Book Review
Warpaint Volume 2
Warpaint - Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903 – 2003 Volume 2 by Dick Taylor
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by: Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]


This is the second volume in a series of 4 covering Colours and Markings of the British Army, 1930 to 2003. This book was written and researched by Dick Taylor.
I reviewed Volume 1 here on site: British Vehicle Colours
The series is intended for the Military Historian, Military Vehicle Restorer and most of all for the Military Modeller.
A note on the author: Dick Taylor is not only an established historian but a member of the Armed Forces, a keen model maker and a widely experienced researcher. He brings to this book all of those skills and knowledge making it a thoroughly enjoyable and informative read.


  • Table of contents
  • Introduction to Volume 2
  • Chapter 1 - Paint and Camouflage 1939 - 1945
  • Chapter 2 – Sun Unit Markings and Call-Sign Systems
  • References and Bibliography


The book is an A4 size, soft back, colour presentation. Both the quality of the printing, photographs and presentation are what one would expect for the 21st century. The book contains 176 pages.

Obviously the scope of the book is vast, hence no doubt 4 Volumes being necessary, but it does for the first time start to bring a one stop shop to understanding and interpreting the wide and varied paint schemes used by the British Army across the decades. The subject of British Army paint schemes and interpreting black and white photographs is one that is hotly debated across the net and by historians, modelling enthusiasts, and anyone who has delved into trying to model British Armour whether WW I, WW II or Modern will know the argument and debate that can flourish around the colour of for instance Olive Drab, or Light Stone!!

In the introduction to Volume I the author gave us a critical clue to understanding the subject covered in Chapter I Colours and Sources:
“.... it is this: strive to find the rules and regulations, but do not be surprised to find that they were frequently disobeyed.”
This sums up for me the essence and joy of modelling British subjects like Sherman Tanks, nothing is quite what it may seem and so is the case with British camouflage and paint.

Volume 2 continues this theme and for many will be an invaluable reference when working with British and Commonwealth vehicles, whether 1 to 1 or 1/35 scale.

Chapter 1 – Paint and Camouflage 1939–1945:
This chapter is broken down into many subsections covering painting and camouflage throughout the war years. The chapter opens with an Introduction to Paints – Systems, Specifications and Supply. It then moves on to an explanation of Gas Detector Paint and how it was used and applied and is followed by a General Section covering crew applied schemes.

Next is a section on Britain and North West Europe 1939 to 1943 and reference to, and explanation of Military Training Pamphlet No 20 (1939-1941), with examples of the various schemes and thinking being used at that time.

This is followed by a section on Miscellaneous Schemes used over the period 1940 – 1941 and data on painting Canvas Canopies and Tilts. Next Dick takes a look at Military Training Pamphlets No 46 Part 4A (1941-1944) and the principles, colours, and schemes it introduced. The Foliage Pattern, The Dappled or Mickey Mouse Pattern and Dry Brush Pattern are all covered in detail.

Vehicles Markings 1942 & 1943, the Introduction of SCC 14 and schemes and paints for the African and Mediterranean theatre of operations 1939 to1940 are also covered as is the Caunter Scheme 1940 – 1941. The book then moves on to look at the Post Caunter Schemes of 1941 to 1943 and then takes a look at other Mediterranean camouflage schemes used in Malta, Eritrea and Syria.

Miscellaneous Schemes in North Africa also get covered and the book then goes in depth at the schemes in use in Sicily and Italy during 1943 followed by what was happening in Sicily and Italy during 1944 and 1945. Finally miscellaneous paint schemes used in Italy get looked at.

On page 86 Dick moves onto the European theatre of operations with an opening sub chapter on Europe 1944 – 1945. Also included at the end of this section are details of miscellaneous schemes used during that period of the war. This section may be of particular interest to modellers given the theatre of operations, and many fine examples and detail explanations are given.

The Far East gets some brief coverage on page 93 and Vehicle Signage is mentioned briefly on page 94, but this subject will receive in depth coverage in Volume 3. To round up, the author touches briefly on the colours and schemes used on RAF and RN vehicles during the war.

To complete Chapter 1 there are a series of Annexes showing Chronology, Paint Details, and end notes to the chapter.

Pages 103 to 106 contain a number of plates showing some of the schemes mentioned in the preceding chapter. It should be noted that each sub section of Chapter 1 is fully supported by detailed explanation, official documents, official camouflage diagrams and examples of both plates and actual vehicle markings in the various theatres of operation. In other words, an absolute bounty of supporting and useful information.

Chapter 2 – Sub Unit Markings and Call Sign Systems:
This is another area of contentious debate. Dick opens the chapter with an introduction to the purpose of these markings and also an explanation of the terminology used. As these Warpaint Volumes cover the period 1903 to 2003, this chapter begins by looking at the RN and Army markings used in WWI, the introduction and marking of early tanks and the first use of symbols on vehicles. The between the war years are then covered and the introduction and development of Geometric Markings are discussed and displayed.

The chapter then moves onto World War II markings and again looks at those in depth. Good clear examples of the type of marking used are given along with detailed explanations. A section is given over to the Royal Artillery System of markings, both standard and non standard.

The Standard Individual Call sign System is looked at and discussed as are Colour, Size and Position of these markings. Non Standard (two digit) Call sign Systems are also examined. Post war Geometric Signs are included in this section as well as Korean War Markings and Call signs.

Also included in this Chapter are details of the 1960 and 1970 call sign systems. Good tables and charts are included for easy reference and good photographic examples of their use provided.
Both Iraq 2003 and the Batus Sub Unit Identification System are also included.

References and Bibliography:
At the rear of the book starting on page 170 is a comprehensive listing of the sources and source materials used in the book.


Perhaps the conclusion is best left to a customer, in this case our own Jim Hand. I borrowed this from one of Jim’s posts:

”If you do much in the way of modeling British vehicles I can't say enough good things about Dick Taylor's Warpaint: Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903 to 2003. It's to be a 4 volume set. Books 1 and 2 are currently out. I'm not sure of the release for 3 and 4. They have been reviewed here which is what led me to seek them out, but they surpassed anything I could have hoped for.

Initially I was only going to buy volumes 1 and 2 which covered pre WWI to the end of WWII, my main sphere of modeling, but the books are so well written and full of great information all 4 are on my "must buy" list. Some information is shared across all the volumes as best as I can tell which also justifies having the full set. They have already answered many questions that I had about various WWI tank colours and WWII Middle Eastern colours. It's a bit of an investment but any good tool is.
I would love to see a similar set done on German vehicles!”

This is quite simply another cracking volume from Dick Taylor that provides a comprehensive insight into the fantastic and often confusing world of British Army Vehicle Colours and Markings. This volume is thoroughly researched, has excellent charts, diagrams and original documents to help in your understanding of this fascinating subject, and will be of particular value to those modelling British and Commonwealth Tanks, Vehicle and Artillery. There are many real examples of the various schemes provided to support the documentation.
Highs: The second of a comprehensive series providing insight, knowledge and inspiration for the reader, be they Modeller, Historian or Restorer.
Lows: None.
Verdict: Highly Recommended reading for all with an interest in British Army vehicles from WWI to the modern day.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-83-89450-92-0
  PUBLISHED: Jul 10, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Alan McNeilly (AlanL)

Greying slightly, but young at heart. I've been teaching adults off and on for most of my life. Left the services in 85 and first started modelling in about 87 for a few years. Then I had a long spell when I didn't build anything (too busy) and really just got started again during the summer of ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]. All rights reserved.


Hi James, Thanks for getting this one up. Al
JUL 11, 2010 - 04:54 AM
This is a great series of books! I've had this one, Vol 2 for awhile now. Anybody have any idea when 3 and 4 are due out?
JUL 14, 2010 - 10:23 PM
Hi Jim, Your Quote from the original thread summed it up. Al
JUL 21, 2010 - 08:17 AM
Hi, Warpaint Vol. 3 is ready now! Please check here: Regards Robert
JUL 14, 2011 - 09:30 AM
I just got my copy the other day and have a couple of things in the queue to read prior, but having flipped through it more than a couple of times already, I can say that it seems to be a truely impressive tome! Glad to see it so well reviewed here (I hope that the author's efforts are rewarded with great sales). Dave
JUL 14, 2011 - 10:18 AM

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