Hopefully some one can clarify this for me, two things.

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Staff Sergeant
Dec 6, 2005
North Delta BC
1) Up until a few days ago I have always believed the reason the Luftwaffe painted spirals on the spinners was to alert ground crew the prop was spinning much the same way the allies painted the tips yellow. I gather some people think it was an optical illusion to dazzle gunners which makes no sense to me since at altitude in hazy skies at full RPM it would seem they would be un-noticable, also many commercial jets have the same on their jet spinners ?? That and quite a few night fighters have the same.Also, is there any hard fast rule about how they should spin ? Some look like they spin from front to back, others from back to front ? Common sense says they should match the pitch of the prop ??
2)The red dotted lines often seen on top of the wings, my understanding is they were an outline around the panels covering fuel cells, is this correct ? Some say it's a "no step" border ??


Mar 28, 2009
The white spiral on spinners was a tactical recognition marking or IFF, nothing more, nothing less. This is made perfectly clear in surviving orders and communications.

As early as February 1944 the orders for the spinner spiral were being issued but there was some confusion about which units should apply them and how. The definitive clarification was issued on 20th July 1944.

"With effect from today the recognition markings of our own aircraft in the Western Area will be changed as follows.

1(a) Fighters, including twin engine fighters, ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft are to have a black and white spiral painted on their spinners.

1(b) All other operational aircraft, no special recognition markings.

2(a) Captured aircraft, if flown operationally to be marked as 1(a) above."

The bold is mine.

Some units had adopted spiral on their spinners earlier, but not the standard width, one fifth that of the diameter of the spinner. Some units, not necessarily fighters, had been applying them in staffel colours from the beginning of the war. This is probably where the idea evolved from.

Night fighters started to operate in day light in defence of the Reich and this would explain why some applied the marking, though they were technically exempt.

The spiral was to 'rotate' in the same direction as the propeller.

2) answered above...walkway demarcations.


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Nov 16, 2008
Thanks for the info on the spiral Steve.

The give-away on the walkway lines is that they are usually accompanied with similarly coloured "Nicht Betreten" stencils, equivalent to "No Step" in English.

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