Yet Another RLM 02 Post

I don’t know why I should care, but here we are doing another post on the use of the mysterious color called “RLM 02” used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War and causing endless confusion among plane geeks ever since…

There are a number of COLOR PHOTOS of Me-110 aircraft that look sorta like this:

Or this:

What they have in common is that the Luftwaffe aircraft in the photos have a “jaundiced” look. There is a distinctly yellow/beige tint on the sides of the fuselage.

Now, I could just assume that this is a “photographic” anomaly and ignore it (that’s option 1). Or, I could assume, as these chaps do, that the color of the aircraft is “desert sand.” (We can’t blame them, because they have a “profile” that shows the aircraft painted with these sandy shades…)

That would be option 2.

Or… we could just assume that we don’t know and do some experimenting to try to determine the colors involved.

First, do an inventory of what we know.

We know that Luftwaffe fighter aircraft were painted using gray colors. These were RLM 74, RLM 75, and RLM 76. But, at the very beginning of the war, they were painted very, very dark greens, (RLM 70 and 71), and that this had led to the use of a funny sort of beige primer called RLM 02 being sprayed all over the dark greens in an attempt to lighten them up.

So far, so good.

We also know that due to the tireless activities of various scamps publishing “modeling books” and so forth, an impressive mythology grew up in which these aircraft received a new paint job right before “The Battle of Britain” and they were painted using the same patterns that were developed for the 74/75/76 scheme, but using RLM 71, RLM 02, and RLM 65. I believe that this mythology, though highly entertaining, has nothing to do with reality and the “71/02/65” scheme is the result of a fascinating, complex series of human errors based on social interactions among people often referred to as “anoraks” due to their fondness for nice, healthy outerwear that protects one from the wind and rain.

So what is the explanation for the oddball look of these Me-110’s with their lovely “jaundice?”

The above image shows that, at least in one case, an artist saw the “jaundice” as sure as I do. It’s not just me. You can see this, right?

(Am I the only one who sees a woman’s body in this dress? I mean, I know it’s not there, but still…)

Where was I?

The Jaundiced 110’s.

Instead of using our heads, which is dangerous, let’s do some work. Go on, it won’t kill you.

First, we form a hypothesis– that the planes had the usual camo (applied right before The Battle of Britain) with three grays (74,75,76) and then, for some reason, they put a splash of color on the fuselage sides with some lovely RLM 02.

Let’s try it!

Yes. That looks familiar.

It’s just a fuselage half from an old kit, but when you “mottle” on the RLM 02, on top of the grays, you get a “jaundice” that matches the original.

Piece a’ cake!

And there it is. The Luftwaffe sprayed a butt-ugly layer of RLM 02 over the RLM grays, for some unknown reason, and confused model builders ever since…


I seem to recall that in some old Airfix kits they plainly showed, in the horrible drawings they included on those newsprint instruction sheets, that the sides of the fuselage of Luftwaffe planes were mottled in “RLM Grey” or something like that.

So the basic information has been out there for years.

But how many models do we see that reflect this? Go on. Count them. It shouldn’t take any time at all. How long does it take to count to zero?

2 Replies to “Yet Another RLM 02 Post”

  1. So.. I couldn’t resist taking the larger Me-110 image into Photoshop. By simply taking a white balance in the fuselage band and a gray balance on the ship — Presto! The 110 looks almost exactly like the one in the smaller image.

  2. And so.. Those are nice warm Mediterannean colors, probably good camo in desert and near desert areas. Looks good to me.

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