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Post Info TOPIC: MK IV Female Tanks of A Battalion in Action Cambrai, 20-21 Nov 1917


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MK IV Female Tanks of A Battalion in Action Cambrai, 20-21 Nov 1917
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Hi, I am trying to replicate a female tank used by A Battalion on the 20th and 21st November 1917 at Cambria.

I have several questions.

1. Were A Battalions tanks of this period painted in earth brown?

2. How were the tanks numbers printed on the sides?

3. Was any special insignia used by A Battalion....e.g. playing cards as used by other battalions?

4. Were A Battalion female tanks all with the a 5 Lewis gun configuration?

5. Were the tanks all with top rails?

6. Also, are there any existing photographs of A Battalions tanks at Cambrai, knocked out or otherwise?

Thank you for all your assistance in advance.

Kind regards,


Steven.



-- Edited by watercarrier on Friday 22nd of May 2015 06:57:06 PM



-- Edited by watercarrier on Friday 22nd of May 2015 06:58:47 PM



-- Edited by watercarrier on Saturday 23rd of May 2015 10:18:54 AM

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Legend

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1. They were brown, yes.

4. Lewis guns, yes.

5. Rails for the unditching equipment, yes.



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Legend

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1. Who knows? If you paint your model brown and someone says it's wrong, ask them to prove it.
2. A Battalion had an apparently quirky system. Antigone is marked A3, but the records show the tank had crew number A10. A3 is not battalion letter and company or section number, so at the moment I can't explain A3. Serial numbers may be carried the usual place (not on the cab front or front horn though) but are frequently obscured or missing.
3. No known symbols used. Tank names were painted in small white letters on the horns.
4. Yes, all Lewis guns.
5. Yes, all had unditching rails but some at least had not had theirs raised, or the beam stowage position lowered, as had happened in other Battalions. Antigone is an example of this old style of rail arrangement and beam stowage.
6. See attached photo of Antigone.

Gwyn



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Thank you for all the replies. Most helpful.

I do not wish to teach old mothers to suck eggs....but having spent about 48 hour researching tank colours at Cambrai I was wondering if any of the experts could clear up some other questions I have....I see the debate rumbles on across various forums but it is important to me that the tanks I paint are in the correct light or dark shades of 'brown'.

Sorry my next questions are rather tough and they concerned with why in some photographs of which tanks appear to be almost white in appearance when compared to soldiers around them dressed in British Khaki or German grey.

1. Could the tanks brought up on rail, some of them I assume tanks newly shipped out especially for Cambrai, have been left in the factory grey and thus it is possible they were this not repainted at the tankodrome?

2. When the Germans counter attacked and the snow fell just after, is it at all possible that the tanks on the Cambrai front were white washed to camoflage them?

What do you think?



-- Edited by watercarrier on Thursday 4th of June 2015 09:28:25 AM

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I doubt any tank was issued in factory paint only (whether grey or otherwise). Tanks were not delivered straight from the factory to fighting units. They went through Central Workshops and Central Stores first. At Central Workshops various oddments were added and factory faults corrected. I imagine (I stress imagine) that they would also be painted if only because it was the Army's habit to paint anything.

I doubt also that any tank was whitewashed. I have seen no evidence for this in surviving records or in photographs. Some photographed tanks appear white-ish (like Antigone in the picture I posted) but this is frost.

Trying to find "the correct" brown is pointless. As I said earlier, unless someone knows the correct colour - and no-one does - you cannot be wrong. I'd also point out that when looking at Mark IV Males converted to Females, there is usually a marked difference between the Male hull and the Female sponson, indicating that colours of different tanks varied considerably.

Gwyn

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large.jpg

Thank you for the replying to my ramblings Gwyn.

I hope you can understand the confusion when I dig up photographs such as this.

 

 



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herentank1.jpg?w=1212

Not Cambra, August 1917. Caption reads “English Tank, destroyed on the 23rd of August 1917 by the assault company of 34th Infantry-Division. Herenthage Park”

A
closer look and we can see German style camouflage which consists of dark lines, to break up the tanks outline all over the tank.


large.jpg

Cambrai this time. IMO the way these tanks have been camouflaged would be enough to impress any Russian or German on the Eastern Front during WW2. Is it really unintentional frost? Or just a bad photographic effect? Or a very very light brown?

Thank you for putting up with my ramblings Gwyn I am not trying disprove decades of research or upset anyone, I am just very much into attention to detail. At the moment I am downloading the diaries from the national archives for the Tanks. I am just a beginner at this type of research but I've noticed some problems with that Cambrai documentary made a few years ago.

 



-- Edited by watercarrier on Thursday 4th of June 2015 10:11:31 AM

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Legend

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watercarrier wrote:



Not Cambra, August 1917. Caption reads “English Tank, destroyed on the 23rd of August 1917 by the assault company of 34th Infantry-Division. Herenthage Park”

A
closer look and we can see German style camouflage which consists of dark lines, to break up the tanks outline all over the tank.


Cambrai this time. IMO the way these tanks have been camouflaged would be enough to impress any Russian or German on the Eastern Front during WW2. Is it really unintentional frost? Or just a bad photographic effect? Or a very very light brown?

 
-- Edited by watercarrier on Thursday 4th of June 2015 10:11:31 AM


The photo shows British tanks. Why is the conclusion then drawn that it is "German style camouflage"? Obviously it is British style camouflage, since it is a British tank that was painted by a British crew.



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Interconnecting black or dark lines.......most commonly seen with coloured sections is a paint scheme used to camouflage German helmets. It can be observed on both the M1916 and M1918 models.

I have held at least one helmet with only with painted black lines.

IMO....it remind me of that pattern.



-- Edited by watercarrier on Thursday 4th of June 2015 06:24:27 PM

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Legend

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Lots of people used black lines in their camo scheme; a large number from before the German production of steel helmets. It's certainly not an exclusively German idea.

British and (later) French tank crews painted black lines in random patterns on their tanks to try to mask the true position of vision slits. It's not to camouflage the tank (or break up the outline of the tank).



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Legend

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I don't follow the point you're trying to make about the photo of Edinburgh II (the Male tank). I can see two partial dark circles on the sponson which I can't explain, but that's hardly camouflage. The smudging on the tank in the background could well be soot and stains from a fire.

Bear (the Female tank) is camouflaged in the sense that random dark lines have been added to it, but it is not the only tank I know of to have such a scheme during Third Ypres. By contrast, I can't immediately think of one so painted at Cambrai.

Gwyn

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Legend

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Gwyn, I'm sure it did not escape your attention that one of the "circles" on Edinburgh II obscures from view one of the vision slits. I noticed also that towards the rear of the sponson is a painted on fake vision slit, at the same height as the real ones.



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Legend

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Fair point. Don't assume I'm all knowing though!wink

Gwyn



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Thank you for the information. If I ask myself if am I trying to make a point it would be this. Assume that these pictures are shown to someone with no prior knowledge of the Great War, do you think they would suggest that 'neutral brown' would appear to be their colouration? As someone with an interest in this subject I have to consider every possibility. I can rule out that possibility, when there are facts to disprove that possibility. It just seems, that as you say Gwyn, there is very little information on the subject to rule out the possibilities. I hope this makes sense. I am not OCD about this subject or trying to bash experts who I deeply respect, who have spent most of their lives studying this subject!

My comment on the Cambrai documentary would refer to the use of the 6 pounder in the battle. I see that one of A Battalions senior officers thought that the use of 'case shot' would of reduced the number of casualties caused by field guns. In the documentary however one expert is rambling on about the use of HE shot and there is no mention of case shot. I would thus question his assumptions. Discussion regarding this is probably left for another thread.....as I intend to Wargame with these models, so I would at least like use the correct ammunition in the game!

As it happens, I've painted my first tank of A Battalion already and guess what it is neutral brown! The problem I have is that where I live, there are the greatest concentration of 'experts' in the field of Great War tanks. So, if I do something silly with my models and decide to display them in public then I would rather not receive a comment that will consider me to scarp all the paint on my models!



-- Edited by watercarrier on Friday 5th of June 2015 08:22:39 AM

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Case shot was used for close range use - it was a light sheet steel or alloy container filled with shrapnel balls - the container burst open close to the muzzle of the gun and

the shrapnel balls sprayed out like a very big shotgun. From a tank gun it may have been useful at close range on troops in the open but beyond a hundred metres or so it would be useless.

HE rounds would be the general purpose round - the 6 Pounder round wasn't very heavy but I guess if you fired enough of them it would produce the desired effect.

At best in WW1 paint was described by a recipe - there were no colour standards - the BS series appeared in the 1920s. You can still find the recipes in some of the original equipment manuals.

The recipe was usually of the form - boiled linseed oil, white lead and pigment - stir until the white lead forms a suspension and the pigment is dispersed evenly. There were variations in colour between different mixes of (notionally) the same paint. 

Regards,

Charlie 



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Case shot was definitely used by tanks at Cambrai.

If any of your local experts dispute that your neutral brown is right, then they're wrong. And I haven't seen your neutral brown.

Gwyn

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After all what has been written and discussed about the base color of the tanks, I think it would help to step back and list the primary information.

As far as I am aware of, this is what is known for sure:

1) The color is described as being brown (what is the primary reference for this?).
2) There is evidence of base color variation between different tanks (best example I know of: Haynes "Great War Tank", p. 69, top picture).
3) Lodestar III is said to be not repainted, but the color had 100 years to age.

Is there anything more that is supported by actual primary sources?

There has been so much speculation about this topic that I'd like to know what can actually be proven.

Thorsten

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I fear I have to pour some grey water into your brown soup. "Die Tankschlacht und die Angriffsschlacht bei Cambrai" published by the field press bureau of army group Crown Prince Rupprecht in April 1918 has an article by Lt. Klausing featuring the demonstration of F.13 'Falcon II' to Kaiser Wilhelm II on December 23rd, 1917, at Le Cateau. The title is 'Die Tankparade' - and F.13 is described as 'graues Ungetüm' (grey monster) several times, while the camouflage net of the tank is described as green with earth coloured cloth strips.

In the same vein, one has to note that the poster advertising the movie "Die engischen Tanks bei Cambrai', which was shown in German cinemas since January 1918, shows a grey male Mk.IV (presumably F.41 'Fray Bentos II', which was in Berlin since Christmas 1917).



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That's the poster, undoubtedly designed with F.41 as model (company sign, the hand).



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Legend

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But: we do know from the F Battalion War History that all F Battalion tanks were painted in the field after training at Wailly in October 1917 but before Cambrai. There is no evidence for this from other battalions. Therefore F Battalion tanks at Cambrai may have been a different colour to other battalions, and because there is evidence that F13 and F41 were grey, this doesn't mean that tanks of any other battalion were also grey.

The long and short of it is, we don't know what colour tanks of A Battalion (which is where we started) were painted. If anyone claims they do then ignore them because they're either fools or scoundrels.

I am tiring of this pointless speculation and will opt out of the discussion at this point.

Gwyn

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I'm well aware that post hoc coloured pictures prove nothing. But one wonders nevertheless. In the 1920ies, Northern France and the Ypres corner of Belgium were littered with tanks, mostly Mk.IVs. So why did postcard publishers insist on showing grey tanks? Had nobody told them the tanks were brown? 'Eldorado' is from 1917, Third Ypres; L52 'Lyric' is a leftover from 12th Tank Bn in 1918. - And even people in Britain insisted on having grey tanks; but the one in Canterbry wasn't a Mk.IV, at least.



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Afetr saying I was opting out, this is my last contribution...

Perhaps it was for contrast. And not every colourised postcard shows a grey tank.



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Commander in Chief

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Gwyn Evans wrote:

Afetr saying I was opting out, this is my last contribution...

Perhaps it was for contrast. And not every colourised postcard shows a grey tank.


 I agree, but a disturbing share does.



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At least when modelling this period the 'button counters' cannot critise your choice of brown!



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tank.jpg

Thank you for the posts guys. Here is my second attempt......the first attempt looked like a 1950's US Tank in a red brown! What do you think? Do you think I can avoid fire from those 'accuracy snipers', with this base colour?

I am a little frightened to paint any designations on the tanks just yet until I can find someone to help me research them. I hope no one will mind me posting a list later .

 



-- Edited by watercarrier on Monday 8th of June 2015 11:01:27 AM

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The only person who needs to be happy with it, WC, is you. So the important question to answer is, are you happy with the colour?

You have a range of answers for anybody who criticizes it. Gwyn suggests asking them to prove their assertions. I am less tactful and would say something like, "Let's see your perfect 1/72 model then! And if you don't have one, then you can just..!" Maybe Gwyn's suggestion is more reasonable.

Somewhere on this forum is a discussion of scale colour, as well as many others on "actual colour". This is another factor to consider in 1/72 scale.

Takes guts to show your work on a forum, so well done, and for what it's worth, the colour looks good to me.



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Legend

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Tactful? Moi?!

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I didn't say you were tactful, just that in relative terms, I have less of that particular property. smile



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As is inevitable give the nature of the evidence, and as always happens, we're beginning to go round in ever-decreasing circles over the question of Were Mark IVs and Vs Always Brown?, like the far-famed oozlum bird (or perhaps it is the jubjub bird). But that is a new point, about colorised postcards and posters, but do bear in mind peoples' expectations - tanks were land battleships, so they had to be grey, right?

But it all depends so much on lighting, glare, exposure and weathering, plus the film types/filters in use. Paint chalking and matting can make dark paint look very pale by comparison with the original especially if the latter has a slight sheen when mint. Nothing new here, of course, but I've just rechecked a photo of a presentation tank that was obviously in weathered wartime colours, brown probably, with horn stripes, but looking remarkably pale except where oil stains darkened it. A later pic shows the tank in a uniform medium tone, heaven knows what municipal colour was chosen. I suspect that many a British municipal tank was given a good coating of whatever was in the council store for painting things like iron railings or tin roofs, even if it was the disgusting olive green used for the lower part of walls in public conveniences and local schools, or just plain grey.



-- Edited by Lothianman on Tuesday 9th of June 2015 12:21:32 AM



-- Edited by Lothianman on Tuesday 9th of June 2015 12:30:57 AM

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New photo of Antigone.



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Here is a very distant recollection.........As a small boy in the early 70's I was trying to paint a 1/76 Airfix WW1 tank. I asked my Grandfather who was at Cambrai with the 17th Lancers, what colour the tanks were there. Without a moments hesitation he just said 'Grey' I have always remembered this. I think there was a some and some situation and the ones that look grey probably were.

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Just an observation - the tanks were usually very quickly covered in mud. Dried mud tends not to be a dark or khaki colour, but a light greyish brown. Reports of 'grey' tanks could be just how they appeared to the soldiers

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