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"British field uniforms 1890 Europe" Topic

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Allen5729 Jan 2014 7:20 a.m. PST

I am a bit confused. Could someone point me to a picture of what uniforms would be worn by the British army in the field around 1890? I have seen red jackets and a piklehaub type helmet but suspect this is a dress uniform.

Does anyone make 6mm figures of the army in field uniform for this time frame?



Doc Ord Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2014 7:50 a.m. PST

The official field uniform would indeed be red jackets with plain cuffs and collars in unit colors. The helmet would be dark blue ( or green for light infantry ) and trousers dark blue with red seam piping. Rifles would be in very dark green and highlanders in trews or kilts according to the unit. The various specialty head gear were to be worn in the field but forage caps would probably be worn.

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2014 9:10 a.m. PST

Yep, Home Service Dress, nice red jackets and Prussian style pointy hats, which were very popular after the Franco Prussian War. All very 'Battle of Dorking'.

Khaki was worn by colonial types in dusty, hot places, however figures in colonial uniforms with pointy pith helmets can easily be painted to represent Home Service Dress in 6mmm.

Try Irregular.

DLIinVSF29 Jan 2014 9:55 a.m. PST

You can't go far wrong with this guide from Perry Miniatures


It's basically a mix of styles depending on the service location.

Personal logo Flintloque Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2014 10:17 a.m. PST

The home service uniforms were many and varied. They drilled and went on maneuvers in them, so in the event of a European war, would no doubt have at least started out wearing them. How long they stayed in them is another matter entirely!

Note: the spiked helmet was not a pickelhaube. The spike itself is the only similarity, as the helmet itself is shaped entirely different.

I agree with Martin. A proper paintjob would probably be enough to convert most 6mm figures. For Guards, Highlanders & cavalry, Crimean War figs might be a good choice.

Line Infantry














Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2014 6:21 a.m. PST

Paint jobs on Baccus figures would get you most of the stuff you need. Try the Franco-Prussian War and Colonial ranges…..

mrinku31 Jan 2014 3:18 a.m. PST

Since your question was about what was worn "in the field", the answer is simply the khaki kit. Redcoats were last worn in battle in 1885 in the Sudan, and even there it was only one or two occasions. By 1890 you'd only see the home service uniform as dress uniform outside of Britain, and khaki was universal (even in the cavalry), although the Rifles still used black leather equipments instead of brown.

The home service helmet is literally a London bobbie's helmet with a spike – a ball for artillery. If you can see that at 6mm the detail on them must be spectacular – home service or overseas kit will be the same figures with different paint schemes.

YouRebelScum Inactive Member01 Feb 2014 4:50 a.m. PST

Point of fact: the custodian helmet (police) is not 'literally' the same as a home service helmet they are different beasts entirely.

If a European war was off the bat, and not planned, the chances are that forces from Britain would be deployed in home service uniforms which were not just dress… The standard working dress for infantry (except rifles) at home was scarlet until 1902, with the guards having the option of white drill jackets in undress.

However, any European war would probably have seen a change to khaki drab as soon as could have been managed.

Foreign service uniforms around 1890 would have been Khaki drill with pith helmets.

Northbank6605 Feb 2014 9:08 p.m. PST

Very interesting question!

The British fought the first Boer war in redcoats and blue pants, basically the home service uniform. The Khaki uniforms used in the Sudan and India etc seem like they would not have been suitable for Europe. The Khaki was a very light color and there is no indication that the khaki of WW1 would have been available in 1890. Also although the Khaki uniforms were camouflage of a sort, the tactics used in India and the Sudan were hardly devised to take advantage of that fact.

As the Prussian/Germans and the French were still using basically parade uniforms for combat it does make one think that any European war in the 1890's would probably have at least started with troops dressed in brightly colored uniforms.

As the British had not gone through the trauma of aimed rifle fire that they experienced from the Boers it would also be interesting to find out what tactical formations would have been used. Especially as, again, the shock of the aimed rifle power of the Boers would not have led to the small arms training that made the BEF such a potent force in 1914.

Presumably line and column, until fire power dictated/forced more open formations and drab colored uniforms. That would have needed quite a lot of convincing for European Generals steeped in tradition. The Germans in 1914 were still advancing in column, not sure about the French.

Just an opinion.

mrinku06 Feb 2014 3:11 a.m. PST

Oh, one notable exception to the universal overseas service khaki – Scots units still wore tartan kilts and trousers, though it was khaki from the waist up :)

Marines on shipboard wore non-khaki, too.

Good question about any hypothetical European service. I tend to agree with Northbank that they would have worn home service. They also typically shipped out in home service and were issued with overseas kit on arrival.

Bindon Blood06 Feb 2014 5:29 a.m. PST

"The Khaki uniforms used in the Sudan and India etc seem like they would not have been suitable for Europe. The Khaki was a very light color and there is no indication that the khaki of WW1 would have been available in 1890. Also although the Khaki uniforms were camouflage of a sort, the tactics used in India and the Sudan were hardly devised to take advantage of that fact."

As it turns out they were not particularly suitable for South Africa either. By the end of the 2nd Boer War, British troops were wearing khaki drab rather than khaki drill uniforms…

mrinku07 Feb 2014 7:11 p.m. PST

It is worth noting that the British experience of colonial warfare did end preparing them better for the modern European war when it came. In particular, the lessons of the second Boer War meant that they were experienced at fighting against modern repeating rifles. But that is a few years after the OP's question. In 1890 they were in much he same boat as France or Germany, though arguably far more experienced, especially off the various campaigns of the 1880s. Even though they had veteran colonial and marine troops, French metropolitan troops were generally kept in France, while Britain sent her regiments overseas.

Even if they were to deploy in parade kit in Europe, the British troops would have switched to appropriate campaign issue if it became clear it was better, and there would not have been any fuss in doing so.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2014 7:49 p.m. PST

Khaki is much lighter than what the Brits went to for their battle dress (compare Vallejo English Uniform, Khaki, and Dark Sand).

I'd expect the Brits to deploy in Home Service, and any Indian troops showing up to the fight in Khaki.

mrinku08 Feb 2014 2:09 p.m. PST

Khaki varied a lot. And overseas kit was issued overseas. If field uniform was required for Europe, it likely would have been made and issued to suit. But yeah – at the start of any fight it's likely they would have only had home service uniform to wear.

mrinku12 Feb 2014 2:52 p.m. PST

Oh, one other small point about the uniform – even when wearing the home service kit abroad, the white helmet cover was almost always used and the spike taken off. Even troops marching off the boat in white pipeclayed leather and immaculate red jackets always seem to have their helmet cover on. Almost inevitably these covers were browned up in the field using materials to hand (tealeaves, mud etc).

And there was also the forage cap, typically a blue glengarry, though these don't seem to have been worn in battle terribly much.

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