World War 2 – Vehicle Painting Guide 1

So you’ve made the step and decided to paint that Armoured Fighting Vehicle (or group of said vehicles). It is important to follow a number of simple steps. These will ensure you will have a successful and accurate conclusion to the work you have done, making your model.

Compiled and updated by Stephen White from original work by Dale Murdoch.


Prior to beginning, it is ALWAYS necessary to do some research about your subject vehicle. This will help you find an appropriate reference. This may be in the form of a colour photo or colour drawing of the vehicle you are modelling. Libraries (including the NWA library) are a good place to conduct your research. Needless to say, it is usually preferable to refer to a vehicle from a similar period and theatre to the subject you are building.

Secondly, it is advisable to paint the interior parts of the model before assembly. Also, tank tracks and crews should be left off, until the vehicle has been completely painted and ‘weathered’.

Thirdly, once you have completed some research, you’ve established the colour and/or combination you are to paint your model, you must take into account a few items regarding colours.

Colour fits into 3 categories:

1. Actual or real from a paint chip or colour photo or personnel examination.

2. Faded. This varies depending on the conditions the paint has been exposed to. For example, the ‘showroom’ colour may have been exposed to wind, rain and sun. In this way, desert conditions may make colours fade to a ‘chalky’ appearance. Green may look grey and brown may darken.

3. Scale Colours. Follow the “rule” that the smaller the scale the less light is reflected, making the colour appear darker on a scale model. Therefore, a different shade may have to be used for the model colour to ‘look right’. Generally. the colour on a 1/72nd or 1/76th scale model must be several shades lighter than the real item.

4. Once the research is done and colours have been decided upon, it would be helpful to have a ready reference guide to paint schemes. Well your prayers have been answered, one is presented here for your benefit. This is designed to help you to correctly discern which colours appear in your reference and to make sure they can appear on your carefully constructed models.

A few explanatory notes:

1. These are the ‘recommended colours’ for the various nations. These colours are in “faded scale finish” and are appropriate for 1/76th and 1/72nd scale AFV’s.

2. All colours are Humbrol colours, unless specified.


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