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Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) Luftwaffe colors

Compiled by Mark Hembree
When I built a Bf 109 for the July FineScale Modeler, it didn’t take long to run into RLM colors, the World War II German standards for aircraft. From the schwarzgrau of the cockpit (RLM 66, a deep charcoal) to the RLM grau in the wheel wells, there are color standards for almost everything on the plane.

However, there are more than a few items on the RLM list that spawn debate. Sources can differ on what the actual list is, what those colors really were, even what the numbers of certain colors were. Wartime photos are mostly black and white, and color photos can be deceptive. After having worked at FSM for a few years, I had seen many examples and read lots of discussions of Luftwaffe color schemes – but I remember seeing the Me 262 at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space museum and being surprised by its vivid shades of green. (I’ve no doubt it was accurate – those folks know a thing or two about the real deal.)

So, the RLM list provided here is a compilation of several subjective opinions from a variety of sources – some definitive, others not so much, but all with an eye toward what you can get when you go shopping to paint your next flugzeug. For many years we have leaned heavily on The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 (Merrick and Hitchcock, Monogram Aviation, ISBN 978-0-914144-29-8), and that is the source I chose for the RLM names and numbers. We’ve also provided other sources for you to consider in making your own judgments – after all, it’s your model.

I hope you’ll find the list and cross references useful. We’ll continue to review and refine this table, and we invite your comments and, yes, corrections. I’m sure we’ll still have to make a few!

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