Naval Hex Fabric & Camo.

25 Aug 1995 09:52:09 GMT

To the list;

What do WE know about the German Naval Hexagonal Fabric and painted
camouflage(s)? My knowledge about this topic is pretty well limited
to the following (who can/will add to it, or amend it?):
( ) = footnoted source.

1) I pose that some *early* examples of the Naval Hex were painted on.
I've read this in a couple places and I'll look up and post the
source(s) when I run across them again. This painted variety seems to be
of a larger hexagon pattern with more subtle contrasts between the
(darker) colors. I'm relatively sure this "painted on" practice ended
with the availability of the pre printed fabric. Seen on Rumpler
6B1's(1), Albatros W.4's (on turtledeck)(2), and Gotha WD.14's(3)(4)(5).

2) Hex fabric was doped onto plywood surfaces such as some fuselage
turtledecks and float tops (for example). Typical of Freidrichschafen
FF 33's & FF 49's and others I believe. A previous poster correctly
pointed this out.

3) *I* think that *at least* two varieties of this fabric were made.
B&W photos seem to bear this out due to obvious tonal/contrast
differences. (Or is it painted vs. fabric?). Much less Hex contrast
with Albatros W.4's, vs. most Hansa Brandenberg W.12's for instance.

4) Fabric width was likely 1.3 to 1.4 metres wide. A previous poster
correctly showed that this was the typical range for the "Day" lozenge
fabric, and likely for the Naval Hex variety as well. I had said
"1 meter" previously - that's what I get for going from faulty
memory! (Don't you dare say anything John R.!! :-).

5) There is no "underside" application of any Naval Hex fabric that *I*
know of. Undersides typically were left in natural linen, or painted that
light grey/mauve color. (See paint chip in Windsock Magazine,
Vol.5/No.2, p.22).

6) Later production aircraft (post mid-1917 or so) usually had painted
light grey/mauve struts, sides and fuselage undersurfaces and were
applied in two shades (lighter for float, and fuselage undersurfaces &
darker for struts, fuselage and float sides, etc.) apparently. Wing
undersurfaces were generally left in natural linen. Some aircraft I've
read about were referred to as having painted "Whiteish blue"
undersides(?) - wings included - these were German floatplanes in Polish
service just after WW I - Lubeck Travemunde F.4(6). (re-paint by the

7) Many early Sablatnigs (SF.2's inparticular) appear to be painted
overall in a very light color (The whiteish blue?). Many other EARLY
German floatplanes also look this way - Sablatnig SF.2(8), Rumpler
6B1(9), Fredrichschafen FF 33's(10), etc.

8) As with the other (dry!) areas of operations, aircraft manufactured
during the early years (1914 to 1916, or even to early 1917) were usually
delivered in overall natural finishes with only the metal parts/panels
painted. (Except, see No. 7 above).

9) Propellors on German Naval aircraft always seem to have their
outer/leading edges protected with metal strips. (Why?, why these and
not land based aircraft?) (salt water spray a reason?).

10) Some aircraft with Naval Hex had their upper wing crosses
UN-outlined. See FF 33L(11), and Rumpler 6B1(12). Other national
insignia appears to be normal white outlined on these same aircraft.

11) Some Naval aircraft had a two color wavy camouflage. See Rumpler
6B1(13) - similiar to many land based AEG aircraft (mauve & green?).

(1) A Pictorial History of Luftwaffe, Vol. II, 1915-18, Nowarra,
1967. page 148.
(2) German Combat Planes, Wagner & Nowarra, 1971. page 169.
(3) A Pictorial History of Luftwaffe, Vol. III, 1918, Nowarra, 1964.
page 13.
(4) As per (1), but page 140.
(5) As per (2), but page 160.
(6) Windsock Mag. Vol.10/No.5, page 37.
(7) As per (6), but page 36.
(8) German Naval Air Service, Imrie, 1989. photo No.45.
(9) As per (2), but page 171.
(10) As per (8), but photo No. 44.
(11) As per (1), but page 141.
(12) As per (1), same photo on page 148.
(13) As per (8), but photo No.38.

Steve H. (The Mad Norseman!)