Spanish Civil War Painting Guide

All I’m really interested in is a set of instructions so somebody can paint some wargaming figures for the Spanish Civil War. That means I don’t have to describe the cloths, just the colours. I have included descriptions of unusual articles of clothing – like the Moroccan chilaba just so you can recognise them, hence paint them the correct colour.

Basic colours

There were four basic uniform colours, three in the Nationalist forces and one for the Republican forces. The basic colour was generally, but not always, used for the hat, tunic and trousers. As I use Coat D’arms paints, I thought I would indicate a rough approximation from this range.

Side Service Basic Uniform Colour Main Colour Variations
Republican Popular Army Brownish-tinged khaki A lighter shade of Coat D’arms 218 Wood Brown although Coat D’arms 501 British Khaki is close enough. Coat D’arms
524 Tan Earth,
528 Russian Brown,
537 Faded Khaki
225 Khaki,
502 Field Drab
Nationalist Regular Army Greenish-tinged khaki * Coat D’arms 528 Russian Brown.
Foreign Legion Grey-green * Winter uniform was Coat D’arms 226 Olive, and summer Coat D’arms 513 Faded Olive.
Moroccans Lentil coloured Coat D’arms 228 Buff
Falagists Dark blue Coat D’arms 110 Royal Blue  
Paramilitary Assault Guards Dark blue Coat D’arms 110 Royal Blue
Civil Guard Grey-green Colour Party MA4 Rifle Green  

* Apparently the Grey-green of the Foreign Legion was quiet distinctive, hence must have been quite different to the Greenish-tinged khaki of the other Nationalists, however this isn’t apparent from the illustrations in Turnball (1978). It is more apparent if you compare figure B1 in Turnball (1978) and figure D1 in Scurr (1985).

Phases of the War

Where necessary I have divided the war into two phases: early (1936 to early 1937) and late (mid 1937 to 1939). I’m not particularly concerned if the precise dates of particular uniform changes were different for different troops types; in most cases the generic early/late distinction is sufficient.

What I can offer

Painting suggestions for:


The definitive source:

Bueno, J. M. (1971). Uniformes Militares en color de la Guerra Civil Española. Madrid: Libreria Editorial San Martin.

Other Sources

Mark Hannan’s web site includes a description of combat dress from the Spanish Civil War

Cordery, B. (1993). La Ultima Cruzada: A Wargamers guide to the Spanish Civil War (2nd ed.). Partizan Press.

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