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"What year did the British paint their artillery green?" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2023 8:59 a.m. PST

Was it in 1902 when the new khaki service dress was issued?

FourDJones18 Jan 2023 11:18 a.m. PST

A painting in the National Army Museum, London, of the Action at Nery, 1914, has the Horse Artillery guns and limbers painted grey.

And I've read somewhere, that some Army Service Corps vehicles were still in grey as late as 1917.

But doing 1914 wargame actions with grey guns has always looked odd to me (a hangover of having green Crescent Toy artillery as a kid).

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2023 11:55 a.m. PST

FourDJones, thanks. I am also thinking of the Britains Ltd 4.7 inch Naval Guns of my youth.

BillyNM19 Jan 2023 5:10 a.m. PST

Where's the Néry painting, can it be viewed online? I've only seen an illustration like that on a cigarette card which has the gun in grey. Everything else from museum pieces to detailed models seems to show the guns in green (olive/khaki?)

FourDJones19 Jan 2023 7:13 a.m. PST

BNM: I don't know if the Nery painting can be viewed online;and I'm afraid I dont know its exact title (or who painted it; I believe it was done in 1915).

The museum piece claiming to be the Nery gun -the one that stayed in action- is in fact another gun from the battery. It was salvaged from a rear echelon some time after the action, and has undergone a few paint jobs, and is now green.

I've seen a model 1/32 vignette of the action, with a grey gun. (Not sure who produced it; maybe Britains in their later Collectors' range).

My uncle was a member of the battery. His gun was hit early on in the action, and he and his gunners stayed in the shelter of the barn. They were Regular Army men, not heroes, as he used to say.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2023 3:42 p.m. PST

From Osprey British Artillery 1914-19: 1900 handbook for the 15-pdr "Ehrhardt" specified that it should be painted with two coats of "khaki-colour, applied thinly and evenly over the surface, avoiding elevating screws and bright parts". The book goes on say that some batteries kept their traditional British artillery grey until 1917!

enfant perdus20 Jan 2023 8:22 a.m. PST

WRT the Erhardt, that khaki would have been the tan khaki associated with the late 19thC. The standard color was still grey for another decade plus and the drab greenish khaki would come later.

I did a quick search through some regulations, manuals, orderly books, etc. and it is difficult to pin down when the changes came about. 1909 still indicates 'lead' color for the paint and we know that many (most?) guns that went over with the BEF were grey. One thing that really stuck out in the manuals is that while some things are specified in great detail, paint color is rarely one of them. For example, one manual is very exacting about when and how to lacquer the bore, as well as the exact formula for the lacquer, while painting the exterior of the guns and carriages is basically "every other year, keep it off the bright work, give it two coats and make sure the first dries before applying the second."

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