Home > Reviews > Britain > WARPAINT – Colours & Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003 Volume 2. Mushroom Model Publications, Green Series.

WARPAINT – Colours & Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003 Volume 2

Reviewed by Al Bowie



WARPAINT – Colours & markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003 Volume 1 by Dick Taylor
Mushroom Model Publications Green Series No. 4104



Media and Contents:

Soft Cover A4 portrait style with 176 pages including Colour plates and B&W and colour photos plus extensive tables and a superb Bibliography/ reading list


GBP15.99 available online from Mushroom Model Publications

Review Type:

First Read


First to cover this topic to such detail. Excellent reference for the modeller or collector of British Military vehicles post 1903




Highly Recommended



For the nation that invented the tank and one having such a military history interspersed with the employment of Armoured and non armoured vehicles, very little is published on British Military Vehicles. Continuing on the strong foundation of Volume 1 Mr Taylor has added another important title to the slowly growing library on the subject.

Dick Taylor not only leans on his skill as an historian but also his career serving on British Armour from the rank of Trooper upward. This intimate knowledge of British Army vehicles is woven with meticulous and detailed research to provide an excellent reference on British Army Vehicles colour schemes and Squadron and callsigns from their beginnings in 1903 until 2003. The Acknowledgements list reads like a who’s who of all things British Armour, while the Bibliography looks like the catalogue for the Army Records office and a dream library.

This volume covers the subjects of painting & camouflage of WWII and sub-unit markings and callsigns. These are subjects of great debate and whilst other titles exist that cover these I can think of none that handle it in such detail and in one title.

Volume Two


  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Warpaint Vol. 2 Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
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This Volume is thorough and Mr Taylor's research has been extensive, broadly encompassing the subject paint and camouflage in a mere 100 odd pages, with callsigns and sub unit markings and callsigns in an additional 75 . Text is presented in sensible groupings and well supported by copies of official schemes and many great photos of actual examples. Miscellaneous and local schemes have been covered in addition to the official schemes, which was a pleasant surprise.

The Author has not confined his research to Army equipment and vehicles but includes RN & RAF vehicles alongside the more common Army Schemes. A chronological listing of schemes and a thorough section on the paints including the various standard and non standard families of paint used provide a wealth of information to the reader.

One snippet of information unearthed from an Australian Middle Eastern War Diary regarding the much debated Caunter scheme I found particularly interesting given the debates that rage amongst the modelling community on colours:

“There is no real check (i.e. quality control) on actual colours to be used for camouflage, and the present colours supplied are just copies taken many times by different local manufacturers. The result is that the colours supplied vary a lot”.

The section concludes with colour plates of various AFV’s in a variety of schemes.

The second half of the title is devoted to what many consider a black art – British Sub Unit markings and Call signs. This is highly welcome and covers not only World War II but spans the period WW 1 through to 2003 Iraq.

This section has many tables illustrating the very confusing array of Squadron and Troop markings used and explain a lot in an easy to understand format. The reader will need to take their time with this title as the amount of information is enormous. Despite many claims by confused modellers over the years, the British used a system and it does make sense. It is like Cricket – it makes sense once you know the rules and have watched it a few times.

Non-standard (2 Digit) callsign systems are covered in great detail and the listing for a few of the formations that used these is very welcome. It also illustrates that these were not transferrable between formations with differences quite apparent. The only error I found in the book was in the captioning of a well known photo of a 33 AB Sherman I (Hybrid) labelled as possibly a Staffordshire Yeomanry vehicle (They used Sherman III’s  and were in 27 AB). The actual vehicle is either 144 or 148 RAC.

Mr Taylor has gone to the extra mile and included The Royal Artillery System and ultra rare listings for softskins where callsigns were used such as RASC DUKW’s in the Normandy Campaign.

Post-war callsigns and geometric signs are given equal time to the extensive WWII coverage and individual conflicts and the official callsign systems of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s are documented. Iraq 2003 and Batus end the section but are followed by References & Bibliography which include official documents and published references which give an insight into the thoroughness of research undertaken.

The title is filled with clear images and diagrams of the official schemes and many of these are supplied in colour with many colour illustrations of the various Geometric and vehicle markings. This balance really lifts this book above its peers.

I claimed in my review of Volume 1 that I thought it is one of the best references on the subject I have read. After reading Volume Two I am more than happy to add this title to the same pedestal and look forward to Dick Taylor’s Vol III & IV but also his title on British Army AFV Crewman of WW2.

If I had any criticism of the book it would again be some the captions. A little more information would reinforce the information in the text. For instance there is a well known picture of a Guards Armd Sherman which is labelled as “Guards Sherman Firefly 2C using the later system” I believe it would have been more beneficial to identify the Tp, Vehicle CS and Sqn shown thus illustrating the system.

I would recommend this book for those with an interest in British military vehicles whether as a modeller, Historian or collector. It is well written, superbly researched and presented in an easy to read manner. I believe this will become an essential title for modellers of WW2 British Armour and I eagerly await the follow ons.

Highly recommended to the Collector, Modeller or Historian

Review book purchased from Platypus Publications (first Platypus shipment has sold out. New stocks expected mid-October)