Even More About RLM 02

There probably wasn’t a Luftwaffe camouflage scheme that combined the colors dark green, light blue and RLM 02 “gray.” 

Anyone who has been around actual combat aircraft (I was a USAF crew chief) can tell you that change is constant, and when new instructions are issued, old instructions, in the USAF anyway, are destroyed. No effort is made to keep an “archival” copy except, maybe, under lock and key somewhere (in Washington?). Maybe.

In wartime, in some air forces (maybe the Luftwaffe in World War II) the old instructions were burned. New instructions with later dates and the absence of an older instruction concerning, say, a color scheme DOES NOT mean that no earlier instructions were issued. It just means that the older instructions were superseded and DESTROYED to keep them from being accidentally followed. I can’t prove that this is what happened in the Luftwaffe in 1940-41, but a similar situation has caused confusion for modelers trying to follow and understand USAF and US Government technical specifications in the last half of the twentieth century. New instructions do not mention, and do not reference, old instructions. That part of history is lost (to an extent). It’s certainly lost to the extent that present day model builders get confused over the true color of olive drab or the correct pattern to be painted onto an F-4 in 1969.

My opinion is that the Luftwaffe paint command (or whatever they were called) issued instructions that told ground crews to use RLM 02 on sides of the aircraft in an irregular pattern. This is clear from color photos. But we don’t see RLM 02 as part of the so-called “splinter” pattern. If that pattern wasn’t 74/75/76 (as I suspect it was) then it was “probably” 70/71/65. In some rare cases, it may have been a gray painted over either the 70 “black green” or the 71 “dark green.” This gray color was probably meant to be the same color as the old light gray 63. a 71/63/65 scheme was used in Spain and the local commanders and ground crews would have remembered it. Any of these schemes make more sense than 71/02/65. That doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t show up in any images.

But the fact that no records exist does not mean that the orders weren’t cut, and sent out to the troops, who dutifully burned them when new orders were issued. Based on my experience, and, yes, some deduction, I believe this idea makes more sense than assuming that if no paperwork exists NOW then it didn’t happen then–and any “light” color in photos must be RLM 02 just because it’s the only way to make the photos match the existing orders.


2 Replies to “Even More About RLM 02”

  1. What colours are meant to be in the above picture? I don’t see any ‘Black Green’, nor do I see a ‘RLM 65′. Maybe a bit of 71 if you look hard enough? It looks more like an RLM ’76’ underside (with added mud, or something) with possibly RLM 75 and maybe 74?

    This whole thing does my head in.

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