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AK Interactive AK 2020 Luftwaffe Camouflages 2

AK Interactive Luftwaffe Camouflages 2 Paint Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2015 Manufacturer AK Interactive
Subject Luftwaffe Camouflages 2 Product Number AK 2020
Pros Ready for airbrush and paint brush right out of the bottle Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $34.99

First Look

AK Interactive has been producing a very wide range of paints and weathering products over the last several years targeted to the armored fighting vehicle modelers. What you see here is one of the first releases being targeted to the aircraft modeler, and they took on one of the more difficult subjects - Luftwaffe colors.

AK Interactive AK 2020 Luftwaffe Camouflages 2

This set contains eight 17ml bottles of paint with a color selection targeted for early World War 2 Luftwaffe subjects. The colors in this set include:

  • RLM 72 Green
  • RLM 73 Green
  • RLM 78 Light Blue
  • RLM 79 Sand Brown
  • RLM 80 Olive Green
  • RLM 81 Brown Violet
  • RLM 82 Light Green
  • RLM 83 Dark Blue (see below)

There are three factors to consider when chosing your paints: color accuracy, paint performance, and price. How do these colors look against the RLM color standards?

Color RLM Color AKI Color
RLM 72    
RLM 73    
RLM 78    
RLM 79    
RLM 80    
RLM 81    
RLM 82    
RLM 83    

The first question to ask is 'which RLM standard?' The table above is based upon the Luftwaffe Color Chart published by Eagle Editions Ltd, 1998 which is the standard that most closely matches most these AK Interactive colors. Each paint manufacturer must take a leap of faith and choose one of the several published standards where, for example, the Testors and Pollyscale colors were based upon the classic The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 which has since been revised by co-author Ken Merrick. For a quick comparison of the four prominant standards, look here.

You can see in the table above that most of the color hues align. What is interesting is where many paint companies state that they add 'scale fade' to their colors, with the exception of RLM 82, these colors are a shade darker than the standards. I find that weathering tends to lighten colors (depending on the techniques used) and starting with darker-than-standard shades will get you near standard colors when you're finished.

Now to address the stand-out difference - RLM 83. There was some discussion a few years ago that Michael Ullmann, who has published one of the recognized paint standards, has found references that suggest RLM 83 is a dark blue. While there is forensic evidence that Luftwaffe aircraft operating over water were indeed painted dark blue as one of their upper surface camouflage colors, this color didn't evidently get formally adopted into the 'RLM Standards' before war's end. This isn't unusual as there are several RAF camouflage colors that didn't make into their BSC 381 standards and even some U.S. Navy camouflage colors that don't appear in the ANA standards.

What Michael Ullmann appears to have uncovered is one of (hopefully) several colors that were used not only for over-water operations, but to also address the high-altitude operations that the Luftwaffe was preparing for after the first B-29 appeared in England in March 1944. Had the Luftwaffe been forced into more high-altitude intercepts, their camouflage colors would have needed to transition as they had with the He 219 Uhu into more effective night and twilight colors. I'm not sure why AK Interactive shifted from Eagle Edition colors to Ullmann for RLM 83, but the dark blue will be a welcome addition for Luftwaffe maritime aviation modelers. Whatever the reason, AK Interactive made the color change sometime between their packaging design (which shows RLM 83 as Dark Green) and packaging which provides the new blue.

As you know, Vallejo divides their paint line into two groups - airbrush-ready Model Air and paintbrush-ready Model Color. The Model Color thins well with our homemade airbrush thinner (as well as the Vallejo thinner of course) and goes on as well as the Model Air, which means the major difference between Model Air and Model Color is viscosity. Whatever AK Interactive has done, they've found the right viscosity that will brush and airbrush right out of the bottle.

I squirt a little RLM 65 into my Iwata gravity feed airbrush and painted some spare parts. The coverage was smooth and consistent as well as quick-to-dry. I left one surface of one part unpainted, so I grabbed a paint brush, squeezed a little RLM 65 onto the brush and painted that surface right up to the edge of my airbrushing. The results are impressive - the paint self-levels (no brush strokes) and once dry, I can't see the difference between the airbrushed and hand-painted surface. Your results may vary...

I applied Tamiya yellow tape to several parts and burnished the tape into place. When I removed the tape, no paint came off. I've noted in similar tests that there is some mold release agent being used in the injection-molding processes of many companies now that doesn't seem to wash away when parts are washed in soap and water. Regardless of how I clean my parts before starting a project, I always wipe down the parts with Isopropyl Alcohol before painting. I did so in this test as well and the results are great.

With Stevens International bringing the line into the US, you can find these paints available at several online retailers. Street prices are even lower now so the price per bottle is comparable to Vallejo. These paint sets are also available directly from AK Interactive's website.

My sincere thanks to AK Interactive for this review sample!

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