Panzer Colors is a 3-book series covering the camouflage, markings and insignia of WW2 German AFV’s. It covers tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery, half tracks, trucks, and automobiles. Each book is about 80% black and white photographs of German vehicles, with limited amounts of text discussing them. There are also some color prints of paintings of vehicles. The photographs are nice and the series is a useful reference for the model builder.
I have owned the first of these books since the late 1970’s and picked the others up as they were published.The one negative I had about them is there seems to be no overall series organization.They all cover the entire war. So sometimes it is hard to locate something you are looking for.
Back in 1998 I ran across found an interesting web page hosted by geocities (www.geocities.com/Baja/1654/errors.html).The site contained a list of errors & corrections to the Panzer Colors series.I believe the author of the site was Bill Murphy, co-author of Panzer Colors I.Unfortunately the site is gone.I went through the books with the list and could verify enough of the errors to be satisfied they are genuine, so I have reproduced them verbatim here.The opinions offered below are those of Mr. Murphy.
Panzer Colors I Problems
We All Know This Story…
A guy spends upwards of $50 to $60 per model for a plastic kit before he is through: super detail stuff, tools, decals, and reference materials (cheap by today’s prices – Tim).Not to mention the “sweat equity”.He is all done and his markings are all nicely sunk in, dullcoated-whatever.He has a beautiful Panzer IV of 3. Panzer Division – rearing bear and all.Except that it is not of 3. Panzer Division and never was.
Another hobbyist builds a great Sd.Kfz 7 and 8.8 Flak in 1/35. – all painted, weathered and marked with the “acorn & leaf” or the black/red “shield & feather” of a HG Flak unit.Except the acorn etc. marking is for II. Flakkorps and the shield/feather is for I. Flakkorps.Actually the acorn bit is half correct.HG carried it as well as its own white disc mark when it was with the Pz. Grp. 1 (“K”) during Barbarossa.But you get the drift.
This section will attempt to correct some specific errors which are found in existing reference materials.In many cases there “errata” are simply a factor of time.Simply put, we now know more than we did when some of these were first published.In some cases, however…PANZER COLORS (I)…I am Ok in general with what I wrote long ago, so this is probably a preemptive strike.Besides, the forthcoming markings/colors book Hilary Doyle mentioned will probably make “Panzer Colors I” hopelessly out of date.So be it.Sic transit something or other.Here are some errors I have found in my own work.I will be surprised if others don’t surface.
Page 47: Middle photo, The Tiger # is not 124.It must be either 724 or 824.At this time, s.501’s panzers were integrated into the 7. & 8. Kpn. Of Pz.Rgt. 7/10.PD.
Page 47: Lower photo; The Tiger is probably not olive green and its numbers are in white outline, not red/white. Ibid. for color drawing on page 48.
Page 52: None of the Tigers involved at Kursk used this small solid black number system.It is probably from s. 502. Ibid. for the page 68 drawing.
Page 59: Text.Zimmerit was discontinued in late 1944 – not “early 1945” as stated at the end of the paragraph two.
Page 60: Lower photo, These Panthers are not divisional but are from I./Pz.Rgt.4, which was a Heerstruppe unit at this time.Italy is correct, though.
Page 71: Middle photo,, I no longer believe this Bef.Pz.III’s code (II) is in red/white.The unit is ID’s as Pz.Abt.5 of 25. PzGrenDiv.The StuG’s of this outfit carried black/white codes at this time (late ’43)
Page 74: The Japanese ACHTUNG PANZER softcover on StuG’s pretty much nails this photo series as being of a LW field in Norway – not HG in Italy as previously thought.
Page 88: Lower photo, II./SS Pz.Rgt.12 Panzer IV’s carried black/white not red/white numbers.
Page 90: A beauty.I missed a lot here.Dark gray was not an applied base color at the war’s end.The photos of latest war ’45 “dark” AFV’s are either in red oxide primer (as a base) or the last official base color – a dark green.I missed both of those developments completely in Panzer Colors I
Panzer Colors II Problems
First, a general comment again.My mission here is to undo damage, not to cause more damage.Many of the errors in these publications are identified because we simply know more now that we did when they were first published.Some however are clearly purposeful attempts by someone to state things as facts which are not true and which were either (to be kind) the product of wrong guesswork or (to be less charitable) made up out of whole cloth.Whatever.Frankly, I only care about the resulting mis-information which continues to plague us.As usual, I don’t have all the answers, There are still gaps.I will close this intro by quoting an old college buddy of mine (the real “Otter”, by the way for you “ANIMAL HOUSE” affecianados) who used to say: “Totally unencumbered with the facts, I now proceed.”
Page 21: Top photo, The Bef. Wg. III coded white B01.This is not “Befehlspanzer 1” as stated.It is from a Panzer Brigade Stabs.A few of these Brigades lasted until 1942. B=Brigade.
Page 21: Middle photo, The 38(t) coded 1042 is not from a HQ light company as stated.It is Panzer 2 of 4. Zug, 10. Kompanie, III. Abteilung, Panzer Regiment 25, 7. Panzer Division.The Regiment has three Abteilungen (Detachments/Units) at this time.
Bottom photo. This is also a 7. Panzer Division (7.PD) panzer.
Page 22:Top photo & middle photos.These are panzers of Pz.Rgt. 15/11.PD at Kursk.The caption regarding the middle Panzer IV photos (black 923 and 933) is 100% wrong.These are from 9. Kp. of the III. Abt./Pz. Rgt. 15/11. PD.The Regiment fought Kursk with its II. (4-6 Kps.) and iii. (7-9 Kps.) Abteilungs on hand – as well as the attached Sut.G. Brigade 911.
Page 24: This whitewashed LUCHS is from the 4. PD, not the 3. PD as stated.The man in the turret is von Saucken, 4. PD’s C.O.I have another photo of the whole Headquarters “O” group including this vehicle and the Bef.Wg.III named “Barenfuhrer” which has also been mis-identified in another similar publication as being from 3. PD.
Page 32: All references to the “standing Bear” as being for the 3. PD are wrong.The Division did use a Bear in a shield design but not this one.This Bear is the one for the 4. PD.All references to the shield design with the yellow swords and the old (1940) 4. PD sign on a black background as being for 3. PD are wrong.Again this is for the 4. Panzer Division.
Page 34:Bottom photo. This is an Sd.Kfz 251 of the 4. PD not the 3. PD as stated.The caption is also mis-dated (1943-44).It cannot be earlier than Spring, 1944 after von Sauchert got his swords added to his KC.
Page 35: Both photos.Both captions are 100% wrong. These are 4. PD panzers.
Page 42: This Tauchpanzer III diving tank is from 4. PD. The Bear design is for the Panzer Regiment 35/4. PS.All references to 3. PD are wrong.The notation concerning the temporary “addition” of a third “tick” to the old 3. PD Division sign is utter nonsense.
Page 46: Bottom photo. This is a Bef. Wg. III of 14. PD not 5. PD as stated.the shadow from the rear frame antenna has cut off the top part of the 14. PD rune symbol.This is, I think an honest error as opposed to some others I have listed.
Page 63: Bottom photo. These Panzer IV’s are from the Panzer Pioneer Btl. of 16. Panzer Division which had 7 of them in its 3. Kp. at this time.The black edging around the Division sign denoted the Pioneer outfit whose color or Waffenfarbe was black.Other Divisional AFV’s photographed at this time and later show only the plain yellow version.If this was from the Panzer Regiment (Pz.Rgt. 2) it would be numbered in the 5xx to 8xx series.Only the II. Abt. had panzers.The III. Abt. had Stu.G.’s and the I. Abt. with Pnathers was away from the division.
Note 1: I have seen no photo evidence that LSSAH actually used its assigned Kursk symbol.
Note 2: The Kursk symbol for the 23. Panzer Division – a white mark similar to a “checkmark” with two bottom strokes has also been added.Someone also suggested it looks like a musical key or a clef symbol.It appears on a Panzer IC Ausf. F2 or G photo in the ACHTUNG PANZER series, and also on one photo I have see of Pz. Rgt.201’s 9. (s.IG) Kp. Stu. Pz. III’s. Even though that division was held in reserve, it was nevertheless, issued a special sign for Kursk
Note 3: I have one grainy photo of actual Grossdeutschland usage – an Sd.Kfz 251/? Ausf. C. with the Kursk symbol on the front plate.I have not yet seen any other examples.
Panzer Colors III Problems
This volume, like its immediate predecessor, PC II, should be considered as an excellent collection of photos. Period.There is actually some excellent research hidden in the book, though it is usually cheapened by the attachment of more total fabrications passed off as fact.So, let’s continue (as the Bishop said to the… oh never mind):
Pages 6 & 7. Test. Various sections: Pz.Abt. 215 was not a Stu.G. outfit as stated.It had panzers – one of which is shown at the begining of this web page (sorry, didn’t save that – Tim). The 3. Pz.Gren.Div. was not held in Reserve during the Bulge.It fought.The Division sign for the 25. Pz.Gren.Div. was actually a white wide open inverted V or a vee with a dot in the middle.The three antlers sign described in the text is for its predecessor, 25. I.D. (mot).The 29. “Falke” Division is missing from the list of PGD’s.It is not true that most PGD’s had a full S.P. Artillerie Abteilung.The 29. “Falke” did have one Wespe Batterie (3./Pz. AR 29) but most outfits were towed.The “Gliederung” or TO&E chart for the equipment authorized for a 1944 Pz.Gren.Div does not show any authorization for any SP artillery – none.
Pages 10, Lower photo: The pennant on this 20. I.D. (mot) car is for an organic Bataillon or Abteilung and therefore for either Infantrie or Artillerie; the two Divisional groupings with more than one sub-unit.It is not for the Recon unit as is stated.Too, the tactical sign or “TK” is not a “variation for motorcycle units” as stated.It represents the Btl. or Abt. Stabs designator, the circle usually (but not always) represented the II. Abt. or Btl.If this were from the 11. PD or 29. “Falke” it would be for the II.I don’t know the system for the 20. I.D.(mot) though, so let us keep searching.But we do know what it is not.It is not what the caption says it is.
Page 18, Lower photo: These are not “Wiking” Panthers which were in the II./SS Pz Rgt. 5 with 5-8 Kps.They are from the I.Pz. Rgt. “GD” of Grossdeutschland, then serving as the Panther Abt. for 6. PD.
Page 19, Upper left photo & middle photo: Again, these are not “Wiking” panzers.The upper one might be from 5. Pz.Div. but I can’t get a clearer look at the design in front of the turret code.If anyone else can – and if it is the Pz. Rgt. 31 “Devils Head” – we have a winner.
Page 19, Lower right photo: The number next to the TK on the half-track SPW must be Roman II, not Arabic 14 for 14. Kompanie.The code “25” represents a Stabs; the first “3” in the 2522 represents a third zug – therefore we have a Stabskompanie vehicle #3 of 3. Zug/Stabs Kompanie/II. Btl./?? (one of the Division’s Panzergrenadier Regiments). It is definitely not as the caption states.
Page 21: I usually shy away from iron-clad statements about a particular color given the vagaries of black & white photos and interpreting.But here, with the 12. SS PD “HJ” we have plenty of evidence that I. Abteilung Panthers used red with white edging codes and that these II. Abteilung Panzer IV’s used black with white edging codes – at least in Normandy.So all references on this page to red/white numbers are wrong.
Page 23 Text of SS Unit Markings at Kursk. It is probably best if you junk this whole section.It is full of outright fabrications and there is just too much to even try and fix.Whoever wrote this has deprived a village somewhere of its resident idiot.See the table included here (above), or one of the AFV NEWS issues or the last page of the Japanese Tank magazine special on Kursk for a complete chart of these special signs which were issued to all major (Division and up) units of H. Gr. Sud. For the battle.Incidentally, I have yet to see one verified photo example of LSSAH actual usage of its assigned Kursk sign (The real one – not the trumped up “single bar” bumpf trotted out for this PC III text).
Page 25: The middle and lower photos. Are all of 11. PD. Not 6.PD as stated.The caption statement that the Panzer IV’s (923 et. Al.) are probably from a Btl. H.Q. is utter nonsense.The writer of this is (I will be charitable as always) totally unfamiliar with the actual makeup of these units as the time of the battle.Yet much of this info has been available for years and certainly was available well prior to the publication of this book.The Panzer IV’s are, of course from 9. Kp. of III./Pz Rgt 15/ 11. PD.III. Abt. consisted of the 7., 8., and 9. Kps. At this time.
Page 30: Upper left photo. “2.Z.” is for the 2. zug of a StuG. Batterie, not the “2nd Batterie of the Battalion” as stated.
Page 32: Middle photo. I don’t know what unit this is, but it is not StuG. Abt. 203 which used the two digit system in all Batterien.
Page 36: Rendering. Panther coded white 510 (510?). Not for “Wiking” if this is from a real photo.
Page 43: Lower left photo. This is a StuG III of StuG Abt. 911 which was attached to the 11. Panzer division for the battle.It is not of the 3. SS Pz.Gren.Div. as stated in the caption. Note the horizontal bar under the three vertical tick marks.
Page 46: Mid and lower photos. These StuG’s are from a LW Feld division – not in Italy.They are not from “HG” as stated.
Page 50: These s.501 Tigers (112 and 14x) have white outline codes – not red/white as stated.
Page 59: All photos. These Tigers are all from s.Pz.Abt. 508 in Italy.They have nothing at all to do with anything described in the caption.Not S.503, Not s.Pz.Rgt. “Bake”, Not Russia, Nada, Nein, Zip.
Page 64: The drawing for the s.Pz.Abt. 506 sign (white cross on yellow disc) is completely false.It never was.That symbol was painted on a Tiger II (3332) after its capture during the Bulge.It is a sign to show the transporter and shipping people where to lift or to determine the center of balance.It is not a unit sign.It was never a unit sign.Enough with this thing already.Get it out of your mind.Note that s.510’s “Bear” insignia is missing from the drawings of s. Panzer units on this page.
Pages 70 & 71: Text. Ferdinands at Kursk did not all carry 3-digit white codes as stated.I have a photo of Ferdy #113 (from S.Pz.Jag.Abt. 653.The code is in black outline.
Pages 76-77: Hermann Goring Unit Markings.This is an excellent table of markings. But…once again, it is sullied by the inclusion of obviously false data – probably after the good stuff came from Herr Otte, author of the divisional history.Most of the markings included in the upper left hand corner of this two page spread are spurious.They are real markings, right enough.It is just that they don’t belong to “HG” – and never did.One of there is correct for 7. RGG in the 1940 or so period when it was part of the Wach or guard units and equipped with the S.P. 2cm Flak mounted on the s.E.PKW with folding sides.All other markings in this corner section – all of them – are for non-HG units.The “Oak leaf and Acorn” design which the text and photo captions make so much of is actually the insignia for a larger unit – II. Flakkorps.“HG” was but a small part of this formation.When it was with II. Flakkorps it wore that sign along with its “disc” system.When not with II> FLakkorps – no oak and acorn.The other shield design – the feather on a divided and partly red shielf?That is the insignia of I. Flakkorps.“HG” had nothing to do with them.
Page 80: Middle rendering. Not for “HG” as stated.This is from another II. Flakkorps unit.
Page 83: Lower photo. Totenkopf’s Tigers at Kursk were not numbered in the 1xx series as this states.There are photos of them.They were in the 9xx series and codes were in black outline just as for the rest of the Panzer Regiment for this battle.If this is a Kursk photo it must be for s. 503.
Page 88: Spurious text again re: the oak leaf and the acorn.
Page 89: Both lower photos are for other Flak units – not HG
Page 90: This, in my view is tied for “worst of the worst” with the false, made up of whole cloth stuff concerning the Bear and Shield for Pz.Rgt. 6 in PC II. Viz: None of the photos on this page represent HG.None of them.The caption for the lower photo is particularly egregious.The Regiment General Goring (RGG) served in Barbarossa as part of the II. Flakkorps supporting von Kleist’s Pz.Gruppe 1.Therefore, it wore the “white K” along with its white disc system.It did not support Guderian’s Pz.Grp. 2 – it wasn’t even in the same Armee Gruppe or sector of the front.It did not wear the “white G”.Please examine the photo of the Sd.Kfz 7 on this page.The rear of this vehicle shows a white G, and next to it the top part of a yellow Panzer Division sign (either the 17. or 18. PD – the bottom part of the sign is hidden).It also shows the insigna for the I. Flakkorps and a unit sign – a bisected circle design – for a Flak unit but certainly not “HG”.How on earth could even a villiage idiot write a caption describing this as a vehicle from HG?All of the correct info was not available years prior to the publishing of this book, but – are you ready? Was available from the divisional history authored by the same Herr Otte who actually gave photos for use in PC III.Please draw your own conclusions of course.
Page 91: Upper right photo. The caption states that there is a “non-standard shield on the left front fender” of the 2cm Flak 30.The statement is correct because the photo is of another unit entirely – non HG.
Page 95: Upper photo. These are not “HG” Panthers.They are from I./Pz.Rgt. 4 (then a Heerestruppen unit).Our “experten” did get the country right though, It is Italy.The lower right photo might have been taken in Italy or not.One thing is certain, though, HG did not have its Panthers available for combat in Italy.
If nothing else, I hope this article answers the question of why I am so quick to tell anyone who asks that I only wrote PC I and had nothing to do with either PC II or III.Still a super collection of photos though.But please do your research elsewhere