Helped by a regiment of equipment that opened these doors for us to work with these colors, we will try to show you how our forces paint and mark French military vehicles.
First here is the general color chart that will be detailed later in the article:
- Colors. In France, the army uses mainly on these vehicles what is called the "3 ton NATO" (also called "Center Europe", French-French appellation, however, only)These colors are modeled on the paint references applied to the other NATO member countries. Only the paint manufacturers are different for each country, and even for one country there can be several manufacturers (which explains the difference in color variants after a while of a French vehicle, to another French machine by example.)However, there are no official variations between the French, German, Turkish or American colors initially, the paint manufacturers based on the color codes provided by NATO, but each adapting it differently according to its suppliers and with different baths.Thus we can find as well very important differences between the German green (mostly dark), Italian (almost olive), French (very "green meadow"),or on the contrary almost no differences as in this example in a photo of two French and German machines that seem to have been painted with the same painting:
German Man photographed at Camp Bruschaal and Leclerc French taken at 501st of Mourmelon with similar climatic conditions and the same camera settings.A report on the way French military vehicles are painted in paint booths is visible here : http://militaryphotoreport.blogspot.fr/2014/07/paint-booth-for-vbci-vpc-vpc-en-cabine.htmlIn addition to this 3-tone, each country uses different complementary hues to achieve different camouflages.
In France there is a united green (which we call the "army green") which is much less used today if it is not on specific gear.
There is also a sand color that is often completed on vehicles by the color brown (chocolate) from the "3 ton NATO" to give a desert camouflage
VAB who has been out of the painting workshop for a few days (time for the painting to take its final shade) Two examples of a truck cab that have been in the open for years
and whose paintings suffered a lot.
The one on the left is 3 ton NATO and the one on the right is the old French green.
Vehicle in paint booth ready to be painted.
It has been sanded and has the covers on
- Reflections (black or beige stripes) between colors.
There is a strange phenomenon on vehicles that have several colors. Between each color can be observed that track forms spots bands.
These bands of color often black or sand, is a phenomenon that can be explained by the process of painting vehicles:
To delineate different areas to paint, painters are a first line with a paint gun. this trait is often with thicker paint and causes a reaction of micro holes. These millions of pinholes cause shade in each hole so that when you look at the vehicle at an angle with the sun, it seems that they are black belts. And if we look from another angle with another toward the sun, we see bands of beige reflections of the sun in the millions of smooth holes.
|Variations of printing highlighting on the same door but several angles of view.|
You can see the black or beige hues depending on the angle of light.
|The millions of small holes between black and green band. The holes of a first coat of paint to spray thick enough.|
|Example of printing on a UAV "Crécerelle"|
There are two kinds of markings on military vehicles: those that are painted (with magnetic pochoire for example, or painted with Rubber stamps) and marking stickers.
Bumper Sticker it's just vinyl printed paper in a special way for the recognition and duration in time.
For paints stencils simply apply the appropriate stencil on the vehicle and paint with desired color.
But for license plates for example, there is another technique that is the stamps.
Contrary to what you think the numbers of plates are applied with a silver paint (not white) and rubber stamps.
Rubber stamps used to make license plates Silver paint tube Bottom of a rear license plate of a VAB Vinyl marking on VAB
- Fading colors (discolouration).
Over time, military vehicles are exposed to rain, cold, extreme heat, the sun, and a lot of things that make the paintings eventually change color. Can be seen on vehicles that have their paint for several years color variations very important. Black can turn into blue, yellow sand in gray, green in very pale green, ........
Example on trailers with different colors and faded colors. Example fading of colors on an old truck that has suffered sun and Pluit for several years.
We see the "NATO black" that turned blue for example.
- Color change depending on the angle and the light on an image.
On the same vehicle (this also works for any object) it is possible that depending on the light, depending on the quality of the camera, the angle of view relative to the sun, it is possible that the pictures the same object have several colors on many different pictures taken yet on the same subject on the same day.
This is why it is very difficult to judge the real color of vehicle on a simple pics.
The same VAB but take with the sun in front and the other side with the sun in the back.
- Paints for modelers.
By comparing several brands of paints that produce color "NATO" on outgoing vehicles painting workshop and after drying (as well as samples of paint pot used by the military)
We determined that the most accurate colors were:
- Green : Tamiya XF-67
- Brown : Lifecolor UA-302
- Black : Lifecolor UA-301
NATO Brown : LIFECOLOR UA-302 NATO black : LIFECOLOR UA-301 NATO green : TAMIYA XF-67