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"German desert tank camoflage" Topic


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Cacadore s Inactive Member09 Feb 2018 7:56 p.m. PST

Ever since the first Airfix Panzer IV kit, it seems de rigour to paint Rommel's German desert tanks sand. Yet I can find no reference to that scheme. My own searches point to the following:

European colours on tanks which may have been shipped over to North Africa in Feb. '41:
From 17/11/38: Mandated: 1/3rd dark brown (dunkelbraun 45) on dark grey (46) with feathered edges.
Possibly some older or rear echelon equipment may still be wearing pre-19/7/37 colours (vehicles so painted should stay that way until 17/11/38): buntfarbenanstich: Earth yellow, brown and green wavy blobs. Borders feathered or separated by thin black line.
12/6/40: Only grey paint issued.
31/7/40: All armour should be dunkelgrau – dark grey.

Feb. 41: Germany enters the desert war.
From 17/3/41: mandated desert colours: 1/3rd grey-green (RAL 7008) over yellow-brown (RAL 8000). With an admonition to save paint- so no layers.

From 25/3/42: Natural replacement with brown (RAL 8020) and grey (7027).

Anyone see any space or evidence for a single-colour sand coverering on a German desert vehicle?

VonTed09 Feb 2018 7:59 p.m. PST

It looks good?

RudyNelson09 Feb 2018 8:41 p.m. PST

I know the Italians liked the broken earth pattern of dark brown on light sand.

LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Feb 2018 12:57 a.m. PST

All nicely laid out in the Panzer colours books.
L

4th Cuirassier10 Feb 2018 2:45 a.m. PST

AIUI the overall sand colour idea was based on misinterpretation of photographs. Bovington's Tiger was found to be in two colours, one of which is decidedly sandy and between which there is so little contrast you can easily mistake them for one colour:

picture

deephorse10 Feb 2018 3:04 a.m. PST

There is this description of the colours used.

link

And this

link

Fred Cartwright10 Feb 2018 4:18 a.m. PST

Probably doesn't matter what the colours were originally after a couple of days they would look like these cars!

picture

Andy ONeill10 Feb 2018 5:14 a.m. PST

They were painted in the field by the units.
If the crews thought plain sand was good then they went with sand.
Assuming they had the paint.
There were shortages.
Italian paint was sometimes used.
And mud.
Then a layer of dust blended everything together.
Sand coloured dust.

For whatever reason, pictures from the period almost all look like one colour was used.
If someone has to tell you "this is two colours" and you need to look really hard to make out any possible variation then I would think it's a bit academic what order 871 says.

Richard Baber10 Feb 2018 6:56 a.m. PST

Honestly i went for buff or beige with a light brown wash, looks fine.

Walking Sailor10 Feb 2018 8:53 a.m. PST

Don't forget the bleaching effect of the sun.

Korvessa10 Feb 2018 11:00 a.m. PST

Reminds me of "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly."
A Clint Eastwood movie taking place after the ACW
There's a scene where they spot a cavalry column a long ways off – they look to be clad in grey, so are assumed to be confederates. Turned out they were clad in blue – just very, very dusty.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2018 3:01 p.m. PST

Here are some pictures of how I painted my German (and British) 1:285 GHQ Microarmor vehicles for the Western Desert:

link

And some links that provide additional information:

link

link

link

And many pictures here:

link

But Fred Cartwright makes a good point that once vehicles were covered with the sandy dust of the desert any distinction between camouflage colors tended to get "washed away."

Jim

Legion 410 Feb 2018 4:30 p.m. PST

True … after a few days in the desert everything gets covered in that soft gritty dust. Which is what most desert sand is generally, not anything like beach sand …

E.g. as Korvessa noted in the movie, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly". Albeit that scene may have been a little over the top, but close enough. The desert sand/dust gets everywhere and on everything.

Martin Rapier11 Feb 2018 2:15 a.m. PST

I try and paint my chaps in different shades of 'sand' because otherwise they just end up looking like tiny identical sandy blobs.

The British get light stone, the Italians a more orange shade and the Germans a darker sand in a nod to the desert brown Pz III at Bovingdon.

As noted above, Irl they would all have ended up exactly the same dirt colour as the gritty dust they were driving through.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 6:40 a.m. PST

Anyone who has ever served in the military probably got quite the chuckle over this statement in the second link provided:
"To save paint, the areas covered by Graugrün were not to be covered with the Gelbbraun base color."

Thanks you Col Campbell for the references.

Legion 411 Feb 2018 8:25 a.m. PST

"Hey don't waste the paint !" The Supply SGT said he won't give us another can ! huh? frown evil grin

Andy ONeill11 Feb 2018 8:42 a.m. PST

They were pretty much always short of paint in the desert.

Legion 411 Feb 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

And in some cases many other items. With the RN interdicting, i.e. sinking the DAK's supplies at times. As they crossed the Med …

Cacadore s Inactive Member11 Feb 2018 2:20 p.m. PST

Very helpful comments so far. I'm interested in including the early desert war especially: there's such a variety of tanks there: aside from Italians and all the 'A' series British infantry tanks there's Panzer IIs and all sorts. The pre-75mm/6 pdr guns make for interesting combined arms games.

Andy ONeill 10 Feb 2018 4:14 a.m. PST
"They were painted in the field by the units.
If the crews thought plain sand was good then they went with sand.
Assuming they had the paint.
There were shortages.
Italian paint was sometimes used."

I appreciate that. So I'm trying to see where the opportunity for that was.

In Feb '41 the Itailians had been decimated; their field supplies abandoned or overrun. When the Germans arrived their tanks went straight out to deploy. They had about four weeks before the mandated two-colour scheme was ordered.

Yes, units painted their own tanks. But Germans aren't known for disobaying orders.

So I'm thinking that month from Feb. to March '41 was pretty hectic. And the German command had not decided on new colours so none were being issued. However, I guess, yes, some commanders might have cottoned on to the prevailing ground colours there and for one month only, if their commanders agreed, and if they found some Italians with spare paint in the desert and if they had something to trade and if they had the time then some tanks may have got painted fully or partially over the prevailing dark grey (or perhaps even over some older grey with brown camo. from '38) in Italian sand. But not German yellow-brown or British 'stone'.

Because from 17/3/41 the orders said two colours were to be used:

From 17/3/41: grey-green (RAL 7008) and yellow-brown (RAL 8000).
From 25/3/42: brown (RAL 8020) and grey (7027).

The point is, from 17/3/41, if German paint hadn't arrived and was lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean and they had some Italian paint, but they knew orders called for a two-colour camo., then why would they cover their tank in only one colour? Why not use the existing colour too?'

"And mud.
Then a layer of dust blended everything together.
Sand coloured dust."

I guess because there's not a lot mud in Libya except by water. And if you found some in a river bed it's going to heat up, dry out and fall off in half an hour. Dust? After a sand-storm, then I guess, yes. Until some more wind came along to blow it off. And it does get quite blowey in the desert. So we paint a dust effect over the existing camo. Concentrated in the nooks and crannys.

"For whatever reason, pictures from the period almost all look like one colour was used.
If someone has to tell you "this is two colours" and you need to look really hard to make out any possible variation then I would think it's a bit academic what order 871 says."

Thank you. On b/w photos there's a problem to see the two colour schemes because Germany tended to use colours with the same tone. You'd see them in real life, surely?

Cacadore s Inactive Member11 Feb 2018 2:37 p.m. PST

"Deephorse 10 Feb 2018 2:04 a.m. PST !
There is this description of the colours used.
link
And this
link"

Thanks. Stunned. Perfect illustration of today's confusion.
The single SdKfz 222 illustration has been coloured by the artist in direct contravention of the colour notes in the tables below it! Amazing.

Cacadore s Inactive Member11 Feb 2018 2:53 p.m. PST

Legion 4 10 Feb 2018 3:30 p.m. PST !
"True … after a few days in the desert everything gets covered in that soft gritty dust. Which is what most desert sand is generally, not anything like beach sand …"

Thanks. And sure, we see this in southern England sometimes when Saharan sand gets dumped on cars.

I've been in the giant dust clouds in Egypt and Tunisia which blot out the sun and turn day into night. All you can do is get into shelter and wait it out. It's not from the northern deserts. These deserts which almost reach the coast are stoney, compacted, flat and very, very hard. It's like being in the middle of a giant's car park. Perfect tank country.

The dust, is a fine colourless quartz sand (or it wouldn't fly). It's been skimmed off the southern dunes, and it looks white. And of course most of it gets blown off with the evening sea breezes. I'm afraid it's not yellow-brown.

Andy ONeill12 Feb 2018 7:11 a.m. PST

Tanks kick up a lot of dust as they drive along in the desert. You don't need a San storm to get dust on your tank.

Initially, tanks arriving in the desert were panzer grey.
They had no suitable paint at all.
A number of crew mixed up mud and daubed it on their vehicles. It seems it stayed on a fair time.

Later, some paint arrived but it seems not enough to cover all vehicles.
Some were painted in a patchwork of sand ( or some light colour ).
It seems this field applied paint might not have been terribly robust. Some such vehicles, the sand colour wore quite badly.
Eventually, these were over painted again.

Some vehicles were eventually delivered painted in dunkelgelb. This is proven because there are reasonable quality colour pictures of tanks at the docks.
There is speculation that some vehicles were delivered in the regulation camouflage. There's no actual proof of this afaik. Some pictures of tanks on the eastern front show the desert regulation patchwork and some say these are tanks which were redirected from desert to Russia. There again, maybe this was field applied.

Back over to Tunisia.
Karl konig reckoned his panzers and tigers were brown (8020). No grey. A number of Tunisian tanks were green.
And of course there's the bovington tiger.

It seems these orders weren't followed.
Maybe they didn't get the memo or they were seen more as guidelines.

Legion 412 Feb 2018 8:18 a.m. PST

and it looks white.
I remember training in the Mojave desert of the USA. In the light of a full moon, the sand looked like snow.

Perfect tank country.
For maneuver generally it is. But from a Log/Maint. standpoint. The desert sand/gritty dust acts like sandpaper on tracks, road wheels, tires, rotor blades, etc., etc. And gets into places on mechanical devices of all types. That in many thought where an enclosed system. Which again, increases ware, and in turn maint./repair. frown Like in some other environments you are not only in conclict with a human enemy. But the environment itself … frown

deephorse12 Feb 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

Here's a discussion of Afrika Korps colours, primarily as they relate to the Tiger I, from Missing Lynx. Unfortunately most of the photos posted have fallen victim to the photobucket ransom, but the text discussion is interesting.

link

In the top right corner of the web page is a "Google search" button which allows you to search the Missing Lynx forum. There are quite a number of threads on Afrika Korps colours.

Mark 112 Feb 2018 11:48 a.m. PST

But Germans aren't known for disobaying orders.

Yes they are.

In fact, that is exactly what Germans are known for. It is only a post-WW2 popular press myth that German militarism would drive blind adherence to orders, perhaps resulting from the "I was just following orders" war crimes trial defense.

Since the days of Frederick the Great (Frederick William II) any shortcoming in mission performance can never be defended by asserting the officer was doing what he was told.

The general willingness, in fact the obligation, to disobey orders is one of the outstanding characteristics of Prussian (later German) military doctrine, encapsulated in the construct of "Auftragstaktik". Subordinate officers are expected (required) to understand not just what their commander wants them to do, but why their commander wants them to do it. Once the commander's intent is understood, subordinates have great leeway to adapt to changing conditions on the battlefield.

Not only is it accepted, but it is expected that a German officer will disregard orders that are not appropriate to the real conditions he finds.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming …

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Martin Rapier13 Feb 2018 4:52 a.m. PST

I really wouldn't over analyse this. Stuff which looks like the vehicles in photos (ie sandy coloured apart from very obvious camo like Caunter etc) is plenty good enough for wargaming purposes.

For all the perfectly colour matched Mike Starmer paint chips, I present to you the blazing anger of the desert sun and what it does to not particularly colourfast 1940s paint and dyes. Modern ones too.

Mud sticks pretty well to vehicles as well, and there was a suprising, amount of that around in the western desert when it rained.

Andy ONeill13 Feb 2018 6:44 a.m. PST

Rommel was initially ordered to adopt a defensive stance. The whole idea was he should prop the Italians up and ensure they didn't totally collapse. The desert war was seen as a low priority side show.
He went on the offensive as soon as he could.

Cacadore s Inactive Member13 Feb 2018 11:31 a.m. PST

Andy ONeill 12 Feb 2018 6:11 a.m. PST
"Tanks kick up a lot of dust as they drive along in the desert. You don't need a San storm to get dust on your tank."

Thanks. I'd call that "weathering effects". But it's a good reminder as it's the most fun part of painting vehicles. The flying dust I saw was made of reflective white quartz which can look very light beige, grey or whitish. It gives a good effect if you give tanks a wash with 'light stone' (e.g. Humbrol 121) so it settles in the crannies.

"Initially, tanks arriving in the desert were panzer grey.
They had no suitable paint at all.
A number of crew mixed up mud and daubed it on their vehicles. It seems it stayed on a fair time"

Well, fair enough. They might have mixed it with petroleum in '41, that is when they had more of it. Having painted with mud, I'm thinking it would make for quite a smeary effect?

You maybe see sand paint on Rommel's 'GREIF' SD.Kfz 250/3 open topped armoured car where it looks like patches of the underlying grey has been left showing to make a camo. effect.

This is what got me wondering why anyone would thinm the Germans would lose the camo. potential of paining the whole tank one colour instead of leaving some grey showing, as with that 250/3.

Mud, i.e. liquid soil with very fine particulates, would have to come from a river bed. Desert and coastal sand is too granular.

But if they could get coastal sand to stick, them there's all sorts of colours from pink to terracotta.

All the comments are helpful and make me think of what's possible.

Have you got any links to colour photos taken at the docks?

Legion 413 Feb 2018 4:37 p.m. PST

the blazing anger of the desert sun
Indeed … over time paint fades especially in a desert environment.

4th Cuirassier14 Feb 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

@ cacadore

picture

picture

picture

picture

picture

picture

Fred Cartwright14 Feb 2018 7:04 a.m. PST

This pic of a 5th Light Panzer II shows some of the Panzer Grey underneath a coat of sand. It looks like paint as the turret number and palm tree sign appear painted over it.
https://goo.gl/images/uF1Efo

Fred Cartwright14 Feb 2018 8:42 a.m. PST

Sorry photo link not working.
https://flic.kr/p/24m4PNc

Cacadore s Inactive Member14 Feb 2018 1:33 p.m. PST

Legion 4 12 Feb 2018 7:18 a.m. PST
and it looks white.
''I remember training in the Mojave desert of the USA. In the light of a full moon, the sand looked like snow.
Perfect tank country.
For maneuver generally it is. But from a Log/Maint. standpoint. The desert sand/gritty dust acts like sandpaper on tracks, road wheels, tires, rotor blades, etc., etc. And gets into places on mechanical devices of all types. That in many thought where an enclosed system. Which again, increases ware, and in turn maint./repair. frown Like in some other environments you are not only in conclict with a human enemy. But the environment itself … frown''

Thanks for that. We take it for granted we can communicate with people the other side of beyond.

The British said they lost more tanks in North Africa to mechanical trouble than to the enemy. Possible it was even 3:1. While both sides would try to recover broken-down tanks, it's the Germans who would try to repair them during battles.

Goodness knows how infantry made shell-scrapes in the northern African deserts. I was only trying with a spoon in Egypt; even so I got nowhere.

Saharan desert dust is so thin, perhaps, because it was setimentary quartz laid down on a sea bed.

Cacadore s Inactive Member14 Feb 2018 2:13 p.m. PST

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP 12 Feb 2018 10:48 a.m. PST !
Re : But Germans aren't known for disobaying orders.

"Yes they are.
In fact, that is exactly what Germans are known for. It is only a post-WW2 popular press myth that German militarism would drive blind adherence to orders, perhaps resulting from the "I was just following orders" war crimes trial defense.

Since the days of Frederick the Great (Frederick William II) any shortcoming in mission performance can never be defended by asserting the officer was doing what he was told."

Having read about the suicidal campaign objectives of Germany's last months in Anthony Beaver's brilliant 'Berlin, The Downfall' I have my doubts about that.

Every German soldier was trained to perform in the rank above his own and initiative when orders were not forthcoming was encouraged. That's rather different from being encouraged to disobey orders.

A tank commander with a limited supply of paint is not in a position to know when or in which type of terrain he'll be fighting in a couple of day's time when he has no paint. So why would he choose to disobey orders when he has no idea himself? In other words, what would be the basis of his disagreemment?

If he bases his paint scheme on the desert he sees in front of him, he's got even more problems. How do you relplicate a highly reflective surface with less reflective paint? And how do you choose a colour when not only the hue but the colour of the terrain alters according to your angle from the sun, the prevalence of shadows and the time of day? It's part of the reason the British experimented with those multi-coloured Caunter schemes.

Why disobey orders and replace a two-colour scheme for a one-colour scheme when a two-colour scheme would appear to fit the conditions better?

Cacadore s Inactive Member14 Feb 2018 4:13 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassier 14 Feb 2018 4:29 a.m. PST
@ cacadore

Re:
Photos.

Thank you very much for those.

It's interesting what you can achieve with hand-tinted photos.

If you're interested in spotting the hand-tinting, here's a few notes. Bear in mind that the easiest part to tint is the lightest part of the black-and-white photo.

Photo 1. The crane manufacturer's logo uses the same colour as the sky. Beige covers most of the photo. The tank tracks are yellowy beige where they face the sun and white facing away from the sun.

Photo 2. People display a variety of colours in sunlight. Compare how bereft of colour they are against the brilliant sky. The mid-tone shadow they are in makes it difficult to tint them with colour.

Photo 3. Everything on the dock is the same colour. Real dock surfaces are grey, not brown. But the sepia effects of acetate deterioration would render the very light grey of a b/w photo as beige. The tank, then, would appear to be dark-grey with lighter areas, including its numeral (!) here rendered beige.

Photo 4. Compare how pink the mens' faces are – which is a hand-heightened colour, with the mono-hued and far duller tank. Which includes the Afrika Korps symbol which would be white. The variety of colour hues emitted by various surfaces has to be consistant. Even dirty surfaces have a variety of hues. In tinted photos it is always a temptation to brighten the colour of faces because people naturally look at them first and have fixed ideas about what colour they should be. Skin is seldom just pink. Anyway, it's difficult to tell if that tank is painted in two colours or not. The upper part of the gun cuppola might suggest it is. If not, it could be grey.

Photo 5. The dock is in full sun but the sun-reflecting wave tops are dark! That's 'cos they've been painted. The dock area is mostly bereft of colour. But look how intense the boxes in that truck in the centre look compared to everything around it. The Panzer III has two colours: yellow and grey. But the divisions between the colours match the edges of the tank! As you would expect when the best colour tints can only be applied to areas of the b/w photo which were white in the sun. Still, that lower tank is interesting. Even if the yellow is an applied tint and ends at corners, it would still suggest that that is a lighter tonal area made with a wavey pattern. Which suggests a two-colour camo.

Photo 6. Auto-chrome colour was available but it doesn't give the intense colours you can see in those skies. Agfa had invented a positive-negative process but it wasn't available until 1949.
The photo appears to be tinted auto-chrome. The Panzer III there would appear to have a two-tone camouflage consistant with the 1941 grey and green two-hue orders.

They were interesting. Thank you.

Cacadore s Inactive Member14 Feb 2018 4:53 p.m. PST

Fred Cartwright 14 Feb 2018 6:04 a.m. PST !
''This pic of a 5th Light Panzer II shows some of the Panzer Grey underneath a coat of sand. It looks like paint as the turret number and palm tree sign appear painted over it.
https://goo.gl/images/uF1Efo''

Looks like it's in a fixed hull down position. It could be kodachrome. If so the sand on grey is interesting.

Andy ONeill15 Feb 2018 3:04 a.m. PST

There's an obvious problem with the logic that the disruptive pattern was better than plain sand.
There's almost no contrast between the two colours.
So it's not particularly disruptive.

There's also the kind of awkward first hand statements from the likes of Karl Konig.
He reckons his tanks were just one colour.
Maybe you should go tell him his memory has been tinted.

Cacadore s Inactive Member15 Feb 2018 5:46 a.m. PST

Andy O'Neil,

If you mean Karl Koenig, he arrived, '43 or late 42, after the Americans came. Have you got a reference for him saying his tank was one colour? He was in a Pz IV long barrel.

Andy ONeill15 Feb 2018 5:58 a.m. PST

You're saying orders had to be applied in 41 but later on…. That's no problem?

Karl konig was interviewed 2005.
Not everything is on the web though.

Eg Bradford's research on desert colours was back when computers filled rooms of their own.

Legion 415 Feb 2018 8:44 a.m. PST

Let me throw a bit of "monkey wrench" into the Desert camo discussion. evil grin E.g. … What the LRDG did :

lrdg.hegewisch.net/camo.html

Cacadore s Inactive Member15 Feb 2018 12:06 p.m. PST

Andy ONeill 15 Feb 2018 4:58 a.m. PST !
''You're saying orders had to be applied in 41 but later on…. That's no problem?"

Is that a Cathy Newman moment?!
No, I'm interested. Like a lot of things connected to tank colours in the desert, there's a lot of guesswork and false assumptions that later turn out to be ill-founded. Part of the problem is that under such variable light conditions, it's difficult to see what the colour really is.

I photographed a Morris C8 that appeared to still be in its original Caunter colours. The colours in the photos changed radically with every angle of the camera.

But that Panzer II is interesting. It's in a static position which might affect how it was painted.

To be honest I'm interested in 1941 and before. I presume that when Rommel first came over the two-colour paint stocks would be supplied together. And if the stocks were late arriving, that would leave Italian Saharan Khaki paint which had a little more of brownish (red spectrum) tint than we see in that Panzer II photo.

Could well be different in the confusion of late '42.

Andy ONeill15 Feb 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

Jerry used loads of British stuff.
They had no paint initially.
None.
Then they were very short for some time.
The only indication that problem was addressed is not from some delivery note, it's because pictures show tanks are painted in some light colour.

It's entirely possible they borrowed some paint from the Luftwaffe of British stocks.
Take some British stone/sand stir in some fawn… Ersatz dunkelgelb.

Whilst you're studying pictures.
Try and find some from 41 that show the official two tone scheme.

Mark 115 Feb 2018 2:19 p.m. PST

Re : But Germans aren't known for disobaying orders.

"Yes they are.
In fact, that is exactly what Germans are known for. It is only a post-WW2 popular press myth that German militarism would drive blind adherence to orders, perhaps resulting from the "I was just following orders" war crimes trial defense.

Since the days of Frederick the Great (Frederick William II) any shortcoming in mission performance can never be defended by asserting the officer was doing what he was told."

Having read about the suicidal campaign objectives of Germany's last months in Anthony Beaver's brilliant 'Berlin, The Downfall' I have my doubts about that.

You are welcome to your doubts. But here is no reason to doubt anything I have said in my post based on what you have replied in yours. Please do not get so wrapped up in debating that you can't read and understand what I have said.

In the Prussian / German military tradition, the subordinate does NOT have the purview to disregard the commander's OBJECTIVES (except in the most extreme cases). It is HOW those objectives are to be achieved that the subordinate can adapt to the circumstances he finds.

Every German soldier was trained to perform in the rank above his own and initiative when orders were not forthcoming was encouraged. That's rather different from being encouraged to disobey orders.

The magic word is "initiative". German soldiers (and most importantly lower-level officers and non-commissioned officers) were trained to disregard orders that they judged would not meet the commander's intent.

If I order you to support an attack on objective A by taking up a position to delivering covering fire against potential enemy position B, and you observe, on the ground, that B is undefended but there are enemy units taking position to resist the attack at position C, in the German army you would be criticized if you did NOT disregard the order to set up to deliver covering fire against B, and reposition to deliver covering fire against position C.

That is to say, you would be explicitely expected TO disobey the order in order to fulfill the mission requirement stated in the commander's intent.

That is what initiative means. It means doing what works, not what you were told to do.

In WW2, this was absolutely NOT the doctrine of the US Army, the French Army, or the Soviet Red Army. I don't know enough about the British Army to say where they might fall on this. But this difference is fundamental to understanding how the German Army was as successful as they were. The assertion that Germans would not disobey orders if the orders didn't make sense is a statement driven by a fundamental failure to understand how the German military worked.

A tank commander with a limited supply of paint is not in a position to know when or in which type of terrain he'll be fighting in a couple of day's time when he has no paint. So why would he choose to disobey orders when he has no idea himself? In other words, what would be the basis of his disagreemment?

You are boxing with shadows. Debating with your own strawman. I have never said that a German officer (not just a tank commander, btw) would disobey an order if he had no reason. That is a fabrication on your part. I have never said he would, or wouldn't chose a different paint scheme. That is a fabrication on your part.

All I have said is that the assumption that Germans would not disobey orders is a false assumption. Not only WOULD a German officer disregard his orders, he was EXPECTED to disregard his orders, if they didn't match the reality he found in front of him.

That's what initiative is all about.

And, btw, the suggestion that an administrator in Karlsruhe or Paderborn, who had never been out of Central Europe, would have a substantially better idea how to reduce the visibility of a tank in North Africa than the officer on the ground who was preparing his unit for combat, is pretty weak reasoning. It would fit well into the Red Army handbook, but falls far short of Prussian military tradition. It is exactly WHY the German military tradition emphasized commander's intent rather than detailed orders.

Or so I have read. Was never in the German army, or the Red Army, or any of the other armies named above -- not before, during, or after WW2.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 415 Feb 2018 3:09 p.m. PST

I would think, that in almost all cases and all militaries, an Officer or NCO worth his [or her] rank would use their initiative to get the mission accomplished, etc. And in many cases those at the Plt or Coy., level generally don't always have your next Higher breathing down your neck telling to where to put your MGs, etc.

I'm not saying that did not or does not happen. But based on my experience once you are deployed, on the move, while the situation is developing, etc. You in many cases are on your own, so to speak. You should not have to call Higher to tell you what formations to use, organize a patrol, etc.

Good soldiers no matter what rank are not mindless automatons. They are expected to get the mission accomplished. In a US ARMY OPORD you have what is called "Commander's Intent" … That basically lets you know what has to be done, where, when, etc.

I'd think part of the Germans' early WWII success is that junior leadership could take the initiative, rapidly access the tactical situation, and make a decision to best accomplish the mission at hand.

Andy ONeill15 Feb 2018 3:23 p.m. PST

I wonder if our imagined German tank commander even read this order.
Who would enforce it?
Why would anyone even care?

In 41 these were crews who started off in panzer grey tanks with NO suitable paint.
What relevance do you think they felt some "tropical" camouflage recommendation made way back in Germany had to them in the desert?

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2018 3:37 p.m. PST

Perhaps he didnt always follow his own words however I found this quote from General Patton to be good advice during my time in the military:

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

Seems he may have borrowed a page from German doctrine :)

Blutarski15 Feb 2018 3:48 p.m. PST

DAK paint camouflage colors (at least those officially dictated) changed several times between Nov 1941 and Feb 1943. Go here for a brief but useful description -

link

Given the paint shortages which prevailed in the Wehrmacht even from the earliest period of the war, it would not shock me if evidence also turned up suggesting German use of Italian paints and even stocks of captured British paint.

B

Legion 416 Feb 2018 8:35 a.m. PST

it would not shock me if evidence also turned up suggesting German use of Italian paints and even stocks of captured British paint.
Along with a number of other items, including trucks, AFVs, etc., etc. E.g. After Kasserine link some German columns had almost as many US vehicles as German, I've read. Of course that was in '43 not '41.

But we have seen Aussies' using captured Italian AFVs like the M13/40 with a white " 'roo" painted on them to ID them as Allied. In North Africa in the early battles.

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