Painting Germans and their colours

I've been modelling and painting for a few years, but recently I have fallen out of the habit. But I have started browsing this forum. I keep seeing people painting groups of Germans, and they invariably don't look quite right to my eye.
They're all very neatly dressed, black boots, in an identical fieldgrey green uniform, and acting with the expected Teutonic efficiency.

Thing is, Field Grey has no set tone. The Germans were shockingly bad at consistent colouration. For Fieldgrau I think this picture sums it up the best:
d22535e4a87864746a9b02b54fecd614.jpg


Most of these tunics are Fieldgrau. Now add in fading and wear over time, and you'll quickly spot that any combination of colours can be, and should be used for German uniforms. I would suspect that the trousers and tunics would be very unlikely to be the same colouration, even when newly issued. So mixing it up on your Germans is likely a good idea. Equally, the ankle boots Germans wore, they were brown in colour.

I'd also note that for panzers, those in the 1942-1944 colour schemes there's a few things to consider.
First the entire tank (including the tracks) were painted Red/brown primer. Then the tanks (minus the tracks) were painted in Dunkelgelb (another variable colour!). Tanks were then shipped to the frontline units, which had cans of paint supplied to apply the camouflage as required by local conditions.
Well, when I say cans of paint, I actually mean cans of pigment. The Pigment was mixed locally with a liquid, petrol was the preferred medium, but I'll bet some unit somewhere used water, or some other thinner at some point! This process, you can see will instantly lead to a massive variety of colours.
Then you have the question of how is the paint applied to the tank? Obviously in ideal circumstances you'd have spraying equipment. But war is very often not ideal, so imagine German Panzer crews using whatever was to hand, Brooms, mops, paint brushes and even bundles of rags. This would lead to a massive amount of variance in the texture of the pain and how it appears.

As a Wargamer, I know how tempting it is to just knock out your platoon of tanks sharpish with the same camo colours and then knock off for the night... but for modellers you might want to shake it up a bit. Imagine a brand new panzer arrives at a unit in Russia, the crew have to paint it, they have one broom, one mop and everyone else is using rag bundles. They mix up the paint with a drum of Kerosene they have spare. Then halfway they realise they've mixed up too little paint and need to create a new batch to finish. Imagine what that tank would look like? (if some one feels like a challenge... there's your diorama right there)

Essentially: Stop painting the Germans all neat and efficient looking!
 
Yes, '50 Shades of Feldgrau' is something of a standing joke.
 

WALT

LE
Then the tanks (minus the tracks) were painted in Dunkelgelb (another variable colour!).

Whilst the rest of the post is spot on, I have to disagree with this point. Dunkelgelb was factory applied and to a specific RAL (7028 ). After coming out of the factory, as you said, anything goes! Every original item that I have seen in Dunkelgelb has the correct colour.
Sadly, it's no longer listed in the RAL colours list, so all modern versions must be made to order. The results of this are extremely variable. I have seen some hideous representations of Dunkelgelb, and all on shoddy repaint jobs.
If you see a shonky Dunkelgelb, it's going to be modern.

ETA - why has my "8" turned into a bloody silly face?
 
Last edited:
ETA - why has my "8" turned into a bloody silly face?
The forum software automatically converts some character combinations to pictures. Typing 8 ) with a space in the middle is fine, the same thing without a space comes out as 8)

Same thing with ; ) and : ) compared to ;) and :)
 

WALT

LE
The forum software automatically converts some character combinations to pictures. Typing 8 ) with a space in the middle is fine, the same thing without a space comes out as 8)

Same thing with ; ) and : ) compared to ;) and :)


Oh yeah! Thanks. Every day a school day, etc...

Ok, I've edited the RAL number but left the ETA comment, so as not to confuse people.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Whilst the rest of the post is spot on, I have to disagree with this point. Dunkelgelb was factory applied and to a specific RAL (7028 ). After coming out of the factory, as you said, anything goes! Every original item that I have seen in Dunkelgelb has the correct colour.
Sadly, it's no longer listed in the RAL colours list, so all modern versions must be made to order. The results of this are extremely variable. I have seen some hideous representations of Dunkelgelb, and all on shoddy repaint jobs.
If you see a shonky Dunkelgelb, it's going to be modern.

ETA - why has my "8" turned into a bloody silly face?
Hence why the Weald Foundation visit was so interesting. Dunkelgelb is an unearthly colour when new.
 

WALT

LE
Hence why the Weald Foundation visit was so interesting. Dunkelgelb is an unearthly colour when new.

I buy knackered old ammo boxes cheaply, and weld them up, respray them and stich new leather on the handles. I had my Dunkelgelb matched from the inside paint on an original box so that the colour wasn't faded by sunlight.
It is a weird colour, but it's my favorite.
Incidentally, I suspect it's based on dry clay. Which is very common in this neck of the woods. If you see dried clay sprayed on vehicles, it's difficult to tell the difference.

Here some of mine ( I don't restore good originals - way too expensive and best left alone! ) :-

IMG_3123.jpg
 
Whilst the rest of the post is spot on, I have to disagree with this point. Dunkelgelb was factory applied and to a specific RAL (7028 ). After coming out of the factory, as you said, anything goes! Every original item that I have seen in Dunkelgelb has the correct colour.
Sadly, it's no longer listed in the RAL colours list, so all modern versions must be made to order. The results of this are extremely variable. I have seen some hideous representations of Dunkelgelb, and all on shoddy repaint jobs.
If you see a shonky Dunkelgelb, it's going to be modern.

ETA - why has my "8" turned into a bloody silly face?

That's what I meant... Modern interpretations of Dunkelgelb are.... interesting. And as we infamously know, model companies are known to match off modern paint colours. (Looks at the Blue Matilda)
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
So, was it Hugo Boss doing the uniforms or Farrow & Ball?

I quite fancy the one in the middle for the front door.
Bottom right looks like a nice overcoat for walking the dogs on a chilly autumn morning

I'll get me coat.
Oh...
 
Good original post. I was surprised when reading the much needed guidance which a kind ex serviceman and current modeller sent me about British uniform in the pre-DPM era; very much the same, substituting Olive Green for Field Grey.
The diorama idea was suggested in one of the old Airfix Guides (Afrika Korps?) with one of the shovelling figures from their 00 set altered to one dipping a paintbrush into a can.
 
The thing is as the war progressed the new issue uniforms were shite quality, the dye was questionable and used to fade under the sun and from constant wetness. Look at uniforms from the area of the Mediterranean and they are approaching sun bleached due to their age and poor materials.

Look at how lightweights and combat jackets used to fade from washing, ironing and constant wear and tear.
 

ches

LE
The thing is as the war progressed the new issue uniforms were shite quality, the dye was questionable and used to fade under the sun and from constant wetness. Look at uniforms from the area of the Mediterranean and they are approaching sun bleached due to their age and poor materials.

Look at how lightweights and combat jackets used to fade from washing, ironing and constant wear and tear.

This.

On the subject of our combats, out in the cuds on rurals over the water it was easy to go through a pair of trousers every cpl of weeks if you were out on the ground a lot. Snags on fences, undergrowth & other obstructions would rip them up quite easily. Jackets on the other hand stood up a bit more robustly so my combats would be nice shiny new while my top half was a bit faded & well used. Must have been very much the same back in the day of Adolf & thats with intact working supply lines.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
This.

On the subject of our combats, out in the cuds on rurals over the water it was easy to go through a pair of trousers every cpl of weeks if you were out on the ground a lot. Snags on fences, undergrowth & other obstructions would rip them up quite easily. Jackets on the other hand stood up a bit more robustly so my combats would be nice shiny new while my top half was a bit faded & well used. Must have been very much the same back in the day of Adolf & thats with intact working supply lines.
I was about to make very similar point but in reverse.

Go back to recruit training, Battle PT and so on. Bottoms tend to get washed rather more often that tops. So, washed-out bottoms, darker tops.

I managed to get through a lot of Basic by just giving kit a stiff brushing rather than a wash (I suspect that I can admit it, all these years later...). The first time I came home, I stuck everything in the washing machine and funnily enough the greens were bright green again.

Which is another thing that the purists don't get. Spend any time out running around and getting up and down and, especially in the summer, you'll have dust in all the creases in your skin, etc. Even in the winter, after a few days in a shell-scrape or a battle trench, you'll be the same colour as your surroundings (and the colour of the water that comes off you in the shower, let alone the water that comes out of your clothes, is alarming the first few times).

Dust and grime get everywhere. DPM patterns can all but disappear. Solid colours can be entirely and uniformly changed. And that's before you get to dye batches, washing and so on.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
It is a weird colour, but it's my favorite.
Incidentally, I suspect it's based on dry clay. Which is very common in this neck of the woods. If you see dried clay sprayed on vehicles, it's difficult to tell the difference.
I have long wondered. I suspect that you're right.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Wasn't even German an immaculately turned out member of the SS in the finest Hugo bespoke tailoring?
You'd think so at those War and Peace shows.

Combat Dealers on at the weekend, I'm sure he said the dresser uppers will pay up to £12,000 for a pair of genuine SS camo pants.
 

ches

LE
Point of order & every was a school day when i found this out, HB didn't design any SS uniforms. They were, however, a key part of the manufacture & delivery of uniform for various branches across the reich.
 

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