Le Liberatéur
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Paint and Decals

It is easy to get hung up on the "proper" color for uniforms, and the paratrooper attire is no exception. But I've seen a wide variety of colors and hues for the M1942 jacket and trousers, everything ranging from light tan to dark ochre. It's good to keep in mind that, in most instances, we're looking at uniforms worn 60 years ago, or recent reproductions. We're not looking at uniforms in their actual color and state of condition on June 6, 1944. Contemporary photos of the time are not reliable because of color shifts over the years, or because the media through which we view the photos (printed or through the Internet) also has variables. Also keep in mind these uniforms were impregnated with an anti-gas treatment, which immediately could have changed the color of the fabric, or changed it over time in a different way than non-treated uniforms now look.

Consequently, I opted to use Testor's SAC Bomber Tan, which runs a little more toward tan with a hint of green in its hue. I thought this might more closely approximate a newer uniform, as I recall reading that the paratroopers received new uniforms and gear shortly before the invasion.

The reinforcing patches on the elbows and knees, the gussets for the pockets and their retaining straps were painted a mixture of greenish grey. The webbing backpack, entrenching tool and bandage pouches were painted varying shades of khaki green. I used a mixture of ochre and white for his gloves.

The relief of the 101st Airborne insignia is pretty sharp, so I just painted the colors of the eagle patch. I did use an Archer Fine Transfer for the first aid marking and the U.S. markings from Hudson & Allen.

One shortcoming I see in many otherwise fine military figures of any scale is that the uniforms are often pristine. They don't have that "lived in" look, dirty and stained with sweat and grime. I've tried to convey that sense with this figure. Yes, he's been in combat less than 24 hours, but he's jumped out of an airplane, landed hard on the ground wet with recent rains, walked through swamps or flooded fields, worked his way through the bocage, and clambered through the dusty rubble of this French village. This, to me at least, is the look of a man in combat.

To achieve this, I did the usual job of setting down the base coats of paint and the requisite shading and highlights. I then gave the trooper a couple of separate turpenoid washes, the first a black mixture, the second a dark ochre blend. After applying each wash, I blotted the figure with a piece of paper toweling. This leaves a slight mottled effect that breaks up the underling base colors and suggests grime. When thoroughly dry, I sprayed the figure with flat lacquer to preserve the effect.

Then I blended some MMP dry pigment powders with some water and stippled this dirt mixture onto the knees, elbows, boots, and other parts of the uniform. After this mixture dried, I gave these areas a wash, which darkened the colors slightly. When dry again, I went over these areas with a dusting of the powders to bring out some more detail and suggest drying mud. After the figure was attached to the vignette base, I sprinkled him with "rubble dust" made from the MMP's terra-cotta powder, using a wide sable brush dipped in powder and tapped above and around the figure. This helps unify him with his current environment.

Construction and Detailing
Paint and Decals
Base and Presentation


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter