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"German tank camo" Topic

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EJNashIII24 Oct 2015 9:22 a.m. PST

I'm painting up some 15mm German tanks (FOW). Did quite a few Soviets now moving to the Germans. Seems to be quite a different world from the Russians. Kind of curious, how was the actual real world painting done on these tanks? Were they factory painted or was it done in the field? If the model images are correct, then they needed to be sprayed on, rather than brushed on to get the fading effect.

2nd question, can this look be achieved without spray guns on the miniatures? I can brush paint reasonably well, but have no experience with spray guns. Thanks for your help!

donlowry24 Oct 2015 9:45 a.m. PST

1. The camouflage was originally ('43) done in the field. Later at the factory (but possibly modified in the field). (Prior to '43 they were panzer gray.)

2. You can simulate the spray (somewhat, at least) by using thinned paints (except for the dark-yellow base color).

Martin Rapier24 Oct 2015 9:46 a.m. PST

It depends.

Later in the war, they were factory finished. Earlier in the war, crews applied camo with anything to hand, including mops. Patterns at the unit commanders discretion (and I recall and account of one company commander being chewed out by the battalion CO after he came up with a particularly goofy scheme of zebra stripes).

Many schemes were blobs of colour or hard edged or two colour rather than three.

I've been hand painting Germans camo for 40 years, and if I really feel the need for a faded edge finish, I'll use a stippling brush. In smaller scales, cover them in mud and dust and you really can't tell.

There are some very, very cool hard edged angular schemes used by a number of units. Your bets bet is to copy schemes from photos.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away24 Oct 2015 10:05 a.m. PST

If you look for the Open Fire Stug tutorial for Flames of War on youtube they show a good beginners method just using normal brushes.

I use an airbrush but it's a tricky skill to acquire and easy to get discouraged.

Mako1124 Oct 2015 10:58 a.m. PST

If you have access to spray cans of the right color, you can use those instead of a spray gun, and use paper or cardboard templates to do the patterns.

Just hold or affix them temporarily to the models, a little off the surface, to get a softer spray edge. Some people use blue-tack for holding the templates to their models, temporarily.

War In 15MM24 Oct 2015 3:57 p.m. PST

I use dry brushing to paint my 15mm German armor. You can see the results in pictures 17, 19, 28, 29, 30, and 38 of my Bocage '44 Gallery at link

Rdfraf Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2015 5:25 p.m. PST

I remember speaking to a German tanker when I was young. I was very much into 1/35 Tamiya tank models so I was very interested in what he had to say. He said that no matter what pattern they painted their tanks they all ended up covered in dust after Some time in the field so if I wanted to be a accurate the tank should be dust colored. I suppose that makes sense, it wasn't like they were washing their tanks once a week but it really wasn't the answer I wanted to hear.

zoneofcontrol24 Oct 2015 7:11 p.m. PST

Here's a Flames of War: Open Fire paint guide from youtube that is a brush on rather than airbrush:

YouTube link

Footslogger25 Oct 2015 1:00 a.m. PST

I did read once that if crews were expected to apply it themselves, there could be huge variations. If the vehicle came in the dunkelgelb base coat, it would also come with a couple of cans of condensed paint, which the crews would have to thin themselves. Unthinned, the paint was dark bottle green and chocolate brown.

For best results, petrol was recommended as a thinner. If that was in short supply, water could be used, but the paint wore off quickly. Or it could be applied straight from the tin.

As mentioned above, anything could be used to apply it, from spray guns to hand brushes (or, indeed, mops).

Depending on the method used and the degree of dilution, there'd be a wide range of shades of green and brown. In some black and white photos, the colour bands are obvious, in others, you struggle to see it at all.

I guess the most uniformity in a unit would come if they were all issued with new vehicles at the same time back at a depot, with the leisure and materials to do the camouflage properly.

If you're just starting off painting German vehicles, almost anything you try with the basic three colours could have happened for real.

French Wargame Holidays25 Oct 2015 2:30 a.m. PST

Good selection here


number425 Oct 2015 11:54 a.m. PST

Bear in mind that in 15mm scale you are effectively looking at the vehicle from 100 feet away. Try doing that at a museum – what do you see?

Exactly. So don't get all worked up about fancy airbrushed patterns and impeccably feathered edges. If you want to show off modeling skills then that's fine, but it really isn't realistic.

Remember, the whole point of camouflage is for everything to blend in (because your life depends upon it); our miniatures take the completely opposite approach because we have to be able to pick them out on the table, so we dry brush "highlights" and blacken in shadows in a way that is completely unnatural in real life. And often we overdo it

As in all things, moderation is the key. :)

Simo Hayha20 Nov 2015 8:39 p.m. PST

stippling or thinned paints, but airbrush is more fun

catavar21 Nov 2015 9:49 a.m. PST

Foots… nailed it. Used to airbrush. Now just spray base coat and apply camo by brush. Dip brush in color, then dip in thinner, then apply. When done right same result as if airbrushed. Light, dark, faded or ambush scheme camo were all done. You really can't go wrong.

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