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3 Inch Rocket Colours?

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As part of my F6F Hellcat build I've been researching the colours to be applied to the 3" Rockets with 60lb HE Warheads...and I'm confused! 


One source I found states the rocket body is light brunswick green, approximately US Light Green, Humbrol 117. A second states they should be a dark bronze green, close to Humbrol 75. 

The warheads are stated to be "Olive Green" Humbrol  155, whilst another says BS 285, which is NATO Green, the best match seems to be Humbrol 242, dunkle grun. 


Obviously colours changed with supplier and paint source, but does anyone have a view on the best match? Any suggestions much appreciated! 

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1 hour ago, 224 Peter said:

Obviously colours changed with supplier and paint source,

No.  Armament colours were specified, and also denote use....  



On 25/04/2013 at 20:54, Selwyn said:

In WW2 The rocket Body of British 3 " rockets could be either Bronze green or White.

(White would probably have been provided for use by the FAA on aircraft with white underside camoflage as green rockets would compromise the camoflage scheme)

The colour of the warhead depended on the type of warhead being used. The rocket type that appears in most model kits have the bulged nose of the 60lb SAP (Semi Armour Piercing) head. This too is Bronze green with a 1/2" white and a 1/2" red band near the nose, and a 1" Eau de nil band around the centre of the head.

There were actually 5 different warheads available for operational use on the 3" rocket, and two different types of concrete practice heads (25lb and 60lb) all these had a different colour scheme depending on type and role.




On 27/04/2013 at 16:02, Selwyn said:


I must admit I have never seen or heard of a Black rocket motor in operational use. I have seen Black 3" rockets on display in museums, but as Black in the WW2 colour system indicates "inert" that is not suprising!

What must be understood that all the colours used on munitions mean something. A munition will be painted overall in what is known as its "Operational" colour and marked with bands of various colours and sizes (or alternatively the colour of the ident lettering used on it!) to indicate its "Role" and other markings display the item Explosive content, down to the type of explosive used. The rocket motor manufacturers would be required to mark their munitions in accordance with the official marking systems laid down by the Military.

As most images of these 3" rockets are seen in Black and White pictures in shadows under aircraft wings and then cross referring to museum items as well, its not a shock that the assumption is that they were black.

As the warhead was supplied seperately to the motor it would have its own seperate markings. the examples I gave above are case in point.

To "Read" the 60lb SAP head - Medium Bronze green overall indicates it is an operational item, the red band indicates it is an Explosive item , the white band - Semi Armour Piercing. The Eau de Nil - indicates a High Explosive fill, and the type of explosive is marked in letters- RDX (for example) that would be stencilled on the Eau de Nil band.

Reading The 25 lb head. Overall black -signifies inert (this round was a solid shot) the white nose and band- Armour Piercing.

The "operational" colour used by the RAF in WW2 on all its munitions was Medium Bronze Green BS 223 and was the overall base colour seen on all British bombs/aircraft munitions manufactured post 41ish (thats an ballpark estimate! the changover was gradual) I am not sure of the changeover from Light Buff, which was the previously used Operational colour that originated from markings used on British shells from Victorian times. This colour was not made obsolete at the changeover (instigated by the RAF as a camoflage measure), The British Army operational shells throughout WW2 were still painted Buff. This Buff colour was present in BS381c from the start and eventually became BS 358.

The British colour marking system was changed and added to during and after the war with colours added and amended to warn of hazards present in new weapons developed at that time. This system lasted until 1964 when the British changed completely to the NATO munitions marking system. At the same time the British Operational Colour changed to overall Deep Bronze Green BS 224. Recently (in the last ten years) this operational colour has officially changed again to Camoflage Grey BS 626,( again for camoflage reasons) for new weapons such as Paveway IV as seen on Grey Tornados.

Another thing that causes confusion to modellers comes from looking at WW2 pictures showing US manufactured bombs that were supplied to the RAF. These arrived marked in the US system of marking with HE marked in a yellow band system on their Olive drab operational colour.

You could write a (long) book on this subject!



On 29/04/2013 at 16:59, johnnyboy said:

Below are some of the pictures of British Rockets I have collected












Note the comment that BS is not a wartime colour system though. 


Great thread here



but note


On 03/03/2017 at 12:41, Selwyn said:

In  real life the Rocket motor and Warhead were painted the same colour green, however these components were supplied as two seperate items that were assembled  as required just before fitting to the rails.   Both items would have been  stored differently, some packaged, some not, open stacked or in makeshift shelters and this would cause the paint to  fade  or stain in various ways which became really obvious as the two components would look very different in colour and hue  when finally assembled.  The only rule on this would be that there was no rule! You could have  two items that were direct from manufacture which would look like they dropped out of a rocket showroom on the  rail next to one heavily faded. Its your model, your choice.




@Selwyn is the chap for this kind of info as you can see!



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2 hours ago, dogsbody said:

What I've got:








a caveat, the above I'd treat with  caution on colour call outs,  as they are not the names of British colours, and are not even accurate as to what some should be (as in the colours assigned to fillings )and the rockets tails are shown as black,  when they are orange..



I know the above is posted in good faith  @dogsbody,  just trying to clarify what I have learned, mostly from @Selwyn though! 

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28 minutes ago, Troy Smith said:

I know the above is posted in good faith  @dogsbody,  just trying to clarify what I have learned, mostly from @Selwyn though! 


No worries! I never claimed it was accurate. Just put it out there. It's one of those little details that get missed or forgotten until someone else is interested enough to ask about. Maybe a topic should be started concerning armament colours so it's all in one place and so those interested can look there without re-asking the old question over and over.




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Thanks @dogsbody, @Selwyn, @Troy Smith and everyone for helping me clarify what the colours should be: I've decided on Hu 75 for the bodies and Hu 155 for the weareheads, and also the bombs, if I fit them. 

I'll use the same colours for the Airfix Typhoon, which awaits me once the F6F is finished and I've tidied up a few loose ends (i.e. unfinished kits)





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