German Wehrmacht Camouflage Pattern of World War Two, 1938–1945

German Wehrmacht Camouflage Pattern of World War Two, 1938–1945

Camouflage patterns of the Wehrmacht were regulated by Army Communiqués (Heeresmitteilung) issued throughout the war. Vehicle base colours were permanently applied at the factory, and factories were the first to implement any base colour changes. When dark yellow was introduced as a base colour in 1943, the new regulation was rapidly implemented, any recently produced equipment was immediately repainted at the factory. Depot vehicles were to be handed out to units in the new base colour only. However, vehicles already in operation were not to be repainted, they retained the dark grey base colour.

Basic Vehicle Patterns

  • 1935-1939 Anthrazitgrau Base Colour.
  • 1940 Panzergrau Base Colour.
  • 1941 Pattern North Africa.
  • 1942 Pattern North Africa/Crete.
  • 1943 Dunkelgelb Base Colour.
  • 1944 Ambush Pattern.
  • 1944 Red Primer Base.
  • 1944 Dark Green Base Colour.

Camouflage patterns were applied in the field, using water/fuel soluable camouflage paste vailable in three colours, dark yellow, oliv green, and red brown. Camouflage paste could be washed off with fuel in the event that a pattern needed to be adapted to local and seasonal conditions. Camouflage paste was also used on Panzergrau vehicles in 1943.

Anthrazitgrau/Signalbraun Pattern, 1935–1939

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
7016 Anthrazitgrau Factory Base Coat X802
8002 Signalbraun Disruptive Pattern X801
Vehicles drafted in 1939 were painted in this pattern. The base colour dominated the disruptive pattern by a factor of 2 to 1, with soft contours between colours.

Panzergrau (HM 1940, Nr. 864 of 31.06.1940)

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
7021 Schwarzgrau Factory Base Coat TC 1 X800
Panzergrau replaced the earlier two-colour pattern in 1940, in order to save paint. Panzergrau was discontinued in February of 1943. Vehicles in operation were not to be repainted. Instead, camouflage paste was used to create two and three colour patterns over the Panzergrau base colour. Armoured vehicles at Kursk in 1943 are documented in Panzergrau with Dunkelgelb patches, typically in the recommended ratio of 2 to 1.

Afrikakorps Disruptive Pattern (Heeresmitteilung 1941, Nr. 281)

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
8000 Grünbraun Base Colour TC 2 X803
7008 Grüngrau Disruptive Pattern TC 4 X804
Panzergrau vehicles deployed to Africa were repainted in the new base colour with disruptive patches. The base colour dominated the disruptive pattern by a factor of 2 to 1, with soft contours between colours.

Afrikakorps Disruptive Pattern (HM 1942, Nr. 315 of 25.03.1942)

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
8020 Gelbbraun Base Colour X808
7027 Sandgrau Disruptive Pattern X809
The new pattern for Africa was introduced in March of 1942. Available paint and camouflage paste of the earlier pattern was to be used up, resulting in a mixture of patterns in the interim period. The new Africa pattern was also used in Crete (HM 1942, Nr. 600). Water soluable, and removable camouflage paste was to be used to paint vehicle tarps.

Dunkelgelb Base Colour with Disruptive Pattern (HM 1943, Nr. 181 and 322)

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
7028 Dunkelgelb Factory Base Coat TC 3 X805
6003 Olivgrün Disruptive Pattern TC 5 X806
8017 Schokoladenbraun Disruptive Pattern TC 6 X807
As of February 1943, vehicles were supplied in the Dunkelgelb factory base coat, to be painted with camouflage patterns according to regional and seasonal requirements. As a result, a great variety of two and three colour patterns were in existence, even serving alongside eachother in the same unit. Operational vehicles painted Panzergrau were not to be repainted in the new base colour. Instead, camouflage paste was to be used to create two- and three-colour patterns.

Ambush Pattern, 19th August 1944

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
7028 Dunkelgelb Factory Base Coat TC 3 X805
6003 Olivgrün Disruptive Pattern TC 5 X806
8017 Schokoladenbraun Disruptive Pattern TC 6 X807
The ambush pattern was designed to hide vehicles under trees, an important consideration in light of allied air superiority following the Normandy landings. Ambush pattern was factory applied, using standard designs.

Dark Red Primer Coat with Disruptive Pattern, 31st October 1944

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
8012 Dark Red Primer Factory Base Coat
6003 Olivgrün Disruptive Pattern TC 5 X806
7028 Dunkelgelb Disruptive Pattern TC 3 X805
7021 Schwarzgrau Disruptive Pattern TC 1 X800
A simplyfied process of applying the three colour disruptive pattern, using the dark red primer as the base colour and adding disruptive patterns of Olivgrün and Dunkelgelb at the factory. Panzergrau may have been used as an alternative to Dunkelgelb on occasion.

Olivgrün Base Colour with Disruptive Pattern, 31st November 1944

RAL Designation Note Gunze No. Xtracolor No.
6003 Olivgrün Factory Base Coat TC 5 X806
8017 Schokoladenbraun Disruptive Pattern TC 6 X807
7028 Dunkelgelb Disruptive Pattern TC 3 X805
Some vehicles may have been rushed to the front in Olivgrün base coat only, to be camouflaged by the units receiving them.

Snow Camouflage

Heeresmitteilung 1941, Nr. 1128 of 18th November 1941 regulated the application of snow camouflage to vehicles operating in Norway, Finland, and Russia. White camouflage paste was to be applied over the Panzergrau base coat, to be washed off again with fuel when the snow melted. However, supply problems on the Eastern Front were so severe that this instruction could not be followed. Replacement vehicles, and divisions newly deployed to the front were painted as required, but units already engaged had to use lime wash to camouflage their vehicles.

Scale Colour

A paint chip taken from an historic armoured vehicle may very well be the same olive drab or panzer grey colour which the hobbyist can purchase from Revell and Humbrol today, but it would be a mistake to paint 1:72 scale models in this way. When viewed from a distance, the actual vehicle exposed to sunlight will appear much lighter than a small model painted in the same colour. Dust settling on the vehicle can highlight the overall colour even further, sometimes completely obliterating the camouflage effect and making it impossible to hide the vehicle against the dark background of a treeline or forest.

The scale colour concept allows the model builder to simulate this effect. The authentic base colour is used as an undercoat, preferably sprayed on, to speed up the painting process. The undercoat should be left to dry before additional paint is applied. Mix the base colour with white to highlight it and then drybrush it onto the vehicle. The raised surfaces of the model will pick up the highlight just like the real vehicle picks up sunlight. Viewed next to eachother, at the appropriate scale distance, of course, both vehicles will appear to be the same size and their overall colour should be similar, depending on the intensity of natural lighting the modeller wishes to recreate. Drybrushing can be done in several layers, using more white each time. A final layer of dust grey can be applied to simulate the cumulative effect which a dusty road march would have on the vehicle and its crew.

Frequently Asked Questions

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