Landships II

Members Login
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Renault FT Camouflage


Status: Offline
Posts: 2
Renault FT Camouflage


I am in the process of building Takom's 1/16 Renault FT.  What a great kit!  I'm planning on putting up a review on my personal tank-enthusiast website (, but I want to get a little further along for the pictures.  I'm hoping that some of you can help me answer some questions about the camouflage schemes of late-war French vehicles.  Specifically:

  1. Does anyone know anything about the "Japanese Style" camouflage scheme mentioned on this page?  I'm curious why this would be referred to as "Japanese" since the Japanese did not have anything to do with tank camouflage in the 1910s to the best of my knowledge. I wonder if this is a reference to art, possibly woodblock prints, which were quite popular in Japan in the Taisho (contemporary with WWI) period.  I have tried searching for any info in French and English on this, but invariably am met with many articles about Japanese WWII camouflage (which admittedly resembles this pattern somewhat).  I really like the variety of colors simply because they'll look great on a 1/16th scale tank weathered with the MIG method, but I would love to see a contemporary photo that gives me some idea of what the color plate on the website is based on.  I'd also be interested just to see the patterns involved, and how they were varied.  This pattern uses the infamous "French Blue" which is actually quite a bright and striking color.  Chromatically, this will look great, but I like to have some worthwhile historical basis for the patterns I use and the colors I use to apply them.  
  2. What method(s) was used to paint tanks in WWI?  Does anyone have and first-hand accounts in memoir, official order, or photo form?  What about specifically by the French? The paint sprayer was invented in the 1880s (1887 to be precise in regards to the handheld spray gun, by Joseph Binks).  The atomization process was invented later, in 1907, which improved the overall result.  This is early enough for spray painting to have been used, but mobile spray painting units seem unlikely to have existed in WWI given the overall technology level of WWI armies and the infrequent necessity for camouflage painting at the time (almost only applied to select artillery and vehicles).  Some tanks were clearly repainted by their units after deployment, and I imagine this was a free-for-all in terms of techniques based on what was available at hand.  Widespread use of paint sprayers by automobile manufacturers seems to post-date WWII, when tank camouflage came into widespread use.  

Please help me out if you can - I'd love to get some answers for this, but I know much of WWI is lost in the mists of history.



Status: Offline
Posts: 2294

Japanese style camouflage is a term originally used in the interwar Polish Army which seems to have

been generalised. In fact it was rather close to various WW1 camouflage patterns of irregular colour areas

separated by black lines.

French tanks were painted in the factory by brush (see image). Paints of that period had to be made up

from white lead suspension in linseed oil with pigment added - the paints weren't stable and had to be used straight away.

When stable alkyd paints were introduced in the 1920s ideas such as standardised colours and (probably) spray

application became viable options.

The colours on the Renault FT seem to have been the same as those used on the other tanks and artillery - gris artillerie (grey with a touch of blue),

vert olive (olive green), terre d'ombre (red-brown) and ochre jaune (yellow ochre). Note that yellows in this time period weren't the bright chrome

yellow colours we are used to. The FTs were painted in 3- and 4-colour camouflage in the factories - there was no standardisation of patterns and there was

a lot of colour variation. There was no base coat applied to the FTs - the Schneider and Saint-Chamond had gris artillerie base coats.

The information in the website you quoted is a mashup of many sources - some of them quite unreliable.



-- Edited by CharlieC on Friday 13th of October 2017 08:24:08 AM

Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to

Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard