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"French Artillery Green?" Topic

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Eclaireur20 Nov 2022 3:30 a.m. PST

Folks, I know that there's been debate here before about what colour this was exactly, and I'm satisfied that I have a decent idea about that. But when did they start using it?
I have the Perry 24pdr guns, for the American wars, which as I understand it are the same Gribeauval system pieces that were used in Revolutionary and Napoleonic campaigns 20+ years later. I've seen some French artillery carriages at US sites painted in a blue grey. Is this right?
And while we're here … why do we paint our guns that night bright brass colour when the ones we can look at in museums, eg the Gribeauval 24pdrs that com up on google (brass, not iron) are black or gunmetal in colour?

colkitto20 Nov 2022 4:10 a.m. PST

Great questions. I suspect my answer to the last one may be "because everybody else does" … As for the basic green, I don't want to go over old ground, but I'd be interested to hear what conclusion you came to – in particular, what paint you use yourself?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 4:42 a.m. PST

I use a Testors olive drab green which fits.

The bronze/brass 'color' has to be kept up, as in shining it by the gun crews, or it oxidizes and turns a dull color. If they are black, someone painted them black.

The United States adopted the Gribeauval System ca 1809, but not the gun tubes which were plentiful in the US, as was iron.

There is still discussion going on whether or not the US gun carriages during the War of 1812 were dark green or blue grey.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 7:47 a.m. PST

Here's an earlier discussion of the topic from another web site:

The short answer is red for SYW, some blue gray along with the red for AWI, and olive green by the French Revolution.

Worth noting that the normally quoted formula with the ratio of yellow to black doesn't quite get you to olive green. Assuming the guns were olive green, which seems to have been the case, either they started with ochre or even "dark ochre" rather than the yellow you usually see given, or they were putting in more black.

Oliver Schmidt20 Nov 2022 9:10 a.m. PST

There are different types of olives, some also of a colour close to the French artillery's "olive green":


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 9:11 a.m. PST

This is one of those "how long is a piece of string?" issues. Even to this day, buying a second bottle of the same color, by the same manufacturer and they always seem to be "different". Yes, there was a formula to mix the color, the quality and intensity of the coloring used was probably different. The green of the ACW guns on display at Gettysburg (and there are a LOT of them) will also show fading due to exposure from the sun. In the end, select whatever shade that YOU feel would look right.

Eclaireur20 Nov 2022 9:34 a.m. PST

Thanks for all those views people. …
@kolkitto I used to use the Humbrol enamel sold as 'French Artillery Green', now would used something like Vallejo 70.924 Russian Uniform but it doesn't look like I'm heading green anyway…
@RobertP thanks for that, seems I'll be going blue/gray
@Brechtel yes I've seen brass guns that have been a little neglected, eg outside the Royal Hospital in London. I've not idea whether the fashion for painting them black come in later, but by Victorian times it seems quite a lot of guns were painted.

Eclaireur20 Nov 2022 9:38 a.m. PST

Robert – I noticed your link takes me to the forum for my own rules! Funny how we can forget previous discussions like that :)

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 11:30 a.m. PST

French artillery green is somewhat darker than the olives…

Humbrol 'French artillery green' is an excellent and accurate shade for French artillery vehicles and gun carriages.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 12:18 p.m. PST

The green used on American guns during the Civil War was an almost exact match for US Army Olive Drab. Back in the 60s and 70s there was a big debate over the exact color and attempts to recreate the original paint color failed because they couldn't get several of the period ingredients (whale oil and lamp black). The result was a sort of mustard yellow which unfortunately the Park Service started using. Further attempts, using modern substitutes yielded the OD Green color which the Park Service uses now.

La Belle Ruffian20 Nov 2022 12:38 p.m. PST

I've been using an olive drab I got in a Second World War paint set. Also doing sterling work on my 37 pattern webbing for my Normandy British. The versatility…

T Corret Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 2:19 p.m. PST

The color is 1 black to 9 yellow ochre, if I remember correctly. It's anyone's guess what was mixed in the field or for repairs.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2022 2:49 p.m. PST

Re; "I've seen some French artillery carriages at US sites painted in a blue grey. Is this right?"
Yes for the War of 1812 period and bit beyond and they were more of light blue than a blue grey. Here is a link to a photo of a U.S. field gun of the period to give an idea of the color.

von Winterfeldt21 Nov 2022 1:01 a.m. PST

the grey was still very much in use in the French Revolutionary Wars, as well as into the early Empire, as to the green it would vary.





Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2022 9:51 a.m. PST

The US Army apparently painted their gun carriages the same color as the French used, or as close as could be accomplished.

The US Army's Chief of Ordnance 'indicated that French carriages were being used as models for those he was having manufactured.

jimcdaw21 Nov 2022 5:06 p.m. PST

This is a French ammunition wagon in the German Army museum in Dresden. It looks like the paint is original.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2022 9:23 a.m. PST

Green is not a very stable color as mixed during the Napoleonic wars. And while there was a recipe for the paint, which had to be mixed and used… there were no ways of
saving it once mixed. During this period colors were far more limited than today. One thing that incited the Impressionists was the creation of cobalt and Chromium in the early 1800s and then the ability to 'can' them, making them available to artists like van Gogh and Monet.

1.the green could vary in shade during the 20 years of war depending on the availability of the ingredients and measuring skills of the artillerists.
2. It would change color, usually darkening exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
3. This darkening is true of period paintings.

So… getting the 'right' color isn't necessarily all that difficult. You could see different batteries in the same army sporting different shades of green by mixture and age. Certainly there was an effort to uniformity, but not as readily possible as today.

Personal logo Flint and Bayonet Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2022 8:28 a.m. PST

Discussion on the

The tinting strength of lampblack is much higher than that of ochre!

In this discussion (in French, sorry) you will find a panel of shades (a series of squares):
The square on the right is the colour obtained with the regulation mixture, it is the Gros vert pur (GV)
The left square is the colour of pure ochre (O)

In french :
Le pouvoir tinctorial du noir de fumée est beaucoup plus élevé que celui de l'ocre!

Dans cette discussion (en français, désolé) vous trouverez un panel de teintes (une suite de carrés) :
Le carré de droite est la couleur obtenue avec le mélange réglementaire, c'est le Gros vert pur (GV)
Le carré de gauche est la couleur de l'ocre pure (O)

Oliver Schmidt25 Nov 2022 8:46 a.m. PST

Here the details on the paint (Gassendi 1798, in French):


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