Painting US Infantry Uniforms

Evan

Guide To Painting US Infantry Uniforms

Nothing seems to cause as much confusion as colours of the uniforms worn by the United States Army during WWII. And this seems to be mainly due to the fact that the army entered the war in December 1941 wearing one uniform and finished the war in 1945 with another uniform, mixed them up in between, with a few other articles of clothing thrown in for good measure!

In this article I will attempt to portray these uniforms with pictures of BF miniatures painted with Vallejos Acrylics colours that I’ve personally chosen.  So please treat all colour suggestions as a guide and not a decree. Also, I’ve purposely avoided one step in the painting process that I normally use which is highlighting of the base colour. 

This is so you can see the original colour from the bottle and not just the highlighting I use, which is add 10-15% white to the original base colour. For those that don’t use the Vallejo range just cross-reference the colours on the FoW colour chart to get your favourite paint brand equivalent. Throughout this article I’m going to use the designations that seem to be most commonly used to describe the uniforms and not necessarily the "official" nomenclature.

7 December 1941. The United States is dragged forcibly into the war and the first US soldiers to see combat in the ETO, or "European Theatre of Operations", land in Tunisia on 8 November 1942 during "Operation Torch".

This figure is shown wearing the M1941 or "Parsons" jacket and Olive Drab woolen trousers with canvas leggings and M1 steel helmet. The G.I. in this uniform could be found in the Bocage hedgerows of Normandy to the snow-covered Ardennes, from the dusty Tunisian roads to the hills of Italy and anywhere else that a G.I. fought in the ETO.

The colours I’ve chosen are: 

M1941 or "Parsons" jacket and Olive Drab woolen trousers with canvas leggings M1941 or "Parsons" jacket and Olive Drab woolen trousers with canvas leggings
Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Jacket/leggings
Military Khaki (FWP327) 121
1792
XF57
Kommado Khaki
Trousers
Wool Brown (FWP328) 118
1702
XF49
Graveyard Earth
Webbing
Tommy Green (FWP345) 83
1704
XF60
Camo Green
Helmet
Sherman Drab (FWP321) 155
2050
XF62 Catchan Green
Boots
Oxide Red (FWP382) 62
1701
XF10
Scorched Brown
HBT or "Herringbone Twill" denim fatigues HBT or "Herringbone Twill" denim fatigues One uniform Item that can cause confusion is the HBT or "Herringbone Twill" denim fatigues that the US Army issued. These were worn as working clothes during training etc. but were also worn over the top of the normal combat dress for amphibious operations such as the Tunisian and Normandy landings. The olive green colour of the HBT’s was similar to the colour of the later M1943 uniform, which we’ll look at later.

These two figures (Above and left) show a mixture of HBT shirt and trousers mixed with the OD woolen trousers and M1941 jacket. Again, this would be a common mix anywhere the G.I. fought.

The colour I’ve chosen to represent HBT is:

(Note. To differentiate between HBT and the M1943 uniform I’d suggest adding more white to the highlight colour for the HBT material) 

HBT shirt mixed with the OD woolen trousers HBT shirt mixed with the OD woolen trousers
Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Herringbone Twill US Dark Green VP893 116 2027 XF58 Catachan Green
Camouflage uniforms Camouflage uniforms Camouflage uniforms were issued for a select few units in the ETO, mainly some units of 2nd ID, 30th ID and 2nd AD in the Normandy battle. The experiment was short-lived due to the similarity with the German camouflage uniforms and some "friendly fire" incidents took place as a result of the confusion. But this does make for an interesting looking G.I.

This camouflage uniform was basically the HBT uniform printed in a camouflage pattern.

Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Base
Battlefield brown (FWP324) 187 2008 XF55 Kommado Khaki
Camo.
Oxide Red (FWP382) 62
1701 XF10 Bestial Brown
Camo.
Tankovy Green (FWP341) 116
2027 XF58 Catachan Green
Leggings
Military Khaki (FWP327) 121 1792 XF57 Kommando Khaki
Webbing
Tommy Green (FWP345) 83 1704 XF60 Camo Green
A trick I’ve learnt with camouflage uniform painting is once you’ve finished the pattern then go over the whole figure with a light dry brush of the original base colour. This should help blend in the pattern and prevent it from being to "loud".
30th Division 8th Division 92nd Division "Buffalo Soldiers" 29th Division

The M1943 uniform. This uniform is what usually springs to mind when thinking of the classic image of the wartime G.I.  It was the end result of U.S. Army research and testing to develop a purpose made combat uniform that could be worn anywhere, anytime. The guiding principal was the "layered approach" where you start with the basic uniform of Shirt and trousers then added jackets, liners, hoods etc to suit as the weather got colder or wetter.

This uniform, with a few modifications, has evolved into the current uniform worn by the U.S. military and many other countries today. The first issue was to the G.I.’s taking part in the Anzio landings in Italy and the new uniform proved itself an immediate success.

The M1943 uniform The M1943 uniform
Due to internal squabbling however, between the ETO command and the U.S. based command the issue of this, much improved, uniform was delayed until pretty much the end of the war for the troops already serving there. Most new troop formations that were shipped to the ETO after mid 1944 were wearing the new uniform but the rest had to soldier on through one of Europe’s worst winters wearing the older and less weather resistant uniform.

With the new uniform also came "Shoe Pac’s" which were an attempt to make the G.I.’s boots waterproof. They were a rubber and canvas overshoe that slipped over the boot and had metal clips to tighten. They were black in colour.

The colours I’ve chosen are:
Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
M1943 uniform
Tankovy Green (FWP341) 116
2027 XF58 Catachan Green
Webbing
Tommy Green (FWP345) 83
1704 XF60 Camo Green
Shoepacs
Panzer Grey (FWP303) 67
2094 XF63 Codex Grey
1st Division 2nd Division 3rd Division 4th Division
Tank crew Tank crew Tank crews had their own specialist uniforms issued to suit their requirements, namely bouncing around inside a tank! The most obvious symbols of the Tanker are the Windcheater jacket, which was highly sought after by all G.I.’s, and the M1942 Armoured forces Helmet.

This Tank crewman has a windcheater jacket over the top of HBT overalls and a Tankers helmet.
       
The colours I’ve chosen are:
Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Windcheater
Military Khaki (FWP327) 121
1792
XF57
Kommado Khaki
HBT overalls
Tankovy Green (FWP341) 116 2027 XF58 Catchan Green
Helmet
Sherman Drab (FWP321) 155 2050 XF62 Catchan Green
Goggles
Boot Brown (FWP323) 98 2100 XF64 Scorched Brown

An alternative to the HBT overalls was a bib fronted overall as worn under this figures windcheater jacket.

The colour I’ve chosen is: 

Tank Crew Tank Crew

1st Armoured Division

2nd Armoured Division

Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Bib overall
Military Khaki (FWP327) 121
1792
XF57
Kommado Khaki
Tank Crew in helmet Tank Crew in helmet The standard U.S helmet became popular with tank crews as the M1942 Tankers helmet offered no ballistic protection whatsoever. Also as the M1943 uniform became available Tankers were issued it as well.        

The colours I’ve chosen are:

Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Helmet
Sherman Drab (FWP321) 155 2050 XF62 Catchan Green
Jacket
Tankovy Green (FWP341) 121 1792 XF57 Catchan Green
Another type of headgear commonly worn by US Tankers is the Winter Combat Helmet. Although it looks like a pilots flying helmet it was in fact for Tankers use.

The colour I’ve chosen is:

Tanker in "Flying helmet" Tanker in "Flying helmet"
Uniform Part
Flames of War Paint Humbrol
Model-master
Tamiya
Games Workshop
Winter Tank Helmet
Military Khaki (FWP327) 121 1792 XF57 Kommando Khaki

Contrary to popular belief, if you’ve chosen an American force, you have a wide selection of paint schemes to choose from. Be it a "Gypsy" mixture for a veteran unit or "Uniform" appearance for a freshly landed bunch of Greenhorns enjoy your painting and gaming.

Cheers Evan