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"Austrian "Ochre"" Topic

27 Posts

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mdavis4119 Oct 2013 3:25 p.m. PST

I know this has been debated frequently here. I have just posted to my Blog my interpretation of Austrian "ochre" and my new 3 and 6 pdr guns and caisson.


Esquire Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2013 3:36 p.m. PST

Looks good. I have some that the color is too bright. Next time I intend to do what you have done -- subdued and washed.

summerfield19 Oct 2013 3:50 p.m. PST

Dear Sir
The ochre looks correct. Please note that David Hollins made a mistake about the colour of the gun barrels. They were NOT painted black. They were left unpolished on campaign at best. Paint would not have lasted on the bronze barrels. Iron guns were painted.

Editor of the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal

mdavis4119 Oct 2013 4:54 p.m. PST

Dr Summerfield, thank you for this clarification.

rmcaras Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2013 6:05 p.m. PST

so what would "unpolished" bronze appear to the eye? flat? – not shiny – some sheen?.

We know copper turns a pale green & flat when oxidized.

Bronze is primarily copper with some tin; but bronze appears to be a shiny brown or even blackish when the copper in the bronze oxidizes on the surface?

Does anyone have some images of bronze barrels that might reflect the same care as on campaign [vice curated]?

Maxshadow19 Oct 2013 7:37 p.m. PST

Very nice looking paint job.
That's a bit of a bombshell (no pun intended,) Stephen.
What colour would have the barrels appeared as then?

le Grande Quartier General19 Oct 2013 7:43 p.m. PST

Polished bronze, when to opportunity arose to polish them, tarnished bronze when not..a bronze paint with a black wash loks great…unfortunatly, wargamers have followed an inaccurate convention over the years and kept painting the barrels black- that would have only been done on the iron guns-mostly fortress pieces due to their size.

mdavis4119 Oct 2013 8:21 p.m. PST

Well, I for one did follow "Austrian Napoleonic Artillery 1792-1815" (New Vanguard) by David Hollins as Dr Summerfield correctly surmised. At least the carriage details are hopefully correct. Bronze would of course make more sense but the look of the black on ochre is very sharp.

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2013 8:57 p.m. PST

Interesting; the assertion that Austrian Field artillery barrels were painted black has appeared in several places, but it never made sense to me, as bronze barrels don't need paint (unlike iron ones), and the paint wouldn't last long once the guns were fired – not much of an issue for fortress artillery, whose guns are fired infrequently, but much more so for field guns.

Of course, my Austrian artillery carriages are almost certainly too "yellow" in hue.

Sapeur20 Oct 2013 1:49 a.m. PST

Interesting discussion as I am about to do an Austrian artillery team project.

summerfield20 Oct 2013 2:00 a.m. PST

Dear RM
"We know copper turns a pale green & flat when oxidized." Sorry this is when my chemistry background comes in. The Pale green verdigris is only formed under acid conditions or when in contact with salt as in salt water. The gun barrels would not have a verdigris because of the influence of the oxidising and sulphurous environent.

My point was that the barels would not have had that parade ground shine. So use the bronze colour to paint the gun barrels.

Edwulf20 Oct 2013 3:06 a.m. PST

lovely paint job.

nsolomon9920 Oct 2013 4:28 a.m. PST

Some good comments here. Bronze is bronze and does not require paint, indeed that would impose a heavy maintenance burden on the gunners. Paint in this period would not wear well on gun barrels that heat and cool. The Austrians were not fools and did not paint their gun barrels. The rather excellent Vienna Museum has the information.

mdavis4120 Oct 2013 6:12 a.m. PST

I'm not defending black, indeed I'm now wondering how to correct my mistake. However I wonder what persuaded the author, David Hollins, that black was the correct colour?

Marc the plastics fan20 Oct 2013 6:41 a.m. PST

They look rather spiffing don't they. Thanks for posting

summerfield20 Oct 2013 7:05 a.m. PST

It was a simple translation error. David Hollins and I had a long discussion over this. I think some of it was on TMP and then the Napoleon Series.

Maxshadow20 Oct 2013 10:10 p.m. PST

This is a bit of a blow for those of us who have painted Austrian guns.

Skull and Crown20 Oct 2013 10:28 p.m. PST

They look great, and a bit darker than mine as well. I would opine that, like the German dunkelgelb, the ochre would fade and vary over time in the field, what kind of wood it was painted on, etc.

And I'm guilty of also painting my Guns black- the upside is that black is a great base for dry brushing up a bronze!
Cheers, and thanks mdavis for opening up such a keen conversation.

summerfield21 Oct 2013 2:44 a.m. PST

Dear Thomas
Dunkelgelb is I believe is made from yellow ochre which is a particular mineral of iron oxide. I am not sure I would say fading as pigments do not photofades. Certainly wear and tear, mud, dust etc… would alter the appearance. Different batches of paint would be considerably different.

pushing tin21 Oct 2013 5:46 a.m. PST

If you are looking for an unpolished look I can recommend Humbrol 171 Antique Bronze acrylic (at least it works on my tiny 6mm barrels well enough!)

von Winterfeldt21 Oct 2013 1:40 p.m. PST

The brass would "age" by use and wind and weather, here a very good example from the Leipzig re-enactment – I knew this gun in 1996 at Arcole where the brass was really shiny and the gun hardly fired with – now here


in my view pure brass with some washes of dark brown would do the job

Lion in the Stars21 Oct 2013 7:21 p.m. PST

I really like the P3 paint 'Brass Balls', with a thin wash of burnt umber, and then a drybrush of Brass Balls and then a light touch of 'Radiant Platinum' if you want polished naval bronze.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2013 9:22 p.m. PST

I am not sure I would say fading as pigments do not photofades.

Actually, the combination of light and heat will change the pigments, producing a change in color. The changes would depend on the actual chemicals in the paint. The Russian apple green would actually get darker rather than lighter.


Maxshadow21 Oct 2013 10:07 p.m. PST

Very useful photo von Winterfeldt. Thanks!

summerfield22 Oct 2013 3:33 a.m. PST

Thank you Bill, I was takling of photochemical effects and than the chemical reaction. Sorry it was me with my colour chemist hat on.

le Grande Quartier General22 Oct 2013 11:41 a.m. PST
le Grande Quartier General22 Oct 2013 11:48 a.m. PST

TMP link

so, long some confusion about this I guess… The non-iron barrels of course were bronze, unpainted, and unpolished. The photo above is probably a perfect example of what we would have seen…the caption says brass, but it would have been bronze.

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