In the process of making one of my latest models, the Ta 152 H-1 “Green 9” (W.Nr. 150168), I undertook numerous analyses of photographs and various types of research to better reproduce its appearance. Upon completion, I realized how many details and peculiarities it presented and above all how much work was required to reach satisfactory conclusions. So I thought: “Why do not share them with you?”
In this analysis I will not go too far describing the history of this aircraft, which, if you were interested, is better illustrated in this article. On the contrary, I will try to give as many accurate insights as possible regarding this fighter’s camouflage and markings, so that enthusiasts can be enlightened, modellers provided more details to incorporate in their models, and, who knows, maybe some curious readers would enter this world with interest!
Before getting into our topic, I find a need to mention all the people who contributed to develop this article and sustained me during its writing.
In particular I would like to specially thank my uncle Fabio Mazzarino, whose knowledge has triggered my passion for military history and whose encouragement has always been present, stimulating me in each one of my works. Moreover, I would like to thank Mister David E. Brown whose reviews, sources aknoledgement and precious contributions had made this article even more complete.
Special thanks to:
- Carlo Orseniga
- David E. Brown
- Fabio Mazzarino
- Lina Natale
- Riccardo Moneta
- Sofia Santosuosso
- Sonia Natale
“Green 9”: A Unique Case
The Ta 152 H-1 coded “Green 9” (W.Nr. 150168) presumably entered service between March and April 1945 with Stab/JG 301. After Germany’s surrender, the aircraft was captured by British forces at the Leck airport in Schleswig-Holstein, south of Denmark. It soon received Royal Air Force insignia and its original paintwork was partially altered. It was then flown to Schleswig and sometime after 14 July was disassembled, transported to England and finally reassembled at the RAE at Farnborough.
Here, in the late summer of 1945 the Ta 152 H-1 was flown several times by the Royal Navy’s Chief Test Pilot Captain Eric Brown. Finally, in October-November of the same year, it was exhibited to the public, again in Farnborough, along with other German planes captured at the end of the conflict. From this moment on then, its history becomes rather obscure but, most likely, “Green 9” was dis-assembled in the same place by 1946.
As we have seen, the events experienced by this aircraft were the most disparate and each has altered its appearance to a greater or lesser degree. So let’s start by giving some information on how it should have looked in its original livery, as a new aircraft right off the assembly line.
Production Camouflage and National Markings
Before receiving its identificative number, “Green 9” (W.Nr. 150168) should have been completed with the standard Luftwaffe late-war fighter camouflage scheme: a combination of RLM 81/82/76. Unfortunately, there are no photographs portraying “Green 9” with its original livery. As a consequence, the following description is based on suppositions that, however, I will try to document at best, in order to stick as much as possible to reality.
Observing the information presented in the following document, although referring to the Ta 152 A (never entered in production), it is probable that the two upper surface colors applied to the later production Ta 152 H were in all probability RLM 81 and 82.
RLM 81/82 or 74/75?
Actually, the reliability of this document might be argued, since it does not concerns the Ta 152 H specifically. An alternative scheme to the illustrated one could be, for instance, the most widely used RLM 74 and 75. However, there are two main reasons why this hypothesis can be excluded.
As described by Merrick (2004), a document prescribing the scheme 74/75 was promulgated on 21 March 1944 during the period when the standard fighter and Zerstörer upper surface camouflage colours were RLM 74 (Dunkelgrau (grünlich)/Graugrün) and RLM 75 (Grauviolett/Blaugrau/Mittelgrau). However, the document was amended on 1 November 1944 with the colours now identified as “Farbton 81” and “Farbton 82” with no descriptions of the colours. Importantly, the document prescribing the adoption of RLM 81 and 82 (to replace RLM 74 and 75) – Sammelmitteilung (Collected Instructions) 1 – was dated 1 July 1944: four months previuos. Interestingly, the document also indicates that “Farbton 76” was limited to the fuselage sides and the undersides left unpainted in natural metal. This will be described below.
Thus an aircraft produced eight months after the introduction of these changes is very unlikely to have been painted with the old grey colours. However, photographs from the end of the conflict confirm single-engine fighters still painted with this configuration are many. Among them is also the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 V30, the prototype of the Ta 152 H, shown here.
Considering the sources analyzed so far, supporting the theory of an RLM 81/82 scheme might appear hazardous. However, we must consider that the document 8-152.000-S.98 (November 1944) is subsequent to the on prescribing the RLM 74/75 camouflage. It is indeed considered a rectification of the previous one issued after Sammelmitteilung 1.
The description of The Aeroplane Spotter
In addition, an article published on the contemporary magazine The Aeroplane Spotter offers another interesting point of view. The report in fact describes just the appearance that the Ta 152 H-1 W.Nr. 150168 (“Green 9”) had when was transported to Farnborough. It is described as:
Camouflaged, on the upper surfaces of the wings, fuselage and tailplanes, and the fuselage sides, in various shades of green.
Therefore we can now consider the information prescribed by document 8-152.000-S.98 as well as the reportage published by The Aeroplane Spotter. Moreover, taking into account the different contrast observed when comparing “Green 9” photographs with the Fw 190 V30 ones, it can be be almost certainly stated that the upper surfaces colours were RLM 81 and 82.
Further evidence in favor of this interpretation is more than confirmed by observing the camouflage of other contemporary aircraft. Most of the Luftwaffe fighters photographed during the 1945 has in fact painted in RLM 81 and 81. It can be seen on many Fw 190 D-9s and D-11s, different variants of the Bf 109 G and K, as well as most Me 262 As. Preserved aircraft, aircraft under restoration, recovered aircraft wrecks and wreck fragments recovered from crash sites also confirm the use of these colours on these aircraft types.
Which RLM 81?
As described in this article, one of the two colors present on “Green 9” is a source of considerable confusion. The color in question is RLM 81. This color is known to have existed in at least three different shades or versions, and are today informally identified as RLM 81 v.1, v.2 and v.3. This colour, along with RLM 82, and their evolution, variations, and usage are detailed by Merrick and Hitchcock (1980), Ullmann (2000, 2002), and Merrick (2004, 2005). The first and last of these colour shades would be the only ones containing red pigments.
This factor would affect their optical appearance, making them look like browns (hence the descriptive names Braunviolett and Olivgrün). The second version, lacking in these pigments, appears as a dark green (Dunkelgrün). Since the RLM did not assign a descriptive name to these colours, it was left to aircraft manufacturers to describe the colours. A detailed commentary on this subject is in the 1997 article by David E. Brown on the modelling website Hyper-Scale.
Why excluding RLM 83?
Importantly, the dark green colour seen with great frequency on German aircraft during the last year of the war was interpreted as “RLM 83”. The author discuss the evolution of knowledge regarding this colour here. Its numerical designation is referred to in the Sammelmitteilung Nr. 1 of 1 July 1944 but no indication of its actual colour shade is given. It was first thought to be a dark green (Dunkelgrün).
This relationship is interpretive and based on photographs, crash reports, comparative analysis with surviving aircraft, wreckage fragments, etc. (Smith and Creek, 1994, p.247; Smith and Gallaspy, 1977, pp.134, 136-137). Interestingly, Hitchcock (1983, p.13) stated that “Colour 83 has been officially recorded only as ‘green'” but no reference document was provided. However, discovery of RLM documents by researcher and author Michael Ullmann (2003) has proven conclusively that the colour was a dark blue (Dunkelblau) used for operation in the Mediterranean theatre. The consensus is that the so-called RLM 83 is actually the dark green shade of RLM 81.
From these considerations a question spontaneously arises: which of the three versions of RLM 81 was present on the Ta 152 H-1 W. Nr. 150168? In this case, the aforementioned article from The Airplane Spotter may be useful, in which we talk about “shades of green” referring to this aircraft. It therefore appears that there is no reference to a possible brown shade.
Upper surfaces camouflage pattern
To answer this question, a color photograph would be a real godsend and, fortunately, there are several. However, these photos are not of the Ta 152 H-1 W.Nr. 150168, but of an H-0, preserved and planned for eventual restoration at the Paul E. Garber facility of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. This aircraft, originally “Green 4” (W.Nr. 150010), has been repainted a number of times over its original colours which have made its original scheme almost entirely unrecognizable. For this reason, one must be rather cautious in drawing conclusions by observing this Ta 152. Nevertheless, for what little it is possible to see (thanks to a light sanding of subsequent coatings), there is no evidence of brown-coloured paint.
RLM 81 v.2
Nothing prevents the existence of a Ta 152 H painted with each of the variants of RLM 81. However, knowing that there was a very limited number of Ta 152 aircraft produced from a single manufacturer, the German and British documentary information and photographs together indicate that use dark green version of RLM 81 (v.2) was the colour used on “Green 9”.