So down the hole we go....!
There are certain limitations that PWCG imposes on your gaming experiences, principal of these is that aces will only fly their 'famous' planes if the unit they are assigned to fly them also.
So....dear old Manfred can fly 'Le Petit Rouge' Albatros D3 from January 1917 (as he did) IF the rest of Jasta 11 have the D3 also, which of course, they didn't at that time. He was top gun, he got the best crates. I'm happy to assign the whole Jasta with the D3 earlier to accommodate this.
There are some interesting snippets of information I've gleaned from trawling the colossal and endlessly contradictory evidence out there on the interwebs. To cut a very...very...very long story short..
1. Jan. 1917, Richtofen's aircraft (Albatros D3 at Jasta 11) is painted “all” red. This was his famous 'Le Petit Rouge'. I have been unable to find any record of other D3 he flew at Jasta 11. MvR had already begun to overpaint his aircraft and national markings as evidenced by photos of his Alb D2 at Jasta Boelcke. He painted his D3 'bright' red to allow his wingmen to spot him as flight leader, and possibly as a taunt to his enemies. Schooled by the now dead Oswald Boelcke, he already had 16 victories by the time he received his Pour le Mérite and was appointed commander of a lacklustre Jasta 11 in January 1917.
2. March 3, 1917, Eduard Lubbert writes home that Karl Schafer's aircraft is..“yellow w. black tail.” This is taken to mean that the fuselage is straw yellow, i.e factory finish, not painted yellow. There are a lot of pictures of Shafers Albatros D3s that would confirm this. Kurt Wolff flew a "violette Pflaum" (plum purple), while Allmenroeder flew a "feldgrau", or field-grey, crate. It seems likely therefore, that Jasta 11 at this time had a variety of colourful crates, many of which may have been painted in the leaders style (full body covering, overpainted crosses etc but NOT in red). I shall reflect this in my skins for the D3.
And this interesting description of an encounter between RFC 60 squadron veterans "Willy" Fry and his friend "Grid" Caldwell and (maybe) Jasta 11 and von Richtofen on 29th January 1917.
Fry wrote: "They were all colours of the rainbow and led by a blood-red plane. I specially remember the dull blood-red hue of that machine, for it was nothing like as showy as the others which were all painted in bright mixed colours and patterns, in vivid contrast to the snow-white clouds below them."
3. Mid to late April,1917, 'Many' Jasta 11 aircraft are painted 'largely' red to render Richthofen's machine less conspicuous. You can make of that what you will. Certainly Lothar von Richtofen flew an earlier D3 with a red band around the fuselage, and he described the later red D3s of Wolff, green nose and elevator, Allmenroeder, white nose and elevator and his own the same, but in yellow. Can't find the exact quote.
Certainly some were and this may have coincided with a fresh batch of D3s arriving at the Jasta. These machines apparently had dark and pale green camouflaged wings (Idflieg having requested manufactures to stop using brown in the camouflages and replace with lilac). Evidently the Johannisthal factory didn't bother with lilac, or didn't have any, and just went with the two greens. There is 'apparently' no evidence for the Johannisthal factory painting lilac on any planes until the D5.
Now I really can't be arsed backing any of this up with sources and photo's. You can go look for yourself! I like to think I'm as accurate as is possible with the skins I make but there are limits. If I were making one or two I might go crazy anal, but we're in the thousands here and I'm almost down to the single digits!!!!
I will drop this in though, a shot of a Jasta 11 line up in 'Spring 1917'. Note the first plane. Serial number 624/17 picked out in white. While all these planes seem to be similar in tone (the red?) it's difficult to see any breaks in tone.
Now this one of 624/17, in far greater resolution and probably on the same day. You can see now a clear break in colour just before the tail, and what appears to be a 'fuzzy' break just aft of the cockpit. who flew this plane? I haven't got the foggiest, but it does give an idea of what may have been going on at Jasta 11 at this time. Interestingly it appears to have an offset radiator and bears the numbers of the replacement planes that had the 2 colour green camouflage, but seems to have 3 colours on the wings...maybe you can see why I really can't be arsed!