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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Feldgrau paint


Simon R

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Can feldgrau paint be purchased today?

Any ideas who would manufacture it?

Is it any good?

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Simon,

It's certainly available for the hobby market, model tanks, figures etc.

If you were after larger amounts I would try and get in touch with military vehicle restorers. I'm not sure wether they mix their own or buy it ready mixed. Perhaps the tank museum at Bovington could help if you wanted some.

Roger

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Bovington, good idea, thanks - or rather 'tanks'!

I wish I hadn't said that now.

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It depends on what era you are talking about. In the Second War the Germans used RLM numbers to denote paint colours. Not sure what RLM stands for I'm afraid. There are some very expensive books that provide colour charts for these paints (intended for aircraft modellers) and you could use these to get a match for a modern paint.

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Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium (State Ministry for Aviation) in case you were worrying. The attached site gives many of them. Whether its an exclusively Second War system and whether it was used by the Army and Navy I don't know.

RLM Colours

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I get the feeling this is going to be far more complicated than I first thought....

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Also remember that field gray is a color much like olive drab or khaki...is it to be factory fresh or a year in the field? Also, that color changed in the German army from WWI (leaning toward green) to WWII (more gray in color)

Good luck!!!

DrB

:)

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Simon, seeing as nobody else as asked and I'm dying to know, what are painting field grey?

Tanks (got me at it now)

Roger

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If you are based in UK, you can go to several large home improvement centres which can match nigh on any sample you show them. That would do for wood or metal. I would point out , as someone else has mentioned, that the notion that there would have been one specific shade or hue and that everything was that colour is a bit of a Chimera. The minute paint dries, it starts to fade.

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It's a secret waffenfabrik project which, for reasons of national security, I am not permitted to reveal - although if I said the words 'german sentry armour' that might be a clue and I will try to show all the results if I can. Do not panic about defiling originals with Dulux however.

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It's a secret waffenfabrik project which, for reasons of national security, I am not permitted to reveal - although if I said the words 'german sentry armour' that might be a clue and I will try to show all the results if I can. Do not panic about defiling originals with Dulux however.

Jahwohl mein Herr. Your sekret iss safe vith me.

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"....but, ve haf vays of making one talk..."

DrB

:)

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  • 1 year later...

Just spotted this thread. As has already been pointed out, no two helmets will have the exact same shade of feldgrau unless they were painted by the same batch of paint. As has also been noted, there were variants between what constituted feldgrau on first and second world war helmets and equipment, with DrB correctly referencing the Great War shade as being in general more distinctively green, whilst the WWII version was greyer in aspect. For reference purposes, here's a comparison of an M16 and M35 helmet, both with original paint, which highlights these differences in shade:

feldgrauhelm1.jpg

feldgrauhelm4.jpg

ciao,

GAC

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I suspect that Feldgrau does not actually exist as an objective codified colour specification. It's an observed descriptive, like khaki. Certainly, there is no Feldgrau in the 'Classic' RAL (*) colour range, but there are several shades of grey in the 'Classic' palette that have been used by the German military at different times. Remember also that fabric dyes, paints and printing inks of ostensibly the same colour (when new/fresh) will show variations according to the substrate they are applied to and the conditions under which they are observed.

(*) RAL - the Reichsausschuss für Lieferbedingungen (Reich Commission for Procurement Terms) was set up in 1927 to standardise terms, conditions and specifications for public procurement contracts. One aspect of this was colour specifications, primarily for paints. The original RAL range comprised about 40 colours, but is now a comprehensive system comparable to Pantone etc. They are still known as RAL colours, but are now administered by an organisation called the Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung (German Institute for Quality Control and Marking/Labelling).

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Remember also that fabric dyes, paints and printing inks of ostensibly the same colour (when new/fresh) will show variations according to the substrate they are applied to and the conditions under which they are observed.

That's a very good point, Mick - the same helmets indoors or outdoors, or in different light conditions, shift colour quite dramatically sometimes. Here's the M16 and M35 helmets shown in my earlier post, but with different lighting as an example - both appear much lighter shades of field-grey here:

feldgrau003.jpg

And as you note, the same non-standardisation of colours applies to fabric dyes as painted equipment. As a clear example of this, here's three Wehrmacht field-grey officer's Schirmmutzen from three different manufacturers showing quite marked differences in the interpretation of 'field-grey' - and the same divergence of shades is apparent in German Great War uniforms:

DSCF0331.jpg

schirmmutze006.jpg

Brian C. Bell's Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45 deals with the issue of paint finishes quite extensively. He notes that:

The 1919 Treaty of Versailles required the confiscation and destructon of vast amounts of military equipment. Much that remained continued to bear World War I colour schemes. In 1922 the German government allocated funds to upgrade the military, which included new paint standards and colour schemes for basic equipment, vehicles and artillery pieces. Many items - including helmets - were repainted a standard shade of light field-grey. [.....] Following the introduction of the M1935 helmet, the firm of Duco AG in Berlin-Spindlersfeld was chosen as the primary supplier of paint. Their product had a smooth lacquer finish with a heavy concentration of zinc to prevent rust; and although a matt finish continued to be though important, factory-finished helmets often displayed a semi-gloss or 'eggshell' appearance. The Duco AG paint was produced in a light field-grey (Feldgrau) for the Army and Navy, and in a blue-grey (Blaugrau) for the Luftwaffe. Inevitably, colours often varied slightly from one production run to another. In addition, other firms were contracted to supply paint to the helmet factories when helmet production was expanded, resulting in yet more varied nuances of shade. [.....] The Supreme Commander of the Army established the standard colour for all helmets used by the Army and Navy in June 1935. This early paint scheme is often referred to as 'apple green' due to its unique shade of field-grey. The Navy often repainted helmets at unit level in light or dark grey colours if shipboard service was expected, but otherwise they continued to use the Army field-grey colour as their primary paint scheme.

The RAL standards are referenced by Bell, who notes that this agency dated from 1927 - and by the end of that year some 40 military colours had been registered by the Reichswehr. As we have seen, the Reichwehr inherited many Great War colour schemes, so its reasonable to suppose that some of these ended up on the RAL register in 1927. Bell goes on to note that:

The [RAL] paint standards were not very rigorously enforced, and individual manufacturers could adopt a registered colour or create their own without difficulty. [..........] By May 1945 more than 120 individual registrations had been created to cover the entire scope of military paints used by the Wehrmacht. Due to the number of possible paint schemes as well as the variety of manufacturers supplying equipment, it is difficult to establish which registered colours were specifically designed for helmets. Table 7 provides a selection of 'RAL' numbers registered for use in the production of military equipment prior to May 1945; these are a representative sample of some of the colours most likely used in the production of helmet paints:

Table 7: RAL colour designations

RAL 6006 Dark grey-olive Army & Navy helmets

RAL 7008 Medium grey-green Army & Navy helmets

RAL 7009 Light grey-green Army & Navy helmets

RAL 7016 Anthracite grey Luftwaffe helmets

RAL 7027 Dark grey Field repainted helmets

RAL 7028 Dark yellow Camouflage

RAL 8000 Yellow-brown Camouflage

RAL 8017 Red-brown Camouflage

RAL 8020 Brown Camouflage

I'd suggest that from the above table, RAL 7008 and 7009, as well as the four camouflage colours, may well date from the 1927 Reichswehr RAL colour registrations, and therefore have originated in the German army's Great War colour specifications. Not, of course, that that means there was any 'standard' field-grey universally used by the German Army in the Great War or after!

ciao,

GAC

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Like so many things, George, it isn't a black and white issue – it's all about shades of grey ... :D

Looking at the RAL colours you mention, I think they are still there in the 'Classic' RAL range today, but are now referred to by colour names, eg. Blaugrau, rather than by military designations.

The answer for the original questioner would seem to be to find a shade of grey he likes, based on an original item, and then match it to the RAL Classic range of greys to produce or procure 'new' paint.

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It depends on what you mean by Feldgrau paint. The German Military subcontracted the manufacture of war material to various groups and each would have made, or purchased from a supplier, feldgrau paint within the specs set forth by the various German organizations involved. I've seen many shades of feldgrau and have read that as the war progresses and supplies dried up, or even earlier as field expedience demanded, feldgrau was made from whatever was to hand. Even heard of large scale use of black and yellow paint mixed together. Early on most metal received a coating of a reddish lead primer before the feldgrau was applied. On MG sled mounts it was standard practice to preserve the finish (and for rust proofing) to pour the used motor oil onto the mounts. Likely the same was done to artillery and other equipment. This darkened the color considerably. Most surviving examples of contemporary feldgrau are poor representations of the original color the paint having faded, had rust bleed into it from underneath, the aforementioned oil treatment, and the unstable quality of the paint of that period. Did you know that 'flat' paint was not in use. So any feldgrau was origianlly glossy. When I restored my MG'08 sled mount I was lucky to find that the paint inside the bolt lockers, protected from the element, was very likely as close to the original spec feldgrau as anyone will ever get. It was a leaded oil based enamel. The color was closer to USMC green than the battleship gray used by most museums. Not suprisingly the color was a reasonable match to feldrock feldgrau which is quite a bit greener than most would expect. If you want some feldgrau for a project I'd suggest getting a color sample to an auto body paint specialist and have them run you up an oil based enamel. Unfortunately here in the US there is no lead allowed in paint. On my project I had an old (pre-1978) can of oil based leaded paint which I was able to mix (with modern pigments) to match the inside of the bolt lockers. Don't repeat this to the EPA! I really think that (lead aside) any oil based enamel you mix up would fool the Kaiser. Cheers, Bill

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