More About RLM 02

I keep coming back to this same image.

I’m convinced, now, that we just don’t have “the full picture.” There is some missing information, and we may never have it.  Here is the result of that lack of information.

That is just…not right. Often, it seems to me that on those forums where “group think” is the strongest, modelers will actually fudge (and I mean fudge) the colors to “make it look right” while keeping to the “true faith” that 71/02/65 was the Luftwaffe Fighter Arm “official” color scheme.

No. Something is wrong with this. Anybody who has read David Irving’s The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe should be aware that the Luftwaffe was POORLY MANAGED. Yes, I said it. It was so poorly managed that it eventually collapsed from a combination of enemy action AND poor management.

(Warning: Comments about David Irving will be removed.)

The Luftwaffe had SIX MONTHS to repaint its planes during the Phony War. During the winter of 1939-40 they had plenty of time to create the “three grays” camouflage and order units to implement it. It took time to implement. But I believe that “something” happened during this period and Luftwaffe fighters went back to war painted in either 70/71/65 with the 65 up the sides of the fuselage (don’t see too many models in this very common scheme now–it’s out of style) OR they had a “three gray” paint job that looked very much like the 74/75/76 scheme that we all know and love.

If it ever happened at all, the combination of 71/02/65 was a fluke. A one-off. A weirdo to be repainted as quickly as possible. That dog won’t hunt.

At the same time, an OFFICIAL order from somebody came down which told fighters units that they could use RLM 70 and 02 (the beige color?) to speckle the sides of their 109’s. It made for some radical looking fighters, but nowhere in any of this is a standard set for 71/02/65. That color scheme is imaginary. It comes from runaway group-think going on for years and years. Now it’s cemented into history.


The basic “three gray” scheme did not change throughout the war. All references to weird greens, browns or other goofiness just don’t hold water when compared to actual color photographs.

Of course, the “experts” have an answer for that–“you can’t trust photographs.” Isn’t that convenient! You can’t prove them wrong. No evidence can alter their “carved in stone” version of the truth.

Well–I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.


6 Replies to “More About RLM 02”

  1. German aircraft doesn’t much interest me unless used by some other power. Did a FW-190A3a once in Turk livery which is standard RLM 74/75/76. The 75 is lighter than the 74 though not of 02 kind. Did it weather a lot? well I don’t know and not much care.
    Did a Bf-110 once wanting it to be one of those sent to reinforce the Rashid Ali insurrection in Iraq 1941 though as I didn’t have Iraqi markings I settled for it in German one for the Marita-Merkur operation (Balkans). I did look up some pics which assured me that the aircraft sent to Iraq was in LW tri-colour scheme not uniform Iraqi scheme as a lot will have us believe. Those pics did depict aircraft in two topside colours one dark – one light.
    So I ended up painting my model in 74/02/76 or was it 71/02/65? 😉

    1. I’m seeing evidence of two different colors that have both been identified as RLM 02. One is a pale gray-green. The other is a pale beige. I see two colors and I’m convinced, now, that these are two different paints. Different colors, anyway. The problem is that they may have been given the same number, but used differently. I have seen USAF Phantoms painted with two shades of dark green. On some airplanes, the dark green is green. On others, it’s olive drab. The difference is not (now) documented but it was real. What many color “experts” fail to understand is that within a military organization, old, obsolete orders are DESTROYED. One is under orders to shred, burn or destroy any old written instructions. This is done in order to avoid using an old instruction by mistake. Also, military people are not historians. So a letter dated 5/17/89 will state that all NS-1002 devices will be painted purple beginning on 1/1/88, even though destroyed documents clearly stated that all NS-1002 devices were to be painted green beginning on 1/1/88. Now along comes know-it-all expert, years later, and reads this document and declares that your model of an NS-1002 should be purple on February 5, 1988, because a written order says so. Then somebody produces a photo showing that it was green, and the expert declares that the written order is “documentary proof” and the photo “can’t be trusted.” I think I know what can’t be trusted, and it’s not the photo. Experts use reason and logic to determine that “documents” provide proof. But military minds are not reasonable nor logical (at least not all the time). Making an order retroactive, and thereby creating a “false” historical record, seems crazy to us historians but it “makes sense” to Colonel Nitpick and Master Sergeant Bookman who write the order. After all, writing an order with an effective date different from the original effective date provides a gaping loophole–in the mind of a true military man. Written orders simply are not the be-all and end-all that the forum experts believe them to be.

  2. Hi I have some interesting rlm 74/75/76 relics from a 109g10

  3. I cut and pasted the URL for the image and it’s shows some fascinating stuff. The grey-violet is very violet but the grey-green is more grey than green.

  4. hi, yes, the RLM 74 is indeed into the bluish grey tone, it also was called just “Dark Grey” without any green connotation, that is what the relic I have shows and what I can interpret from the period pictures especially at the late war period, The RLM referred to the grey camo 74/75/76 by the RAL+ number code, not by the color name, I personally think it never had any green instead of the general belief , cheers

  5. Just a “thought”, but the 109 was the most produced W2 fighter, so it follows that they had the most varied paint as well. As for Luftwaffe Management, Churchill while watching a bombing raid on England remarked, “Bloody amateurs.”

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