Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered:
A Guide To The Great War Tank Decal Sheets
with Blake Coster

The introduction of Great War bought the German A7V, the British Mark IV, and Mark A Whippet tanks to life in Flames Of War. Both the A7V and Mark IV box sets contain a nation-specific decal sheet in order for you to apply the appropriate markings to these steel beasts. In this article, I will explain what what each of the decals are and offer some advice on where they should be placed on your Great War miniatures.
Great War
The Great War of 1914-18 was global in its reach. Yet this global conflict would be decided by the mighty clashes upon the battlefields of Europe.

Learn more about Great War here...
Great War Decals Deciphered A7V Markings
National Insignia
The national insignia was a prominent feature on the A7V and usually consisted of several Maltese crosses painted on the front, sides, rear, and top of the vehicle. The number of crosses on the side of the vehicle could vary between one or two depending on the unit and timeframe in which they were applied.

Left: The Maltese crosses located on the German World War One tank decal sheet.
Below: An example of the single Maltese cross on the side of an A7V.
Below: An example of two Maltese crosses on the side of an A7V and one on the rear of the hull.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered

Tactical Numbers
Initially the A7V featured tactical numbers in the form of Roman numerals eg. I – V. The location of these numbers varied from vehicle to vehicle but the sides and the front of the hull were popluar. These markings could vary from a simple chalked-on version to a neatly painted variation.


Right: The German tactical numbers in the form of Roman numerals located on the German World War One tank decal sheet.

Great War Decals Deciphered
Below: An example of a tactical number on the rear of an A7V. Below: An example of a tactical number on the side of an A7V.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Tank Names
It was common practice for the Germans to name each A7V. These were written in white and located in the top right-hand corner on the front of the hull and the top left-hand corner on the rear of the hull.

Left: The tank names located on the German World War One tank decal sheet.
Below: An example of a tank name on the front of the hull of an A7V. Below: An example of a tank name on the rear of the hull of an A7V.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Other Markings
Certain units went so far as to adopt their own unique insignias. For example, the distinctive skull and crossbones of Abteilung 1. This was located below the 5.7cm gun on the front of the hull, sometimes surrounded by a black background.


Right: The Skull and Crossbones located on the German World War One tank decal sheet.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Below: The Skull & Crossbones surrounded by a black background. Below: The Skull & Crossbones without the black background.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered
Captured British Tanks
The Germans were quick to turn any captured tanks against their former owners. During 1918 captured Mark IV tanks were re-painted in the German colour scheme with a base coat of field grey with patches of ochre and brown.

Below: German troops examine a captured Mark IV that has been re-painted complete with Maltese crosses. Below: Posing with a knocked-out Mark IV formly in German service.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Any British markers were painted over and replaced with Maltese crosses. They also featured tanks names sometimes located on the front and rear of the hull or behind the gun sponsons. Interestingly, the Germans would match the gender of a captured Mark IV (Male or Female) with the appropriate name i.e. a male name for a male tank and vice versa for the female version.
Great War Decals Deciphered Mark A Whippet Markings
Tank Corps Markings
The Tank Corps marking consisted of white-red-white (the colours of the Tank Corps) vertical stripes painted on the front of the tracks. Sometimes these marking were also painted on the fuel tank or even across the engine deck.

Left: An example of a Mark A Whippet featuring the Tank Corps marking on the front of the tracks and the fuel tank.
Serial Numbers
Serial numbers were commonly found on the Whippet. These started with a capital ‘A’ followed by a three-digit number and were painted on the sides and sometimes the rear of fighting compartment using white paint.


Right: The Whippet serial numbers located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.

Below left & right: Examples of serial numbers on the sides and rear of the Whippet's fighting compartment.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Other Markings
Other than the serial numbers, other markings featured on the Whippet tended to vary from tank to tank. Many tanks were given names and these featured on the rear and sides of the fighting compartment, the sides of the hull, and on the fuel tank on located at the front of the hull. Some vehicles also bore large identification markings such as Arabic numerals on the side of the fighting compartment.

Left: The Whippet tank names located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.
Below: An example of a tank name on the rear of a Whippet's fighting compartment. Below: An example of other tactical markings located on the side of a Whippet's fighting compartment.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Mark IV Markings
Tank Corps Markings
Like the Whippet, the Mark IV also featured the Tank Corps marking consisting of white-red-white (the colours of the Tank Corps) vertical stripes. These were painted on the front horns of the tracks also well as the top of the cab.


Right: An example of a Mark IV featuring the Tank Corps markings on the front horns.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Serial Numbers
The Mark IV, like the Whippet, also carried serial numbers in the form of a three- to four-digit War Department number. These were commonly found on the front horns behind the Tank Corp markings or towards the rear behind the gun sponsons.

Left: The Mark IV serial numbers located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.
Below: An example of the serial number located behind the Tank Corp marking on a Mark IV. Below: An example of the serial number located towards the rear of the Mark IV behind gun sponsons.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Tank Names
The initial of the name give to a tank was specific to the battalion to which it belonged. For example, ‘Hilda’ would below to ‘H’ battalion and ‘Charlie’ would below to ‘C’ battalion.


Tank names were commonly found on the front horns and even on the front of the hull.


Right: The Mark IV tank names located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Below: Examples of tank names 'Hypatia' and 'Hotspur II' on featured on two Mark IV tanks.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Identification Numbers
Identification numbers followed the same convention as the tank names. The letter indicated the battalion and the number identified each individual tank. For example, 'J10' specified tank number ‘10’ of ‘J’ Battalion. These numbers were generally located on the front horns of the Mark IV.

Left: The Mark IV identification numbers located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.
Below: An example of identification numbers 'J21' and 'F4' on Mark IV tanks.
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered
Captured Mark IV Tank
The British World War One decal sheet also includes Maltese crosses in order to represent captured Mark IV female tanks available to German forces in Great War. Captured Mark IVs usually featured two Maltese crosses, one either side of the gun sponson.


Right: The Maltese crosses located on the British World War One tank decal sheet.

Below left & right: Examples of captured Mark IV tanks in German service featuring Maltese crosses.
Great War Decals Deciphered
Great War Decals Deciphered Great War Decals Deciphered

I hope this article helps you when it comes time to apply the decals to your British and German tanks for Great War.

Till next time; happy modelling.

~ Blake.


Last Updated On Thursday, August 28, 2014 by Blake at Battlefront