Author Topic: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection  (Read 2375 times)

Offline GrahamB

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Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« on: May 29, 2017, 09:47:19 AM »
I thought I might offer this.

Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection

Several months ago, thumbing through my collection of Scale Aircraft Modelling articles by the late Ian Huntley (IH), I was struck by one titled “Irregular Hand-drawn lozenge 1916” (SAM Vol.14 no.10 July 1992, p456–459; Ref.5). It coincided with my starting a beautiful Wingnut Wings (WNW) Fokker E.IV that I picked up at last year’s Scale Models Expo near Wellington, New Zealand.

   Essentially, IH had access to some French Intelligence reports on the colours of German aircraft during the period 1915–1916, and he outlined the emergence of camouflage, starting with simple patch overpainting in pale-coloured dopes or paints and the development of polygonal schemes – precursors of the printed linen ‘lozenge’’ of mid-1917 onwards. Very few images of the early painted polygonal schemes exist in English language literature – those of an Albatros B.II and Pfalz E.IV are examples of patch/brush-stroke forms (Ref.3: photo 84; Ref.4: photos 80–81) but the Pfalz E.VI (?) on page 28 of the latter reference exhibits a perfect example of the lozenge-polygonal form. It is implied by IH that these patterns were quite common but, in my view, they may have been confined to a few German units or maintenance depots opposing the French rather than the British RFC/RNAS. No further discussion of this aspect is dealt with here.

   Of more relevance to this article, is IH’s presentation of the simpler camouflage schemes and a probable link to the appearance of Fokker E-types, so-often described simply as ‘beige’. I have always struggled with this description as the photographic evidence (Refs 3, 6–9) is heavily at odds with it – even allowing for the use of unbleached linen (=CDL) and the fouling by rotary engine exhausts/castor-oil. There is also the side issue (or semantics) of the term ‘beige’ itself, its representation in WW1 aviation literature and art being diverse and often unlike the original meaning.

   According to IH, simple overall finishes on German aircraft up to about May-June 1915 could be termed white, ‘beige’, blue or grey* depending on the covering material (cotton or linen), its treatment (bleached or unbleached) and possible dyeing, aside from the ubiquitous doping. From then on, the first attempts at terrain camouflage appear, coinciding with the introduction of the Fokker E-types. Colours recorded by the French at this time were ochre, applied as a dark varnish on upper surfaces, followed by light olive, olive-brown and light brown, applied as patches or bands of single colours. Very soon, two or three colours were observed used in combination with others, some light (lilac), most others dark: dark green, dark red-brown, mauve, black-green, and black-purple. Dark colours became dominant (and familiar) in the banded schemes so prevalent later in 1916–1917. For a glimpse of what an Eindecker with mauves/lilacs/purple during their late period of use might have looked like, it is worth noting Vladimir Martinicky’s representation of a Fokker D.III on the cover of Ref.2. Also, the unusual polygonal scheme on Reuschke’s Fokker E.1 (Ref.2: page 28) may belong in this group.

   All this is non-controversial but how is it related to the Fokker E-types, other than its coincidence in the period? More recent interpretations of Eindecker colours, such as the instructions and colour guides in WNW kits, acknowledge original descriptions such as “dark brown”, “dark brown wings on the upper side”, “grey” and “butcher blue” that are clearly attempts at camouflage, including the inevitable “beige”.

Eindecker wings with a darker finish than the fuselage are found in various references (e.g. Ref.8: photo 9), supplemented in many cases with darker tail-plane and upper fuselage surfaces (e.g. Ref.8: photo 13). The wings are often shiny and indicative of fresh factory finish (e.g. Ref.8: photo 15) of coloured dope (ochre? see above) achieved by spraying or careful brush painting. These surfaces could then receive other overpainting, including those of the white of the cross panels [refs]. Fuselages are sometimes pale, indicative of clear-doped linen (e.g. Ref.7: photo 33) (see Ref.2: pages 4–6; Ref.8: photo 28 for unadorned Fokker fuselages), but are usually darker, showing vertical streaks or irregular patches not associated with engine fouling (e.g. Ref.7: photo 11; 2012b: photos 17, 25; Ref.9: page 19; plus many others). Some photos show both Eindecker forms in company (e.g. Ref.8: photo 31). My view is that these indicate field-application of the light-coloured dopes (light browns, olives, see above) consistent with the time period and descriptions given by IH. Some of the faint streaking patterns on fuselages are reminiscent of Fokker’s later factory practice in 1916, but these were darker colours (olive?) as on the contemporaneous or overlapping Fokker D.III’s (Ref.1: photos 97–99).

   The final colours of some Eindeckers, notably the E.IV, included a possible light example (lilac?) (e.g. Ref.10: page 25) and darker variants, possibly dark green and reddish brown (see above) applied on both the fuselage and wings/tail-plane surfaces (e.g. Ref.2: photo 77; Ref.8: photos 23–28; Ref.1013: page 25). These were contemporaneous with Fokker D.II and D.III airframes painted in similar colours.

   As for beige, this is often depicted as a creamy yellow colour (Windsock) yet equated with ‘straw yellow’. This is a misconception, as beige (a French term) was strictly a greyish-yellow (with cadmium-yellow basic hue), Methuen giving a typical value of 4C3 (with straw-yellow lighter and more saturated at 4B4). This colour-group is fairly consistent with some of the colours mentioned earlier such the ochre (4D5) of the relatively dark varnish applied to the upper wing surfaces and olive-brown (3–4)E5, both reached easily by adding small amounts of chromium yellow (Methuen hue 3) or cadmium-yellow, deep (Methuen hue 4) pigments to a black/white [grey] base.

Blues are not often associated with the Fokker Eindeckers (but see possible “butcher blue” record mentioned above), although WNW (Ref.10: page 25) suggest that a dark-green painted E.IV might have had sky blue under-surfaces. This is consistent with the French observing the appearance, in April or May 1916, of dyed blue fabric on a captured Fokker biplane (IH says D.II 225/16? but this seems to early). However, at this time no firm conclusion can be made with regard to the Eindeckers.

Overall, it is perhaps time for modellers to attempt some trickier and more interesting colour schemes on their Fokker Eindeckers and ditch the bland ‘beige’ – careful study of photographs will reward the observant.
   
References
1.   Grosz P.M. (1999) Fokker Fighters D.I–IV. R. Rimell (ed.). The Classics of WW1 Aviation, 2. Albatros Productions Ltd, 52 pp.
2.   Grosz P.M. (2001) Fokker E.III. Windsock Datafile 15. Albatros Productions Ltd, 29 pp, 3rd Edition.
3.   Grosz P.M. (2002) Albatros B.II. Windsock Datafile 93. Albatros Productions Ltd, 37 pp.
4.   Grosz P.M. (1996) Pfalz E.I–E. IV. Windsock Datafile 59. Albatros Productions Ltd, 37 pp.
5.   Huntley I. (1992) Irregular hand-drawn lozenge 1916. Scale Aircraft Modelling 14 (10): 56–59.
6.   Rimell R. (2012) Fokker E.III 635/16, German fighter monoplane, 1915/1916. Albatros Productions Ltd, Windsock Worldwide 28 (5): 14–25.
7.   Scott J. 2012a. Fokker Eindecker. Compendium 1. Albatros Productions Ltd, 56 pp.
8.   Scott J. 2012b. Fokker Eindecker. Compendium 2. Albatros Productions Ltd, 56 pp.
9.   Van Wyngarden G. (2006) Early German Aces of world War 1. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces, 73. Osprey Publishing Ltd, 96 pp.
10.   Wingnut Wings Ltd. (2013) Fokker E.IV. [instruction booklet].

Table of mid 1915–mid 1916 colours observed on German aircraft, those in bold possibly on Fokker Eindeckers.
The Resene visual matches should provide a decent representation of IH's Methuen call-outs, especially for OZ/Kiwi modelers.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/153980211@N07/48515563402/in/dateposted/
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 09:38:28 AM by GrahamB »

Offline certainreasons

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2017, 03:35:36 PM »
Thanks for bringing this up; the WNW instructions were for me the first encounter of the unsettling claims that Eindeckers were not just plain CDL as depicted universally for decades, and I was surprised more reaction did not result. Curious what all of the knowledgeable folks here to say on the matter.

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2017, 06:09:42 PM »
Thanks for being the first reply to this thread. I should have added some sort of conclusion (thanks Tony!).

I think  the safest thing to say is that most Eindeckers were not uniformly coloured, with at least the flying surfaces and dorsal fuselage in a darker finish (probably ochre?). In addition, I think that many received some sort of daubing on the fuselage sides with the pale/light early coloured dopes, to tone down the linen.

This is not so say that other colours (perhaps for the dark wings etc) are excluded - such as feldgrau - but these are not mentioned in the French reports (via Ian Huntley).

For the latest scheme, dark green and red-brown - these appear to be rare in photographs. The interpretation for my E.IV comes from the photograph provided in the WNW instruction manual - possible combination of the early pale colours plus the later dark green/red-brown. The only actual photograph that unequivocally shows some sort of multi- or bi-coloured camouflage on the upper wing surface and tailplane is that of Reuschke’s Fokker E.1 (Ref.3: page 28).
Cheers
GrahamB



Online Borsos

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2017, 07:05:47 PM »
very fascinating work, Graham, and it's very carefully researched. With the introduction of brown and green as camouflage colors on early German biplane scouts like the Fokker D. types and the Halberstadt D. types (I think in autumn of 1916) for me it sounds quite probable and just logical that camouflage was also used on Eindeckers. When I recall what was written about the camouflaged wings of the first Albatros D types, not to mention the Roland D. and C. types, I wouldn't be too convinced of any lilac/mauve tones before the second half of 1917. But it might have been in use, e. g. on old Eindeckers that were withdrawn from frontline sevice and used at Kests to defend Western German industrial cities from allied bomb raids. The brown/grey/beige tones sound very attractive and convincing to me. There's one crucial question for me: Were these French intelligence reports based on captured Eindeckers that could have been examined carefully? Or were they based just on mid-air combat reports? Such Reports frequently tend to be very subjective and corrupted by the brightness of sunlight, some shadows and so on in the heat of the dogfights.
Borsos
"Deux armées aux prises, c'est une grande armée qui se suicide."
Barbusse.
"Ein Berg in Deutschland kann doch einen Berg in Frankreich nicht beleidigen. Oder ein Fluß oder ein Wald oder ein Weizenfeld."
Remarque.


Offline GrahamB

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2017, 07:12:43 AM »
Hi Richard,

yes, this image was referenced in the article and there is a good enlargment of the E.IV on page 43 (photo 24) of the Fokker Compendium Vol.2. It certainly looks as if it has multicolored patching on the fuselage sides - the glare on the wing is too much to show any pattern (if any) ;).

Cheers
Graham

Offline GAJouette

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2017, 08:13:01 AM »
 Graham,
Outstanding subject and even better answers. Many thanks my old friend.
Highest Regards,
Gregory Jouette
" What Me Worry"

Offline lcarroll

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2017, 01:13:06 PM »
Graham,
Outstanding subject and even better answers. Many thanks my old friend.
Highest Regards,
Gregory Jouette

Got me into the books as well, Graham. Great stuff, thanks for launching this topic!
Cheers,
Lance

Offline rhwinter

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2017, 05:58:00 PM »
Hi Richard,

yes, this image was referenced in the article and there is a good enlargment of the E.IV on page 43 (photo 24) of the Fokker Compendium Vol.2. It certainly looks as if it has multicolored patching on the fuselage sides - the glare on the wing is too much to show any pattern (if any) ;).

Cheers
Graham

Maybe I should have read the article more thoroughly..? I'll now probably get me that Fokker E compendium! Even both of them, as I fell in love with the E I. recently, too. That is, if can find enough money...

Online Borsos

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2017, 06:46:25 PM »
Quote
I'll now probably get me that Fokker E compendium! Even both of them, as I fell in love with the E I. recently, too. That is, if can find enough money...

I am sure you won't regret that. It's one of their best with full color scale plans and an abundance of fotos. Really great stuff.
Borsos
"Deux armées aux prises, c'est une grande armée qui se suicide."
Barbusse.
"Ein Berg in Deutschland kann doch einen Berg in Frankreich nicht beleidigen. Oder ein Fluß oder ein Wald oder ein Weizenfeld."
Remarque.

Offline rhwinter

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2017, 06:52:52 PM »
Thank you for the recommendation, Borsos! I'll start saving money, now...

Offline lcarroll

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2017, 01:08:20 AM »
Richard,
    I'll add my recommendations of the E Series Compendium set, along with the D.VII Anthology 3 Volume Series it is their very best in my view. We are so fortunate to have the efforts of Albatros Pubs at our convenience, great products! I have no connection to any of our supporters out there however the work and service of the "support sector", such as Aviattic, Pheon, Taurus, Gaspatch, and now Copper State to mention only a few make the hobby even more enjoyable and satisfying to this enthusiast!
   Keep up the great work, Guys! :) 8)
Cheers,
Lance

Offline Russell

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2017, 04:55:14 AM »
Graham,
Your Fokker E.IV related to the subject of this post is a super model.

One reference on this current post has me puzzled though:

"3.   Grosz P.M. (2002) Albatros B.II. Windsock Datafile 93. Albatros Productions Ltd, 37 pp."

You refer to page 28 showing a Fokker E.I - but page 28 shows only Albatros B.II's.

Regards
Russell

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Eindeckers, beige and the French Connection
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2017, 07:50:36 AM »
Thanks Russell :). I had re-ordered the refs and missed this one. It is Ref 2 of course - the Fokker E.III Datafile. I've edited the the article - I've noticed a couple of others. Also - I've entered the reference to the Pfalz E.VI(?) on page 28 of the Pfalz E.-E.IV Datafile (Ref. 4) in a perfect example of lozenge-painted polygonal camouflage - somehow missed from my last edit.

Cheers
Graham
« Last Edit: June 04, 2017, 08:07:35 AM by GrahamB »