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Old 16th November 2021, 17:17
INM@RLM INM@RLM is offline
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Camouflage paint on Fw 200-C aircraft - Not RLM 72+73 on earlier examples

This FoWu instruction has just turned up in a new treasure trove of 470-odd Focke-Wulf internal documents found amongst the microfilmed T2 archives from Wright-Patterson. The finder of this series of documents most generously allowed them to be shared with me.

The document is dated Bremen, den 26.7.40 and the key statements are:
Nachtrag zu Kom. 21 08 016
Muster: Fw 200 C-2
Auftraggeber: RLM
Kostenträger: RLM
Termin: Mit den Arbeiten ist sofort zu beginnen.
Betr.: Sichtschutzanstrich an Fw 200-C Flugzeuge.
Erfassung der Kosten für folgende Arbeiten:
1.) Ab Werk-Nr. 0024 is der Sichtschutzanstrich im Farbton 72+73 dürchzuführen.
2.) Auf dem blauen Lack der Unterseite ist ab Werk-Nr. 0022 der Isolierlack S 238 der Fa.Ruth aufzubringen.
Für weitere Werk-Nr. sind die jeweilligen Bau-Kommissionen zu belastung.

In other words:
Re: Camouflage paint on Fw 200-C aircraft.
Addition of the costs for the following work:
1.) From (and including) Werk-Nr. 0024 camouflage paint 72+73 is to be introduced. [WNr. 0024 happens to be the fifth and final example of the Fw 200 C-2 sub-type.]
2.) Regarding the blue finish for the underside, from (and including) Werk-Nr. 0022 Isolierlack S 238 manufactured by the Ruth company is to be used.
For succeeding Werk-Nummern the relevant Bau-Kommissionen (works orders) are to be charged.

The clear inference then is that the RLM 72+73 finish was not applied to all Fw 200s delivered prior to WNr. 0024. In short, at least some of these aircraft, and probably all prior to WNr. 0024, were likely supplied with upper surfaces finished in RLM 70+71.
[WNr. 0024 happens to be the sixth and final example of the Fw 200 C-2 sub-type, whilst WNr. 0022 was the fourth such example. The next aircraft, WNr. 0025, was the Fw 200 V-13 and the Musterflugzeug for the Fw 200 C-3 series.]

That the finish applied to the earlier Fw 200 Cs was not RLM 72+73 does fit more logically with the sequence of events. There was no persuasive reason why Fw 200 C, WNr. 0001, of Rowehl's VfH, should be camouflaged in a scheme distinctly different to the He 111s being assigned to the same unit in the same period. Nor why a long range bomber and recce unit, formed in the winter of 1939/40, should have been camouflaged differently to the Luftwaffe's other land-based recce and bomber aircraft of this period. It appears that only after the Biscay bases of western France became available in July 1940 did it become clear that Fw 200 C operations would now be largely maritime in nature.

So, at least for the earlier examples, Jerry Scutts (Fw 200, 2008, p.217) seems correct in his contention that the Military Condors were finished with RLM70+71 upper surfaces, rather than RLM72+73. However, we now have a documented dividing line between those and the RLM72+73 finish that has been almost universally assumed to have applied to all Fw 200s in the WNr. sequence that began with 0001.

It would be interesting to gain some understanding of why Isolierlack S 238 der Fa.Ruth might have been selected exclusively for the underside finish, and why this change was made ahead of that for the upper surface colours.

In this document series the significant documents are all headed Auftrags-Anforderung. These appear to be the control documents used to formally authorize the commencement of work within the FoWu company on a specific change request received from a customer. Many of these documents relate to very mundane changes. There can also be multiple copies of a single document when the initials of those required to confirm they have seen it have had to be gathered on different copies.
The great majority are dated before 1943 and understandably, most seem to come from the 1939/40 period. Accordingly many questions from the Fw 200 sequence after WNr. 0200 remain unaddressed, but a mass of rich detail is added regarding what changes were applied and when to the surviving prototypes, and early sub-types: A-0, C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, D-1 & D-2.

As a sidebar, to my mind there is a clear need for a software tool which would allow direct comparison of the different shades in selected areas of the same photograph. Where that photo has already been digitized it would be a straight forward matter of reading the tone values direct from the existing data and displaying the absolute and percentage values of contrast on screen. For images not already scanned the simplest solution would be to photograph the image with a smartphone and then use the software tool to select the areas for comparison, saving these selections in a copy of the photograph, along with the resulting table of contrast values.
For photos taken in similar light conditions it would be reasonable to expect that similar values of relative contrast would be found. In short such a tool would start to bring some precision to the task of distinguishing between 72+73 and 70+71, or between 02+71 and 74+75, especially when there are other comparison photos taken in similar light conditions with less doubt about the colour tones used.

Perhaps such a tool already exists? If not, hopefully soon.

Last edited by INM@RLM; 16th November 2021 at 18:22. Reason: Clarity; added "(and including)" after the from Werk-Nummern
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