SBritish Army Colours

Medic Mike

2 posts

Hi, Could anyone give me some advice the best green colour for the British Army from this era 1999 to now? Someone did say NATO colours? Been looking everywhere on the internet.    

Paul Brown

771 posts

Community Moderator

BS381C 285 NATO Green. Some sources quote Hu 102 Army Green as a match.

Medic Mike

2 posts

Many thanks paul for the info. Just put an order in


17 posts

 British army does not use NATO colours. The green should be Deep Bronze Green. I use Xtracolour 814 and looks a good match. Humbrol also does one, 75, but not tried it myself.

Paul Brown

771 posts

Community Moderator

Deep Bronze Green until sometime in the seventies, NATO Green (IRR) thereafter. NATO Green is a colour developed by the British, hence the BS381C 285 reference number.


10 posts

You opened a can of worms with that question Medic Mike! I've been trying to figure that out for years myself. Been on other forums and no two will give the same answer. You can go by official guidelines and numbers or look at colour photos of particular vehicles interested in. Doing the latter will make your head swim! I love Land Rovers and research shows everything from bright green to brownish olive green. I use Humbrol 86, 102 and 155. Xtracolour had X402 olive drab which wasn't bad but think this has been dropped. Former soldier told me colour depended on how paint was thinned and how much beer soldier doing mixing had the night before!! 


1212 posts

No photos, but I've seen an RA convoy formed up for shipping (civvie ferry for ~2 hour trip) and can confirm that vehicles of the same type in the same unit are not necessarily the same shades of green and black.

Though I fly through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am at 65_000 feet and climbing.


107 posts

Glossy Deep Bronze Green was used for many years as a standard colour for vehicles in the British Army.  During the years of National Service, up to the mid sixties, the equipment was usually kept very clean and highly polished, with soft skin ‘B’ vehicles often inspected by Officers in white gloves! I understand that these inspections even included under the bonnet.

 In the U.K. and Europe, a camouflage of green and black (NATO green and NATO black) began to be applied in the late sixties / early seventies. The U.K. manufactured vehicles still entered service in overall Bronze Green but had to have the cammo applied at unit level when required, either by brush or a spay gun if available. This practice continued until at least the nineteen eighties.

Vehicles that had undergone a base overall (rebuild) were re-issued to units painted in overall NATO green so just needed a coat of black if required.

I never noticed a significant variation in shade of the NATO green if it was applied properly, but sometimes the matt paint would dry satin or even gloss if the tin wasn’t stirred well enough. Also, the paint wasn’t a particular good quality so soon became darkened by dirt and oil. This was particularly noticeable on the engine decks of AFV’s, especially tanks, when the black and green sometimes became almost indistinguishable.

The only real difference in the shade of matt green was in Northern Ireland, were protected vehicles such as Snatch Land Rovers, Humber Pigs, and Saracens were often painted overall in a slightly darker shade. This may have been to distinguish Internal Security vehicles from dedicated combat types for political reasons.

The camouflaging of vehicles at unit level wasn’t always consistent.  New and re-built equipment would sometimes slip through the net and stay unpainted for months or even a year or two, particularly soft skins. On camouflaged vehicles the cab and rear cargo area of vehicles such as Land Rovers and Bedfords would also often remain in Bronze Green until they became shabby. This was especially true of cabs, which would often stay in their original colour for several years until eventually given a coat of NATO green. Externally, once a vehicle had been camouflaged it was often regularly re-painted, this depended on how obsessed the unit was with bullshine!

Although vehicles were painted matt green and black, new replacement parts were still issued in Bronze Green so it wasn’t unusual, for instance, to see an AFV in cammo with glossy new stowage bin or mudguard.

This information is correct as far as I can remember, although inevitably there would have been some exceptions.

From a modelling point of view, I find that cockpit green (Humbrol 78) darkened slightly with some Humbrol 30 green gives a good approximation for NATO green.

I’m not sure if NATO green has changed since back in the day. It doesn’t seem to have done judging by pictures, but I admit I haven’t seen many vehicles in close up lately apart from the occasional Territorials. It seems to be standard now that new vehicles are issued in a NATO green colour. One reason for a difference in shade could be that that the manufacturers finish is not quite the same as the issued paint.


114 posts

As an ex-regular and [more recently] TA soldier, there were quite marked differences in the green applied to wheeled/tracked vehicles with more recent types eg the DROPs vehicles being a shade of their own.

Things may have changed a bit since I last served {2000), but then vehicles were painted according to role.  Those for front-line service were black/green camoflague, and those not serving in a front-line role being all over green.

The black varried from a jet black to a dark grey.  The green generally being quite a light shade, but definately green not olive/olive drab.  Infantry vehicles were generally maintained at unit level.  For this purpose, tinned paint for touching up/finishing rebuilds or repair varied in hue depending on how well the paint was mixed prior to application by spray or brush.  Again there could be and were a wide range of black/green colours as seen on vehicles at unit level!

I suspect that the only time vehicles matched the specified colour schemes was at the time of issue, for example when my Infantry unit converted to one of the Royal Logistics Corps operating DROPs, the DROPs wagons were of a uniform colour for each of the 15 vehicles in the Troop [a kind of grey/green].  Rovers and support vehicles carried over from their infantry role were left camoflagued.

Interestingly tanks I came across always seemed well finished and there was little variation in the colours seen.  

So you have a wide range of colour schemes available even though these schemes were uniformy specified!  And often, variations were apparent on individual vehicles reflecting eg the extent to which touch-up paint had been correctly 'stirred' before use.  And of course, there was always a marked difference between brushed and sprayed paint.

I suspect that, as for aircraft, models are more likely to comply with colour specifications than the real thing.

Braille Dave

225 posts

Based on my experience in the RAF- BS381C:285 unit applied paint was consistent within batches- the batches varied a bit, from a darkish shade akin to H86, to H102. When the vehicles were supplied new, that's when you get some larger variations. Bedford MKs were nearer H102- the CF vans and Lutons we had were nearer H86. Our Sherpas were a satin H155, although the Scammell T45 tractors were matt.

When the Scammell T45 refuellers came back from their major refit- they were a glossy H102! 

The Renault 3-tonners (both GS and ops caravans) were actually issued in a French Army Green! even the Pinzgauers were in an Austrian Army green (like the German) 

that's before you take into account fading- sometimes it faded to a grey-green, sometimes brown-green. Often it darkened, particularly if they were kept inside the MT hanger (TBH, that was generally the minibuses and the lutons).

Please, please please Airfix!- A Fordson WOT1 in 1:72/6... Or a Bedford RL.... Or a Austin K9.... Or a Leyland 19H.....

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