Bully Lang's Fw-190A-5, II/JG 54, summer 1943

25 posts · Last reply 11 months, 1 week ago
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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    The Bf-109s and Fw-190s of JG 54 in the era 1941-43 are always interesting for those who enjoy "painting" the most of their modeling. The group was outside Leningrad for most of that time, other than when II/JG 54 took part in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943, and they took the time to modify the camouflage of their airplanes to better fit their surroundings. The result is a lot of one-off interesting schemes to figure out and reproduce.

    The "3-tone" upper scheme on II/JG 54's Fw-190s was used in the summer of 1943 for the airplanes taking part in Kursk. They have long been thought to be an overpaint of RLM 79 tan, RLM 71 (or 70) dark green, and a light green color. Since this last color wasn't part of the RLM official colors at the time, verious "experts" have opined that the unit used captured stocks of Russian "tractor green" used on tanks and airplanes. But where did it come from? Things got further confused when the Fw-190A-5 restored by Paul Allen's museum came out with a light green no one had ever seen before, but which the Museum claimed had been copied from the paint still on the airframe when it was recovered.

    Confusion reigned, for those who don't just accept an idea because it's "there." Why didn't they use all the paints they had provided by the RLM?

    For me, after failing to do that scheme by blotching all three colors, in trying to figure out what I had done wrong, I realized one color had to go on overall, for the others to be painted over. That color would be a "primer" of sorts.

    And then I got an update from Jeff Groves' blog site "Inch High Guy" where he published photos of his latest creation. A JG 54 190 in this scheme - except he used RLM 02 for the "light green." The light came on! Of course - the standard German "primer" also used as a camo color.

    On thing that struck me when I looked at Jeff's model and at my final result is that this scheme makes more sense air-to-air, and it fits better with the "steppe" background where Kursk happened. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

    So I tried it, and these photos will show you what I got.

    Comments pro and con actively solicited. Explain your reasoning.

    7 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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    John vd Biggelaar said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    This is a great camouflage pattern, Tom @tcinla
    You can already its effectiveness on your table top.

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    Nick Newell said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Russia. 1943. Total SNAFU right? Tom, nothing surprises me much these days and I'd believe just about anything when it comes to Luftwaffe colours! It does however look strange to my eye, so I immediately went to my treasured copy of the Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft: 1935-1945 and would you believe it, your scheme isn't shown! I await the finished result with anticipation! As an aside, I still don't how you manage to crank out so many models when producing all your books. I've been beavering away at a Tamiya Yamoto for the past six months and that's just one model when you've probably made a dozen! Don't get me started on photo etch or I'll have a melt-down! Best wishes. Nick

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    A great entry, my friend @tcinla! Your ideas about the actual scheme really make sense. Looking forward to see it proceeding!

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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    @johnb - LOL!

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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    @nickn - The one thing I know about Luftwaffe paints is that 48 years ago, everybody thought all German airplanes were in 2 greens and a blue. Until Pete Chalmers took an old Fujimi 109 (state of the art then) and modified it to a 109K and did it in greys. Looked strange as could be when he brought it in to the meeting at Golden Gate IPMS. George Lee looked at it and said "hmmmm..." Then Pete took it to the Chicago Nats and some of the Heavy Hitter researchers then saw it, and said "hmmm..." and they all went off and did more research, and nowadays...

    When you are guessing colors in a B&W photo, it's a crapshoot.

    The Official Monogram Guide is a... guide.

    You should see the next one - I have the "color instructions" from the Aeromaster sheet for Priller's 109E from 20 years ago (best guess at the time) compared to a color instruction today. Two completely different airplanes. One not a wild guess.

    All of this is what makes this fun.

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    Pedro L. Rocha said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Tom @tcinla

    As you know by now I am one of those you thinks from his own head and tries, as much as possible by the means available, to look at photos of the subject to build, or at least similar machines from the same unit and time period, in order to make my own interpretation of B&W photos.

    Now this is always a can of worms, and I seldom go in discussions about it.

    There is however one point I always dismiss regarding the “odd” multi-green(ish) used not only in JG54 machines but also in JG53 and even gruppen of JG26 machines, and that is the use of Russian paints, aircraft paint or otherwise.

    As thin as german supply lines might have been, getting hand of large quantities of such paint is unlikely for many reasons, the main one being the scorched land policy of the Soviets during their retreat, which by the way happened more than a year before they started painting their planes in a more suitable camouflage to the local environment that the air superiority 74/75.

    Pre-war RLM paints, or even field mixed colours from the available 70/71/02/24/04 etc is also a likely possibility imo amongst others.

    That said, I might pop in a 109 later on, since the only 190 I plan building this year doesn’t fit the bill here.

    By the way Tom, are wullenmunster bombers acceptable for the GB?

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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    @holzhamer - anything is appropriate.

    You comments here echo my thoughts on Russian paint.

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    Eric Berg said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    @tcinla - I have to agree with John. I did a double take looking at those last four photos. That camo blends right into your work board perfectly.

    I will do some research and see if I can find a subject suitable for this build.

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    Stephen W Towle said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Interesting paint scheme for flying a Fw-190 over a boreal forests vs flying over a tropical one. Couldn't help but, notice the similarities.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    @stephen-w-towle - Yes indeed regarding the Salvadoran Corsair. That is a scheme I long to do one day. You've really done it "total justice."

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    Louis Gardner said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Hello Tom, @tcinla
    Thanks for the invitation. I'm sure I can bring a project or two in the future. First I have to finish up some previous commitments.

    Here's a little food for thought. We often hear about the logic behind how the Germans "supposedly" used captured Soviet stocks of paint. This doesn't sound exactly correct, as Stalin had a scorched earth policy. Now I'm not saying the Luftwaffe didn't do this, it just doesn't seem as likely as some would have us believe.

    My rational for this: A political Commissar would have likely put a bullet into the back of someone's head that was responsible for the falling of useful supplies into the hands of the enemy, (if this had been allowed to happen). I don't have any proof on this, but I have read stories about how Stalin was going to have his Generals executed if they allowed the Germans to take the oil rich Russian city of Baku. Add in how the "purges" took place several months / years earlier and you can see my logic behind this statement.

    The one thing we never see mentioned about field applied colors is this, and it breaks down into simple rules of art, the color wheel, and the three basic colors of red, yellow and blue. Toss in the neutral colors of black and white, and all of a sudden we have a TON of various colors that could be available. I was going to make a statement about this on your recent Malta Spitfire posting, but unfortunately family affairs have recently limited my available modeling time.

    I like your thoughts on the use of RLM 02 as a camouflage color. In fact, it was reportedly used on the earliest FW-190A's, and the Bf-109E series during this same era.


    Once an aircraft is placed into service, all bets are off as to what colors could have been used.

    For example: Say I have a Spitfire on the USS Wasp headed for the Mediterranean. It's supposed to be painted "down and dirty" as you mentioned while enroute. I have available to me some USN "Blue Gray", some black and some white, which were used for markings. It literally could be any possible color that one could make using these three colors I mentioned.

    Also, when we mix red, blue and yellow together we end up with brown... Toss in some white and you have a shade of tan. Add some black and it's a darker brown. This is one of (if not THE) favorite color picture of mine from WW2 on German aircraft. If it looks familiar it's also used on our Luftwaffe group build. Going from memory, I believe this is a bird from JG-52. Notice the brown colors.


    If we mix blue and yellow, we end up with green...Toss in a little black and it's dark green, white and it's a lighter green. You see what I'm trying to explain.

    The Luftwaffe definitely had some of these colors available to them. Anything is possible in my mind, once the plane was in service.

    This is a very interesting subject, and I am learning new things every day.

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    Tom Cleaver said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Good stuff @lgardner and looking forward to your contribution. The one thing about that color photo of the JG 54 Fw-190 that stood out to me now (but not before, not thinking of it) is that the "light green" isn't actually completely discernable as to actual shade/color in the light and reflections. If you look just ahead of the horizontal stab on the fuselage and the lower leading edge of the rudder above, that "light" green could be RLM 02 - the colors are "distorted" from being still wet from the recent rain that is documented. And someone else could conclude differently, which is where all the confusion lies.

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    Louis Gardner said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Thanks Tom. @tcinla

    I did notice the lighter shade of green on the rudder of the 190 in the foreground, just above and behind the Swastika. Where it is even more visible, is on the nose section of the 190's in the background. One is mostly obscured by the plane in the forward part of this picture. You can see the colors blend in almost perfectly with the grass behind it. There are two places, mentioned in the picture, and more on the third FW in the upper RH corner.

    This is a fascinating subject.

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    Nick Newell said 11 months, 3 weeks ago:

    I should come clean and admit I'm fully aware some of the data in the Monogram guide has been 'updated' as a result of more recent research efforts. But, for its day, it was a seminal piece. You've kicked off a lively discussion now! 🙂

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