Thursday 26 April 2012

Sherman Firefly

 Most of this post is my musing on paint schemes. It's not an exciting topic, but I just wanted to record my thoughts somewhere that I would find difficult to lose, and could receive feedback on.  I have had discussions with Archduke Piccolo, and Ken, on this topic which have also shaped my musings. I've looked at TMP for info, and checked out Mike Starmer's thoughts on the MAFVA site, as well as checking out other sites, and of course looking at books!

As part of the British Tank Refurbishment project, I have been trying to figure out a paint scheme for my late war British and Commonwealth forces in the European Theatre of Operations. What I trying to do is minimise the amount of repainting I have to do, by using a combination of existing paintjobs, finding a simple repaint scheme for unpainted vehicles, and end up with a force that I can field in both Italy and North Western Europe. While I can always add in olive drab vehicles of American origin into a British force, (My understanding is that eventually Olive Drab was recognised as being an 'official' British paint scheme, to save American supplied vehicles from having to be repainted, but at the same time Olive Drab can also refer to a British colour that looks quite different.)
A selection of Matchbox Fireflies.
Same selection, different view.
Please note: I have only painted the last three tanks on the right, the two on the left were painted by other people. Starting from the middle, going left to right, we have a tank sprayed in FOW US Olive Drab, a tank sprayed with FOW late War British Armour, and washed with GW Devan mud, and the final tank in straight FOW Late War British Armour.

The two remaining tanks on the left, the dark one on the extreme left seems to be in a very late war scheme used in Germany by some Guards units ( please correct me if I am wrong - but I have only found one source for this in a colour plate in one of ken's books, and I'm not entirely convinced), while the one second from left is painted in a dark green colour - probably a Humbrol colour- that looks ok, but I'm not totally convinced with, but works well with the tank that has been sprayed with FOW Late War Armour, and then washed. The small numbers of vehicles I have in this colour will blend in well, if I use the spray and wash solution.

Both tanks have been spray painted with FOW Late War British Armour. the one on the left has also been given a wash of Devlan Mud.
Tank on left has been spray painted with FOW Olive Drab. Tank on right sprayed with FOW LWBA.
The two remaining tanks. Left: Dark Grey Green, and Right: Dark Browny Green.
So I am left with the conclusion that in order to get a paint scheme even roughly right for a British/Commonwealth force, I can use the FOW colour, with a wash as the base coat, and then figure out a disruptive colour, if any, from there. Of course, the usual caveats apply, and any mistakes are my own. It also appears that the colour of British tanks is quite a heated issue in some chunks of the internet, maybe it's not that boring a subject after all!


  1. You wuld think it would be straight forward but it is a difficult topic- look at he Missing-Lynx discussions (I'm sure you have !). It also hasn't been helped by the early model manufacturers giving some very suspect schemes. The earlier paint used was a brown and dark green was used (before and)after the war but even then not consistently. I think that SCC15 (the British equivalent to olive drab) was still used as late as Korea. I'm not familiar with FOW British but it looks to me to be pretty close. I feel that most wargamers use too dark a green. I've stripped the paint off my older models and repainted in Humbrol 159 (Khaki Drab). It may be too light (SCC15 is equivalent to 8 parts 159 to 1 part black) but I blame it on the scale effect and I can't be bothered with mixing small amounts of paint. The contents of the tins of 159 vary and the undercoat has an effect so you can't be too picky.

    1. Thanks for commenting - feedback is always welcomed! The waters were quite muddied by manufacturers and some of their early schemes being taken as gospel. I pretty much agree with everything you have written! Thanks for dropping by!

  2. I began by using the US Olive drab (Humbrol), a very dark colour, but the admixture of weathering toned it doen just a little, and brought out the surface details. I've also tried the Britisg 'Bronze Green', which gave rather a satin rather than matt finish, but, though also dark, is a definite green.

    My attitude, as Brian will remember, that - perhaps within certain parameters - there isn't any such thing as a 'correct' colour or scheme. Whatever the official scheme was supposed to be (and they may well have changed as often as the weather for all we know), paint batches vary - still do as anyone will attest who has done home renovations.

    OK, what parameters? Clearly, we need something more definite than 'not red'. Interestingly, the PC game 'Panzer Leader II' featured British armour and vehicles that were a decidedly brownish sort of green - indeed rather a greenish brown - a khaki sort of colour (bearing in mind that khaki can also mean a lot of things).

    The comment by 'Anonymous' above introduces a further point that I always have under consideration: the effects of scale upon colour. The small scale of figures and models make dark clours look several shades darker than they really are. For WW2 figures, I deliberately go for a couple of shades lighter than they ought to be and I am quite pleased with the result.

    I have to admit, though, that my Afrika Korps figures are not correct: being rather more butternut grey than the pale greyish green they 'ought' to be. But I'm not changing it for one minor and one major reason. The minor one is that the effect of sun and sand might well have faded the original colour to what I have used. The major reason? They look too dam' good (to me) as they are!

  3. I've generally gone for Humbrol 75 "Bronze Green" on mine, with a heavy drybrush of Humbrol 86 "Light Olive" to bring out the detail. By the time you've added a bit of dustiness (I usually use an extremely light drybrush of Humbrol 93 "Desert Yellow") it looks pretty good. All colours available in enamel or acrylic, I usually used the acrylics now because it's kinder to my paintbrushes when I clean them!

    So many vehicles have faded paint and dust caked all over them (and don't forget the old "scale colour" debate) that it probably doesn't matter whether you have the exact match for a factory-fresh vehicle anyway!