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British colour schemes 1940s to early 50s


Well-Known Member
Premium Member
with some exceptions, I don't like my shells 'au natural' but getting the right mix of colours/bands & markings to match the date of the shell is not always easy. This is particularly so for early post war dated items when the colour schemes changed fairly frequently before settling on the standard NATO colour scheme. The attached coloured charts from the Regulations for Army Ordnance Services, vol.4 'Ammunition', pamphlet 1 Nomenclature and markings for 1954 might be of help to those of you who also like to paint their shells.
Nice diagrams, I really like the RAOS pamphlets, I have the grenade one dated 1945, it goes into so much more detail than any of the SAT ones. Thanks for posting these, have you got anything grenade related ? Tony.
Hi Dave,
I assume there are standard colours for those used during the war....If so, do you know what they are, as I'd like to repaint my 95mm Smoke round, as its already painted in a ghastly colour and poor stencillings
Clearly wont be RAL colours, and I'm not sure BS was around then...so what would they be??...and is there a modern equivalent

I'm particularly interested in the Yellow for HE rounds and Green for Smoke etc..

Thanks Rich

What year is your 95mm?

It's not yellow (if its post '39) but Middle Buff 359 - BS 381C

(HTML Code is "D0A040" if you've got something like Paint Shop Pro)


I'll have to look that up over the w/e. They changed to Eau de nil (pastel green) after the war (I think).


hi Rich, I believe the name was Grass Green - see the attached of a 25pdr in original paint and a few i've repainted
Rich, the left hand column of each page is WW2. Don't forget, even now, paint manufacturers recommend that you buy sufficient paint to do the whole job as different batches will be an exact match. Paint supplied to ordnance factories did not used to be supplied 'ready mixed' but as individual ingredients that had to mixed on site. Although there was a 'recipe' for the colours, each component being measured out by weight if a powder and volume if a liquid, you can bet that 'that looks about right' was the order of the day. The curator of the Larkhill in house museum told me that different batches of shell were noticably different in shade. Even the ammunition manuals sometimes note the colours as 'cream to buff'. Mid Buff being the correct shade for 40s/early 50s HE. I haven't been able to establish when paint began to be delivered ready mixed. Dave
hi Tony, apart from 36s, the rest are B&W. I've attached pages from the 1960 inter services ammunition manual - its got cracking colour plates if you collect Bloodhound type missiles! Dave