no argument about the pre-war camouflage color scheme up until 1938. Now at last there's a set that makes that scheme come to life.
Thanks to Andrew Preston
of DOA Hobbies
for providing the review samples. Be sure to mention Armorama
when ordering this set.