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British Army Morotcycle Paint Colours

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I'm new to the forum but I am sure this question has been asked many times before. I' would like to try to find out what the official green colour was for all British post war motorcycles including the periods they were used. I would be grateful if someone could tell me whether there is a simple answer to this question?

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Well to start off 1st January 1948 FVDD FV Specification 2012 required Army MT to be painted Deep Bronze Green BSC 24.

 

No simple answer because it will depend whether it was used by a front line unit when Olive Drab was applied & then arguments as to when IRR NATO Green was introduced.

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I'm new to the forum but I am sure this question has been asked many times before. I' would like to try to find out what the official green colour was for all British post war motorcycles including the periods they were used. I would be grateful if someone could tell me whether there is a simple answer to this question?

 

To add to Clive's post, I can say for sure, that when the Triumph TRW, and later on the BSA B40 (from 1967) came into service, they were both Deep Bronze Green. What happened after that depended on where they served and current paint instructions at the time.

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Thanks for the replies. I currently own 3 x ex-army motorbikes.

 

The proper colour of the B40WD seems to be clear: Deep Bronze Green.

 

My 1985 Armstrong MT500 should be Olive Drab and that's probably also true of my 1996 Harley-Davison MT350.

 

However, I was really trying to get an understanding of when NATO Green started to be used by the British Army and whether this started to happen in the 1990's.

 

Any estimates would be welcome.

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I've just acquired a copy of Vol 3 of the book Warpaint by Dick Taylor. In it he indicates that the Deep Bronze Green (BS 381-224) paint era effectively started in 1955 replacing the previous use of Olive Drab (SCC15). He indicates that the use of NATA Green by the British Army (BS 381-285) started in about 1971.

 

The Armstrong MT500 I own was introduced into the British army in 1984 with the Harley-Davison MT350 being introduced in 1993. Although I have restored both motor bikes in NATA Green, I don't think even the later HD MT350 was originally provided in this colour. Its possible the original colour was olive drab, though I need to confirm this.

 

Therefore, it seems odd to me that while most other army vehicles in this period were using NATA Green paint to some extent, the motor bikes seem to have been produced in pre-1955 Olive Drab. What I ideally need to see is a copy of the army specs which cover motor bike paint schemes for the period of interest. I would welcome any information on this.

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I've just acquired a copy of Vol 3 of the book Warpaint by Dick Taylor. In it he indicates that the Deep Bronze Green (BS 381-224) paint era effectively started in 1955 replacing the previous use of Olive Drab (SCC15). He indicates that the use of NATA Green by the British Army (BS 381-285) started in about 1971..

 

I have glanced at that book & couldn't understand his basis for saying that. Especially when inclusions in his bibliography use official documents that I have quoted in earlier articles that do not support all that he says.

 

As I said in an earlier post "Well to start off 1st January 1948 FVDD FV Specification 2012 required Army MT to be painted Deep Bronze Green BSC 24."

 

Note that this is FVDD that predates FVDE then FVRDE. DBG is quoted as BSC 24 because it was not until later in 1948 that BS 381C Colours for ready mixed paints introduced a 3-digit coding displacing the 2-digit code of BS 381 Colours for ready mixed paint 1931.

 

I will reply about the NATO Green later this evening when I have a bit more time.

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I have the vehicle record book for my Armstrong MT500 which came with the bike when I bought it direct back in the days of the MoD auctions , date in service May 1986 and painted Nato Green IRR ( from the record book )

Edited by rdx10

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I have the vehicle record book for my Armstrong MT500 which came with the bike when I bought it direct back in the days of the MoD auctions , date in service May 1986 and painted Nato Green IRR ( from the record book )

 

Many thanks for that - that seems to provide evidence that the bikes would have followed the painting requirements for the corresponding army vehicles at the time. The problem with my MT500 is that it had been painted so many times that it is difficult to work out what the original colour was. As for my MT350, the plastic furniture was un-painted but didn't appear to be close to NATO Green in colour - it is generally a paler shade of green which is why some people think it was Oliver Drab.

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In the late 90's I worked at DERA Aquila. The Military Department of Paint and Packaging was there. There were a series of pictures on one wall showing the various effects of paint when photographed under Infra Red light. One of the sequence showed the results of the then Matt IRR paint and the 'new' eggshell type finish. Although the drab paint was slightly more effective, restrictions on lead based paints coming in at the time and the eggshell finish being easier to decontaminate, being smother, that was the one introduced. The guy who ran the section was once in charge of painting all Londons bridges. He used to make 1/32 and 1/24 commercial model kits of aircraft and vehicles to demonstrate the various paints and finishes. I once asked him the best paint to use on Land Rover chasssi. The answer , which he told was a just quick one, took about half an hour.

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I've just acquired a copy of Vol 3 of the book Warpaint by Dick Taylor. In it he indicates that the Deep Bronze Green (BS 381-224) paint era effectively started in 1955 replacing the previous use of Olive Drab (SCC15). He indicates that the use of NATA Green by the British Army (BS 381-285) started in about 1971.

 

I really don't understand why he makes that claim.

 

As I recall in his bibliography he includes Materiel Regulations for the Army. Volume 2. Vehicles and Technical Equipment. Pamphlet No.3. Marking & Painting of Army Vehicles, Aircraft and Equipment. Annex B. Army Code No.60503 (PAM 3). But anyone who has read this will clearly see that it introduces the concept of using IRR NATO Green for the painting of vehicles & technical equipment & was first published in Dec 1980.

 

Defence Standard 00-23 covering the IRR requirements for painting military equipment was first published in October 1980. This was Issue 1.

 

NATO Green was only added as a British Standard Colour for " identification, coding and special purposes" in 1980 as BSC381C 285

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Perhaps he confuses the DEF STAN etc. introduction with the start of experiments into IRR (1968 - 1969?)

 

I used to go to the MoD vehicle sales in the '90s when a lot of Armstrong MT500s were being cast. Pretty sure all the green ones were NATO green (there were a few in odd colours, like Arctic camouflage).

 

Those who went to the sales will recall reserve stock vehicles coming straight from Ashchurch in their original factory paint, so a fairly good guide to the paint of the period. I recall particularly a large batch of late Landrover 101s (so mid to late '70s), all of which were in deep bronze green and still with yellow bridge plates.

 

You can't necessarily look at paint now and assume that because it doesn't look like NATO green, it isn't. Paint can be quite sensitive to original composition, manufacture and application; I work with a local company who paint trailers for MoD contracts and they are considerably darker and more glossy than you'd normally think of as NATO green. Matt NATO green IRR, certainly early stuff, in my experience is quite susceptible to weathering and chalking so older paint coats can look nothing like NATO green. I've seen original deep bronze greens as light as apple green.

 

Similarly self-coloured plastics such as used on the MT500 can appear quite different. The colour (masterbatch) is added to the raw material at the production stage, typically as a powder, and depending on proportions, additive make, processing conditions etc. can look very different. The fact that it's 'in' the surface rather than on it, the surface material is different, plastic thickness and type etc. can make it look different due to different reflectivity etc.

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For my limited need, the introduction of NATO Green by at least 1980 is good enough because the motorbike I'm specifically interested in (MT500) was only introduced into the British Army in 1984.

 

However, I have to say that I'm very surprised that on a forum like this that the chronology of the introduction of the different green painting schemes for British Army vehicles was not already clearly established and well known.

 

I read Dick Taylor's book assuming that he was stating what was generally known in these circles about the introduction of painting schemes based on NATO Green but accept that he doesn't provide supporting evidence in the text for his statement that this started in about 1971. However, if the British Army was not using this colour during the 1990's, what were they using - Drab Olive Green?

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However, I have to say that I'm very surprised that on a forum like this that the chronology of the introduction of the different green painting schemes for British Army vehicles was not already clearly established and well known.

 

 

 

Maybe the whole post WW2 paint scene could be a good winter project for you.

I was involved closely with paint for the last 20 years of my 39 year RAF career - in terms of green we were just half a pace behind the army ; Often in conversation and even some official publications words to describe paints are wrongly used; although DRAB was used in the title of some colours, the word Drab was often wrongly used instead of the descriptor Matt. Matt being a reflection level (matt, semi -matt, eggshell, satin, semi- gloss, gloss, hi gloss, v hi gloss).

We started the widespread use of Matt Green in jan 1970, among the first users were 2 of our Germany stations. this was an Alkyd based paint to BS 381c colour tint 285. Through the 1970s the tone-down programme was expanded across the RAF, with paint with IRR properties coming into use in the mid 1970s. By March 1978 all users were to apply IRR Matt Green again to BSC 285. I left in 2003 and this colour ( BSC 285 ) was still in use then for tactical vehicles.

Tracing the timeline is difficult, instructions on the application of paints was promulgated by various means- signal, formal letter, Defence Council Instructions, Command Routine Orders, Air Publication amendment lists, EMERS etc etc i am sure we weren't alone and the Army sufferred in a similar way..

Dick Taylors books are great but in some instances I do not agree with his timelines- eg I have copies of pictures of REs vehicles in Gloss DBG in 1953.this predates his quote. The term NATO green is again misleading , although officially used , it (BSC 285 in UK ) does not match the equivalent used by several NATO countries.

Finally, during the late 1970s and 1980s I frequently visited the BAOR vehicle disposal site at Ayrshire Bks, the different shades of green visible were unbelievable, some as light as a pea- green ; the result of years of standing outside, with bad paint application in the first instance. hope this gives an insight into the complex world of military painting.

TED

Edited by ted angus

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Just to add to the debate high gloss DBG continued to be listed in COSA H1(a) as did high gloss NATO Green (yes not IRR).

 

So also was high gloss OD, of which I have a can & I also have a can of high gloss Dark Green BSC381C 241

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Maybe the whole post WW2 paint scene could be a good winter project for you.

 

I think all these interesting replies have wetted my appetite to do some more research - I thought this was going to be a relatively straightforward subject!

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And just to add to Ted & Clive's comments, many of the specialist RAF vehicles (and some Army vehicles) built in the 1970s and that came out through the sales in the '90s were obviously in their original paint and were wearing full gloss NATO green (while others were still wearing deep bronze green!).

 

With all these questions on paint, markings etc. I think it's very easy to assume that everything's cut and dried - an edict was issued from Whitehall on a certain date, the edict went out to the various units and manufacturers, and everyone painted their vehicles a certain colour.

 

Practically speaking, that couldn't be done - but even ignoring that, we all know that real life isn't like that, particularly when a complex organisation like the armed services is involved. The reason there is often no clearly established, well known chronology for such things, in my experience, can often be that such a chronology didn't exist, or existed in theory only!

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From my point of view, I am mainly interested at this stage in the official, top level view of what the paint scheme should have been in a particular era rather than what was carried out in practice at a particular unit level which I am sure was much more complicated and varied. Therefore, I'm looking to find copies of the official guidelines that were issued which I would hope would provide a clearer picture of what the top thinking was over time as to what paint schemes were deemed to be most appropriate for particular theatres of operation.

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Her's a couple of the MOD's finest verbage to get you started. :STANAG 4360 Specification for Paints and Paint Systems Resistant to Chemical

Decontamination Agents for the Protection of Air and Land Armament

STANAG 4477 Specification for Paints and Paint Systems Resistant to Chemical Agents

 

Painting and packing used to be a DERA responsobilty, though who'd have it now DSTL or QuinetiQ I don't know.

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STANAGs are NATO Standards that may or may not get translated into a UK DEFSTAN.

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Era was important for the basic colour but subsequent painting depended on theatre and discretion of unit commanders influenced by whether these were "teeth" units.

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And just to add to Ted & Clive's comments, many of the specialist RAF vehicles (and some Army vehicles) built in the 1970s and that came out through the sales in the '90s were obviously in their original paint and were wearing full gloss NATO green (while others were still wearing deep bronze green!).

 

With all these questions on paint, markings etc. I think it's very easy to assume that everything's cut and dried - an edict was issued from Whitehall on a certain date, the edict went out to the various units and manufacturers, and everyone painted their vehicles a certain colour.

 

Practically speaking, that couldn't be done - but even ignoring that, we all know that real life isn't like that, particularly when a complex organisation like the armed services is involved. The reason there is often no clearly established, well known chronology for such things, in my experience, can often be that such a chronology didn't exist, or existed in theory only!

 

As someone who was in the procurement system on and off and also a recipient of vehicles as they came into service over nearly 4 decades I wholeheartedly agree!!

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