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The Colors, Camouflage, and Markings of the Luftwaffe
An Annotated Bibliography

The paint schemes of the Luftwaffe in World War II are a contentious topic and one which authors invariably remark upon in reconsidering their previous statements and assumptions. It first was considered by Karl Ries, whose initial volume, Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in World War II, was published in 1963. A decade later, the topic was revisited by Kenneth Merrick in Luftwaffe Colors 1935-40, with two subsequent volumes by J. R. Smith and J. D. Gallaspy. In 1980, Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock updated this material in The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945. Merrick's work would serve as the standard review of the subject for the next twenty years, until Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945 was published by Michael Ullmann in 2002. Merrick and Kiroff then released their two-volume Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945, published in 2004 and 2005. It was followed by a revised second edition of Ullmann's work in 2008. Regrettably, except for Ketley (2012), all of these books now are out of print.

Markings and Camouflage Systems of Luftwaffe Aircraft in World War II (1963-1972) by Karl Ries, Jr., Verlage Dieter Hoffmann

A pioneering work, these four slim octavo books, each a hundred or so pages long, provide particularly good color reproductions of aircraft emblems, which were illustrated by the author. The first volume was written in English, the three subsequent ones in English and German (Markierungen und Tarnanstriche der Luftwaffe im 2. Weltkrieg). So popular was the series that the first volume was reprinted in 1966.

Luftwaffe Rudder Markings 1936-1945 (1991) by Karl Ries and Ernst Obermaier, Schiffer Publishing

In German and English, this is a translation of Bilanz am Seiten Leitwerk, published in 1970, and was itself a natural extension of his earlier work on emblems and markings.

Photo Collection, Luftwaffe Embleme 1935-1945 (1976) by Karl Ries, Verlag Dieter Hoffmann

In German and English, this concluding addition to Ries' four-volume series presents "irrefutable photographic evidence to my claims in this field."

Luftwaffe Colors 1935-40: Volume 1 (1975) by K. A. Merrick, Arco Publishing

A reprint of the 1973 edition by Kookaburra Technical Publications

Luftwaffe Colors 1940-42: Volume 2 (1976) by J. R. Smith and J. D. Gallaspy, Monogram Aviation Publications

Luftwaffe Colors 1943-45: Volume 3 (1977) by J. R. Smith and J. D. Gallaspy, Monogram Aviation Publications

The Modeller's Luftwaffe Painting Guide: A Supplement to Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings Vols 1, 2 & 3 (1979) by J. R. Smith, G. G. Pentland, and R. P. Lutz, Kookaburra Technical Publications

Luftwaffe Colors originally was published by Kookaburra under the title Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings, hence the title of the supplement.

German Aircraft Markings 1939-1945 (1977) by Kenneth A. Merrick, Sky Books Press

An antecedent to Merrick's later two-volume set.

The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 (1980) by Kenneth A. Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock, Monogram Aviation Publications

Incorporating material that had become available since Merrick's Luftwaffe Colors and German Aircraft Markings, this revision offers "the most authoritative and complete record of paint samples and related material yet published." Presumably, to make it easier for the modeler to use, the 144 heavy pages are presented in a vinyl three-ring binder and the colors, themselves, arranged not in a color chart but chronologically by topic.

Luftwaffe Camouflage 1935-1940 (1981) by Alain Fleuret, Kookaburra Technical Publications

Just as The Modeller's Luftwaffe Painting Guide was intended to supplement Luftwaffe Colors, so too the publishers felt the need to update the first volume in the series by providing a new introduction to Volumes Two and Three. The result is a bibliographic curiosity, in which Merrick's original book was not revised by the author, who, in any event, had reviewed the subject so thoroughly in German Aircraft Markings 1939-1945, but replaced by a "totally different book, not merely a reprint of a previous one," published after the volumes it is supposed to precede.

Luftwaffe Color Chart (1998) colors authenticated by Warnecke & Böhm GmbH, Eagle Editions Limited.

Thirty large paint chips on folded card stock that were commissioned from Warnecke & Böhm, one of the principal suppliers of paint to the Luftwaffe and certified to be authentic by the manufacturer.

Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945: Volume One: Pre-War Development, Paint Systems, Composition, Patterns, Applications, Day Fighters (2004) by K. A. Merrick and Jürgen Kiroff, Classic Publications

With virtually the same title as Merrick's original volume, published by Kookaburra in 1973, there is invariably confusion between this and the earlier book. A highly technical discussion, the author's admonishment that "dipping into the following text at random, and reading it in isolation of contributing factors may prove confusing or even contradictory at time" should be respected.

Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945: Volume Two: Code Systems & Markings, Night Fighters, Ground-Attack, Reconnaissance, Bombers, Maritime, Transports, Trainers (2005) by K. A. Merrick and Jürgen Kiroff, Classic Publications

As more information became available, Merrick reconsidered the subject in these two volumes. The result is "as complete an analysis of the colours, markings and usage of German aviation paints as possible." Volume One has three color cards and Volume Two, two cards. Neither, however, has an index.

Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1935-1945: Photo Archive 1 (2007) by K. A. Merrick, Eddie J. Creek, and Brett Green

A photographic supplement to Merrick's two-volume study

Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945 (2002) by Michael Ullmann, Hikoki Publications

A continuation of Färben der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1935-1945 (1997) in German and an expanded English translation of Oberflächenschutzverfahren und Anstrichstoffe der Deutschen Luftfahrtindustrie und Luftwaffe 1935-1945 ("Surface Protection Procedures and Paint-Materials of the German Aviation Industry and Air Force") (1998), the material has been based "exclusively on original documents." A 44-color card has been tipped in.

Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945 (2008) by Michael Ullmann, Hikoki Publications

The revised second edition is a hundred pages longer due to a revised layout and larger photographs and diagrams, as well as some modest additions to the text. There is a welcome index, which was absent in the first edition, and a revised color card.

Luftwaffe Codes, Markings & Units 1939-1945 (1995) by Barry C. Rosch, Schiffer Publishing

With over fourteen-hundred photographs and line drawings, this is a comprehensive reference volume that documents all Luftwaffe unit codes and markings.

Luftwaffe Emblems 1939-1945 (2012) by Barry Ketley, Crécy Publishing

A revision of the 1998 Hikoki publication, this comprehensive survey almost doubles the original number of pages. More than one thousand emblems are reproduced, grouped by squadron type, including transport, reconnaissance, training, courier, and air sea rescue. Given the number of badges, the color images are necessarily small but are illustrated by more than a hundred black-and-white and color photographs.


When the last volume of Ries appeared in the early 1970s, Osprey Publishing, acknowledging his work "in the preparation of this text and illustrations," released their own inexpensive series in paperback.

Luftwaffe Colour Schemes & Markings 1935-45: Vol 1 (1971) by Martin Windrow, illustrated by Richard Ward, (Aircam Aviation Series, No. S6)

Luftwaffe Colour Schemes & Markings 1935-45: Vol 2 (1971) by Martin Windrow, illustrated by Richard Ward, (Aircam Aviation Series, No. S8)

Luftwaffe Colour Schemes & Markings 1939-45, Mainly Winter Schemes: Vol 3 (1974) by Richard Ward, (Aircam Aviation  Series, No. S19)

Luftwaffe Bomber Camouflage & Markings 1940: Heinkel He111, Junkers Ju88, Dornier Do17: Vol 1 (n.d.) by Richard Ward, Peter G. Cooksley, and Christopher F. Shores (Aircam Aviation Series, No. S10)

Luftwaffe Fighter, Bomber & Marine Camouflage & Markings 1940: Bf110, Ju87, Fw200, He59, He115, Do215, Do18, Do24, Ar196: Vol 2 (1973) by Richard Ward, Peter G. Cooksley, and Christopher F. Shores (Aircam Aviation Series, No. S11)

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