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Post Info TOPIC: What colour were British WW1 tanks painted?


Major

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What colour were British WW1 tanks painted?
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What colour were British WW1 tanks painted?

The Mark IV in Brussels, still in original paintwork, is a chocolate brown. The Mark IV Female in the Museum of Lincolnshire life in Lincoln is painted a milk chocolate light brown.

The Mark I tanks of C Company had a multicoloured livery.

Were tanks painted olive-green? When did that happen, for the Mark V and V* tanks?

Were Mark IV tanks painted Olive Green? 

Is the dark Yellow paint colour of the Tank Museum, Bovington's Mark V Male correct?



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Craig Moore


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Lieutenant

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A very good question. Recently I had my own problems by coloring my Mk.1, maybe in wrong colors. Until yet I´m not sure about it...

So there were no rules for colors in this time (like RAL), so a green in Manchester should be not the same green in London or Wales...

So I think, all greens you listened are correct...

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Legend

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The Mark IV Female in Lincoln is not painted in original paint, so don't use it as a guide.

Otherwise I'm out of this thread. It is not a question which interests me since there is so little evidence.

Gwyn

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Sergeant

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Mk IV female at the AWM "Grit" www.ammsbrisbane.com/ajax/reference/Mark_IV.html I understand it has never been repainted

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Legend

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The URL for the AMMS page is incorrect - it should be: http://www.ammsbrisbane.com/home.html?L0=6&L1=0&L2=14

(it's a similar setup to the Landships II pages - you need a special URL to load in the whole page rather than a broken version

of the content only).

The AWM says Grit has been repainted externally but not internally. The green colour in the images could be a lighting/camera effect

it's quite brown "in the flesh". I can check with Brad, who took the images at the AWM, when he did so - I suspect they might be a set

of images which predate the last renovation of Grit. 

Charlie



-- Edited by CharlieC on Monday 10th of July 2017 03:52:26 AM



-- Edited by CharlieC on Monday 10th of July 2017 04:08:22 AM



-- Edited by CharlieC on Monday 10th of July 2017 04:11:59 AM

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Legend

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Which just goes to demonstrate my point that the question is so subjective, even when you have a tank to look at, it becomes a pointless debate.

Gwyn

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Legend

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Been in the archives today and stumbled across something on colours. I haven't sorted out all my notes yet, so from memory, it was decided that tanks should be painted "battleship grey" at the factory. Metropolitan came up with three different battleship greys, and the committee chose the lightest. Also serial numbers were to be painted yellow, though personally I think only Fosters paid heed to this.

Gwyn

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Hero

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Hi Gwyn, that sounds like a great find, keep in touch.

As for Grit, putting aside whether it was repainted or not, I had a play colour correcting the photo and I could not get a brown finish without putting the other colours visible out of a natural range. Although there is no colour chart being held in front of the tank (something I really wish people would do on at least one photo), knowing how rust and old metal should look on these metal beasts, I can be pretty sure the top coat of paint is a green. I've tried the same with a few of the photos and I don't get a brown.

Colour photos are not always perfect but normally it is possible to pull something close to right from them. The human eye on the other hand can have issues with the colour green when it stops being of a bright hue. Having sold paint for many years I never cease to be surprised by the number of people who show a mild form of colour blindness when it comes to the colour green. It's why on the issue of colour I am healthily skeptical of witness accounts and will always go with physical evidence with a provable history.

Grit shows signs of a dark grey base coat matching that of the inside photos, which has then been over coated with a light grey with a top coat of dull green. The green on the underside of the sponson shows it to be painted over a paint that has flaked away. It matches the style of weathering of the dark grey on the sides in this view. I'm not saying the dark grey is original but certainly older than the green.

There are areas of graffiti scratched into the paint, it would be interesting to see if it can be dated by its style and content as it would help determine if all the the tank was repainted.

My 'opinion' on Tank colours are....

MK1 tanks light blue/grey... most but not all then camouflaged.

MKIV tanks a brown of some hue, then later green as things become more standard Army colours.

MKv tanks green

I don't think anything that makes us all look again at the past and what we think we know is ever wasted time.

So what do others think?

Helen x

Original and corrected photo attached

 



-- Edited by MK1 Nut on Wednesday 12th of July 2017 12:34:18 AM

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Legend

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It seems as if Grit has been repainted a number of times. In 1996 it seems to have been green,

the latest paint job, image from 2015, is brown.

Regards,

Charlie



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Lieutenant-Colonel

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It reminds me of discussions about the russian R-7 rocket. Photos showed it to be green in colour, but it turns out that some shades of grey together with artificial lighting appear greenish on photographs. I wouldn't trust these. Colour correction on the computer can not add the information which was lost in the camera in such cases.

Also, there are photographs of Lodestar III on which it appears greenish, even if it is undoubtedly brown.

I would be rather interested to look at the contemporary evidence like documents, black-and-white photographs, paintings and tellings.

Best, Thorsten

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Lieutenant

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Thanks Hellen and Gwyn about your feedback and help
The only " authentic" colors that I saw for british tanks ( MK IV) are the ones from parts of tanks collected on battle fields ( buried and out of UV actions )
For the brown it is between the Humbrol 26 and Humbroll 29 ( for the modelers)
The parts not painted in " finishing color" seems to be a kind of dark primer gray ( The one you coat the ship' s hull prior final coating)
Olivier

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Major

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Thanks Mk1 Nut.

It seems unusual that there is no documented source about what paint should be used on the tanks as they come out of the factory.

I have just finished writing a book on German artillery SPGs in WW2. The German high command issued dated orders to all factories telling them what paint to use. You can trace when it changed from Panzer grey to dunkelgelb (dark sandy yellow). 

The British army being hot on paperwork would have had similar instructions you would have thought. 

I have not found any documents at the IWM London so far. 

I was hoping to find the same historical evidence about paint continuity across different production plants in the UK and in expeditionary tank maintenance workshops in France.

How did the repair mechanic or the storesman not what paint to order. What was its central supply number?

We have had over 100 years to find out this sort of information. It must be somewhere.



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Craig Moore


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Hello all
For German paints during WW2 ( At the end of war), the difference between instructions and things done were huge...
They used what they had on hands regarding " yellow " paint, the finishing was their last worry. Dilution of the camo paint done on the field was done even using gasoline as thinner and they painted over spare tracks , tools , towing cables , mud ..
Regarding WW1 documents , Tanker posted ( Forum 14 18) an official document related to the paint of the French chars ( 17 Dec 1917 ) and the color description is " evasive ":
" peinture mate a marbrures claires couleur verte " , " marron mi café au lait veinee et stratifiee de noir "
So , the French storekeeper , to make his purchase request , was able to order any light green , light brown...There was no RAL numbers.
Best Regards
Olivier




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Legend

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There seems to be a bit of confusion about paints back in WW1. There were only limited premixed paints available in WW1. These were

often suspensions of finely ground white lead in linseed oil, pigment was added to produce the desired colour.

Paint was usually made as required by mixing white lead and pigments with linseed oil / white spirit. Linseed oil paints are not long term storable

because the oil polymerises fairly readily. Paints were specified in terms of a recipe which the local people tried to follow as best they could.

The bottom line is that there was a lot of variation in colours even when paints were made up to the recipe.

Regards,

Charlie

 



-- Edited by CharlieC on Thursday 13th of July 2017 01:48:46 AM

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Captain

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The English Tanks at Cambrai (... tanks should be painted "battleship grey" at the factory) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/8666



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Legend

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Craig, Contrary to the assertion that there is no documented source on what colour tanks should be as they emerge from the factory, there is, and I have given that information in previous posts. It may not be as precise as you would like but that's not to say it doesn't exist. I would also point out that it is notable that the Supply Branch of the Mechanical Warfare Department, even at the end of the war, did not have a section dealing with paint. This suggests to me that firstly there was no real standardisation of paint supply, second that it was not regarded as a matter of any consequence and thirdly that there was no one tasked with producing the records you're looking for. Gwyn

 

[Edited to correct embarrassing error - apologies Craig.]



-- Edited by Gwyn Evans on Sunday 16th of July 2017 12:25:54 AM

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Major

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Thanks Gwyn. Do you have a link to that previous post?



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Craig Moore


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Legend

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See my third contribution to this thread. (The second after I said I was out of this discussion...).

Gwyn

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Commander in Chief

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Ah Craig, but what shade of Dunkelgelb? wink 

Was the British army in WW! too bothered about the exact shade of paint that its kit came in?



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Colonel

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The British did use a dark brown color for their vehicles in the middle of WW2 when they ran out of the green color, but that was a dark brown which I assume would be too dark for WW1 vehicles.



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Colonel

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I patronized a hobby shop earlier today.  I accidentally found a color, Tamiya TS-90, which looks rather like the medium brown I've seen British Mark tanks depicted in.



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