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REAL Colors of WWII - Aircraft - AK Interactive


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REAL Colors of WWII - Aircraft
AK Interactive



Last year AK Interactive launched the "Real Colors" range of Acrylic Lacquer paints after working to get in their words "The Accuracy" in the paints produced. To accompany the paints there are two books one on the Air colors and the other on the AFV colors. Please note we have not gone all "American" here on BM however this is the spelling that AK have chosen to use in their publicity, though readers will no doubt be relieved they reverted to "colour" in the book. The book is a large A-4 sized hard back publication with 292 pages. There are 42 colour profiles, several document reprints, and 390 b/w and colour photos, many of which are very rare. All of the printing is first rate with many quality photographs in black and white, but also full colour. Colour chips are also interspersed in the text at appropriate locations,


Nick Millman who is a good source of information of colour and paint here on Britmodeller has contributed to the text of the book with archival research. He has kindly sent me some information which has been of help. With regards to the colour printing of paint chips he has said "Colour chips are printed rather than paint which also introduces a margin of error but I think the printers have done an excellent job with them and generally I was well satisfied. However and in particular Neutral Grey 43 came out much darker than expected compared to my original chip."  The other contributors to the book are; Maciej Goralczyk, Gerald Hogl, Jurgen Kiroff, and Mihail Orlov. 


While the colour printing is rightly stunning don't let that overwhelm the excellent text in the book as he has mentioned there are some "unusual nuggets" of research in there. Included is the latest information on the Luftwaffe’s late war colours, which have been reproduced as scale colours on the basis of the original paint factory recipes. In addition for the very first time, unparalleled research on the Soviet Air Force colours by Mikhail  Orlov is introduced to non-Russian readers. The book is broken down into 4 main sections to cover German Aircraft, US Aircraft, British Aircraft, and Soviet Aircraft. There is some differences to how each is examined down to the different approach the authors have used. However I feel that some variation is a good thing rather than 4 repetitive chapters.


German Aircraft Colours in WWII

This section is broken down into 6 main sections, some of these have further sub sections. The main sections are;

  1. Pre War & Early War Colours.
  2. New Needs, New Colours (mid war).
  3. Late War Colours.
  4. Interior Colours.
  5. Official Colour Specifications & Camouflage patterns.
  6. Scale Colour Effect.





US Aircraft Colours in WWII

This section is broken down into 5 main sections, again some of these have further sub sections. The main sections are;

  1. Introduction
  2. USAAC/USAAF Camouflage Colours.
  3. US Navy Camouflage Colours,
  4. USAAF/USN Insignia Colours.
  5. US Aircraft Interior Colours.





British Aircraft Colours in WWII

This section is broken down into 12 main sections, again some of these have further sub sections. The main sections are;

  1. Introduction.
  2. Camouflage Colours.
  3. Temperate Land Scheme.
  4. Temperate Sea Scheme.
  5. Day Fighter Scheme.
  6. Desert Colours.
  7. Photo-Reconnaissance Colours.
  8. Air Sea Rescue Aircraft.
  9. Transport Aircraft.
  10. Grey Green.
  11. Identification Colours.
  12. Code Letters.





Soviet Aircraft Colours in WWII

This section is broken down into 10 main sections, again some of these have further sub sections. The main sections are;

  1. Terms and Definitions.
  2. Until 1940.
  3. 1940.
  4. 1941-1942.
  5. Winters of 1941-42 and 1942-43.
  6. 1942.
  7. Winter of 1943-1944.
  8. 1944-1945.
  9. Frontline Experience.
  10. A View From The Inside.


There is no doubt that there has been some quality in depth research involved in this book with regard to the colours and how they were used. The quality of the book is first rate when it comes to the colours being shown as long as you understand the limitations of the printing process.


Overall Very Highly Recommended. 



Review sample courtesy of



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It is very promising, isn't it?  I presume that the other main sections are Japanese, Italian and French?  I understand that the Japanese section is based on work done by Nick MIllman, and it would certainly be very good to have a handy reference for his and Orlov's work.  I do have concerns however.


1. You give no reference in the US or British sections heading to the US-equivalent and US substitute colours for British service.  I would assume that Nick did cover this matter?

2.  That the Luftwaffe chapter is "scale colour"?  What scale, may I ask?  And if desirable, which I doubt, why just this one chapter only?  Admittedly the "unmodified" Luftwaffe colours are available elsewhere more readily than the others from non-English sources.

3.  In their equivalent work on AFVs, their section on British colours has been credited to Mike Starmer,  but he has been quite scathing on how his work has been misrepresented and what a poor guide the work is.

4.. Printed colours may match well on the trial sets but from previous experience of the same, how well do they (generically) maintain such a standard under the problems of a production run?  You hint at this in your conclusion, but a key reference really needs have printed chip sets.


I am very much ready to buy this book, but even by modern standards it is moderately expensive despite the printed colour chips and I am concerned about its trustworthiness.

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I have a copy of the book and I am pleased with it, my only disappointment is the lack of a Japanese section (no French or Italian either) maybe another book on the way ?





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The main sections listed are what you get, UK, US, German & Soviet.  There is nothing in this book about any other countries. Nick did the UK only as far as I am aware.


To answer your other questions;


1. No, no mention of US colors in UK service I can see.

2. The part on scale colour relates to just that how different scales affect colour. The four country chapters are different as written by different authors with different styles.

3. I have not had sight of the other book, nor Mike's comments so cant really comment on that volume.

4. There will always be a slight difference for printed colours instead of paint chip. How much extra would they have cost? Overall Nick seemed pleased with the results and that sounds good to me.


I really cant see how you can doubt the trustworthiness of this book, based on what evidence? if I was one of the authors I would  take issue with your words, and at least its bad form?



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6 minutes ago, spitfire said:

my only disappointment is the lack of a Japanese section (no French or Italian either) maybe another book on the way ?





It might be, you never know. Given the amount of work here the book would either be massive if those nations were included, or contain less information.


We will have to see what AK come up with, and maybe how well this sells. 

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Thanks for the additional information, and my apologies for misunderstanding the range of the subjects covered.  However this does reduce considerably the value of the book for me: out of the four nations mentioned it is only the Russians for which I lack a decent colour reference.  Obviously this does not apply to all potential buyers.  I believe that to many this will be a welcome guide.


Questioning in advance is not, in itself,  condemnation.  How critical any initial review should be is open to legitimate discussion, on matters of taste and other grounds; however following comments should not be under any such restriction, other than the laws governing libel.  When doubt has been cast on the first work in any series, it is entirely legitimate to ponder on the quality of any following ones.  This appears to be only common sense.   Caveat emptor.


This thread confirms to me the value of this site, in that the feedback has saved me not only the cost of this book but also that of a trip to Cosford tomorrow in the hope of finding it, and actually seeing what it can offer.  Not that there aren't other reasons for going (or not going) to Cosford, and I'd still like a good English account of Orlov's work.  Maybe, another day... if so I shall make sure of posting any retractions necessary.

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  • 9 months later...

It really disappointed me. The book seems to have not been reviewed by the editor. On page 242 dedicated to the external colors of Soviet aircraft from 1937 to 1940 ... only three reference colors are printed. They have forgotten to print 11 colors. This unforgivable oblivion ruins the part of the book dedicated to the aircraft of the USSR. Possibly the one that interested me most for being the most unknown. In April I wrote an email to the editor and I received no response. These mistakes cannot be forgiven in a book that is not cheap

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