(14) Fw 190 at War, part I

Color profiles: Janusz Światłoń, captions: Maciej Góralczyk
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The first camouflage scheme officially specified for the Fw 190 A series consisted of RLM 74 Graugrün (or Dunkelgrau Grünlich as it was identified in the “Handbuch der Lackierbetriebe”) and RLM 75 Grauviolett (or Mittelgrau, respectively) in a segmented pattern on the uppersurfaces and RLM 76 Lichtblau on the undersurfaces. This camouflage for all fighters was specified in the November 1941 issue of Luftwaffen Dienstvorschrift (L.Dv.) 521/1 and HM-Anweisung No.7/42 of 18 May 1942. However, many researchers believe that early production models could also receive the earlier day fighter scheme of RLM 70 Schwarzgrün or RLM 71 Dunkelgrün and RLM 02 Grau on the uppersurfaces over RLM 65 Hellblau or RLM 76 Lichtblau. There is possible that it was done at unit level as first Fw 190s were received by Jagdgeschwader 26 and Jagdgeschwader 2, which often operated over the North Sea and English Channel. The earlier scheme provided better concealment against these waters. For example, the RAF Intelligence Report describes colours of Oblt. Armin Faber’s Fw 190 A-3 as dark green, light olive green and pale blue which suggests that the camouflage scheme was RLM 71/02/65. Furthermore, some photos of early Fw 190s of Jagdgeschwader 5, also operating over the sea, show higher tonal contrast between the colours of the uppersurfaces than observed on machines finished in RLM 74 and 75.
The basic scheme was usually diversified with irregular mottles on the fuselage sides which consisted of one or both uppersurface colours with other paints used occasionally, depending of the paint stocks. Examples of Fw 190s with the high demarcation scheme, carrying little or none of the fuselage mottling, could also be seen. Moreover, areas of black protective paint were often applied along the sides of the fuselage and engine cowl to hide the exhaust stains. They varied in shape and size, ranging from simple rectangles to the stylized eagles on some planes of Jagdgeschwader 2.
Many Fw 190s of units fighting on the Eastern Front received non-standard camouflage schemes, mostly consisting of various greens and browns on the uppersurfaces. The shades used on these machines are distinctly identified by different researchers as, for example, the prewar RLM 61 Dunkelbraun, RLM 62 Grün and RLM 64 Dunkelgrün colours or field mixes of captured stocks of Russian paints. On the other hand, against the popular estimation, Fw 190s based in North Africa were rarely painted in “desert” colours and mostly retained standard European day fighter scheme. However, there are known examples of aircraft painted with the tropical scheme of RLM 78 Himmelblau/RLM 79 Sandgelb/RLM 80 Olivegrün or in the modified standard camouflage scheme, with the uppersurfaces oversprayed with RLM 79. Fw 190s used in night “Jabo” (Jagd Bomber or fighter-bomber) missions over Great Britain received a temporary black finish applied to the sides of the fuselage and fin and undersurfaces. Roughly applied, it often hid the aircraft markings. During the Winter, the uppersurfaces of Fw 190s of units operating on Eastern Front were coated with temporary white Ikarin camouflage paint A2515.21, redesigned to 7126.21 in Luftwaffe Directive Sheet 27, issued 21 June 1943. These paints could be applied by spray gun or by brush. Execution of snow camouflage was left tohe units themselves, so various patterns existed, from a solid coating of the uppersurfaces to splinter schemes or stripes on the sides of the fuselage and upper wing.  
New camouflage colours introduced for aircraft in mid-1944 were RLM 81 Braunviolett, RLM 82 Hellgrün and RLM 83 Dunkelgrün. Due to shortage of raw materials, many variations of RLM 76 on the undersurfaces and the sides of the fuselage were also in use, differing from light grey/sky blue to greenish/yellow blue. The newly introduced RLM 81 and 82 “defensive” shades, suited to low-flying or parked in the woods aircraft, were prescribed in RLM’s Sammelmitteilung of 1 July 1944. Sammelmitteilung 2, which was issued on 15 August 1944, included the instruction to withdraw RLM 65, 70, 71 and 74 colours. RLM 70 was specified exclusively for propellers. However, many manufacturers continued to use the old paints stocks as we could see on photos of Fieseler-built Fw 190 A-8s or Fw 190 A-8 and A-9 from Ago factory. Old paints were also used in field-applied ‘concealment’ schemes which began to appear in the late stage of war, usually in form of irregular mottle or squigle pattern over the basic camouflage scheme. Some aircraft were also completely repainted in the lately introduced shades or merged older and new colours due to repairs. Differences in colours’ appearance were also possible because of the practice of prepainting major subassemblies.