When doing the research for my first Type VIIC, I found out some (to me) surprising things:
o there are *very* few color photographs of WWII U-boats and the accuracy of the color in those photographs is not very good.
o the Kriegsmarine used a set of colors based on the RAL color coding scheme. The documentation for these color schemes still exist, however, it needs to be noted that the RAL standard of 60 some years ago is *not* the same as the RAL standard used today. In otherwords, the colors are different. I've got scans of the original color charts that show where each color was used. I need to find someplace to host the images before I can point folks to them.
o The official color schemes used on U-boats changed several times during the pre-war years....as well as during the war. We're mostly talking about relative minor changes to the various shades of gray.
o While there were standards, the individual boatyards ended up creating their own (different) variations of the standard light and dark gray...basically dependent upon what they happened to have on hand when they needed to paint a U-boat. I.e. they mixed their own. The later into the war years you are looking at, the more variations away from the standard there tended to be.
o Along with the above point, the effects of weathering also created alot of 'variation' in the perceived colors that are seen in the available photographs.
Snyder & Short Enterprises produces a set of color cards that show the colors used by the Kriegsmarine during WW2. These cards contain actual color chips, with the paint being a custom mix to get it as accurate as practical. These cards can be purchased from vendors like the Floating Drydock.
Short of mixing your own paints to match I found that two of the Testor's ModelMasters line of paints are reasonably close to a boat that was recently painted and with little-to-moderate weathering effect:
o Lichtgrau (RLM 63) - for all vertical surfaces above the waterline. This includes all of the railings.
o Grun (RLM 72) - for *all* surfaces below the waterline and all horizontal surfaces (main deck, conning tower deck and top of compass housing). That portion of the saddle tanks located above the waterline was also *usually* painted this color as well. (depends on *when*, some pre-war boats had the upper saddle tanks painted the lighter gray)
A note on the main deck - when freshly painted (actually more of a weatherproofing stain), the deck would be more of a black color. Exposure to the elements would lighten the color to a gray more of less similar to the Grun (RLM 72). If the deck went untreated long enough it would start looking like a muddy brown-gray.
There seems to be a good mix of boats that did *not* have Grun as the main deck color at both the extreme bow and stern ends.....basically, Grun was used where the wooden deck was and Lichtgrau where the bow/stern ends where steel.
Those boats deployed in the Mediterranean where more likely to have some sort of camouflage pattern applied to the Lichtgrau areas of the hull....whereas the North Atlantic boats were mostly as indicated above.
Above all else, if you see a photo of a U-boat that you wish to emulate....go for it! If you stay near these guidelines, it will be very hard for anyone to tell you that your choice of paint scheme was never used.
-hope this helps!
p.s. one of our forum members has written a interesting short article on U-boat colors and I'm trying to convince him to allow us to run it as an article in the SubCommittee Report.
Edited By JWLaRue on 1046987252