When the Bundeswehr began to contribute troops and vehicles to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, it became apparent that the standard NATO camouflage was unsuited to the Afghani environment/landscape. Painting directives designed during studies in the 1990s were dusted off and put into effect in 2003. Called Umtarnfarben, or “Camouflage Change Options”, this new color system introduced 5 new colors suited for the desert/steppe environment.
Based on location, one or more of the new colors were painted over the NATO camouflage scheme using either paint rollers or compressed air guns. The new paint could be applied in the field, although some vehicles arrived from the factory wearing the Umtarnfarben colors. In addition to vehicles completely painted in the new colors, there are examples of vehicle camo showing a combination of the new and old colors as well. Both soft edge and hard edge camo can be found amongst the German contingent serving in the ISAF, so photo references are important.
has introduced a new 8 color Acrylic paint set (71.159) representing the 5 Umtarnfaben colors plus the three colors found in the standard NATO camouflage scheme. The colors are as follows:
RAL 1039 Sandbeige
RAL 1040 Lehmbeige
RAL 8031 Sandbraun
RAL 6040 Helloliv
RAL 7050 Tarngrau
RAL 6031 Bronzegrün (NATO green)
RAL 9021 Teerschwarz (NATO black)
RAL 8027 Lederbraun (NATO brown)
The paints come in Vallejo’s standard 17 ml bottles with an easily removable dropper-top that allows you to pour unused paint back in. Other than a brief description of the Umtarnfarben concept found on the box, little information is given as to what particular colors are used for base colors or what colors are appropriate for the various desert schemes. For that information, I turned to the excellent Tankograd book “GECON-ISAF Wustentarnung- Desert Camouflage Schemes of the German ISAF Contingent” by Carl Schulze. The book provides many excellent pictures and information on the appropriate color schemes and colors used.
For the purposes of this review, I used my build of the Revell 1:35th Boxer GTK as a test subject. After a little research, I determined that the appropriate colors for the scheme I wished to portray would be a base of RAL 1039 Sandbeige, as well as RAL 8031 Sandbraun and RAL 6040 Helloliv. Starting with the base coat, I sprayed Sandbeige directly from the bottle over Tamiya’s Gray Primer. While spraying with my Badger Renegade Velocity at about 20 PSI, I found the Sandbeige coverage to be very good. I discovered that with these paints, it is important to slowly build up the color as too much, too fast leads quickly to an orange peel effect.
Next came Sandbraun and like Sandbeige, I used it straight out of the bottle. The coverage here was even better than the Sandbeige and allowed for a nice soft edge between the two colors. Lastly, I added the Olivgrun and discovered it’s consistency was much thinner than the other two colors. To obtain a good even color required many layers and the demarcation line between this color and the others wasn’t nearly as neat. This required me to go back and touch up the Olivgrun demarcation lines with the other previously used camouflage colors. Out of curiosity, I tested the other colors on some scrap plastic and their coverage was good. The 35th Boxer is a very large vehicle and I discovered after two airbrushing sessions that I had used over two thirds of the bottle of the base color Sandbeige. Hopefully Vallejo makes these colors available separately as well, as having to purchase a whole new set for one replacement color wouldn’t be very cost effective.
Until this set was released, modelers of German vehicles in Afghanistan were left to mixing their own colors to duplicate the new camouflage schemes. Vallejo has an excellent set of paints here and I would say they are a must for anyone modeling German ISAF Vehicles. The colors look spot on to the many pictures I have and clean-up is a snap.
A review of the above mentioned Tankograd book can be found: