Book Review
Luftwaffe Color Chart

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

For many years, that landmark publication, "The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945" was regarded as the last word on RLM colours. The authors later acknowledged some errors, but in most modellers minds all that need be written on the subject was contained in that volume. But one of the curious things about the study of RLM colours is that, as time goes on, more - not less - information continues to be unearthed and the whole topic is one of constant revision and refinement.

Forgotten documents resurface to shed light on inconsistencies and more relics are recovered and restored. K.A. Merrick, one of the authors of the Monogram book, begins his latest work on the subject -- with the following statement:

"... I am afraid I will probably raise some hearty protests when the pages of this work are read and discussed, because I have, with the aid of a considerable amount of original documentation, been forced to to reconsider the subject in it's entirety." ("Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings 1933-1945 - Volume 1", published by Classic Colours).

Which brings us neatly to Eagle Editions Luftwaffe Color Chart. Arguably the one (semi-)constant in the discussion about the application and use of the paints - is the paints themselves. So Eagle Editions have very wisely sidestepped all the debates and gone back to source, as far as is possible, and commissioned a set of RLM paint chips from a paint manufacturer who actually produced the real thing some 60+ years ago for the Luftwaffe.

Warnecke & Böhm were one of the principal paint suppliers to the Luftwaffe during WW2. They have painstakingly recreated the colours by reference to their own archives and modern analysis of preserved examples. Therefore, we have here something possibly unique - an almost direct link back to to the actual paints in question.

The chart comes in the form of a triple-fold pamphlet containing 30 x 2" (5cm) square paint chips, including the late-war colours. The important thing to remember is that these are real RLM specification paint chips - not printed reproductions and not FS equivalents.

So you're thinking - That's it! At last we have an "absolutely" (there's that word again!) accurate guide to RLM colours! Well, yes and no... These paint chips reproduce, as accurately as possible, the products of one RLM-approved manufacturer. The disconcerting fact pointed out by Eagle Editions and K.A. Merrick is that different manufacturers used quite different ingredients to produce their officially-accepted paints - so there was a degree of latitude involved.

Add to that the problem that these paints weren't always applied correctly and the scope for variation increases still further. But nevertheless, short of finding a perfectly preserved set of original RLM paint chips in the attic, this set of paint chips is probably as accurate as you can get. Even if you have other RLM references, I would still recommend Eagle Editions' chart - in particular, I found it an excellent accompaniment to the charts included with K.A. Merrick's new book (see above).

Buying books to keep up to date with all the latest theories on RLM paints can be a very expensive business but, by publishing a stand-alone paint chart, Eagle Editions have been able to produce an affordable reference which won't become out-dated if new theories emerge (which they almost certainly will!). I recommend this is an almost indispensable addition to the library for all serious Luftwaffe modellers.

Contact details
Eagle Editions Ltd.
P.O. Box 580
Hamilton MT
59840 USA

(406) 363-5415

Thank you to Eagle Editions for kindly supplying the review sample.
Modellers tend to be absolutist by nature - we like fixed references so we can nail a subject down. Which is probably why the subject of RLM colours is both so fascinating and frustrating for modellers - for the very reason that it defies all efforts to be pinned down absolutely...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Suggested Retail: $25.00
  PUBLISHED: Nov 01, 2005

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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