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British Army Tank painting and marking guide.

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I have been looking at my decal sheet for my Trumpeter Challenger 2 and it has a lot of interesting markings, however I have no clue about tank regiment markings beyond the A Triangle B Box C Circle HQ Diamond thing.

Is there a good link to an easy guide for the mid 1990's Challengers and also for the BAOR Chieftans as I have one of those to do as well.





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Okay, some internetting later I have come up with this:


Triangle - A squadron

Square - B squadron

Circle - C squadron

Rectangle - D squadron

Diamond - HQ squadron


11B - Rgt Cdr Officer

22B - Rgt 2ic

OB - Squadron Cdr Officer

OC - Squadron 2ic




40 - 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Troop's Commander's tanks respectively

11 & 12

21 & 22

31 & 32

41 & 42 - 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Troop's tanks respectively

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All those callsigns would have different meanings at Squadron, Regimental or Battle Group levels.  However, given the squadron symbols we can be sure that 11-42 on this decal sheet are indeed troop tanks.  10-40 in those same symbols would be troop commanders' tanks, which on this decal sheet you would need to make up yourself.  10-40 in the HQ diamond would be quite different personalities: probably not people allocated their own tank.  The large white on black callsigns are exercise markings only and would mirror the smaller tactical symbol markings.  


The commander of any net, "Sunray", was always 0A and the command post or station was always 0.  AFAIK, 0B  was the standby control station ready to take over the net if 0 should go off air, with 0C being the standby for 0B.  However, Battle Group command callsign indicators didn't follow the "standard" regimental and squadron pattern.  So the Regimental CO and Squadron OCs would all be 0A on their own nets, which are the callsigns you display.  Squadron OCs, CPs and sometimes other SHQ personalities would have different callsigns on the Regimental net, but would not display them.  They had the joy of monitoring 2 nets simultaneously.


On this decal sheet I would say that 0B and 0C are probably battle group HQ callsigns, with 0B probably the BG 2i/c.  11B and 22B could be either regimental or squadron HQ callsigns, with 22B possibly being the 2i/c.  11B could possibly be the SSM or RSM.


I used to have a pretty complete set of callsign indicator matrixes from my time in the 90's as a reservist signaller, but they all had to go in the bin as the ink had reacted with the plastic pouches over time making them illegible.  Now I wish I'd taken the time to transcribe them.

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Call signs  for sabre troops when I was in BAOR;

I was in "A Squadron".............this was given the number prefix one(1) and the squadron symbol was a triangle a red triangle with yellow shading, had I have been in "B Troop" the prefix would have been a Square with number prefix beginning with a 2;the square was red with yellow shading, "C Troop" was a red circle with yellow shading and prefix began with a 3.

In the mid 60s, officially each troop had 4 tanks, however, only 3 were ever used at one time, the 4th was classed as war reserve and cacooned on the tank park with about a dozen other tanks which were also war reserve from other troops and squadrons.  Because of restrictions on tank mileage(about 500 miles per year  was the limit - give or take a few miles)these reserve tanks were rotated every 6 months to help with shared mileage and to be modified with up and coming mods in the LAD or Base workshops.

Therefore, as we now have only 3 tanks per troop, these were sub divided.......in "A Sqdn" we had 3 troops, A troop, B troop and C troop.  Their call signs were allocated in the following order........."A" troop officer in charge had the prime number 1.....therefore, A squadron, "A Troop" officer in charge was known as 11.    The troop sergeant had the next tank in the chain, he was prefixed with a letter, that being first letter of the alphabet "A"  therefore A Sqdn troop sergeant was 13A, next in the chain was the troop corporal............he had the alphabetic letter "B", so the troop corporal was 13B..............there you have it.  White recognition numbers were painted onto a black Jerri-can attatched to a mounting on the rear of the turret, if a turret bustle(basket)is fitted a black board was made up with call sign numbers painted on it and hung by string or wire from the basket.  Regimental crests/badges/insignia depending on the regiment standing orders would be displayed somewhere on the turret.............in my case, 9/12th Royal Lancers, the regimental badge about 18" x 12" was displayed on the front of one of the turret bins.............check your photos for reference.

Regimental Head Quarters, which had the Commanding Officer of the Regiment - call sign 0 (Zero), second in command, would begin with 0A Zero Alpha

As a post script each sabre squadron had its own LAD(REME)detachment..........these displayed there own reme insignia and carried their callsigns began with the squadron prefix(be it 1;2;3;4) but there final digit ended with an "8"......so A troop REME Breakdown would be 18.........usually brought up the rear of convoys on exercise and were to be seen carrying a blue flag..............blue meaning last vehicle in convoy............it would always be last in the convoy as if anyone broke down, as last vehicle in convoy, they would come across it.

As time moved on, some Regiments moved there callsigns to bazooka/side skirt plates

"Sunray" was the most senior person on the tank, every tank had a "Sunray"(no first names or ranks)........if "sunray" was not around when a radio message arrived(generally a sitrep) , it was normal to introduce yourself as "Sunray minor" I was a radio operator on tanks for about 4 years and continual conversations between tanks was acheived by checking call signs written on back of turrets usually with binos



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Good work chaps!


I love this place when you get good gen straight from the horse's mouth.  :yes:

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  • 3 years later...

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