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Post Info TOPIC: Solomon's camouflage


Field Marshal

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Solomon's camouflage
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While researching a Mk.I model, I've hunted for references about Solomon J. Solomon's camouflage scheme. Good references are not too plentiful, but I've assembled what I think are the most reliable into a short article, which is attached. I won't pretend that this is the last word on this subject, however, and I would appreciate suggestions and criticism. If you are interested and have difficulty opening MS Works files, I can e-mail a pdf version which is a bit too large to post. 

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Legend

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I can't open Works files, Rhomboid, so your pdf file sounds like just the ticket, please! My email address is:


rogertodd1AThothail.com


Ta! I'm working on making the Airfix Mk I more accurate, so I'd appreciate anything on the Solomon scheme to try it out...



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Field Marshal

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Rhombiod, I would love to add that to my info, and I am considering doing a resin Mk.I in 1/35 . . .

and i cant open the file so

my email is


ww1_tanks AT yahoo.com


thank you



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Legend

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Nice article, Rhomboid. A photo or two that I hadn't seen before. I had no trouble opening this file with MS Word. If anyone that wants to read it doesn't have Works, try using Word instead.

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Legend

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Mark Hansen wrote:


If anyone that wants to read it doesn't have Works, try using Word instead.


I hadn't realised that (duh...), you're right, Word does open it.


Thanks Rhomboid (for the great article) and Mark (for the software advice).



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Legend

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Extremely good. It also illustrates the lesson that what leaves Britain may not be the same as what ends up on the battlefield.


 


I had no trouble opening it but it did take a looong time, triggered no end of warnings from various security software and attempted to change the file type association on my machine (thwarted by a useful piece of software called Scottie). Some of you who don't have anything like Scottie might want to check their file type association settings.


 



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Legend

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I thought I'd try something out here. I have attached photos of five models of Mk Is, pinched from the interweb, most of which I suspect are the Airfix braille scale job, but the first is (I think) a 1/35 scale model. All have been painted in some form of Solomon type camouflage. Which of them, Rhomboid, would you reckon to be closest to fairly (or even very) accurate? BTW, I'm not trying to catch you out or anything, but I find the whole business fairly complex, and you seem to know more than most (I only really want to know so I can have a go at my model with some confidence)!

Attachments
Solomon 1.jpg (45.5 kb)
Solomon 2.jpg (72.5 kb)
Solomon 3.jpg (23.0 kb)
Solomon 4.jpg (120.6 kb)
Solomon 5.jpg (103.6 kb)
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Field Marshal

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Thanks for the replies, gentlemen. The first model is a very fine Emhar conversion. Mike Cooper and I corresponded with its creator, Gilles Thomas, about this subject, on the WW1 Missing Lynx forum in December. Allow me to offer a few comments on the models.


1) All of the models display green blotches. If we can trust Henriques' comment (and he gives a detailed account of many aspects of the early tanks), it would appear that the Mk.I's at Elveden had a lot of green colouration, perhaps multiple hues as are seen in the Hassall painting. The "pink" colour was likely a reddish ochre shade, which can sometimes be seen in a vivid sunset. However, neither he, nor Robinson, mention any green in the colour scheme repainted soon after arrival in France. A Bavarian non-com, observing the tanks on Sept. 15, commented that they were "grey with green stripes, forming the impression of a house of reeds". The limitations of his point of view on the battlefield must, however, be considered. A drawing which accompanied his report depicts a scheme which does not resemble any photo of  Mk.I. camouflage. The best evidence I have seen suggests that the tanks were repainted in a scheme of yellow ochre, grey, and multiple shades of brown with black bands or stripes. However, the tanks were repainted in haste, and may have retained traces of their Elveden colours. The wood-framed grenade roofs were fitted in France, after the tanks had been repainted. The wire-framed roof on the Elveden tank was a unique type, not seen in France. 


2) A number of the models show the hull roof, sponson roofs, inner rear horns, and steering tail as camouflage painted. I have not seen a photograph which would support this. The tanks were provided with a painted cover for overhead concealment when bivouaced. Cecil Lewis (in Sagittarius Rising), flying with the RFC over the Somme in 1916, comments on brown tanks carrying red petrol tins, but it is not clear that he is specifically describing their roofs.


I think that Gilles has been a bit restrained with his black bands in model 1, but I have not seen the finished version. The smooth elongated blotches of model 2 do not closely resemble any of the photographed tanks. The above caveats aside, model 3 is reasonably accurate, with it's thin black stripes typical of D Company; photographs show that not all of the colour blotches were completely outlined. The author of model 4 seems to have used the Bovington Mk.I, with its simplified blotch pattern, as a reference.


While the photographic record is far from complete, and a moderate degree of variation exists in the "Solomon" patterns, I don't think that "anything goes" when depicting this camouflage. A number of identified Mk.I's have photos of at least part of their scheme, and the unphotographed portions can reasonably be inferred from photos of other tanks, particularly those within their own company. I am slowly compiling a photo index of the Mk.I's, and would be happy to assist with questions about specific vehicles.


Sorry about the glitches, Centurion - "What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away".  



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Legend

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Very interesting, Rhomboid, many thanks, there's much food for thought there...


Now, you mention that the hull and sponson roofs, inside of the horns and the whole steering tail do not appear to have been painted with the camo pattern (which is handy) - presumably, the basis over which the camo colours went was the medium, or lightish, grey oft-times mentioned, and thus the colour of the hull and sponson roof etc...



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Hero

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Rhomboid


 


Thank you very much for the insightful read, a very interesting subject, full of mystery,


but unfortunately still very confusing.


It would be a very big help if some one could do some colored drawing examples.


All the Best


Tim R



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Field Marshal

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Tim R wrote:


Rhomboid   Thank you very much for the insightful read, a very interesting subject, full of mystery, but unfortunately still very confusing. It would be a very big help if some one could do some colored drawing examples. All the Best Tim R


Yes, Tim, the subject is as clear as mud...well, muddy camouflage at least! I've tried to let the few primary sources speak for themselves in the article, and restrict the artwork to examples where there is a reasonable chance that the artist actually had a first hand look at a Mk.I. Attached is the old Profile Publication painting, rather inexpertly altered with Photoshop, to represent what I think might be close to a C Company scheme on the Somme.


Roger, my best guess is that the portions of the tanks which were not camouflage painted were left in the light grey factory paint.


If members have artwork showing other examples of the Solomon scheme, please post it. 



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Legend

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I have one question Rhomboid. The Arras Mk I tank (C6) has had me a little puzzled. On an enlargement of the same photo, I can make out what appears to be 718 or 716 just behind the gun muzzle (enlargement attached). The reference I had for this photo gave its WD No. as 752. Have you any more info about this photo?

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MkIArras.JPG (25.6 kb)
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Field Marshal

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Good eye, Mark. The photo is taken looking in a WSW direction, showing the valley of the Scarpe to the left (south) and the road from Athies to St. Laurent-Blagney. (The photo in the article is a detail view). The high angle of the shot had always puzzled me, but it seems that the photographer must have been standing on the viaduct which carried the railway north from the Railway Triangle across the Scarpe and the Athies road. C6 was in 7 Co., and under the command of 2/Lt. Tarbet. His objective was the Blue Line, where the railway embankment crossed the road. He left the tank to reconnoitre a way to cross the embankment, but was shot dead by a sniper.


716 broke down on Sept. 15, 1916, but was not destroyed. I have no info about 718 or 752; unfortunately, I only have the war diaries for 1916.



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Lusitania map.jpg (309.4 kb)
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Legend

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It seems that the camo scheme sometimes ended up on the tailwheel box as well. I've attached a detail shot of D7. Hope this helps.

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camo_box.JPG (145.1 kb)
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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:


Attached is the old Profile Publication painting, rather inexpertly altered with Photoshop... Roger, my best guess is that the portions of the tanks which were not camouflage painted were left in the light grey factory paint. 

Rhomboid, marvellous stuff, thanks. I shall use your photoshopped image as a basis for my model.

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Legend

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It probalby don't help a lot but here is a Flers tank all in grey (probably).


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Thanks for posting that photo, Centurion. The tank is 510/C16/Corunna, which was hit by a shell near Combles on Sept. 15, and burned out. I think this damage complicates the interpretation of its colour scheme. Some other after-action photos of this vehicle show what may be very faded blotches. I've read some secondary references which suggest that un-camouflaged tanks were used on the Somme, but I havn't seen a clear photo which would support this assertion. 


Just to muddy the waters further, what about this photo of a Mk.I being broken up by German prisoners. It still has the "Petrograd" inscription with which it left the factory. Clearly, at least this portion of the tank was not camouflage painted (though the forward portion of the tank may have been).



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Legend

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I have noticed on some Mk I tanks that the camouflage appears to be peeling away. Was the camouflage paint on Mk I's a fairly bad quality or would the peeling be possibly due to painting over a contaminated surface?

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camopeel.jpg (10.4 kb)
C6camopeel.JPG (99.1 kb)
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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:


Thanks for posting that photo, Centurion. The tank is 510/C16/Corunna, which was hit by a shell near Combles on Sept. 15, and burned out. I think this damage complicates the interpretation of its colour scheme. Some other after-action photos of this vehicle show what may be very faded blotches. I've read some secondary references which suggest that un-camouflaged tanks were used on the Somme, but I havn't seen a clear photo which would support this assertion.  Just to muddy the waters further, what about this photo of a Mk.I being broken up by German prisoners. It still has the "Petrograd" inscription with which it left the factory. Clearly, at least this portion of the tank was not camouflage painted (though the forward portion of the tank may have been).

I've always been puzzled by the "Petrograd" inscription. As the first tanks shipped from Lincoln were covered in canvas sheeting after loading and before leaving the factory yards (see atached tank museum picture) it seems a somewhat ineffective deception ploy as no one outside would see it.

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Field Marshal

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And why was "Petrograd" misspelled?! This inscription was decided upon by the Tank Supply Department, and one senses the lively, if occasionally misguided, intelligence of Col. Swinton here (recall that he advised painting Koranic inscriptions on E Company's tanks to demoralize Turkish officers!). Glanfield relates that "Swinton wanted the landships to carry in front of them a large noticeboard inscribed with a snappy insult, such as: GOTT STRAFE DEUTSCHLAND but having a few letters displaced as: GOTT SETRAF DUSTECHLAND. "The misplacement of the letters if carefully done will just suffice to make every German who sees it try to read it instead of shooting at our infantry. This device may appear ludicrous but it is based on sound psychological grounds."  


Mark, I agree that something seems to be flaking off the upper front of the cab of that tank, but it looks too chunky to be paint chips - see the attached blow-up. I've read various memoirs which express bitterness at the sub-standard quality of supplies provided to the BEF, none specifically mentioning paint. Certainly, the tanks were repainted in great haste at Yvrench. I would presume that this paint was drawn from RE stores (unlike the paint used by Solomon in England). I believe that Stephen Bull has documented some of the most commonly used RE colours in one of his publications, which could be another useful colour reference. I would interpret your  photo of C6 as showing the inexact (hasty?) overpainting of a dark blotch with a blotch of lighter tone



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Petrograd.jpg (33.3 kb)
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Field Marshal

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Here's another painting of Solomon camouflage, "A Tank at Montauban" by W.T. Topham. Topham served with the 1st Cdn. Siege Battery on the Somme in 1916. He did most of his painting on nights when the battery was not in action, which may account for the dark quality of the painting. The colour tones are similar to those of Benson's painting.


 



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Legend

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Now, mucking about as I am with the Airfix Mk I, what Humbrol colours would anyone recommend for the camo pattern? I'm thinking of the grey base, with yellow ochre and brown blotches...

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Mike Cooper sent me some information about this. According to Stephen Bull, the Royal Engineers kept stocks of burnt umber and yellow ochre paint. "Burnt umber" is close to Methuen 6F6 (Vandyke brown) and FS595a 30099 or 30118. According to Urban Fredriksson's colour reference charts, which are posted on the IPMS Stockholm website, the Humbrol match for 30099 is: 8x Hu110 + 2x Hu113 + 1x Hu33. The match for 30118 is Hu142. "Yellow ochre" is Methuen 5C7 and FS595a 33434. The match for 33434 is: 4x Hu154 + 3x Hu94 + 1x Hu 34.


Looking at the Benson and Topham paintings, the grey seems to be a neutral medium tone.


I'm not sure that all these Humbrol shades are still available, but the FS595a colour samples will be helpful. Fredriksson's comments on colour scale effects are interesting, particularly considering the need to "tone down" the vivid Solomon scheme to give a realistic appearance.



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Legend

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Brilliant, thanks Rhomboid! And what a superb resource Mr Fredriksson's charts and information are, thank you again.

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Legend

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Bear in mind that reproducing the exact methuen shade of the full sized vehicle does not necessarily result in an accurate model - see my posting on this subject some time ago. Peter said he was going to post in the main body but doesn't seem to have done so.

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Legend

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You've not got a link to that post (or the thread title) have you, Centurion?


To be honest, I'm not going to attempt to do all that paint mixing as I don't trust myself to do so without knocking a tin over or something, so I'll go for an approximate match...



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Legend

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Can't find the original posting but here is the text on which it was based.



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Legend

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Cheers, thanks for that Centurion - a couple of points I was aware of, and a whole lot of stuff I wasn't! What you're really saying is that it's futile trying to duplicate (or miniaturise) reality, as that's impossible - as a modelmaker one can only hope to achieve an effect. Well, it generally convinces me that my planned approach is on the right track - an approximation that pleases me, and me alone!


At the end of the day, if I can avoid any obvious errors like painting it pink with yellow spots, as long as I get somewhere near grey/ochre/brown, and then a bunch of weathering etc., I'll be happy.


I forgot to mention what I've taken to referring to as The Colour Wars on SteelNavy's forum, my God you've seen nothing yet until you venture over there and either start or drop in on any thread discussing the colours of US battleships, circa late 1941 (especially the endless arguments over The Blue Battleship - or not, whatever the case may be...).



-- Edited by Roger Todd at 16:17, 2006-07-04

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Legend

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I attach another Mk I (female) in seemingly de solomonised cammo. This picture may have been overlooked as it is described in the article on the original site  (WW1 in a different light) as a tank returning from Cambrai


 



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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:


A number of the models show the hull roof, sponson roofs, inner rear horns, and steering tail as camouflage painted. I have not seen a photograph which would support this.

Rhomboid, I too have not seen any photos showing roofs, sponson tops and inner rear horns in camo pattern, as you say. I have seen photos and film showing the inner front horns, and front upper hull (that is, the cab front and just below) camouflaged. However, I couldn't make out the area immediately below, where the hull slopes back, leading to the underside (the lower portion of the 'arrowhead' profile) - do you think this, too, would have been camouflaged? I doubt the level underside would have been, though.

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Legend

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Centurion wrote:


I attach another Mk I (female) in seemingly de solomonised cammo. This picture may have been overlooked as it is described in the article on the original site  (WW1 in a different light) as a tank returning from Cambrai  

That tank is C6 "Courdon Rouge". A small section of the photo was posted about possible paint peeling. It's definitely not returning from Cambrai. It still carries the Vickers guns.

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Field Marshal

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Roger, most of the photos which I have seen show the lower bow plate too deeply shadowed to determine whether it has been painted. While it is quite faint, I think some camouflage can be seen in this area on D11, as shown in the attachment. In other photos, the inner front track horns seem to be camouflaged down to this level, so it seems reasonable that the lower bow plate would be as well. Solomon noted that this would be a difficult area to effectively camouflage.


Trevor Pidgeon has captioned Centurion's photo as C6 returning from Courcellette on the Albert road.



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D11 detail.jpg (24.1 kb)
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Legend

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Well, it makes sense to me that they would paint down that far and then stop - it would be very difficult to paint right under the hull, and for very little gain. Many thanks for answering all my pesky questions, Rhomboid!

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Legend

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Mark Hansen wrote:


 It's definitely not returning from Cambrai. It still carries the Vickers guns.

Do me justice please! I didn't say it was returning from Cambrai but that the original source said so and thats why it might have been overlooked by any one searching for Mk 1s I can tell a Mk 1 Female from a Mk 1 Supply (the only Mk  1s that could possibly have been at Cambrai)

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Legend

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Centurion wrote:


Do me justice please! I didn't say it was returning from Cambrai but that the original source said so and thats why it might have been overlooked by any one searching for Mk 1s I can tell a Mk 1 Female from a Mk 1 Supply (the only Mk  1s that could possibly have been at Cambrai)

I wasn't suggesting that you didn't realise it wasn't returning from Cambrai. I was merely pointing out which tank it was. The original French caption that is on the photo is at fault.

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