Like tanks, uniform colors faded in the sun, got dirty, never got washed enough,
and fabric dyes would vary slightly from one manufacturer to another. Even if
you go by the colors in period photos from the era, you must take into account
lighting (washing out the colors to significantly lighter tones) and possible
changes since then of the colors dyes of the photographs (colors originally too
saturated, or fading in intensity over the years).
this means is you have some bit of freedom in the shades and tones of the colors
you use. But you can't depart too much from the actual color.
Price-Swartz, a uniform collector and creator of RHPS tracks, sent me some information
and a nice succinct statement about uniform colors:
there is no such color as khaki when referring to U.S. WWII uniforms and equipments.
The U.S. Army standard color was Olive Drab, shade #7 and #9. Khaki is a more
modern collectors term and the confusion over color comes in because the standard
changed in 1943 to the darker shade of OD. The earlier lighter shade of OD varied
greatly from a pea green to a dirty tan, and even a medium green color with the
most common being the color collectors now refer to as khaki. There is also variation
in the latter darker OD from an even green color to a dirty greenish brown."
product box art as a guide can be misleading at times. Some painters get too heavy-handed
with shadows and contrasts, like old Italeri/Testors sets. Some manufacturers
get things completely wrong; Verlinden's artists in particular have a habit of
painting M1943 field jackets khaki instead of olive drab (OD). The more reliable
renderings come from Warriors, Jaguar, and Nemrod. And artist Ron Volstad, who
researches and designs the figure poses selected by DML, is extremely faithful.
paint my figures with a range colors from Model Master (MM), Tamiya (TAM), and
PolyScale (PS). I don't intermix TAM paints with other paint brands, and actually
I don't like painting much at all with TAM colors since the dry so fast. They're
good for base coats or washes. Because web gear is similar in color I like to
give some contrasts, especially when worn over khaki jackets. So I mix and match
tones: gear might be PolyScale Mud, and the jacket will be Tamiya Buff or PolyScale
Aged Concrete, or vice versa.
With uniforms and personal gear I first
paint the base coat, and then do shadows with the same colors mixed with a bit
of black, and highlight with the same colors mixed with some MM Camouflage Grey
or light MM flesh color or the PS equivalent. For painting flesh, I'd suggest
checking out Mark Bannerman's articles on Track-Link or Missing Links. He's got
a simple process for producing very good results.
I consider myself adequate
when it comes to painting figures. I don't put as much time into them as other
modelers do, particularly figure miniaturists. Everyone has their own style and
preferences (or they develop over time), so take my suggestions and the Uniforms
and Equipment section as a starting point. For further
references I highly recommend Government Issue Collector's Guide: Army
Service Forces Catalog, U.S. Army European Theater of Operations, by Henri-Paul
Enjames, and books
by Richard Windrow and Jonathan Gawne.
field jacket and winter combat jacket (most commonly seen on tankers and
some infantry) - The color of both the 1941 and Tankers winter jacket varied.
Some examples produced in 1943 exhibit wide variation from a light to medium green
to a pale tan. I use PS Mud or Aged Concrete or TAM Dark Yellow or Buff -- or
a mixture of the PS colors or the TAM colors. TAM Khaki is good sometimes for
new uniforms, it's a bit darker and greener. Buttons are Field Drab. Buttons vary
from a creamy tan to darker brown, some are even various shades of green.
M1943 field jacket - Though this jacket was originally issued
in 1943 (some 3rd Infantry Division personnel received the full uniform for the
Anzio invasion 1943), it really didn't appear in significant quantities in Europe
until the fall of 1944 due to production delays. So they are premature for D-Day,
but there are photos of either U.S. or Free French personnel wearing 1943 field
jackets and boots during the Normandy campaign, most likely during the month of
July. The first general issue in NWE was in August and many replacements were
already issued components of the 1943 combat uniform. Airborne troops were outfitted
with them for the Market Garden jumps in mid-September.
camouflage jacket and trousers - This short-lived uniform is camouflage
the herring-bone tweed (HBT) trousers and jacket. There was also
a rare one piece HBT coveralls, aka Tankers coveralls, camo version. I have not
yet produced any figures in this rare uniform, briefly seen on 2nd Armored Division
soldiers during the weeks after D-Day before being pulled from use because of
its similarities to German camo uniforms. D-Day: Operation Overlord has an excellent
color photo of this uniform that corresponds with Ron Volstad's artwork for the
DML figure set. Warriors has also made a couple figures with this uniform as well.
paratroop jump jacket and trousers - These items sometimes appear as a
light or dark green color in product box art, which is wrong. Use an Armor Sand
or SAC Bomber Tan. The large reinforcement patches on elbows and knees were sewn
onto many, but not all, airborne uniforms; the color varies from a dull light
green to gray-green. Some of the cargo pockets on the trousers were also trimmed
out with reinforcement strips in these shades as well. You can also paint the
tie strips, which helped secure the supplies in the large pockets, this contrasting
Trousers - Unless they have large cargo pockets
on the thighs, you can paint trousers either OD, or a 2:1 mix of MM Leather and
MM Field Drab for the brownish woolen trousers. I've also begun using MM Military
Brown alone for wool trousers. All trousers with cargo pockets are OD.
Winter combat trousers - These look like bib overalls, commonly
seen on tankers but also on regular infantry; same as M1941 field jacket.
Wool melton overcoat - This is the long brown winter coat seen
on the new DML Bastogne figures; I paint this the same brownish wool color as
trousers. Button are either Brass or OD.
- Worn by the Tamiya figures with their more recent Sherman tanks; TAM Buff or
PS Aged Concrete.
poncho - This rubberized canvas poncho can be painted with Testors Rubber
or a brown-gray color mix. There's only one figure on the market, from Verlinden,
wearing a poncho (there are some out-of-production YANKS figures).
wool shirt - Slightly lightened 2:1 mix of MM Leather and Field Drab,
or lightened MM Military Brown.
Boots - A dark brown 1:1
mixture of Leather and Flat Black, drybrushed with an increasingly lightened mix
of the two colors. Standard combat ankle boots and M1943 boots were made flesh
out or with the rough side of the leather out. Because of this new boots were
a light tan flesh color leather. On the M1943 boots the attached leather gaiters
are smooth side out and are typically a light tan to russet color.
sweaters, scarves, gloves, and field caps - MM Field Drab.
helmet - MM Dark Green, with OD for older faded helmets. The helmet liner
chin strap stretched over the front rim (holding the liner in place) is leather.
The canvas steel pot chin strap stretched over the back rim is a khaki or tan
color. Add some scratches to the helmet, particularly around the rim, with pencil
graphite or carefully drybrush with steel color.
- Any kind of tan color. Earlier nets (i.e., during D-Day) were an "open
mesh" with approximately 1" squares. Later issue nets were more tightly
woven. Burlap strips woven through the netting can be painted shades of brown
leggings, web gear, ammo pouches, canteen & entrenching tool covers, first
aid pouch, bandolier, M1928 haversack, M1936 musette bag - I use the same
variety of colors as for the M1941 field jacket for earlier issued gear. These
items started to be produced in 1943 in a darker shade of OD, and equipment is
observed in this shade from that year on, though moreso beginning in the late
fall of 1944. Although some items have been observed in the darker shade with
1942 dates, though they are not common. Also, equipment is observed in what collectors
refer to as "transitional" or "two tone," ie., exhibiting
material of both early and later colors. This two tone equipment is observed with
dates ranging from 1943 through 1945. You can use your choice of OD shades for
the later gear. As a rule of thumb, I like to have a little more contrast between
the gear and the uniform for visual interest.
combat and cargo packs - These late war two-piece packs, included with
most Verlinden figure and accessory sets, are OD. The upper bag is similar to
the M1936 musette bag and could be painted a khaki color.
holster - Leather, with a drybrushing of Leather mixed with a bit of white.
- Brass or PS Scale Black (as the brass has worn off).
(pouches, covers, etc.) - PS Scale Black, highlighted with a 1:1 mix of gray and
tool handles - These were originally issued with handles painted OD. I
paint mine either tan or OD, or OD with a drybrush of tan to represent the wood
where the paint's worn off. The metal fittings on the older M1919 "t-handle"
tool would be a dull metal color beneath the OD paint.
torch TL-122-C - This flashlight appears with some airborne figures and
vehicle accessory sets. The body is OD, and the lens is either silver or red.
vest - These were worn by the Rangers during the D-Day landings, and I
use TAM Khaki with tan on the edging of the vest and pocket flaps.
gas mask case - The rubberized canvas pouch used for the D-Day invasion
is painted with Testors Rubber or a brown-gray color mix.
stocks - MM Leather or TAM Dark Brown. Some modelers like to recreate
wood grain, but personally I think the final effect is overscale. Very late WWII
and Korean War BARs had a bakelite (plastic) butt stock which is flat black.
Weapons barrels, magazines, and fittings - In the past I've
used PS NATO Black, drybrushed with silver/black mix or highlighted with pencil
graphite. But I've also heard that if you want to get a color closer to the parkerized
finished, use a grey-green for the barrel, reciever, trigger group and muzzle
band. The magazine is more of a blue-black color.
Grease Gun - This is all metal in a parkerized dark grey-green color.
Again, use graphite or a light drybrushing of silver-black to add highlights and
M3 fighting knife and M7 scabbard - The handle of
the knife is dark brown, and the scabbard is dark OD with a metallic grey neck.
M1 Bayonet and Scabbard - This bayonet (as well as the earlier,
longer M-1942) had black plastic grips and a grey-green parkerized finish. The
plastic scabbard dark OD with a mettalic grey neck.
- Black, drybrushed with MM Dark Green, highlighted with pencil graphite. Don't
forget the yellow band at the neck of the "pineapple."
pistol - PS NATO Black, drybrushed with silver/black mix or highlighted
with pencil graphite.
rocket launcher - The bazooka's barrel is OD, with brown wooden stock
and hand-holds; the ammo round is OD.
rocket launcher - This version was all-metal, so paint this OD.
.30 Browning light machine gun - PS NATO Black, drybrushed with silver/black
mix or highlighted with pencil graphite. Bipod or tripod can be OD or dull metal.
.50 Browning heavy machine gun - PS NATO Black, drybrushed with silver/black
mix or highlighted with pencil graphite. Wooden handles and cocking level. Tripod
can be OD or dull metal.
- Both the 60mm M2 and 81mm M1 mortar barrels are OD; the bipods are OD except
the silvery insert arm as it extends up to the adjustment knob.
- OD, with brass knobs and rubber hoses.