primer color of wwii armor?

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primer color of wwii armor?

  • Does anyone know what the color of pimer was for tanks of the different contries in wwII?  I would like to know all of them for reference but I am working on a French FT-17 and want to have some of the paint worn off showing the primer and bear metal.  What is the color of the primer?


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  • No idea about other countries, but for German armour its red. Theres been alot of discussion on here about what paints to use for it. I believe the best one is tamiya Red brown with a few drops of red XF-7.


  • I've been told on this very board that the US used a yellow- toned primer on armor during WWII...  dunno if it's fact or not.

  • Thanks for the info.  I do use some Tamiya paints but I mostly use Model Master enamel.  Here are some things I have found if intrested:

    German - I use Burnt Sienna 2007, the original manufactures used Red Oxide Primers.  During Nov 1944 until the end, they also used a new Olive Green (RAL 6003) and a new Red Brown (RAL 8012, this was more red than brown).

    Russian - Everything before 1942, there was no primer they just layed the first layer of paint which was 4BO (I use russian armor green 2129) and then all other colors went on top of that.  !942 and later some manufactures started using primers That was a light pale green dont know the number.  I use Pale green FS34227 or green zinc chromate B1734.

    USA - WWI they used a lime green.  I use Pale green FS34227 or green zinc chromate B1734.  WWII they used a Red Oxide once again i use Burnt Sienna 2007.  During WWII sometimes they used a grey primer but have not found anything for sure about this.  Some Sherman tanks were found with no primer at all on them.

    Japan - Used some type of an orange?

    All other countries I have still not been able to find any info.


  • Was RAL 6003 the green they had used as paint of the 3 colour camo scheme since early 43. I am not aware of it being used as a primer, though very late in the war some vehciles bagain to leave factories painted in this instead of red brown. And i thought 8012 was the red primer they had used from the start.


  • I am still not sure.  Those were my findings from the last couple of days of researching both on line and my books.  Most of what I found seems to be that there were two primers of red brown.  The pre-war and early 40's was the red brown (more brown then red) and then the late war red brown (more red then brown)?  I settled for the Tamiya Red Brown mixed in different shades for early and the Model Master Burnt Sienna for late war.  Still not sure if this is right or not.  Now for the green I am not sure either.  I had always used the Panzer Olivgrun 1943 for the three tone camo as you said.  My recent find says that it was used as a primer also, but I am not sure.  I am also not sure if they are even talking about the same RAL numbers for the green.  I found the info on the web today, but have never heard of it before.


  • The idea of green being used as a primer could come from when the tanks left the factory in green, i guess that could cause confusion. As to two different primers, to be honest i am not sure. I am pretty certain 8012 was used as a primer later in the war and just assumed that had been the case earlier as well. I will do some digging myself on that one when i get back to my books, i would like to know before i start doing some early war armour.


  • I have also heard of yellow.  I believe the yellow was used to make the lighter pale green color and sometimes it was more yellow and sometimes more green = Pale green?


  • There was only one primer color used on German war-time vehicles, the Rot Oxide RAL 8012, which was the standard primer throughout WW2. Pre-war vehicles were sometimes painted in a Green primer  and this is most commonly seen on Pz Is, IIs, and 38(t)s only. This Green Primer  didn't have a RAL color assigned as RAL color designations weren't officially introduced until 1939-1940 by the German Army and this color continued to be used on engine components/equipment even after the introduction of RAL 8012 as standard factory primer for vehicle hulls and components.

    The confusion over the use of RAL 6003 Olivgrun is that it was used as a basecoat color over the primer, not in place of the primer, and replaced the use of RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb in that role as main basecoat color starting in October 1944.

    The three tone scheme used RAL 6003 Olivgrun, RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb, and RAL 8017 Schokoladenbraun and it may be the RAL 8017 that your research is conflating with the use of the RAL 8012 Rot Oxide primer in terms of colors changing...there is some debate as to whether or not RAL 8012 actually replaced RAL 8017 in the three tone scheme for a period of time late in the war. This debate stems from the flexibility of various translations of the order in regards to whether or not RAL 8012 was supposed to be incorporated into the schemes or whether the three tone camo was supposed to be sprayed over the RAL 8012 using RAL 8017 but without any one color being applied first as a basecoat color.

    HTH! Beer

  • Thanks bill, i was certain you would know. I had read about the red primer being used as the base for 3 tone schemes late in the war, especially on Tiger II's used during the Buldge. I know a couple of books in the Osprey series mention this. But it is almost impossable to tell the differance from the photos. I never realised that the 6003 was used as a base that early, i thought it was from Jan-Feb 44. But then again, from the photo's, its hard to tell which colour was layed down first when you have a 3 tone scheme.


  • Germany's primer red: Vallejo Cavalry Brown is a real nice starting point. Also, Tamiya's Hul Red and Red Brown mix with a Tamiya Flat Red filter works well.

    Also, I dont now if you are concerned with WWII aircraft or not but RAF used an egg shell green and most if not all American aircraft used zink oxide in the canopies and geer bays.

    Hope this helps.

  • For the past couple of years Panzerjager and I have been conjecturing on primer color of U.S. armor and came to the conclusion that for the most part it was red and in a few instances zinc chromate yellow was used.  In the series The Color Of  War there is the briefest instance of M-10s coming out of the factory with the ones on the left being in red primer and the ones on the right in yellow before going to final paint.  Why the factory would choose to use two different types of primer I do not know unless they were using two different types of finish paint?

    A few years ago I had correspondence with a restoration person at the Fort Knox museum and he said he had seen both colors of primer used on U.S. armor with some instances of gray primer used on the interiors.  He figured the factory used whatever they had on hand to get the job done.

    Two years ago I did an Accademy M-36 Jackson using zinc chromate yellow primer and it made for an interesting result when the OD was chipped off.  My only caveat when using information from museums is that you don't know if somebody has worked on the equipment before the museum did and got it wrong or possibly even the museum itself did an incorrect restoration.

    Panzerjager has been using Floquil Boxcar Red for primer on both German and U.S. armor with good results.  I also used it on my M-7 Priest and found it made an excellent base for the MM acryl finish coat.  Hope this may be of use.


  • If only the layers of paint could talk, like sanding down a vehicle its true history speaks in color.

    The people at Isle of Wright tank museum & restoration shop could help with the Allied answer.

    Color photographs of WWII show many different tones of Olive Drab, I would guess to say this variance had to due with the primer used beneath the green & how thick the Drab was sprayed on. Different workers on separate shifts may have thinned the Drab  their own unique way to make their job more efficient.



  • Thanks to all for the information.  It will be put to good use.