A silly question about the German RLM74/75/76 scheme

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by jjp_nl, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    I have a bit of a stupid question about the typical RLM74/75/76 scheme seen on many German a/c

    As I was getting my references together for a new German model kit project that possibly involves spraying this scheme I noticed the depictions of this schemes deviate quite a bit depending on the references one uses. This is mostly the case when it comes to the RLM74/RLM75 colors used on the upper surfaces. It appears two versions are doing the rounds, one consisting of two distinctly different shades of grey (a rather light one and a rather dark one, but very much greys at that) and the other being the same shade of light grey paired with a distinctly different shade of dark grey green, which has a very obvious green hue to it.

    I never know which one is which in terms of RLM type, but I sometimes get a little confused when it comes to picking the right shades of upper surface colors. Is it the two shades of grey, or a shade of light grey paired with a darker grey-green? Or did the paint itself change over time meaning two different shades of the same RLM color were used.
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #2 Airframes, Nov 7, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
    Not quite sure what you mean Jelmer. The colour combinations ran from dark to light, so 74 was the dark grey, 75 the medieum grey, and 76 the light, blue-grey.
    Camouflage patterns were originally laid down to a strict pattern for each class of aircraft, although there could be variations in the demarcation shape peculiar to individual factories, particularly on the '109.
    Differences in appearance in photographs is mainly due to the reproduction process. A perfectly exposed and printed B&W photo, printed on the correct grade paper, may well show the tones correctly. however, once this same photo has been copied, and then made into a half-tone negative for subsequent transfer to printing plates, that's when the fun, or problems, begin. there are so many possible variations in exposure, dot size, undercut and so on, that even before the image reaches the printed page, it can look totally different to the original. Add colour to this, or worse, a colourised B&W print, then reproduce this in printed form and variations can be massive.
    The 74 and 75 colours had more of a blue-purple bias, from the blue or red pigment included to obtain the paint shade. If a green tint is present, then this is more likely to be RLM 02, the greenish grey which replaced RLM 70 in earlier camouflage, normally seen as a combination of RLM71, RLM 02 upper surface, and RLM65 under surface, the latter being replaced, in the main, with RLM 76.
     
  3. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    Hmm, you're right Terry! Talking about colours without some sort of example to point what I mean doesn't work. I'm due to get some groceries still, but in an hour or so I'll try and add a few examples of what the issue is that I'm trying to sort out.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #4 stona, Nov 7, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
    I agree with Airframes about RLM 75 which did have a distinctly blue tinge to it. It was also lighter than many model paint manufacturers' representations.
    I slightly disagree about RLM 74 which did have a distinctly green element.
    I've seen a few bits first hand in good states of preservation and whilst of course 70 year old paint samples can't be depended on to be exactly as they were when applied,those observations apply across several different examples.

    Jerry Crandall wrote regarding RLM 74:

    "An early original sample of 74 grey-green from the paint firm of DKH in Wuppertal was a "greyish yellow green". Despite that,when the November 1941 L.Dv.521 chart was released,the 74 chip was the dark grey eventually recognised as 74 Graugrun......."

    It is worth noting that a translation of Graugrun,the name Messerschmitt applied to the colour,would be Grey-Green.

    I think it is important to keep things in perspective. Whilst the debates around original paint colours are good fun and interesting they don't really help you paint a model. Trying to match exact shades of 1940s camouflage paints will drive you mad and not make for a very good looking model :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. jjp_nl

    jjp_nl Member

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    #5 jjp_nl, Nov 7, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
    Thanks for the information stona, and I have to agree with you on the colours. Trying to figure it out won't really help matter in terms of building the model, much less spray it. Scale effect helps one to get away with colours that look different anyway (up to quite a bit lighter and paler compared to the real-life original thing) But I kinda was wondering about it since I bought a few new Gunze paints (love the stuff, but it's a real pity only very few webshops sell it) the other day that are supposed to match the RLM74/75/76 scheme. The RLM74 Graugrun paint in particular seemed rather dark grey for the most part,that is without that distinct slightly green hue to it.

    I'll just see how these turn out and if need be play around with mixing together my own set of RLM colours
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I tend to agree with Steve when it comes to actually painting a model. I used to use, many years ago, the excellent Humbrol Authentic Colours range, and since being discontinued years ago, I retain the lids from a couple of the Luftwaffe colours, in order to match when mixing my own. As long as it 'looks right', then I'm happy, and it's very probable that no two mixes I make are exactly the same.
    Regarding RLM 76 in particular, I've found that current paints purporting to be this shade, seem to be either too dark, or too blue, as Steve mentioned. As a result, I normally mix my own, using the above-mentioned tin lids as a reference, and remembering the line of a RAF crash report, which staed that this colour looked to be similar to RAF Medium Sea Grey, with a blue tinge. If I mix it this way, it matches (more or less) the old Humbrol colour, and is a good match for the original, as seen on wartime samples, and preserved panels, as well as good-quality colour original pics.
     
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