Colours of the Dutch Air Force ( Part 2 )

Camouflage & Markings

Part 2: Aviation of the Dutch Navy and the Colonies

by Bouko de Groot


This article is a continuation of the three-part feature covering finishes and colours used throughout the history of Dutch military aviation. Please refer to Colours of the Dutch Air Force – Part 1: Aircraft of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu) – Royal Air Force for early and air force aircraft used in the Netherlands.


Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (MLD) – Naval Aviation Service

As in most other countries, the Dutch Navy also wanted its own air force to protect the coast, harbours and ships. Unlike their KLu brethren, the MLD also send many planes to the Netherlands East Indies for similar tasks.

MLD 1919-1939, Land-based Aircraft

Perhaps due to desire to compete with the LVA, naval aviation of the yearly years also operated some land based planes that did not show any apparent sea patrol talents. To add confusion, these used the same green colour as their land counterparts, but initially did without the blue lower surfaces.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Khaki Olive Drab / Khaki overall: 1; upper, sides: 2,3; fus: 5 (*4064) 6014 251
(Sky Blue)
? lower: 2 (15250)
MLD blauw
(MLD Blue)
? lower: 3 (*5189), (*5275) 5018 115 214
(Anodize Grey)
Light Grey wings: 4 (16320) 7001 128 255
Blauw Blue fuselage, struts, vertical tail: 4 (15052) 5010 25
Blanke lak
(Clear varnish)
clear doped linen wings, horizontal tail: 5 (*3564) 121 604

Aircraft types legend

  1. Fokker C.I, D.VII, Pander D.
  2. Koolhoven FK-51.
  3. Fokker S.III code S-3.
  4. Fokker S.IX.
  5. Spijker V-2.

Fokker C.Vc and Ryan had interchangeable wheels and floats and have not, for the purpose of this table, been classified as land-based aircraft. See the following section on MLD seaplanes below.

Additional colour notes

The Naval colour Khaki was a direct equivalent to LVA Khaki. Likewise MLD Blauw was the same colour as LVA Blauw.

Metal-plated areas on land-baseed aircraft were usually painted with clear varnish only, except Fokker D.VII from 1928 on and Koolhoven FK-51 – both painted khaki overall.

Metal plating on Fokker S.III was marbled.

Fokker S.IX details: interior surfaces were protected with Anodiseergrijs, outside of fuel tank hatch also Anodiseergrijs.


MLD 1919-1939, Seaplanes and Flying Boats

For sea-based aircraft, various shades of grey and silver were used, either to make the planes less visible against cloudy skies or to protect them against the aggressive sea climate.

After the 1938 Munich crisis more attention was paid to actual camouflage – with various solutions including a forerunner of the scheme that was later used by the US Navy.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
(Navy Grey)
Light (Gull) Grey overall: 1; fuselage, lower: 2; fuselage: 5; fuselage, tail: 7; fuselage sides, lower and tail: 8 36440 129 137
Hollandgrijs, licht
(Holland Grey, Light)
Light (Gull) Grey lower of wing and hor. tail: 10,11; fuselage: 11 26440 129 137
(North Sea Grey)
Light (Gull) Grey overall: 6; wings: 7 *6440 129 137
Donkergrijs Dark (Sea) Grey overall: 3; upper wing and hor. tail: 2; fuselage: some 5; upper fuselage, struts, engine plating: 8 36118 125, 164 4, 130
(Dark Blue Grey)
Extra Dark Sea Grey upper: 4 36099 123 5, 376
(Light Blue Grey)
Medium Sea Grey / Dark Ghost Grey sides, lower: 4 36270 126, 165 3, 133
(Holland Grey)
RLM 02 Grau (German colour) overall: 9; fuselage: 10; upper wing & hor. tail: 10,11 (26165) 92 201, 409
Aluminum (coated) same wings:5,8; horizontal tail: 5 17178 11, 191 216, 252, 501

Aircraft types legend

  1. Friedrichshafen FF-33L from 1920. Fokker T-IV. WA & WB from 1925.
  2. WA & WB up to 1925.
  3. early NEI WA, B.I (possibly), some Fokker T.IV after maintenance.
  4. test Dornier Wals.
  5. Dornier Wal.
  6. Fokker C.V.
  7. Fokker C.VII.
  8. other Fokker T.IV after maintenance.
  9. first batch of Dornier Do-24Ks.
  10. second batch of Dornier Do-24Ks, Fokker T.VIIIw.
  11. Fokker C.XIVw.

Additional colour notes

Hollandgrijs, licht was a substitute of Marinegrijs, although possibly it was a bit greener: Hollandgrijs mixed with white.

Noordzeegrijs was yet another substitute for Marinegrijs, although possibly this shade was slightly darker.

Another interpretation of Donkergrijs is that the shade was closer to FS 36231 (H-140 / X-131 / X-403).

On delivery, Friedrichshafen FF-33L had German pre-printed fabric, or was clear doped.

Fokker C.V had a peculiar blend of gloss and matt finishes on the wings. Bottom surface of a top wing and and upper surface of the bottom wing were matt; the opposite sides of both wings were finished in gloss lacquer.

In 1936, for test purposes, one Fokker T.IV and one T.IVa were given a pattern of grey camouflage over their original one-colour finish – the original colour becoming part of the camouflage.

In September 1937, for test purpose during a fleet exercise, three Dornier Wals were given a camouflage scheme of Lichtblauwgrijs and Donkerblauwgrijs.

From 1938, the Fokker C.XIw carried aboard patrolling cruisers got an irregular pattern of zigzags, stripes and bands in Marinegrijs and Donkergrijs across their aluminium finish.

A few types were also finished in overall natural metal finish: B.II (for evaluation purposes only), C.VIIIw, C.XIw, T.IVa, Fairey III-D, Ryan.

Anti-glare panel on Ryan was probably black and only covered the fuselage section behind the engine hood.

Floats and underwater parts of hulls on flying boats were finished as follows:

  • C.V: Noordzeegrijs
  • C.VII, VIIIw, C.XIw, T.IVa: Marinegrijs
  • B.II, Do-24K, T.VIIIw, C.XIVw, Ryan: under water parts aluminum.
  • Fairey III-D: white
  • B.I (possibly), T.IV after maintenance : donkergrijs.
  • Wal: black hull bottom.
  • WA, WB: black (as were all struts on these machines), some WA Marinegrijs. Many aircraft had tarred sides and bottom.

MLD 1940-1945

Sharing the complicated fate of their KLu colleagues after German occupation of the low countries, MLD pilots found themselves serving under British command. Starting with Coastal Command in their old Fokkers (maybe even meeting the same type operated by the Germans), they ended up flying KNIL-ordered bombers for 2 TAF. Others moved to the Pacific, operating their MLD Catalinas and later Liberators, both types carrying Dutch markings. Even the Fleet Air Arm had a Dutch squadron, operating from Merchant Aircraft Carriers. Many pilots stationed with British squadrons stayed there throughout the war, like the FAA flyers operating Corsairs, Seafires and Hellcats.

The Dutch squadrons were:

  • 320 (Dutch) Squadron in Europe (code NO), flying Fokker C.XIVw, T.VIIIw and Lockheed Hudsons with Coastal Command, and B-25 Mitchells with RAF
  • 321 (Dutch) Squadron (no squadron code) flying Avro Ansons in Britain, and later in the Pacific – carrying Dutch markings – Consolidated Catalinas and Liberators
  • FAA 860 (Dutch) Squadron in Europe-Atlantic, formed in 1943, using Fairey Swordfishes and Barracudas.
Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Donkerblauwgrijs (Dark Blue Grey) Extra Dark Sea Grey upper & sides: 2,8,13,15,16a; upper: 16b 36099 123 5, 376
Wit Milk White lower: 2 *4583 7 90
”Olijfgroen” ”Olive Green” upper & sides: 4 (*4151) 158 117
Light Grey (USN color) overall: 5 36440 129 137
Neutral Grey (US color) lower: 10 (*6173) 176 133, 207
Dark Green camouflage on existing color: 1; upper & sides: 6,7,9,12 (34079) 163 1
(Dark) Olive Drab (US color) upper & sides: 6^,7^,10,11 34088 66 111-113
Medium Green (US color) upper & sides: 6^, 7^ 34092 149 114
Light Green upper & sides: 6^, 7^ *4096/(*4172) 102 24
Dark Earth upper & sides: 6, 7,9 (*0095) 29 2
Sky Grey lower: 7a, 9 (*6463) 64 621
Sky type S lower: 6, 7b, 8,13,15 (*4583) 90 7
Dark Sea Grey (US’ Sea Grey) lower:11,12; upper:14; upper of bottom wing:15,16 *6118 125,164 4,130
Light Slate Grey upper of bottom wing: 15,16 (*4159) 6*78+ 1*161 118,220
Dark Slate Grey upper & sides: 8,13,15,16a; upper: 16b (*4096) 102 25
White sides:14(mat),16b; lower: 14(gloss), 16 *7875 9010,-16 22,34,130 141,405
Night center or whole lower of top wing, struts, upper in front of cockpit: 16b *7038 9005,-17 21,33 12

Aircraft types legend

  1. Fokker T.VIIIw from June 1940.
  2. Consolidated PBY Catalina and Dornier Do-24 during 1940-1942.
  3. early Tiger Moth, see below.
  4. Non-combat aircraft from early 1941: Fokker T.IVa, Fokker C.XIc, Ryan STM, S-43+G-21 pressed into service.
  5. Vought Kingfisher.
  6. Douglas DB-7B, possibly also some North American B-25J Mitchell on loan from the British.
  7. Lockheed Hudson: a) up to 1940, b) from end 1940.
  8. Lockheed Hudson from summer 1941.
  9. Avro Anson.
  10. Most North American B-25 Mitchells.
  11. Many North American B-25 Mitchells starting with 1944.
  12. Some North American B-25 Mitchells after maintenance.
  13. Consolidated PBY Catalina delivered in 1943, Fairey Barracuda.
  14. Consolidated PBY Catalina 1944, Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
  15. Fairey Swordfish 1943.
  16. Fairey Swordfish 1944 – a) early, b) later.

Additional colour notes

Donkerblauwgrijs was sometimes also referred to as Blauwgrijs (Blue Grey) or mud. This scheme looks similar to the one introduced by the USN half a year later – Non Specular Light / Blue Grey.

Exact shade of Olijfgroen in the above table is unknown.

US-manufactured aircraft such as Douglas DB-7B and Lockheed Hudsons were finished at the factory in US equivalents of Dark Green and Dark Earth which generally only roughly resembled their British counterparts. Medium Green, Dark Olive Drab or Light Earthcould be used on these planes.

Dutch Swordfishes served aboard the Dutch Merchant Aircraft Carriers Gadilla and Macoma and British MAC Acavus. These aircraft had gloss finish.

Lockheed Hudsons and Avro Ansons could get temporary washable black finish on lower surfaces for night operations. An example of this practice are the Hudsons that participated in the 3rd ”1000 bomber raid” on June 25/26, 1942.

In 1941, units in the East Indies acquired a number of civilian Tiger Moths. At that time, about half of them were red, most of the rest blue, exact shades unknown.

Seaplane hulls usually had a grey or black coating below the waterline. Many had darkened lower rear fuselages.

Dornier Do-24K were gradually repainted in the above scheme.

Delivery of Vought Kingfisher and most DB-7 (in the event, six of them reached NEI) was rerouted to Australia. They were handed over to the RAAF, arriving with Dutch markings (orange triangles).

There was at least one Consolidated PBY Black Cat serving with the Dutch.

In March 1942, all remaining Dornier Wals and Fokkers T.IVa, C.VIIw and C.XIw in the NEI were destroyed.

MLD 1945 to Today, NATO (STANAGs, Standardization Agreements)

After the war the Dutch continued their aircraft carrier experience with three (technically two) aircraft carriers and war missions flying British-supplied Hawker Sea Furies. Eventually the capability shifted to anti-submarine warfare and patrolling. Due to progressive budget cuts, only some ship-born helicopters remain to this day.

Apart from some late war dark blue models, most planes used the two-tone NATO scheme, with either a high or low demarcation line between colours.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
(Blue Grey)
Glossy Sea Blue overall: 2 15042 181 121
Donker zeegrijs
(Dark Sea Grey)
Extra Dark Sea Grey upper & sides: 1; upper: 4; overall: 5 16099 123 5, 376
(Light Green)
Sky lower & sides: 1 14424 90 607
(Light Blue Grey)
Medium Sea Grey upper, sides: 3; lower, sides: 4 16270 126,165 3,133
Wit White lower, sides: 3, upper fuselage: 6 17875 9010, 9016 22, 34, 130 141, 405
Zeevliegtuigengrijs Semi Gloss Seaplane Grey overall except upper fuselage: 6; overall:7 26081 32 129
Glossy Orange Yellow (US) Identification Yellow (UK) overall: 8 13538 154 106
Non-Specular Medium Green same anti glare on aluminium 34092 149 114
Non-Specular Sea Blue same anti glare on Glossy Sea Blue 35042 181 121

Aircraft types legend

  1. Fairey Firefly, HO4S, Westland Lynx, North American B-25 Mitchell, Lockheed Orion, Hawker Sea Hawk, Hawker Sea Fury, Grumman Tracker, Bell UH-1, Sikorsky -58, Wasp, later Grumman Avenger and Sikorsky S-55.
  2. Harpoon, early Grumman Avenger, early Martin Mariner, early Lockheed Neptune, early Sikorsky S-55, later Sikorsky S-51.
  3. Breguet Atlantic, mid Lockheed Neptune.
  4. early Canadian Tracker.
  5. immediate post-war B-25 Mitchell and Airspeed Oxford, late Lockheed Neptune.
  6. New Guinea Lockheed Neptune on delivery.
  7. operational New Guinea Lockheed Neptune.
  8. Fairey Firefly T, North American Harvard, S-11, Supermarine Sea Otter, De Havilland Tiger Moth, Sikorsky S-51 on delivery.
  9. Douglas DC-3 Dakota and Super King Air, not mentioned in table, see below.

Additional colour notes

With the Canada-supplied Trackers, it should be noted that the Canadian names for the quoted colours were ”Dark Sea Grey” for Extra Dark Sea Grey and ”Light Sea Grey” for Medium Sea Grey.

Following aircraft types ware painted in silver aluminium lacquer overall: Douglas DC-3 Dakota (except ex-KLu machines), Navigator TC-45, later also Taylorcraft Auster, Consolidated PBY Catalina and Martin Mariner. Dakotas had blue bands above windows. Some Catalinas had black hull bottoms.

Many immediate post-war deliveries carried WW2 camouflages (see KLu 1942-1945). These got a gloss coat and/or were changed to the schemes discussed in this section.

PBY Catalinas delivered in 1946-47 initially had the same DonkerblauwgrijsMelkwit scheme as the very first MLD PBYs, see MLD 1940-1945.

KLu aircraft started their marine service in their original colours. These include Taylorcraft Auster and some Harvards (see KLu 1942-1945); Piper Cub, Douglas DC-3 Dakota, North American Harvard, Gloster Meteor T, S-11, De Havilland Tiger Moth (see KLu 1953-1960). Meteor T and camouflaged Dakotas kept these schemes throughout their service life.

At least one early Harvard had its wartime trainer scheme changed to Extra Dark Sea Greyoverall.

US Grumman Tracker and Lockheed Neptune for Europe were delivered with a fuzzy border between colours. All other schemes had hard borders.

The white on the mid Neptune was matt on sides and on engines. The Dark Sea Greyon later Neptune was semi-gloss at first. Later Neptune operating from the Antillen (West Indies) could have white upper fuselage surfaces.

New Guinea Neptunes (P2V-7B) were delivered with white upper fuselage. On operational aircraft this was changed to a locally blended mix, slightly darker than Seaplane Grey (maybe only because it was less weathered). An interesting fact is that while on the ground, the temperature inside the parked aircraft rose 8 degrees higher due to the darker upper surface!

Anti glare panels were usually repainted to matt black during maintenance.

Beech 200 Super King Air belongs to the MLS (Marine Luchtvaartschool, Naval Aviation School), stationed with a civilian school and having its own scheme.

MLD 2004+, Current Changes

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Agaatgrijs / Light Gull Grey same (US color) overall: 1 16440 129 137

Aircraft types legend

  1. Orion

Additional colour notes

New colour scheme gradually introduced up to the moment of the Orion’s career end in Dutch service in January 2005.

Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (ML-KNIL) – Military Aviation of the Royal Netherlands-Indies Army

The Netherlands’ East Indies being so huge a territory as it was, the Dutch decided to give it its own army. The air force (LA-KNIL, later renamed to ML-KNIL) officially always remained a part of that army.

Being a long way from Holland, LA-KNIL had more liberty in choosing aircraft types by their own requirements. However, they had shown a bad habit of asking Dutch manufacturers to design a specific plane for a specific purpose, only to drop the whole thing and order abroad once the prototypes were flying.

In the beginning there were problems finding right protective aircraft finishes, as the climate was very hot and very humid, making many early wood-and-fabric aircraft literally fall apart as their glue dissolved… The paint scheme that was finally settled on was a combination of green and heat-reflecting silver.

1919-1935, LA-KNIL

The acronym LA-KNIL stands for Luchtvaartafdeling van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger – Aviation Department of the Royal Netherlands-Indies Army. This was the final name of the organization established in 1919 as PVA-KNIL – Proefvliegafdeling van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (Test Flight Department of the Royal Netherlands-Indies Army), and then from July 22 1918 VA-KNIL – Vliegafdeling van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (Flight Department of the Royal Netherlands-Indies Army). The department was finally renamed to LA-KNIL on August 10, 1921.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Oil Varnish Transparent same lower: 2, 3 depends: on linen, on wood, weathered?
Oil Varnish NIVO Green same overall: 1 *4096 20
Oil Varnish Pigmented Khaki PC-10 same upper, fuselage: 2, 3 (*3070)/(*4084) 179/108 112/111
Dark Grey POV same / Battle Ship Grey ply wood front/back of fuselage: 3 *6118 125, 164 4, 130
Neutraalgrijs Neutral Grey fuselage: 6 (*6173) 176 133, 207
Aluminum same wings etc:4,6; overall:5; upper of top wing & hor.tail:8; upper hor.tail:9 17178 11, 191 216, 252, 501
Grauwwit Grey white underside fuselage: 4 *6375 ? 129 ? 137 ?
”Blanke lak” (Clear varnish) clear varnish on mahogany rest of fuselage: 4 1???? ? ?
LVA khaki Olive Drab / Khaki overall: 7; all but top of (top) wing & tail: 8; overall except upper hor. tail: 9 (*4064) 6014 251
Zwart Black metal parts: 5; metal parts, gear struts, wheel cap: 2, 3 *7038 9005 21, 33 12
Rood Red engines hood, wheel cap: 5 31136 153 103
Wit White overall: 10 *7875 9010, 9016 22, 34, 130 141, 405

Aircraft types legend

  1. Martin TA,TT,R.
  2. Avro 504K.
  3. De Havilland DH-9.
  4. Viking.
  5. trainers: Avro 504K, Morane.
  6. Pander
  7. Fokker D.VII, S.IV, D.C.I, C.IVa/b, Koolhoven FK-31.
  8. Fokker C.Vd, C.Ve, C.X, D.XVI, D.XVII (both prototypes, never used operationally in the NEI), F.VIIb/3m, P-6and later DH-9 (+ self built), D.C.I.
  9. Fokker D.XXI (prototype, never used operationally in the NEI).
  10. De Havilland DH-9 locally converted to ambulance.

Additional colour notes

Engine hoods of the Panders was left in bare metal finish.

On delivery, the Fokker S.IV had a bare metal engine hood. Also, the lower surfaces of outer wings were painted LVA-blue (see KLu 1920-1940).

Avro 504K and De Havilland DH-9 were rebuild with local resources withh plywood covering replacing the fabric. These converted aircraft were usually painted in clear varnish overall, with the following known exceptions:

  • some 504K’s (like A-42 and A-43) had upper surfaces and fuselage painted in NIVO Green. A-42 had white bands on upper top wing, and two white field on upper fuselage.
  • DH-9 no. H104 had a white nose and white struts.
  • DH-9 no. H-113 had a (insignia) blue field on the top fuselage behind the second cockpit.
  • DH-9 no. H-106 was painted in clear varnish overall except for the upper wing, which was painted Khaki. Later it got the same scheme as the other DH-9s.
  • DH-9 no. H-133 had all wings and horizontal tail surfaces painted light blue, possibly LVA-blue (see KLu 1920-1940).
  • DH-9 no. H-120F was a photo-reconnaissance machine with the fuselage painted in aluminium lacquer except for the upper part, which was NIVO Green. THis machine was nicknamed ”photo-herring”.
  • For camouflage tests, one Wasp-engined DH-9 was camouflaged with large fields with sharp borders and corners. The colours were Pastel (pastel) and Herfstachtig (autumn-like), possibly something like Cream (37855, H-41, X-610) and Dark or Leather Brown (30059 / 30051, H-170, X-22, RAL-8027).

ML-KNIL 1936-1950, US Colours

Seeing in Europe that their earlier decision to defend the NEI by patrolling air cruisers (Martins) was not really feasible, a mad rush begun by the late 1930s to build up a modern, all-round air force with adequate reserves in time before the expected Japanese onslaught. Many Dutch pilots joined the KNIL from Europe and a huge program was started to train plenty of flyers, including a Reserve Corps. Significant of this development, LA-KNIL was renamed to ML-KNIL on November 20, 1940.

Unfortunately, the Japanese came just a few months too early. Like Britain’s Bloody April in the Great War, pilots were eventually thrown into action straight from flight school. Although outnumbered and out-experienced, they achieved remarkable successes (all the way up to Hanoi). There were also severe losses, most notably during the ill-planned and ill-coordinated support of the defence of Singapore (Wavell’s unrealistic Fortress Utopia), where Martin bombers were sent out singularly and in pairs as reconnaissance planes.

After the fall of the NEI, most of the air staff staff joined the Royal Australian Air Force, where they served as independent units:

  • 1 Squadron (formerly a US 5th AF section)
  • 2 (NEI) Squadron (formerly a RAAF section), later merged into 1st Transport Squadron, not officially RAAF, only to become 19 (NEI) Squadron in 1945. The unit operated Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, L-12, L-18 and B-25 Mitchells converted to freighters.
  • 18 (NEI) Squadron with B-25 Mitchells;
  • 119 (NEI) Squadron with B-25 Mitchells (and an L-18), disbanded within 6 months (Dec ’43);
  • 120 (NEI) Squadron with P-40N
  • PEP (Personnel & Equipment Pool), a reserve squadron that also did some operational work, operting all aircraft types used by the others

After the war these squadrons formed the core of the new ML-KNIL. At least nos. 18, 120 Squadrons and probably PEP still carried Dutch insignia on their aircraft.

Captured Dutch airmen who became Japanese prisoners of war in the East Indies did not experience the joy of liberation the way that their European colleagues did. Many starved Dutchmen were murdered when they finally could leave their POW camps. Those who survived and returned to active duty were quickly sent to serve in another war in the NEI, dropping food, bombs or paratroopers.

The post-war ML-KNIL did not last for long: the air force became superfluous and was abolished on July 1, 1950

Sadly, KNIL’s heroes and the whole NEI episode is largely ignored in today’s Holland and does not receive the recognition it deserves.

Operating over jungle, the only suitable camouflage was of course green, until camouflage was no longer needed when the skies were controlled by the Allies.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Aluminum (bare or coated) same overall: 1; wings: 2; lower: 4,6; lower wings:5,7 17178 11, 191 216, 252, 501
Chocolade bruin Chocolate brown fuselage, struts: 2 (*3446) 94 329
Lichtblauw Light Blue fuselage: 3 *5109

8:1:1:1 of H:109+25+88+89

Geel Yellow wings and all tail surfaces: 3 *3538 154 106
Jongblad (Young Leaf) Medium Green (US color) upper:4,5,6,7,9,10; sides: 4,6,9,11; fuselage:5,7; overall:8 34092 149 114
Oudblad (Old Leaf) Dark Olive Drab (US color) upper: 4,5,9,13; sides: 4,9; fuselage:5,13 34088 ** 66 111-113
Neutral Grey (US color) lower: 9,13 (*6173) 176 133, 207
Dark Green upper, sides: 10 *4079 163 1
Dark Earth upper, sides: 10 *0095 29 2
Sky type S lower: 10 *4583 90 7
Geel (Yellow) (Identification) Yellow overall: 12 13538 154 106

Aircraft types legend

  1. Bücker Bü-131, Ryan, L-212.
  2. Koolhoven FK-51.
  3. Martins (WH-1, -2, -3s) up to summer 1940.
  4. Interceptor, Falcon, Brewster Buffalo, L-18, possibly Bermuda, WH-2 from summer 1940, wartime Douglas DC-3 and Fokker F.XII.
  5. Curtiss Hawk 75 from summer 1940.
  6. WH-3s 2nd half 1940, and wartime: WH-1, Douglas DC-2, DC-5, L-212/12/12A/C-40, L-14.
  7. all/some WH-3s in 1941.
  8. all/some WH-3s from end 1941, wartime (possibly some or all like 6 or 7): Messerschmitt Bf-108, Bücker Bü-131, Fairchild, Piper J-4E, Ryan, De Havilland Tiger Moth, Waco EGC & UKC.
  9. Douglas A-20A, North American B-25C,D,J,’K’ and Curtiss P-40E, N. Post-1942: C-47(A), C-60, DC-3D, L-12 and L-2M.
  10. Hawker Hurricane.
  11. Buccaneer: not in table, but mentioned below.
  12. Wackett, North American Harvard.
  13. L-4J.
  14. Ex -Japanese planes: mostly left unchanged, but were given Dutch markings (but see Natural Finish).

Additional colour notes

Natural metal finish could be seen on metal parts of Ryan and Lockheed 212, Hawk 75, and from 1945 on B-25, C-40, C-47(A), C-54, DC-3(D), Ki-54c, Ki-57, L-2M, L-12, Mavis, P-40N, P-51D,K, UC-64.

Of the pre-1943 natural finish types only the Ryan had a black anti-glare panel behind the engine hood. From 1945, both black and Olive Drab were used for anti-glare panels. Some C-40s also had the interior surfaces of the engine nacelles painted in the same colour.

Exact name and shade of Chocolade bruinremains unknown, eye witnesses reported that the fuselage of FK-51 was ’chocolate colored’.

In the harsh climate of the NEI, Dark Olive Drab 41 faded to a variety of shades: brown, brown-yellow, light green or even grey.

In 1940 or 1941 one Martin was experimentally camouflaged in grey, blue and other light colours.

All non-camouflaged aircraft, including trainers and civilian types were camouflaged during 1940-1941, Hawks and Martins first.

Jongbladcamouflage on Curtiss Hawk 75, Interceptor, Falcon, Brewster Buffalo, L-18, WH-2, Douglas DC-3 and Fokker F.XII was applied in large fields. When applied on US-based colour schemes such as that for Douglas A-20A, North American B-25 and Curtiss P-40, this colour was applied in ”splotches” along the leading and trailing edges of wings and tail.

On the Hawk 75 and Martins the camouflage was wrapped around the leading edge on the underside of the wing.

The emergency-supplied P-40E and Hurricanes received Dutch national markings, but it’s unknown if they got Dutch numerals. One P-40E possibly had a white ”3” on the fuselage and tail. The P-40Es arrived late, but two of them may have seen combat action on the last day (March 8). There have been rumours that up to 12 extra Hurricane Mk.II and 24 extra Hurricane Mk.I have been supplied to and possibly operated by the Dutch.

Also, quoted camouflage colours for the Hawker Hurricane are somewhat speculative. The Dutch were very good in camouflaging their airfields and understood the importance of camouflaged planes. As there was time enough to give the Hurricanes Dutch national markings, I believe it is possible that at least the Dark Earth patches of the camouflage were repainted with Jongblad, which was readily available.

Ordered planes still undelivered in December 1941 – some Lockheeds, many Buffalos and Falcons, and all B-25Cs arrived too late. All did carry Dutch national insignia and most went to Australia, following the remainder of ML-KNIL, to serve in the RAAF or USAAF. An exception were the Bermudas which didn’t arrive at all but were retained in the US to serve with the US Marines – who had to cope with Dutch language instructions on all the placards in the cockpit! However, these aircraft never carried Dutch colours or markings.

There are a few preserved pictures of British Brewster Buffalos in Dutch markings. Therefore a conclusion can be drawn that there were some Dutch-operated Buffalos carrying RAF-style camouflage (see RAF colors). To me however, judging from the sort, shape and position of the markings and probable damages, it seems more likely that these were captured planes, collected and given suitable Dutch markings by Japanese for a propaganda photo shoot of an ’overrun airfield line up’.

Douglas A-20A which served a short time alongside some B-25C’s with 18 squadron during readiness preparations most probably didn’t carry Dutch insignia.

At least one B-25C (N5-145) was painted black overall. The three RAPWI B-25Cs were painted white overall with green crosses.

Ex-Japanese transports (like Ki-54c, 57, Mavis)) were initially painted white (RAPWI & green crosses) or left in their original finish. In 1946 all were stripped to natural metal finish and given Dutch markings.

From 1945 on, camouflaged planes were stripped to natural finish during regular overhauls. This process took some years to complete. A frequent occurrence during the transition period was the use of natural-metal replacement parts on faded, camouflaged airframes. With the introduction of the roundel insignia (replacing the flag from early 1948), camouflaged planes were stripped of paint around the national insignia but could be left camouflaged on other parts of the airframe.

The only post-war aircraft type in the inventory that never lost its camouflage was the L-4J. On delivery they could have Medium Green splotches. Some were given white wing tips.

After delivery, some Harvards were stripped to natural metal finish and given bomb racks (like B-417, B-418).

In 1949 C-47s of 20 Squadron got a blue band above the windows with yellow lettering.

Others: Royal Netherlands Military Flying School (Jackson Mississippi), West Indies, 1940-1945

With the collapse in the Netherlands’ East Indies and considering the ridiculously high cost of training in Britain, it was quickly decided to set up an independent flying school in the United States. This school, established in Jackson, Mississippi, operated throughout the war.

The West Indies had an improvised air force, which operated for a while alongside its US counterpart to protect West Indies’ oil fields against U-boats and to intercept German ships fleeing to Central America. Even the venerable Fokkers managed to achieve success.

Colour name British equivalent Aircraft type Federal Standard RAL Humbrol Xtracolor
Lichtblauw Light Blue fuselage: 1 *5109

8:1:1:1 of H:109+25+88+89

Geel Yellow wings and all tail surfaces: 1 *3538 154 106
Jongblad (Young Leaf) Medium Green (US color) splotches on upper & sides: 3 34092 149 114
Oudblad (Old Leaf) Dark Olive Drab (US color) upper: 2, 3. 34088 66 111-113
Neutral Grey (US color) lower: 3. (*6173) 176 133, 207
”Olijfgroen” ”Olive Green” overall: 4 (*4151) 158 117

Aircraft types legend

  1. Ryan PT-19A (RNMFS).
  2. AT-11 (RNMFS).
  3. North American B-25C,D,G (RNMFS), L-3B (WI), L-4B (WI), L-12 (RNMFS), Curtiss P-40E,F,L,N (RNMFS).
  4. Fokker F.XVIII (WI).

Additional colour notes

In the hot climate, Dark Olive Drab 41 faded to many different shades: brown, brown-yellow, light green and even grey.

The exact shade of Olijfgroen remains unknown.

Medium Green splotches were not always present on Olive Drab aircraft.

Some L-12’s (like L2-45) were camouflaged in the Oudblad – Jongbladscheme like the aircraft in the NEI.

The AT-11s were originally ordered by the MLD.

Planes on loan from the US kept their (sometimes outdated) US national markings.

After the end of hostilities, L-3Bs got yellow wings, nose and rudder, with L-3B ’A-1’ having a red fuselage, and L-3B ’A-2’ a blue fuselage.

Natural metal finish could be seen on AT-11 except upper surfaces (RNMFS), BT-13A (RNMFS), Texan (RNMFS), PT-26 (WI).


Most colour data from Camouflage en Kentekens, J.H.N. Greuter, Bonneville, Bergen The Netherlands, 1997, ISBN 90 73304 57 1 (out of print).
Data on aircraft types from several sources

Continue to Colours of the Dutch Air Force – Part 3: Appendices

This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholms Magazine in September 2005.