Tuesday 18 January 2011

Painting the US M1942 Paratrooper Uniform

Just a quick tutorial, focusing more on the colours than the process. I decided to do two variations, since there seems to be widely divergent views on what exactly the M1942 Paratrooper uniform actually looked like: this is my take on it, not gospel. For what it’s worth I used the examples here (Picture example) as my main guide. 

If you can get it, there are three more uniform variations in the old FOW Intelligence Briefing, ‘D-1’, so look there for alternate schemes. I've also left out reinforced patches on knees, elbows, etc., for simplicity.

The M1942 Variation I

I start from a black undercoat, doing the netting-covered helmet first. I failed miserably to get a good set of sequence shots with this: basically I start with an overall coat of VMC Brown Violet over the helmet, wash with black, dry-brush with Brown Violet, then again with Brown Violet mixed with something lighter (here, VPA US Tankcrew Highlight). Once that netting-covered helmet is done, the base colours are painted elsewhere.

The webbing (and scrim on the helmet) was painted BV as a base, then VPA US Tankcrew Uniform. Flesh VGC Tan, then Dwarf skintone. Leather items (Boots, leather straps on rifles, pistol holsters, etc) was done with VMC Flat Brown + a bit of black, wood with any dark brown and the overall uniform with Coat ‘d Arms 508 Olive Drab (or VMA Olive Grey). Metal areas black.

The uniform was then painted with VPA Canvas, leather with a 1:1 mix of VMC Flat Brown and VMC Red Leather, wood with VMC Flat Earth, entrenching tool handle and bayonet scabbard with Brown Violet. Metal with VMC German Grey.

Highlights were then applied, VMC London Grey to metal areas, VPA New Wood to wood. VGC Elf Flesh to flesh, VMC Red Leather to leather. Webbing was a 1:1 mix of VPA US Tankcrew Uniform and the highlight colour. The M1942 was then highlighted with a 2:1 mix of VPA Canvas and VPA US Tankcrew Highlight.

(Click for double-sized versions)

This was the colour scheme I had I my head, a ‘theoretical’ one if you will, but which when applied to a figure has one main problem for me: the lack of contrast. The colour is not ‘wrong’ to my mind, but too similar to the webbing. The result is a figure which is quite subdued and mostly Olive Drab: historical of course, but I wanted to try something else as well, hence the scheme below.

The M1942 Variation II

A brighter, greener variation.

Again starting from a black undercoat, I used a similar process as above.
The main difference here was painting the uniform from C’dA Olive Drab to VPA Canvas, but using a different highlight colour. In this case I used the suggestion by Evan Allen on the main Flames of War site, from his article on painting US Airborne Uniforms. Here he recommends a mix of 80% VMC 882 Middlestone, 20% VMC 893 US Dark Green for the M1924 Uniform. This I used to highlight the Canvas after the initial block paint, the other colours were identical.

(Click for double-sized versions)

Overall the figure looks a fair bit brighter and there is more contrast between uniform and webbing. This is not more accurate by any means, but it is more attractive on a 15mm miniature. That, to my mind, makes the miniature look ‘better’, and is now the scheme I personally prefer.



  1. Excellent tutorial, although I just can't seem to find the patience to do this much detail on my 15mm figs. My painting skills were honed on 28mm and scaling down to 15mm has been very hard indeed.

  2. Your painting and tutorials are superb leaving many grateful viewers!


  3. Beautiful. It would be a true treat to encounter your forces on the table.

  4. Thank you very much for the tutorial and the great pics. Greatly admire your painting style and efforts so its great to see how you do it. Now I just have to try and emulate it somehow :)


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