The Color Expert Rant (All Rights Reserved) -or- “Not This Again!”

Does an interest in plastic model kits imply some form of mental illness? Don’t get all defensive…I’m serious. As a group, people who build plastic model kits tend to be weirdos. I’m not saying that you are a weirdo, but the numbers don’t lie. Being a weirdo is cool. I’m a weirdo and until they drag me out in chains for the show-trial, I’ll be cool with it. It’s not being a weirdo that’s in question here. It’s being an easily misled weirdo.

The problem is that we “modelers” are, as a group, inclined to believe what we’re told and we don’t question authority. I’ve noticed this more and more as my understanding of how things work in this world has grown over time. This failure to hold onto one’s own view of the world, to me, indicates some kind of emotional problem, or maybe a personality disorder of some kind. It ain’t good.

I believe that each and every individual must hold fast to his or her own truth. If somebody comes along and tries to plant the flag of Nonsensica in your navel, you should hit back. As a rule, I am opposed to all generators of malarkey. My policy regarding bags of wind is to step lively towards the bag and plunge a sharp object into it like SO. You may, of course, refer to me as a bag of wind, but you must be Irish or at least a Celt in order to do so without fear of injury.

Now where was I? Oh yes.

Once and for all–I have not found one single book on Luftwaffe “markings” that is worth the powder it would take to blow it to hell. I don’t throw the word “Aspergers” around as a cheap insult. I’m an aspie myself (or die tryin’) and I feel comfortable outing others who stubbornly refuse to wear the numerical badge of peculiarity.

Neurologically a-typicals rule! We rule!

My fellow aspies often become fixated on ONE goal or ONE answer. It’s closely related to an obsessive/compulsive disorder (as it used to be called). We like our answers to be clean and orderly.

Often, we insist on seeing order where none exists, and pasting our own ideas onto a vacuum if no information is available. We replace “image not found” with our imaginary pet koala and that’s that. We build elaborate castles in the sky and then hurl insults at anybody who tried to tell us that we’d better come down to earth before we fall.

Whatever happened to our German friends from 1939 to 1945, they had airplanes that were painted in the most peculiar fashion. The reasons for this are unclear. The data–the all-important primary sources of information–are lost. All we can do is guess. But some authors of some books have taken a leap into the abyss and decided, Asperger style, to ride that imaginary koala right into “I am certain” and “I am the Great and Powerful Oz” land. They KNOW and are happy to tell you, for a price.

There’s just one thing wrong with their product. The problem is that models built today, following the dictates of the book-writing experts, DO NOT LOOK LIKE PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN OF THE REAL THINGS. Incredibly, models built following the instructions of the color elite fail the smell test by a wide margin.

Look, See. Believe. The models built by following the lead of the “experts” do not come out looking like the actual items. That should be a clue right there that something is amiss. Stop embarrassing yourself by pretending that they do. A typical model–especially one that is really “hyperscale quality”–is not going to look like a real Luftwaffe airplane. No. They don’t.

The differences are many. They are subtle. But they are there. The internet gives us a wonderful opportunity to scan the whole planet for amazing insights into the past. Take advantage of it and do some of your own research.

But avoid Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, an organization dedicated to doing the devil’s work, in my opinion, is slowly establishing a loony new approach to “fact finding.” They reject primary sources and only rely on secondary sources. This is insane. Maybe it’s the same kind of insanity that affects model builders? I don’t know. But as they go about this they discard eye-witness testimony, diaries and letters. Add photographs to that list and you have all the sources of data rejected by so-called aircraft color experts.

I don’t know if there’s a connection, but if somebody doesn’t yell “stop” this lunacy will continue and gradually lead to the forgetting of the past–to be replaced by…what?

If we reject color photos, eye-witness testimony, diaries and any similar sources then our data is limited to written instructions and documents derived from second-hand accounts. This is the path to madness. I hereby testify that I saw an entire wing of F-4E Phantom II aircraft at Clark AB in 1983 painted in tan, green and OLIVE DRAB. Photos taken at the time show this same thing.

Experts have all but told me that I’m old and senile and can’t remember, and the color photographs are “unstable” and “unreliable.” So what’s left? USAF T.O. 1-1-4 and Federal Standard 595.

If you follow what is in those two documents you will get it wrong.

Pick your Star Trek character. Are you Mr. Spock? Mr. Data? TUVOK for God’s sake?!?! Well, whatever form of logical being you are, just sit down and soak this up. I don’t care if General LeMay was your godfather and you suckled off of a B-52, if you put T.O. 1-1-4 together with F.S. 595 (whatever flavor) you will end up with a Phantom that is the wrong color.

What in the hell chance do we have to paint an Me-109E from 1940 in an “accurate” scheme if we can’t get a Phantom from 1983 correct?


Here is a slogan that I should put on a t-shirt.

“Ignore All Experts”


Learn it. Know it. Live it.

The next time you are tempted to buy a book, check to see if said book contains any list of sources of information. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. (Marcello Truzzi or maybe Carl Sagan). If the authors of said book throw around color data about Luftwaffe aircraft from 1940 as if it were “common knowledge” then you can dismiss their book and them. It’s bunk.

Until some truly scholarly work is published, complete with the admission that we know less than we think we do, you can probably save your money when it comes to book buying. No need to buy “accurate” paint since none of it is accurate. Just look at some photos, read a description from a primary source, and paint away. In this age of multi-colored gray/beige/green RLM 02/63/75 your version of a Luftwaffe aircraft will be just as valid as anybody else’s, and if you can explain your reasoning, your version will be more “true” than anything provided in an “expert’s” book where said expert does NOT explain his reasoning.

Every time, showing your work beats a hand-waving argument (among modelers often a “name calling argument”). Every time. If your reasoning is sound, your decision is more valid than all the books ever published (Weak-a-pedia not-with-standing). Don’t let the professional bullies push you around.

If you need any help, drop me a line. My grandfather, Martin Dunn, was a deputy sheriff in Texas in the 1890’s, near the border with what was then called “The Indian Territory.” He had a solution to the problem of con-men and swindlers that involved a white oak tree. At this time, I don’t have access to that particular solution.


2 Replies to “The Color Expert Rant (All Rights Reserved) -or- “Not This Again!””

  1. Your Phantom story reminded me of when I build an Australian army Unimog and painted the inside a duck egg/beige green colour, and was told by the colour police on a website that this was wrong. Wrong eh? I spent how many years rolling around in such a beast, but somehow I was wrong? wtf? Apparently official orders claimed that they were to be some kind of cream colour, so thats that. A few there suggested maybe it was an aberration (more than one regiment seemed to have this ‘aberration’), or that I didn’t remember correctly…some seemed offended at what I had wrote.

    So, I can certainly sympathise with you on this point. However, I had no idea that no orders were still extant on the Luftwaffe colours. The story behind these colours that have been related to me have been; The orders were found, along with the ingredients of the paints. These ingredients were then mixed as per the instructions and what came out were then listed as the ‘official’ RLM colours. That is the claim by Merrick and whatever the other fellows name is.

    1. Yes, some written orders were found. Some colors have been identified. Just as in the case of the Philippine Phantoms, all the proper “data” is available to draw certain wrong conclusions. I’m suggesting that other pieces of evidence (eye witness accounts and color photographs and the fact that there are at least three different RLM 02’s) do not support the conclusions of the “expert” authors. If every piece of evidence supported all the others then I would be the crazy idiot they think I am at Britmodeller or Hyperscale for suggesting that Merrick jumps to ill-founded conclusions and has, perhaps painfully, given birth to an entire Luftflotte of beige Emils (ouch). What grinds my gears is that this isn’t about “facts” or “proof.” It’s about status and prestige. It’s about assigning a privileged status to certain people and then making it illegal for any “lesser” person to question them. It’s a subtle process but it’s in full force in some places and I say it’s fundamentally wrong. It’s ape behavior. Apes assign “boss” status to their alpha ape and then the alpha ape is always right. I’m not oblivious to the way the world works. I’ll kiss the alpha ape’s banana if he and his gang are pointing their pistols at me, but if the penalty for speaking my mind is that some troglodyte verbally abuses me on a forum–well, let ’em. I’ll take the hit, but I’m not going to roll over and pretend not to see what I can clearly see in order to support the 9-11 Commission report. Oh wait a minute–I promised myself not to mention that. Sorry.

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