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  • Central Powers combat pilots often painted individual color schemes on their personal aircraft (example pictured) in spite of the factory-applied lozenge camouflage?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Fokker D.VII shows a four-color Lozenge-Tarnung (lozenge camouflage)
Another Fokker D.VII with a different four-color pattern

Lozenge camouflage (Lozenge-Tarnung in German) was a military camouflage scheme used by some aircraft of the Central Powers in the last two years of World War I.



During the early stages of the Great War, the Germans were looking for a way to effectively camouflage the aircraft of the Luftstreitkräfte to inhibit enemy observation of the aircraft while it was in the air as well as when at rest on the ground. Large, irregular blotches with two or three colors were used on the upper surfaces of the wing[1] which led to the development of the Lozenge-Tarnung, the lozenge camouflage[2] made up of repeating patterns of irregularly shaped four-, five- and six-sided polygons. Because painting such a pattern was very time consuming, and the paint added considerably to the weight of the aircraft, the patterns were printed on fabric, and the fabric was then used to cover the aircraft.[3] This pre-printed fabric was used in various forms and colors from late 1916 until the end of the war.[3]


Lozenge camouflage appeared primarily on German aircraft along the Western Front but some air units of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops used the pattern on the Eastern Front and on the Italian Front.[4]

National markings such as the Balkenkreuz made camouflage less effective.

Lozenge camouflage came in 4.5-foot-wide (1.4 m) bolts of fabric, and pieces were cut to fit between the leading and trailing edges of the wing. Fabric sections laid chordwise were lined up next to each other so that the pattern repeated itself regularly across the wing, except for the ailerons which were covered in fabric laid sparwise, perpendicular to the wing pattern. Some aircraft had the fabric applied diagonally. In the field, regularly-laid fabric patterns from the factory might be overlaid with the same pattern but at a different angle, or with fabric from a different camouflage design. Later in the war, some patterns were applied more quickly with fabric laid sparwise along the full wingspan.[3] Hasty factory work began to resemble the rushed field repairs.

Darker lozenge patterns were used for upper wing surfaces, while lighter ones were used for the undersides of the aircraft.[5] Even darker shades were used for night operations by aircraft such as Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI and Gotha G.V heavy bombers.[6] These aircraft were often hand-painted in similar but unrepeating patterns on their fuselages. Some of the heaviest bomber aircraft were painted in lozenge patterns—they were never covered in pre-printed fabric.[2]

A five-color lozenge camouflage alternates with the pilot's personal color choice of pink on the fuselage of this Fokker D.VII. Its wing is covered in lozenge fabric.

As with all camouflage, the need to hide or obscure the aircraft from the enemy was counterbalanced by the need to have friendly forces recognize the aircraft. Bold black and white Iron Cross or Balkenkreuz markings provided a way to quickly identify the aircraft and at the same time, such national markings detracted from the effect of the camouflage. Further, individual pilots often added their own personal coloration to aircraft that they flew regularly.[7] An individual might paint the nose and tail in bright, unique colors to distinguish him in the air from his squadron mates. All of these practices rendered the lozenge camouflage less effective.

Flying aces such as Georg von Hantelmann painted their fighters with two goals: to display unit colors, and to show personal flair.[8] Factory-applied lozenge camouflage was not seen as important. Hantelmann's Albatros D.V was decorated with a prominent death's head in white against the dark blue fuselage and red nose which indicated his unit, Jasta 15. Only the wings and rudder of his Albatros were laid with lozenge camouflage.[8] Similarly, Ernst Udet, the second-highest scoring ace of WWI, painted his Fokker D.VII bright red with bold white stripes and large white lettering on the rudder reading "Du doch nicht!!" ("Definitely not you!!") His aircraft ineffectively retained its lozenge camouflage on the upper surface of the lower wing.

See also


  1. ^ Bull, Stephen. Encyclopedia of military technology and innovation, p. 53. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 1573565571
  2. ^ a b Boucher, W. Ira. An Illustrated History of World War One. "German Lozenge Camouflage". Retrieved on November 2, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Century of Flight. "Aviation During World War One". Retrieved on November 2, 2009.
  4. ^ Chant, Christopher. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1, p. 94. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1841763764
  5. ^ Vossers, H. The Fokker D.VII File. "The Lozenge Camouflage Pattern." Retrieved on November 2, 2009.
  6. ^ Orion miniatures. "Staaken!", "Gotha!" Retrieved on November 2, 2009.
  7. ^ Franks, Norman and Greg VanWyngarden. Fokker Dr I aces of World War I, Volume 40 of Osprey Aircraft of the Aces. Osprey Publishing, 2001, Appendices. ISBN 1841762237
  8. ^ a b Franks, Norman L. R. Albatros aces of World War I, Volume 32 of Osprey Aircraft of the Aces. Osprey Publishing, 2000, p. 39. ISBN 1855329603

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