3

I'm currently working on a modeling project and would like to know why and when tank crews started to paint over their marking.

I'm also interested in which force started the trend and why?

I'm mostly talking about unit / vehicle numbers, so in the case of a US tank, the yellow or white number which would be on the hull or turret. Not the actual Star emblem.

As a side note, my project is making some US M4 Shermans and M5 Stuarts around around the time of The Battle of the Bulge

  • I was under the impression that the allies actually made their markings more obvious to avoid friendly fire incidents, especially since allied ground attack aircraft were a big threat to armour later in the war. – Steve Bird May 17 '16 at 12:11
  • @SteveBird my knowledge of this is mostly from modeling books / magazines, so I know it might not be the most accurate source available. I'm mostly talking about unit / vehicle numbers, so in the case of a US tank, the yellow or white number which would be on the hull or turret. Not the actual Star emblem. – Stevie May 17 '16 at 12:20
  • Could you provide some examples of this happening? – Schwern May 17 '16 at 20:13
  • 2
    Not helpful for M4/M5 modelling, but German crews were not happy either, as the solid white cross that initially marked their tanks' turrets made an excellent "shoot me here" point of aim. Eventually, the official marking was changed to be less conspicuous. – DevSolar May 20 '16 at 13:49
3

According to this document.

Painted Out Stars

In the dust and confusion of battle the US star could be mistaken for a German Cross at long range (greater then 1000 yards). Tank ers and armored units began painting out the stars to avoid becoming a casualty of ‘friendly fire’. The addition of the circle around the star helped to resolve this problem, though some of the more experienced units (like the 2nd Armored) stayed with the painted out stars until the Normandy landings. There they painted the vehicle number on the sides of the turret in yellow. This was painted out by D-Day + 14. After Normandy several armored divisions were sent into Europe but kept their stateside markings , except the bar, and that is why one sees so many variations in pictures.

The document lists its sources at the bottom for more detail and verification.

1

A book on the Sherman tank mentions a couple things that might account for this.

Some of the tanks that were operating in heavily wooded areas were adding paint over the olive drab to help camouflage the vehicle when in the woodline. Also as the comment above mentions, the tankers 'cleaned up' the star symbol which aided the Allied aircraft in identifying the tanks as friendlies. This may also have resulted in overpainting other info on the tanks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.