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What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Hi all,

British uniforms from American War of Independence (maybe also WSS?) through to Zulu Wars used red colour dye but some collectors paint their figures anywhere from a scarlet or blood red to with a more orange hue for Zulu war uniform. Was the orangey colour due to the dye being bleached in the sun or just worn out during many laundry washes for example? What paints/colours would you recommend for the British infantry in the field during:

- American War of Independence
- Napoleonic era (inc. War of 1812)
- Zulu War (or any other colonial war)

There was a Humbrol paint "British Scarlet" #178 that was more orange but that's discontinued now. Was planning on using Citaldel Evil Sunz Scarlet for all eras but Zulu War...

Thanks in advance,

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Hi have you tried Model Color 817
Scarlet? It's very close to the old Humbrol master piece.
Humbrol had the best feldgrau 111 and the best blue for French Napoleonic infantry 104.
Sadly unmatched today IMHO.

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Look for a fairly dull brick red which was the color of NCO's and private's coats when new - with campaign wear it became more brown. Officers had their own uniforms tailor made, and their coats were scarlet. Officers coats were made of a finer broadcloth and dyed with insect based cochineal dye rather than plant based madder dye of the other ranks so your officers should have a distinctly different scarlet shade to your rank and file figures in crimson.

Here's a few suggestions http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=301373

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

I think the British army changed from the brick red/brownish colour to something much more like scarlet not long before the Zulu War. Not with my books just now so can't check, I'm afraid.

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

It depends....watch the famous portrait of Wellington from Francisco de Goya....
Pure scarlet...I know I know...was a lord; but pretty near to Vallejo Model Color Scarlet

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Haven't found my books, and this is not authoritative, but:

From the mid-17th century to the 19th century, the uniform of most British soldiers (apart from artillery, rifles and light cavalry) included a madder red coat or coatee. From 1873 onwards, the more vivid shade of scarlet was adopted for all ranks, having previously been worn only by officers, sergeants and all ranks of some cavalry regiments.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_coat_(military_uniform)

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

IMHO, trying to find an "accurate" colour is a fool's errand. The Model Colour mentioned sounds like a good bet, it's just not worth agonising over.

The results of a non-standard dye production, and the effects of lighting conditions, bleaching and dirt and distress all affect the appearance of colour and mean that there will be no one right colour. Then, you have to factor in the effect of scale.

The Way of Sanity, by contrast, is to pick a colour that looks right to you, but, I agree with the others that there would be a discernable difference between officers and ORs, so a flatter, more brick red for the ORs and a richer hue for officers. Don't overdo it, though, because the difference may not be so profound at scale.

As a footnote, scarlet, though having its origins in the New Model Army, had only recently become standard at the time of the WSS (there were, e.g. blue-coated regiments at the Boyne). Even then, as officers distained "regimentals", Marlborough was still having to remind his that they were supposed to wear red. Further, some officers wore crimson, some regiments clothed SNCOs in crimson, one or two seem to have reserved scarlet for SNCOs and above and clothed the men in crimson!

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Totally agree, of course.. I just thought that Vallejo's scarlet could could be a good help and that old Humbrol's were very good too
Nothing else to say

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

+1 Edwardian.

The hours I've spent trying to decide upon "authentic" colours!

The revelation came with a photo of late war German tunics: about 10 of them. Not one was even close to the colours of any other. If a C20th industrial power (albeit getting a kicking from the Allies) could not colour match uniforms, what hope did C17 & C18th armies have?

I could add the received wisdom is to paint our small figures with a brighter shade than recommended because otherwise they'll look dull, even dingy (28mm figures, the reverse).

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

I took a picture of a rifle section of the Black Watch battlegroup in southern Iraq in 2003. There are nine soldiers in the photograph. No two are dressed exactly the same. Some have desert camouflage trousers and European camo tunics. Others have the reverse combination. Some had desert boots, others black leather footwear. Some kit was brand new. Much was faded by weather and time. With all kinds of variations in between. And that's the 21st Century. :smile:

Re: What is the closest colour to British Redcoat Uniforms?

Thanks everyone

Alan, that's what I thought too. Weathering and probably exposure to blazing sun, changes brand-spanking new red to more orange/scarlet over time.



Btw. Experimenting with Citadel's new Contrast paints recently, I found mixing 3 parts Gryph-hound Orange to 1 part Blood Angels Red gives me the shade needed for Wellington in India, or Zulu War British.

Re: German tunics in color

Paint dog
+1 Edwardian.

The hours I've spent trying to decide upon "authentic" colours!

The revelation came with a photo of late war German tunics: about 10 of them. Not one was even close to the colours of any other. If a C20th industrial power (albeit getting a kicking from the Allies) could not colour match uniforms, what hope did C17 & C18th armies have?

I could add the received wisdom is to paint our small figures with a brighter shade than recommended because otherwise they'll look dull, even dingy (28mm figures, the reverse).
I've seen that photo, but the problem is it's useless as a historical reference as it stands. There is no provenance for the garments in the photo, and no indication of whether they belonged to a front line grenadier or a rear HQ clerk typist. More critically, the conditions they have been stored under since the 1940's: a parade or walking out tunic that has been worn briefly then stored in a trunk in Oma's attic will be radically different in color to a service uniform that has been displayed in a glass case for half a century - even though they looked the same when first issued from the QM stores - there is a very good reason why most museums ban flash photography - even of tanks and heavy equipment after all.

I'm reminded of the great mistake in Louisiana Tiger jackets from the ACW: based on surviving examples, they were brown with red trim and that was they way they appeared in Osprey books and on reenactors for a generation or more. Except that in 1978 the discovery of the graves of privates Dennis Corcoran and Michael O'Brien, who were executed in December 1861, resulted in some concrete evidence of some elements of the uniforms. A scientific investigation of the few scraps of textiles in the graves led to the conclusion that the jackets were originally blue with red trim!

Re: German tunics in color

Stuart
[I've seen that photo, but the problem is it's useless as a historical reference as it stands. There is no provenance for the garments in the photo, and no indication of whether they belonged to a front line grenadier or a rear HQ clerk typist. More critically, the conditions they have been stored under since the 1940's: a parade or walking out tunic that has been worn briefly then stored in a trunk in Oma's attic will be radically different in color to a service uniform that has been displayed in a glass case for half a century


Interesting point, Stuart. I hadn't thought of that. I still think you have to allow some, maybe even quite a degree of variation though maybe not as much as in the photo in question. Uniforms that a group might be wearing may come from several sources that have intrinsic differences.

Ian's post (above) seems to bear this out.

Re: German tunics in color

I once read a post a few years ago from a guy who had been in school just after WW2 who said that all the kids used ex British rucksacks to carry there books to school because they were so cheap at army & navy stores, & out of the twenty or so rucksacks there in the class not one matched another exactly.
which in my mind says that there is not one right colour but a range of colours that could be used for uniforms without being wrong.:slightly_smiling_face:

Re: German tunics in color

The Red has not changed, variation is about age and weathering, so like the guard at Buckingham palace for new uniform , and variations for service in the field.

School bags

Yes, they were all the rage (as in all the cool kids had one) when I was at school in the late 1960's. We used to paint all kinds of designs and pictures on the flap. They came in several colors: RAF blue and Army khaki, from various sources.

Some had been recycled and still had the serviceman's name or number on them, many of the ex army ones had been treated with "blanco" paste (which itself came in different shades of green, khaki and white); others were new unissued surplus stocks made in the UK and other countries. Canadian made web gear was different in color to Australian and Indian manufacture (hence the use of blanco paste to give a uniform appearance): Indian made webbing was a distinctive almost yellow shade of khaki compared to the light brown stuff made elsewhere, and often had black or gunmetal fittings instead of the usual brass.

When I am emperor of this galaxy though, I shall institute a rule that every army taking part in a war must us the same uniform all the way from start to finish, not change pattern and color half way through!

Can I get an Amen, brethren?:grin:

Re: School bags

I still have a gas mask bag, WW2 issue, purchased for 15p about 1970 , it once held all by bits and bobs for fishing, I know have a double garage that overflows, time change :innocent: