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Author Topic: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?  (Read 685 times)

Offline SJWi

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US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« on: January 07, 2021, 08:47:11 PM »
Good evening.  After a foray into the Dutch army of the early 1980s, I am now building a small Europe-based US armoured force pre 1985. I know the MERDC camouflage schemes were devised in the 1970s but have also seen many US vehicles painted in a monotone olive-drab colour. Can anyone give me an "idiots guide" to what is most appropriate? Also, any clue as to what paint colours/manufacturer is/are most accurate would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.       

Offline frank xerox

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2021, 10:21:48 PM »
I'm not an expert but my understanding is that the MERDC system was fairly short-lived between about 78 to 84 ish. M113s and the like as well as M60s seem to have been mostly MERDC but M1,2,3 seem to have been left forest green usually. It seems to be slightly greener than OD but very dark. I went with MERDC, cos, well it's cooler.

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2021, 10:30:51 PM »
Early to mid ‘eighties US camouflage is a bit of a dog’s breakfast. In addition to MERDC, vehicles might be in factory fresh Forest Green (common with early M1, M1 IPM, M2, M3 etc). Beyond that there might be vehicles adorned in the MASSTER scheme, a MERDC like scheme used by the US 7th Army and there may even have been vehicles still in DUALTEX, an experimental, early digital pattern as well as vehicles in OG. It all comes down to mixed factors, like type, where they were based and when the last repaint was. New stuff like M1 and Bradleys tended to come factory painted in Forest Green.

Most companies produce the requisite colours. AK do specific sets for MERDC as well as selling Dark Green, Forest Green etc. IIRC Hataka do something similar. I have been a bit dubious about some of the AK range in the past and went with good old Vallejo for my MERDC. US Dark Green is just what it says on the bottle and US Field Drab does the job for the Winter variant. If memory serves I used German Camo Beige for the lighter disruptive bits.

Tankograd has a good publication on MERDC and Dualtex schemes inuse.

Useful info on MERDC can be found here:


Hope that helps.
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Offline KD47

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2021, 12:11:04 AM »
Depends on the scale.    In 25/28mm, I've successfully used rattle-cans (regular spray paint) to paint vehicles.   Krylon makes military colors under the Camo Colors line.   If it's a single color, it's easy.   Just spray 'em and weather 'em normally.     If you're going to do camo, it's more important to get the patterns right rather than the colors.

You can always make colors lighter or darker with weathering and shading techniques but the pattern will sell the model as 1980s whatever country or period.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 12:13:18 AM by KD47 »
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Offline SJWi

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2021, 05:20:10 AM »
Chaps, you have helped immensely. Your explanation ties up with the plates n my old Osprey books on NATO tanks and the MI, albeit with very little text!.  I have a force of early M1s/M2s so it seems as if I will be going over "forest  green". Can you recommend a good paint/manufacturer that resembles "Forest Green"?

If I buy any M60s and M113s I may try MERDC.  I'm not afraid of camo patterns having hand painted some of my BAOR Chieftains in the urban "Berlin" colour scheme.


Offline Jemima Fawr

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2021, 06:40:59 AM »
The vast majority of kit was in MERDC right through the 80s and in many cases (especially with support vehicles), into the 90s.  In Germany this was all painted in the 'Winter Verdant' scheme of 'Field Drab' (i.e. brown), Forest Green, Sand and Black.  In the USA (including III Corps and other REFORGER forces, plus the USMC) they were frequently painted in the 'Summer Verdant' scheme, where Light Green replaced the Field Drab of the 'Winter Verdant' scheme.


Unit variations were also sometimes seen on exercise in Germany, with some units missing out the Sand element of the scheme.  These were usually REFORGER units, so it may have been the result of a frantic re-paint without supplies of the correct colours, or it may have been trials of the three-colour scheme.

M1 Abrams variants and M2/M3 Bradley were delivered in plain 'Forest Green' (the dark green element of MERDC) and in Germany remained that way until being painted in the NATO three-colour scheme in the late 80s.  A few units in the USA painted Abrams and Bradleys in MERDC, but it was rare (I've only seen one example of vehicles in Summer Verdant).  I've also seen photos of Bradleys in the snow in Germany, with whitewash being used to roughly approximate a MERDC pattern.

If you do Humbrol paints, my colour-matches are described here: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/2019/04/25/some-m48-chaparral-sam-vehicles-butlers-printed-models/

The MASSTER scheme was the 1970s pattern that was trialled in Germany from roughly 1973-1977 and preceded MERDC.  It was gone by the 1980s.

DUAL-TEX was a 'digital' scheme that was trialled by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany from 1978 to 1985.  It wasn't used by any other units.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 06:49:00 AM by Jemima Fawr »
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Offline carlos marighela

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Re: US Armour Colours Early 1980s?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2021, 10:13:42 AM »
Quite right about MASSTER and Dualtex of course there’s probably a photo out there somewhere showing an example from beyond the ‘70s.


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