WW2 Painting Guide: Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma

I have already chosen my Anglo-Indian tanks in Burma and now I need a painting Guide for them. My guide is customised for the vehicles I want. If you want something wider in scope then I can recommend two invaluable sources for Anglo-Indian tanks in Burma, both by Mark Davies; British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide (V1.8) and his excellent series on the 14th Army on his Jemina Fawr website (lots of links below). I have used both for my own guide.


Tank colour

All of the vehicles were painted in one colour in 1943-45. The main colour in Burma was ‘jungle green’, which is a very dark drab/ muddy dark green (). There were variations on this but I see no reason to look for edge cases. From both British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide (V1.8) and Jemina Fawr (Part 5):

Standard Camouflage Colour (S.C.C.) 13 ‘Jungle Green’
This colour replaced Middle Bronze Green on British vehicles in the Far East from 1943. It was a very drab and muddy green and darker than US Olive Drab. The title ‘Jungle Green’ was not official and it was significantly different to the Jungle Green dye used in uniform manufacture, which was rather bluish and faded to a greyish tone. S.C.C. 13 was however, used for weapons and personal equipment such as helmets.
Mix Humbrol 159 + 155 + 33 in ratio 4:3:1. A suggested match is Vallejo 893(95).

That humbrol mix appears to come from the The Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association’s British AFV Camouflage, 1939-45. They also suggest Tamiya: 2 x XF51 + 1 x XF61 + 1 x XF3 and I suspect this is the Mike Starmer suggestion (Starmer is one of the foremost researchers of British AFV paint and camouflage schemes of WWII).

Mark Davies suggests Vallejo (095) 70.893 US Dark Green as a possible match for S.C.C. 13 ‘Jungle Green’. As it happens this is also my base colour for the JG uniform colour. I think the highlighting is what distinguishes them. The tanks should stay green, but grubby. For the uniforms I highlight heavily with a grey green to end up with more grey shade (see below).

So my suggestion for the tanks is:

Item Main Colour Highlight
S.C.C. 13 ‘Jungle Green’ – Tanks
(095) 70.893 US Dark Green

Mix (095) 70.893 US Dark Green

With (001) 70.951 White

Painting the crew

British berets: black armoured beret.

Sikh Turbans ‘Puggarees’ stayed Khaki Drill (KD) for much of the war. I suggest Vallejo 70.880 Khaki Grey with a highlight in 70.914 Green Ochre

Uniforms were jungle green (JG) by this stage, even for armoured crews. Different people paint differently and it can range from a faded grey to a vibrant green. I prefer a mid ground, kind of a subdued but not faded option. I suggest Vallejo (095) 70.893 US Dark Green with a highlight in (101) 70.886 Green-Grey.

Skin tones: Well, British would be white and Sikhs would be browner. For the Sikhs maybe Vallejo (129) 70.929 Light Brown, allowing southern Indians to be a darker shade (if that is ever important to me).

So here are my suggestions …

Item Main Colour Highlight
Uniform Jungle Green (JG) – Shirt, Trousers
(095) 70.893 Us dark green

(101) 70.886 Green-Grey
Khaki Drill (KD) – Sikh turbans (‘Puggarees’)
(113) 70.880 Khaki Grey

(119) 70.914 Green Ochre
Armoured berets
(169) 70.950 Black

(168) 70.862 Black grey
Skin – British
(017) 70.815 Flesh tone
No highlight
Skin – North Indian
(129) 70.929 Light brown
No highlight

Tactical markings

The vehicles carried brigade, regimental, squadron, troop and/or hull markings. Different regiments did it differently. In terms of the vehicles I’m interested in, the following chart shows the summary. All vehicles that have a single symbol that shows the combination of squadron, troop and/or hull number. Where a regiment does use hull numbers the squadron and troop symbol is identical for all vehicles in the troop. All vehicles carried the regimental symbol. Brigaded regiments also carry the brigade symbol. 1944 markings do not use use Allied White Star but they appear in 1945.

Tac Signs for Stevens Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma
Tac Signs for Stevens Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma

Painting the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales’s Dragoon Guards) (British)

The 3rd Carabiniers had Lee tanks. I’m giving them 1944 markings. They had the full range of tactical symbols (Jemina Fawr (Part 7)).

Brigade Marking: 254th Indian Tank Brigade tactical sign was front left, near track. A symbol that looks like black railway tracks disappearing into the distance, on an inverted red triangle. Some versions have drops of blood dripping from the bottom point of the triangle.

Regiment Marking: In early 1944 3rd Carabiniers had a regiment tac sign at front right, near track. White “4” over a square coloured red over yellow

Squadron Marking: For the entire regiment the squadron signs were at the front of the hull, next to the 75mm gun and below the turret (Jemina Fawr (Part 7)). These were red, and either white or black hull numbers. ‘A’ Squadron had a red triangle.

Troop Marking: None

Hull Number: The tank numbers were inside the squadron symbol at the front of the hull Jemina Fawr (Part 7). Jemina Fawr makes a reasonable assumption that the hull numbers were 1-4 for the RHQ, 5 to 20 for ‘A’ Squadron, 21 to 36 for ‘B’ Squadron and 37 to 52 for ‘C’ Squadron). For ‘A’ Squadron HQ Troop would have been 5-8, and then the other troops would have been 9-11, 12-14, 15-17, 28-20.

Allied White Star: None.

Air recognition symbol: None or British (not allied White Star)

Crew: White British crew with black berets.


Painting the 7th Light Cavalry

The 7th Light Cavalry had Stuart III tanks. I’m giving them 1944 markings. Jemina Fawr (Part 7) says the only markings visible on tanks of the 7th Light Cavalry are the squadron signs, which were painted on the turret sides, with hull numbers inside. But he also says dirt might be obscuring the other signs, so then he goes on to paint the brigade and regimental markings as well. So I’ll follow suit.

Brigade Marking: 254th Indian Tank Brigade tactical sign was front left, near track. A symbol that looks like black railway tracks disappearing into the distance, on an inverted red triangle

Regiment Marking: In early 1944 7th Light Cavalry had a regiment tac sign at front right, near track ((Jemina Fawr (Part 7))). White “37” over a square coloured red over yellow. [Note: I went for ’37’ because it was a possibility for the entire campaign in Burma; ‘5’ might have been used in early 1944 and ‘7’ in late 1944-45.]

Squadron Marking: For the entire regiment the squadron signs were on the sides of the turret (Jemina Fawr (Part 7)). These were yellow, filled with black, and with white hull numbers. ‘C’ Squadron had a yellow circle.

Troop Marking: None

Hull Number: The tank numbers were white and inside the squadron symbol on the side of turret Jemina Fawr (Part 7). Jemina Fawr makes a reasonable assumption that the hull numbers were 1-4 for the RHQ, 5 to 20 for ‘A’ Squadron, 21 to 36 for ‘B’ Squadron and 37 to 52 for ‘C’ Squadron). For ‘C’ Squadron HQ Troop would have been 37-40, and then the other troops would have been 41-43, 44-46, 47-49, 50-52. I’ve gone for the 2nd trop so the numbers are 44-46.

Allied White Star: None.

Air recognition symbol: None or British (not allied White Star)

Crew: Sikh crew with turbans (‘Puggarees’) in Khaki Drill (KD).


Painting the 9th (Royal Deccan) Horse

The 9th royal Deccan Horse had Sherman V tanks. They came into their own after the battles at Imphal and Kohima so I’m giving them 1945 markings.

Brigade Marking: The 255th Indian Tank Brigade‘s tactical sign was a black bull, with yellow horns and red eyes, on a royal blue triangle. British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide (V1.8) puts the bull on a white circle.

Regimental Marking: The regiment tac sign was at front right, near track. White “53” over a square coloured red over yellow

Squadron Marking: The tac-signs were normally painted centrally on the turret sides. ‘B’ Squadron had a white square, filled with blue.

Troop Marking: Troop numbers were painted within the squadron tac-sign and indicated the seniority within the squadron. SHQ would have ‘1’ and the four troops would have 2, 3, 4 or 5. The 9th (Royal Deccan) Horse painted the numbers in white. I’ve gone for the 3rd troop so the troop number is “4”.

Hull Number: None.

Allied White Star: Since these guys are from 1945, they should have a white allied star on sides of the hull.

Air recognition symbol: I guess, given they had the allied white start on the hull, they might also have the allied white start on the roof as an air recognition symbol.

Crew: Sikh crew with turbans (‘Puggarees’) in Khaki Drill (KD).


Painting the 11th (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Cavalry [Frontier Force] (PAVO) (Indian)

11th (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Cavalry [Frontier Force] (PAVO) was one of three dedicated armoured car regiments in 14th Army. They fought at Imphal so I’m giving them 1944 markings. They were an unbrigaded regiment reporting directly to IV Corps.

Armoured Car Regiments typically organised with three squadrons, each with five Armoured Car Troops of 2-3 armoured cars and 2-3 scout cars (Jemina Fawr (Part 3)).

Brigade Marking: None. They were, after all, unbrigaded.

Regimental Marking: White “44” over a square coloured green over blue.

Squadron Marking: ‘B’ Squadron had a white square.

Troop Marking: Troop numbers were painted within the squadron tac-sign and indicated the seniority within the squadron. SHQ would have ‘1’ and the four troops would have 2, 3, 4 or 5. Same colour at the tac sign so white for PAVO. I’ve gone for the 1st troop so the troop number is “2”.

Hull Number: None.

Allied White Star: None.

Air recognition symbol: None or British (not allied White Star)

Crew: Sikh crew with turbans (‘Puggarees’) in Khaki Drill (KD).


References

Davies, M. (n.d.). Commonwealth Formations in Burma. Fire and Fury.

Davies M. R. (n.d.). British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide (V1.8). Fire and Fury.

Jemima Fawr (2019-20). The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma. Jemima Fawr’s Miniature Wargames Blog – Wargaming on the Edge… of Wales.

Missing Lynx: The complete Mike Starmer Acrylic Paint Mix Database!.

Paulding, J. (2017, 19 May). British AFV Camouflage, 1939-45. Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association.

Wikipedia: 254th Indian Tank Brigade

Wikipedia: 255th Indian Tank Brigade

5 thoughts on “WW2 Painting Guide: Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma”

  1. Cheers Steven! Sorry I still haven’t updated my painting guide, so refer to my site for the latest info. In retrospect I think that ’37’ was probably a post-war marking for the 7th Cavalry, so I’ll probably re-paint mine to ‘7’, which they were definitely using from late 1944 onward. They probably did carry stars on the hull-sides of many (if not all) tanks in the regiment in 1945. The turretless command tank ‘Curse of Scotland’ certainly had stars on the sides. I’ve not found any photos of turreted tanks carrying stars, but I’ve only seen photos of roughly 3-4 tanks, so the rest might all have carried stars! 🙂 I’ve seen a photo of a 45th Cavalry tank with a star on the turret-side.

    And don’t forget that the ’44’ for the PAVO had a white bar across the top, signifying Corps Troops.

    Cheers, Mark.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mark.
      re “7” for 7th Cavalry and white bar at top of PAVO tac sign.
      yup. Makes sense. Might be too late for my kit.

      re Allied star on all tanks in 1945
      Also makes sense but three of my units are for 1944 and only one of my units will be for 1945 (9th Royal Deccan).

      Reply
  2. Re the air recognition symbol; of course we very rarely see top-views of vehicles in photos, but I’ve just found a photo taken during the Siege of Imphal from an Auster AOP aircraft, of another Auster on the ground. An attendant truck has a large white Allied Star (without circle) painted very prominently on the cab roof. That would tend to indicate that they’d started painting air recognition stars on vehicles quite early and before the end of the siege.

    Reply

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