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Friday, March 4, 2016

NATO Tri-Color Camo in 6mm

by Allen Smith - (also works in 15mm)
Since TY was released, there has been a lot of discussion about the color and camo pattern to be used for the game.  Basically, should the M1 be a solid forest green color?  Should it have the MERDC pattern?  Should it have Tri-Color?
The beauty of Team Yankee is that you can basically do what you want!  So with that in mind, I decided to go NATO Tri-Color.
My reasoning was… well… laziness and historical reasons.  For laziness, I did not want to do MERDC as it is a 4 color camo pattern – granted two colors are a vast percentage of the surface area and the other colors are a much smaller percentage.  But that means work.  And I don’t want to work.  Oh yeah, the M1 was not in MERDC, but that is another story.  I didn’t want to use a simple forest green color because I do want a contrast on the table with Soviets running around in their plain green vehicles.  So I went with the Tri-Color.  Of course, the pattern did start appearing in 1984, so it really isn’t too much of a stretch to say the least.
Too much work in 6mm!
Now, what is the pattern?  I am no expert on the subject at all.  I am sure we will see stuff posted from BF on the subject, but at a high level it is a common scheme that all NATO members agreed to paint their vehicles.  One purpose for the common scheme was to eliminate the possibility of the WARPAC units deciphering the nation they were facing by simply looking at the camo pattern.  Sounds reasonable.
So off I went ready to paint all my vehicles with green, brown and black splotches!
And not so fast my friend…
I had to find examples of the pattern for M1s.  After scouring the internet for pictures and other models and images, I finally stumbled on the exact specifications in the US Army Technical Bulletin: TB-43-0209.  Now this document was published in 1990 or 1991, but it is the pattern used in the 80's.  And guess what?  If you look in the document, you can paint by numbers!
For example, the specifications for the M1:

Get those coloring pencils ready!
 And the M113:

So armed with colored pencils, I filled in the camo pattern.  That gave me the template to work off of for my 6mm vehicles.  The good thing about 6mm is that we just have to give the inference on the pattern.  The scale is small enough that we do not have to be 100% accurate.  For example:
Colored pattern

M113 right side (compare to pattern above)
M113 top side (compare to pattern above)
As for the paint colors, well I cheated.  I saw that Mig AMMO had two acrylic sets available – NATO Tri-Color and Modern Soviet (1956+).

Being lazy, I grabbed these immediately.  And the colors are great.  The NATO set comes with Matte Black, NATO Brown and NATO Green.  Note about the brand.  They are a bit thinner than Vallejo.  This is good and bad.  The good is that it works great in an airbrush.  The bad is that you will need to do several layers when using a brush.  This normally is not an issue, but when you are painting a camo pattern in 6mm, it would be great if you didn’t have to do it several times.  Now don’t get me wrong!  I like the paints and I would encourage you to use the set.  I just wanted to give a heads up.
My process:

1)     I use Vallejo Surface Primer Nato Green to prime all my vehicles.  The color is good, but it is a bit too dark to really use as a base coat.  I apply this with an airbrush at a PSI around 13 to 15.
2)     Once completely dried, I apply the Mig AMMO NATO Green color to the vehicle with an airbrush (same PSI).  With a thinner application, you can pick up the darker undertone of the primer in places.  So don’t think you have to soak the model in paint.
The M48 primed and base coated

3)     Once this is dry, then it is time for the brush.  I start with NATO Brown.  I chose to start with this because it is the smallest surface area of the camo pattern.  Green and black are much more of the pattern.  That means I can use the brown as a type of landmark on the vehicles because at 6mm, the camo pattern will not be 100% accurate.  But what is important is to be consistent from vehicle to vehicle because they are all supposed to look identical.  I start with an entire stick of vehicles, paint the brown, then go back to the first and repeat the process to build up the color.  Feel free to leave a single coat if you want more of a faded color and effect.
M60 with NATO Brown applied

4)     After the brown is dry enough to handle, I apply the NATO Black color from the set.  Using the brown as reference, this process goes quickly.


5)     Now comes the optional part of the process.  To the dismay of many, I actually apply a pin wash in 6mm.  It really is not as bad as you think and the effect works very well – especially on desert tan!  Here with the camo, the trick is to hit the areas that you want to create depth.  In 6mm, you really are not hitting panel lines.  What you are hitting are engine decks, stowage, hatches, lights, anything that you will hit with a dry brush later you want to pin wash around to really make the details pop.  And hit the tracks / road wheels with a very heavy and liberal wash.  In 6mm, this is really the only weathering you need to do on the road wheels and under carriage.  I use the Mig Dark Wash for this process.  And because it is an enamel, make sure you let it dry completely before the next step.

6)     Taking Vallejo Iraqi Sand, apply a dry brush on the entire model.  Go heavier on hatches and things that stick out.  Go heavy, but not as heavy on all the exposed angles of the vehicle – like the front, the hard angles on the M1, etc.  Then do a light dry brush across the whole vehicle.  This last step will do two things for you in 6mm – it will give a weathered effect and it will soften the camo lines.  This really is the secret sauce here because it is so flippin’ easy and the results are superb.

7)     Paint a few details, like the tracks (Vallejo Panzer Grey) and any lights you may wish to paint.

8)     Place on the table and have fun!
Finished result

Finished result close up
With those steps above, you can blitz your way through 6mm.  If you want to save some time, you can apply the wash as a full wash using a thinner wash.  It works, but for my taste it just does not work as well.

While the steps are similar for 15mm, you can do a lot more details and color modulation effects.  That will just have to be another post!

Good luck with whatever pattern you choose!

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