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"50 shades of Grey - British Artillery Colours" Topic


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1,049 hits since 10 Aug 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Arcane Steve10 Aug 2018 7:31 a.m. PST

Purists better look away now….My latest blog discussing what colour to paint my British Artillery and why I may be happy to be wrong. I hope that you find it useful:

link

picture

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2018 8:39 a.m. PST

The prize for the wittiest title goes to……………

Love your shade of grey, but especially the highlighting/dry brushing. Much discussion on this forum, all agreeing that any blue is either wrong or at least an anachronism for 1815, or even the earlier skirmishes/disturbances.

wrgmr110 Aug 2018 9:41 a.m. PST

+1 deadhead

Handlebarbleep10 Aug 2018 10:12 a.m. PST

If it makes you feel any better, my experience of those guns painted grey and used as display pieces on parade grounds etc is that they fade quite a lot with sustained exposure. That is with modern paints, unit mixed batches was probably more variable still.

Artilleryman10 Aug 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Grey is the way to go. As Deadhead says, on campaign at the beginning of the 19th Century, you are going to have so many variations, not just from Gunner* Snooks not quite mixing it correctly to fading produced by the Spanish sun.

I remember a conversation with a British Army Quartermaster about the fact that the 19th Century guns on plinths in his barracks were painted olive green instead of grey. His reply was the classic, 'Navy's got the grey paint, we've only got green.'

* I know, I know. He would have been PRIVATE Snooks in the Peninsula.

Timmo uk10 Aug 2018 2:05 p.m. PST

I've done mine grey with a hint of blue and am not repainting them. However, the other issue is that from all I can find on the matter and contrary to popular belief the gunners didn't ride on the limber too dangerous as it was apparently too easy to get thrown off.

I think this is why AB don't do British limber riders spot on with their research.

summerfield10 Aug 2018 2:45 p.m. PST

It is great to see the correct use of grey. The blue came from poor photography and control of the grey balance.

RHA and RA rode on the limbers and ammunition cars. You may be referring to RHA of the First World War certainly not Napoleonic.
Stephen

Rod MacArthur10 Aug 2018 11:44 p.m. PST

Timmo,

My research into establishments shows RHA Troops always had both mounted and dismounted gunners (after 1808 they had 40 mounted gunners and 44 dismounted gunners). The dismounted gunners had to ride on the limbers (including the first line ammunition ones) as there was no other way for them to move.

You can see the detail in my article here:

link

Scroll down to just past half way for Artillery establishments.

Rod

summerfield11 Aug 2018 1:43 a.m. PST

Thank you Rod. Comprehensive as ever. I was going to refer to my various books on the subject but this is better.
Stephen

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2018 1:54 a.m. PST

Well I have learnt something….no such rank title as "Gunner" in the Peninsular War…….I think the same applied to Guardsman and many more "other ranks"

Anthony Barton12 Aug 2018 2:12 a.m. PST

First , Thank you Timmo for your flattering faith in my research ( and your constant support of our range ). But I fear that the reason AB don't do limber riders is that I somehow forgot! Easily rectified, so if I make some then people will have the option.
Rod MacArthur, thanks for the fascinating research, and excellent bit of work.
As to the colour of artillery trails and limbers , this has been discussed a few times. My own opinion is based on the surviving Light 6 pounders and limbers in Copenhagen , which appear to have been untouched since 1815 when they somehow arrived there. They are a dark , slightly greenish grey, without any blue in the mix.

Tyler32615 Aug 2018 9:15 a.m. PST

I actually use a blue grey for my British artillery. Works for me.

14Bore15 Aug 2018 3:03 p.m. PST

I love that weathered look.

summerfield16 Aug 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

The colour of the Copenhagen carriages have darkened with age. The paint was white lead and lampblack with a Japan Varnish (brownish colour when aged.) Remember that white lead blackens with age.
Stephen

Brechtel19816 Aug 2018 5:03 a.m. PST

RHA and RA rode on the limbers and ammunition cars.

The RHA also had gunners individually mounted.

4th Cuirassier16 Aug 2018 6:26 a.m. PST

Those are nicely painted but I'd offer a couple of comments.

First, the wheel rims should be bare metal. Black paint would have been scraped off by contact with the ground within about 100 yards. Everyone paints iron wheel rims black but there is simply no way that paint 200 years ago would have stayed on like modern baked-on enamel would. Likewise the caps on the ends of the axles would have been left unpainted, but probably oiled.

Stephen Summerfield's remark above about paint ageing is highly pertinent (as usual from Stephen). Here is a reference to how the paint was made:
link

Note the formula:
Ground oxide, of white zinc 112lb
Lamp-black 6lb
Oil (bolied), for grinding 3 quarts
Manganese, as a drier 8 ounces
Raw linseed oil, for mixing 2.5 gallons
Bold linseed oil, to give body and gloss 2.5 gallons
Turpentine, for thinning and drying 2.5 gallons

Of those ingredients zinc oxide is white but would darken. Lamp-black isn't exactly black like modern carbon black used in car tyres. If made from coal soot it would be black-black, but if made from oil soot, it would be brown-black. Manganese varies from pink to brown in colour, and the turpentine and the oils used would also be light or yellow-brown.

When you take all this together it is wholly unclear where any blue hue could possibly come from in this paint mix. When you consider that khaki was made by mixing black and ochre, it becomes likelier that the grey paint would have a brownish or perhaps greenish tinge to it than a blue one, which is borne out by Anthony's post above in which he notes having seen just this.

Of course there then comes the question of what lighting conditions you are modelling. You could have the carriages a purpley grey if you liked, as long as you added a similar amount of purple tint to every other colour.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 6:34 a.m. PST

Bare metal rims. Interesting thought. But would that have rusted to a reddish brown or would friction with any decent road surface have sanded that off? Must see how modern ceremonial ones look……..


I imagine by 18th June dark earth on everything wo0uld have been nearer the mark.


and of course all horse artillery employ many a mounted gunner, as well as the various nations' ways of offering a vehicle ride to others.

Brechtel19816 Aug 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

First, the wheel rims should be bare metal. Black paint would have been scraped off by contact with the ground within about 100 yards. Everyone paints iron wheel rims black but there is simply no way that paint 200 years ago would have stayed on like modern baked-on enamel would. Likewise the caps on the ends of the axles would have been left unpainted, but probably oiled.

Whether or not paint would be scraped off the tires metal work was usually, if not always, painted black. It protected the metal and would be reapplied if necessary. All nations' artillery arms painted the ironwork on the field pieces and vehicles.

4th Cuirassier16 Aug 2018 12:55 p.m. PST

But did they do it every single day?

Brechtel19816 Aug 2018 12:59 p.m. PST

Why would they? That's what time between battles and campaigns is for-maintenance and artillery was, and still is, maintenance heavy.

Stoppage16 Aug 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

Is the British Artillery equipment grey/gray the same as the Royal Navy sad colour used for the inside of ship's boats, etc?

The Royal Ordnance were based at Woolwich Arsenal which is up the river from Chatham naval docks.

Did the artillery 'liberate' some Navy paint whilst being transported overseas?

von Winterfeldt16 Aug 2018 11:01 p.m. PST

I am unaware that the Navy painted their battle ships grey in the Napoleonic area, even on the inside

summerfield17 Aug 2018 2:54 a.m. PST

Dear Phil
THe recipe is from the 1850s as it contains Zinc Oxide which was not used at the time. This replaced the white lead.

Note the formula:
Ground oxide, of white zinc 112lb [Napoleonic era this was White lead.]
Lamp-black 6lb
Oil (bolied), for grinding 3 quarts
Manganese, as a drier 8 ounces
Raw linseed oil, for mixing 2.5 gallons
Bold linseed oil, to give body and gloss 2.5 gallons
Turpentine, for thinning and drying 2.5 gallons

Stephen

Stoppage17 Aug 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

@vw

The interiors of the ships' boats

4th Cuirassier17 Aug 2018 3:49 a.m. PST

@ Stephen

Thanks for the correction I somehow missed that it referred to zinc, but was assuming lead. Do you reckon my logic stacks up though? Whitish oxide plus browny-black blackener plus yellowy-brown solvents probably makes (or weathers to) a greeny-grey, rather than a blue-grey?

@ Kevin

I completely agree they painted the iron tyres black, but what I am suggesting is that the black that touched the road didn't stay on very long at all. One day's fifteen-mile march would probably have had the whole lot off the rims. After that point and until somebody had the time and inclination to repaint, the wheel rims would have presented a bare metal appearance unless plastered with mud.

@ deadhead

I reckon the road would abrade off first the paint and then any rust. Or the crew would have sanded off rust. There would be no point repainting the wheel rims, they'd have been doing it every day. You'd want the rims painted when they were not in use, eg back at the depot, because then they could rust.

Perhaps it's just me but Napoleonic enthusiasts don't seem to be as keen as modern ones to plaster and cake equipment with mud. You see mud-encrusted tank models all the time, but Napoleonic era guns are almost always as clean as a whistle and in what estate agents call "immaculate decorative condition", even when they ought by rights to be looking a bit beaten up.

Can anyone fathom why this is? I've seen armies of Napoleonic troops in authentically ratty campaign dress in which no two figures are uniformed alike, but in the same army, there are cavalry and artillery horses in a gallop and not a smidgen of sweat to be seen on any of them. And of course the guns look lemon fresh too. Do people not weather guns and horses, or do they do so and I've just never noticed it?

von Winterfeldt17 Aug 2018 4:17 a.m. PST

I was under the impression the interior was painted white, or light blue?

Brechtel19817 Aug 2018 4:31 a.m. PST

<q?I completely agree they painted the iron tyres black, but what I am suggesting is that the black that touched the road didn't stay on very long at all. One day's fifteen-mile march would probably have had the whole lot off the rims. After that point and until somebody had the time and inclination to repaint, the wheel rims would have presented a bare metal appearance unless plastered with mud.

The iron would undoubtedly begin to rust in the elements if the paint came off. Paint comes off modern field pieces and vehicles from either fair-wear-and-tear or long service. That's why they are repainted from time to time.

summerfield17 Aug 2018 6:25 a.m. PST

Dear Phil
That works better with white lead that over time forms the black lead sulphide. The varnish like old paintings goes brown. Never grey blue. That is because photographers have not correctly set the grey balance. If this is not done then the colour appear blue or blue grey.
Stephen

Arcane Steve21 Aug 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

Hi all, thank you for some really great feedback and ideas. the article from Rod MacArthur is particularly invaluable.

Without being too defensive, it's worth pointing out that the picture that heads the thread is work in progress and things have moved on a bit. I always dry brush the wheel rims with steel and add some light 'mud' and weathering to the limbers.
4th Cuirassier raises some interesting points regarding the durability of the black paint on the wheel rims but whilst his practical assessment may well be correct, as far as producing a model for a war game, it is academic. As a matter of interest, does anyone actually know that the black paint abraded as suggested on the softer, muddier roads of the time. For that matter, were civilian carriage wheels painted black or left as iron?
As regards weathering both men and equipment, I can only really comment on my own personal taste. Part of the attraction of Napoleonic wargaming for me is to see the fancy uniforms as they were 'meant to be' rather than in a worn campaign state. I am happy to add a few 'scruffies' to my ranks but tend to be sparing in this. Likewise, I tend not to muddy up trousers, add sweat stains to jackets and horses etc. not least as my painting skill is already at a stretch, as is my patience! If I had the skill and time to paint to Diorama standard, then I guess I would take a bit more care but for now, I have an Army to paint :)
Here are some pics that show a bit more progress:

picture

picture

summerfield22 Aug 2018 8:29 a.m. PST

Lovely painting. The picture shows a lilac colour for the carriages.
Stephen

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