I have been doing some color research for the Panzer III last night and earlier today. I have the series of books called "Panzer Colors" and it's a great reference for pretty much everything on German Armor. I also did some online research as well.
Here's what I have found and decided to share this with you in case we have other people who are going to build German armor as operational in the DAK (Afrika Korps).
It's common knowledge that Germany operated armored vehicles in the early years of the War in Dark Gray, or even Dark Gray with clouds of brown, in a ratio of 2/3 dark gray to 1/3 brown. Most also know that in 1943 they started painting vehicles in "Dunkelgelb" which is the yellow color that was then used as a base. This is the "other" color that we often see used on German vehicles from WW2. It was used as a base color and various shades of brown and green were applied over the yellow base for additional camouflage, as seen fit by the unit Commanders.
However, the first German vehicles were delivered in Africa in the dark gray solid color. This color was not suited well for operating in the desert. So they developed a series of colors for use in Africa and occasionally German vehicles painted in these colors were also delivered in Russia after Barbarossa began.
17 March 1941 directives:
Overall base color of RAL 8000 which was called Afrika Grunbraun. This color was to be painted on 2/3 of the vehicle's exterior. Testors makes this color right out of the bottle. It's part number 2099, and can be seen on the left in this picture below.
This base color "Afrika Grunbraun" was supplemented with RAL 7008 which was called Khakibraun. Khakibraun was used on the remaining 1/3 outside of the vehicle. Testors also makes this color and it's part number 2098.
Afrika Grunbraun can be seen on the left in this picture below. Both bottles are oriented the same in each picture. Khaki Braun on the right, Grunbraun on the left.
But this didn't last long.
On 25 March 1942, a little more than a year later, a change was made. The same principle was applied. A base color covering the majority 2/3 of the vehicle and a secondary supplemental color was used on the remaining 1/3 of the outer surface. In order to save materials the base color did not get painted in areas where the secondary color was used. This means that the vehicle had a single layer of paint with two different colors used. The supplemental color was applied directly to the surface of the vehicle and not over the base coating.
This new change used slightly lighter colors.
Here they are:
RAL 8020 which was called "Afrika Braun 1942" and was used as the base color. The base color was applied to 2/3 of the vehicle. This color is on the right side of each of these last two pictures. Once again Testors makes this paint. It's part number 2102.
RAL 7027 which was called "Afrika Dunkelgrau 1942". This was used as the supplemental color and covered the remaining 1/3 of the vehicle. This color is shown on the left side in each of the last two photos. This color is also made by Testors and is part number 2103.
I'm sure there are other manufacturers out there that produce these colors too. This is what I have on hand and I wanted to give a little background information on the colors used by the Afrika Korps.
Now I have to decide which directive I want to follow, since these "older" 1941 colors were supposed to be used up before the newer 1942 colors were applied.
I even went as far as looking at the production times for the Panzer III "L". The Tamiya kit is an early variant of the "L" series model, since the kit has the side exit doors on the hull right above the road wheels. The later "L's" didn't have this feature as it was discontinued into the production run... It turns out that the "L" series of Panzer III was built in 1941 AND 1942... They built 1,470 Panzer III "L" tanks. Since my kit depicts an early version, I would take a guess and say it was built in 1941.
Keep in mind that these colors will obviously look different after I have sprayed them on the model. I used an "Ott" light that is supposed to mimic natural light when taking these pictures. Lighting is another thing that will affect how these colors look on your computer screen... as do the settings on your monitor...
Then the colors will change again once I apply a layer of "Desert Dust", so all of this may not even matter at all... This color shift will be determined by just how dusty I decide to make the tank look.