Tuesday, 14 June 2011

G3 Khaki Green - Or "WTF? Are we camouflaging this for a Disco?"


There is always one peril with historical wargaming.  Having someone in the past do something stupid with no regard for how it will affect generations of players later!  Sadly, playing Brits in WWII one tends to run into them far too often but it does build character.

BEF Tank camo, specifically for the Armoured Divisions, is one of these areas.  Seriously, luminous green as a tank camo?  I'm not sure if this is Battlefront making a bad call, there are a few colour charts that agree with the colour choice, but what the hell is going on with Cruiser Green?  Did someone think there was rain forests in the Belgium?  Did they let the raver mix the paint and he dropped some glow sticks in?  What was going on?  sadly this is the same military that came up with the wonderful idea of not bothering with a HE round  for the main gun...

Needless to say, I was going to stray a little away from reality here and it doesn't seem to be too uncommon.  Looking around I found a few examples that don't seem to agree with the colours in 'Blitzkrieg'.  This model of a 3RTR A13 on Missing Lynx shows something that looks closer to Russian Uniform and the Bovington Tanks (I found some photos here and here) concur.  It's always dangerous relaying on museum tanks, often they are repainted in.. interesting interpretations of the original colours but it was a straw I could grab onto!
Interestingly Phil Yates, one of the BF rules monkey's (if not *the* head rule monkey) also went with Russian Uniform.  He put his thoughts in two articles (here and here) and also in the forum and certainly guided me in my choices when it came to the paint job.

Now, I had a 'brainwave' when it came to painting up the BEF quickly.  Quoting myself
"I'm opting for base coating with US Armour spray coat (basically Brown Violet) then...masking and spraying over with British Armour spray to get the same effect."
Yeah...  That didn't work out too well.  The issue was the mask.  I sprayed the model using Army Painter/Battlefront "US Armour" and then used the liquid mask that comes in the Vallejo/Battlefront utility set.  Firstly, this stuff destroys brushes!  It dries on the brush whilst your applying the mask, even washing the brush in-between areas didn't help.  You also can't over mask an area that is already masked as it tends to lift.
Brown Violet - Not particularly violet but versatile none the less!

"Mask!"  Not Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand
I eventually got the model masked off, cheating by using blue-tac to hide the tracks so that the lower hull would be in the original colour, and decided that I would proceed with just one Vickers tank until I knew if it worked.  That was probably the only good call of the day!  I sprayed the "British Armour" spray and left it dry overnight.
Bright green - not luminous green!

Removing the mask was a complete bitch.  Trying to lift the mask off with tweezers scratched the Brown Violet paint below and I really had to dig it out, using a cocktail stick, from the various nooks and crannies.  I easily spent 30 minutes to an hour trying to do this and still had masking present!

Note scratches and little scraps of liquid mask gripping for dear life around smoke dispenser

More scraps stuck around searchlight and gun mantle.  Scratches near exhaust.

I eventually admitted defeat and put the model aside for stripping (I'll cover that process at a later date).  I then decided to paint it by hand instead.

Execution Take II!
So, three more Vickers undercoated in 'US Armour'.  This time I decided to highlight the Olive Drab before laying down the lighter green as I was worried about trying to drubrush the camo without straying onto the lighter colour.
So, I grabbed a large flat drubrush and did a heavy drybrush of Vallejo 'Brown Violet' (the paint is slightly lighter than the spray) followed by a lighter drybrush of Vallejo 'Khaki'.

That done, I then painted on Vallejo 'Russian Uniform in broad irregular strips aiming to cover 2/3rds of the model and carrying the pattern over the turret aligned forward.  I left the paint off the lowest surface of the front and rear plates, on the gun cowls and below the track guards.  These are areas that Phil Yate's research suggested would be 'skipped' by the crews when they repainted as they were a bugger to paint.  Makes sense.
Makes you wonder why I bothered painting the Olive Drab seeming as I covered most of it!

I then mixed in 'Tan Yellow' to provide a light, bright highlight.  I used a smaller flat drybrush and carefully applied it to the Russian Uniform areas, trying to avoid the Brown Violet patches.
Perhaps a bit pale.  May try adding some Yellow Green next time.
Next, I did my normal wash stage.  I made a 50:50 mix of Vallejo 'Black' and 'Brown' washes then watered down.  I used a GW Standard Brush (the orange tipped one) to carefully apply the wash to panel edges, around detail and the rivets.
The Troop after washing
That gets the basic armour done. I applied some weathering at this stage in the form of rain and UV lines but I'll cover this next week.

I marked the vision blocks and lights out in black.  The vision blocks had Luftwaffe Uniform applied and a tiny dot of white in the corner.  A very simple 'glass reflecting sky' look.  The search lights were picked out by painting a hemisphere of 'Gunmetal' on the lower half of the black disc.
"I can clearly see now/the vision slot is painted"

Then an 'Oily Steel' arc on the 'Gunmetal'
Oily Steel sounds like it should be a porn name.
Then a thin line and a dot of white to complete.
"and lo.  The Commander said, let there be light"
You'll note that I've ignored the Commander.  I tried a different technique on him and we'll revisit this on a later blog.

We'll leave it there for this week.  Next week I'll pick up on tracks, markings and weathering to completion.

Finally, a quick plug for the chaps over at "All Along the Watchtower" podcast who have launched a forum.  It's quite a diverse group with forum members from outside of Brighton and is also home to forum exclusive content.  Give it a try!



  1. nice post. What would you advise to use for masking?

  2. Hello!

    At this point... I don't know. I think I want to experiment with some different methods. The Blu tack did a good-job sealing the lower hull so one idea is to use it on the main hull too.

    Alternatively I remember an article on the Flames of War website discussing the use of marmite or toothpaste. These dissolve fairly well in water making them easy to remove. It also provides marmite with some sort of worth as a substance!

    Like I said, there's room for some experimentation here. I have a few Mortar Carriers that are useless to me at the moment so they may get used as guinea pigs in this noble cause!