Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Camouflage and Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana

Ferdinando D’Amico &
Gabriele Valentini


Classic Publications


S u m m a r y

Publisher: Classic Publications – An imprint of Ian Allan Publishing
ISBN: 1-903223-29-6
Media: Hard cover, 224 pages of text
Price: £35.00 from Ian Allan Publishing.
USD$53.96 from Squadron Mail Order
or available worldwide from specialty bookshops
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: An outstanding overview of the camouflage and markings of the ANR.  Numerous and informative digressions.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman




The Introduction

The introduction to this monograph offers an incredible insight not only into the concept of the passage of time, but also into the heart and mind of the two authors.  It is this insight that makes all that comes after so much more rewarding. 

As to the passage of time, the authors point out that it has been more than 15 years since they produced the first draft of this book. This noting of the passage of time caused me to take down two earlier works by the authors – “Regia Aeronautica Vol 2” from Squadron/Signal and “The Messerschmitt 109 in Italian Service, 1943-1945”.  I discovered that it has been 20 years since both of these were published. Both of these books were among my earliest purchases when I came back to modeling. 

With regard to the insight in the authors’ hearts and minds, dare I say their souls, the introduction presents a most thoughtful and thought provoking discourse on uncertainty in research and the modeler as researcher.  I ask my readers’ indulgence so that I may present, unedited, the core of the authors’ approach:  

"We had in fact realised from the outset that in some areas it would be impossible to provide the reader with the required documentation or photographs to categorically prove or disprove one particular point or another. Why, then, would we start writing a book knowing that it would be incomplete and sometimes lacking in certainties? The answer to that came with the decision that we would be obliged to give our best assessment of the available evidence, present that to the reader with whatever material we possessed, and invite him to draw his own conclusions. We feel that it is unacceptable to offer today's reader, whether a modeller, a researcher or an aviation enthusiast, deductions based largely on guesswork but presented as if they were factual material. On the contrary, we feel that today's reader is discerning and mature enough to accept that, on some occasions, vital documentary material may never be available, but that this should not prevent the presentation of whatever material remains. 

Although the academic world of historical aviation research has, we believe, largely ignored or viewed with condescension the work undertaken in this field by the modelling community, we, the authors, are proud to have a background as modellers and feel that in many respects this has given us an insight and an understanding that has been of great benefit to us in our work. We have learned, for example, to exploit the modeller's way of viewing pictorial material and of taking note of small but sometimes highly significant detail so that even a familiar photograph may sometimes be turned into a vital source of historical information and deduction. On these grounds alone, we feel that aircraft modelling, as a manifestation of aviation enthusiasm, is every bit as valuable as the more academic aspects."


The Text 

During September and October 1943, many Italians had to make a choice, particularly those in the armed forces.  For on 8 September 1943, an armistice between the Italian government, under Marshal Badoglio, and the Allies went into effect.  On 23 September, after being freed from imprisonment by the Germans, Mussolini announced the formation of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) in areas under German control. On 10 October the RSI established an Air Force, the Aeronautical Nazionale Republicana (ANR), along with an Army and Navy.  Three days later, Marshal Badoglio’s government decaled war on Germany. 

Many Regia Aeronautica pilots refused the order to fly to Allied controlled airfields.  For varied reason, many decided to go to the RSI areas. The reasons included one’s politics, a sense of betrayal and a need to stop further Allied bombings of Italy. 

In presenting the camouflage and markings of the ANR, the authors took, in my opinion, a quite logical approach.  Rather than focusing on chronology or type of aircraft, the authors focused on units within the ANR: The three Gruppo Caccia (Fighter Group), the Gruppo Aerosiluranti "Buscaglia". (Torpedo Group “Bucaglia”), the transport units, and the second-line units and miscellaneous aircraft.  Separate chapters are given to each of the major units, and within those chapters, individual squadron or similar units are discussed. 

Even though there were “standard” factory applied camouflage schemes, it was at the unit level at which variations in marking, and even camouflage, were put into effect.  Also, not all units used the same types of aircraft.  For example, Squadriglia Complementare “Montefusco” was equipped almost exclusively with the Fiat G.55.  When it comes to the use of the Messerschmitt Bf 109, we find that 1 Gruppo Caccia was predominately equipped with the G-10 and G-14, while 2 Gruppo used the G-6 and G-14. 

Within this unit approach, the authors address the issues of the development of the ANR national markings. They shed light on the old issue of whether the ANR faces had a white background or not.  They even address the issue of the color of the markings used to identify the type and serial number of the aircraft. 

Of course, a discussion of each type of camouflage scheme used on Italian aircraft is presented.  The single dark green topside, the Tropical Scheme of green “smoke rings” on sand, the implementation of the German grays (74/75/76), and the stunning herringbone scheme.  The authors also address the schemes used on the Bf 109s.  If I’m not mistaken, they appear to correlate the late-war topside colors used with the company that manufactured a particular Bf 109. 

Finally, although it is at the beginning of the book, there is a discussion of the application of German markings on Italian aircraft by Italian manufacturers. 

Being a trained researcher in both history and the law, I enjoyed seeing that the authors make use of footnotes throughout the monograph.  The footnotes are used not only to giver further detail, but also to document source material.  

In addition to the well-written text, the authors present a great number of photographs, many of which I have not seen before.  The authors have done an excellent job of integrating text and photographs.  Rather than having subtitles, the photographs are given a number.  This allows the authors to fully discuss a particular issue with references to the photographs that exemplify that particular issue.  Sometimes the same photograph will be used to discuss two different points, and with the numbering (similar to a footnote) one can find the relevant pictures easily. 

This volume about color and markings is filled with just that in the form of excellent aircraft profiles and illustrations of tactical, unit and personal markings.  In the case of the profiles, it is my impression that nearly all have a corresponding photograph. When the profile is based on “speculation”, the authors are not timid in pointing that out.  I do wish, however, that they had a picture of herringbone painted Macchi C.202 that served as an advanced trainer with 2. / JG 108. 

This monograph is also filled with excellent digressions.  They are contained within a black outlined box on a green background. Among the digressions, there is a short discussion of spirals on Italian spinners and German spinners and the painting of Bf 109 rudders. There is a digression regarding Erla-built G-14s and the differences between the G-10 and G-14AS.  While adding an extra dimension, these digressions do not interrupt the flow of the text. 

The book is not totally perfect.  There were some printing problems that resulted in some poorly printed profiles.  The authors were quick to correct this problem by setting up an on-line file to allow the reader to down load a better quality image.  The site maybe found at: http://users.libero.it/f.damico/ANR_CM/

For the modeler, don’t expect this book to answer the age old question of “what is a good match for Nocciola Chiaro 4”.  The authors have wisely chosen to eschew all attempts to gives FS approximations or model paint matches.  This for good reason, as the paints for the ANR were made by as many as seven different companies, under wartime condition and applied differently at each aircraft company.  Needless to say, variation was the rule, not the exception. 

One final note on painting; on page 11 are a couple of pictures of aircraft painting equipment used by the Luftwaffe.  Based on the pictures, I can imagine that even in Berlin in 1943, there was a debate about using CO2 or a compressor.






This is an outstanding book in all respects.  It is well written and opinions are not withheld. But, it is made clear that they are opinions, and not universal truths. 


Not only is it good reading, but it is also a pleasure to thumb through to look at the pictures and profiles again and again.  The authors have clearly achieved what they set out to do.  They have written a book that, in my opinion, sets a new standard in the examination and discussion of camouflage and markings.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to DLS Publishing for the review sample

"Camouflage and Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana 1943-1945", and other Classic books, may be purchased through specialist bookstores worldwide or from Ian Allan Publishing website

Review Text Copyright © 2005 by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
This Page Created on 22 April, 2005
Last updated 22 April, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page

Camouflage and Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana
is available online from Squadron.com