Author: AgaresTretiak (NA) Introduction Like many of us here, I play games with tanks in them. Not just one game, like World of Tanks, but others. Some, like Darkest Hour and the original Red Orchestra, provided many a happy hour of game-play (though not strictly the most accurate at times). Others, like War Thunder have provided me with equal measures of frustration and triumph. Yet others, like World of Tanks have been a long standing source of entertainment and fun with friends through Clan Wars. One of the key aspects however, of any presentation of World War II armored vehicles for myself, has been the accuracy and detail of what was being displayed. Part of this, I suppose, is in part due to my training as a historian, part due to my love of modelling, and I suppose a third is my pretention of artistic ability. Regardless of the motives though, I find myself irritated by inaccurate representations or information. Authenticity can be replicated through details, and when it comes to any fighting vehicle from a given nation, there can be quite a few details involved. Things like the right colour for camouflage, the placement and correct tactical markings on a vehicle, and even little personal touches crews might have added are all part of the details that can bring that much more authenticity into a game, a model, or even just for the pleasure of knowing someone took the time to make it that detailed. Before I get started in writing out some of these details and their significance, I’d like to clearly state my presentations are strictly apolitical and not partisan. I do not favor, support, advocate, or promote in anyway, any particular political, socioeconomic, or national agenda and it is my sincerest hope that those who read this article will appreciate that as I proceed. This is strictly for demonstrating historical significance and information. To start with, I’ll be covering the tactical markings and camouflage for German vehicles, though like other nations, to really cover every, single little detail, variation, or controversy would require an extremely large tome and more exhaustive research than I currently have the ability to perform (not to rule it out in the future). Rather, consider this a basic guide to the wide world of variance that one finds in World War II German armored vehicles (tanks in particular), with some explanations, examples, and images to support and liven the presentation. For the sake of not overwhelming people with walls of text, the presentation for each will be divided into two sections, one for camouflage and the second for tactical markings and their meanings, placement, etc. I will provide citations and references where available. Without further ado, I present to you German Camouflage and Tactical Markings. German Camouflage – An Overview The first thing anyone who studies camouflage from this era (or any era indeed) will discover that there are not really any set ‘patterns’ for ground vehicles, like one might find in uniforms. This was especially true of the Werhmacht and associated ground forces, which rather than issue exhaustive explanations of how to camouflage vehicles, issued broad-based guidelines covering the officially sanctioned colour schemes and rough guidelines for how much to apply camouflage to the vehicle. For the sake of brevity, we’ll cover the majority of the War Years, eschewing pre-WW II camouflage. For now, I’d refer you to the two following info-graphics that I made to help illustrate what I’ll be discussing. One covers a list of the official (or mostly official) colours that were issued with some notes on them, the second provides examples of how they could be deployed by vehicle maintenance crews (or just ‘crews’ for the sake of brevity). Some may look familiar, while others a bit obscure. In the early stages of the war in Poland and France, the Germans utilized primarily Dunkelgrau painted vehicles, with some being painted with Dunkelbraun as a camouflage pattern until O.K.H. (Oberkommando des Heeres aka, the High Command of the Army) issued an order for vehicles to be painted only Dunkelgrau. This wasn’t just tanks, but SPGs, Armored Cars, half-tracks, even some of the kitchen wagons were painted the same colour. [Photo 1 - An actual colour photo demonstrating all these vehicles in Dunkelgrau during 1941. A tactical mark on the Pz Kpfw III in the foreground, next to the building seems to indicate these were from the 7th Panzer Division, but I have no supporting documentation. Also notice how the kubelwagen (probably used for scouting) is done in a different colour scheme.] It’s interesting to note, that to date, only a handful of games have come close to getting this colour (dunkelgrau) correct. World of Tanks and War Thunder are not amongst them. Some might highlight some black and white photographs that show what seem to be the vehicles in a lighter-grey colour, but those familiar with B&W photography will also notice inconsistencies with how it captures the shade, exposure, fuzzy images, and so forth. [Photo 2 - More Dunkelgrau painted vehicles during Operation Barbarossa. Notice how road dust and lighting make the vehicle's colour appear to change.] The point is, the vehicles were a very, very dark greyish-bluish colour, and colour photographs as well the contemporary RAL catalog support this (refer to the colour photographs). Take special note that road-dust and lighting caused the vehicle’s Dunkelgrau (lit. ‘dark grey’) to change hue and shade. This was not entirely unintentional, as at long distances, grey will tend to ‘blend’ into the surrounding colours effectively. At closer range, however, or on a high contrasting background (like snow, or the sky) it stands out like a sore thumb. This became especially clear in two different situations, Winter and North Africa. Both faced similar issues: Dunkelgrau was simply not suited to these conditions. When winter came rolling out of the Arctic on the Russian steppe, those lovely dark vehicles stood out like huge “Aim here!” signs. Ingenious out of necessity, the Heer used any available material to colour their vehicles white, including chalk, white sheets, piled snow, and perhaps most popular, white-wash. Even slapdash applications of whitewash could make a vehicle more effectively camouflaged. Some of the white-wash applications even had the added benefit that they’d gradually wash away in the late winter and early spring rains, melting away like so much snow. [Photo 3 - A Pz Kpfw III Ausf. F with very crudely applied winter camouflage (probably white-wash) over Dunkelgrau. Notice how, despite the rather poor application, it does a decent job of breaking up the vehicle's outlines.] [Photo 4 - A Sd.Kfz 232 (Rad 8) with a coat of white-wash Continue reading →

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