Colors And Markings Of The Armored Units

A rigid set of instructions regarding the colors, markings and insignia of armored units does not seem to have existed prior to 1922. Nevertheless, general patterns emerge based 011 photographic evidence and collected information.

Base colors were similar to those used in World War 1; however, patterns of camouflage emerged in the second half of the ciril war. Re vol utio nan-slogans appeared occasionally on tanks, armored cars and armored trains, vetted for political correctness by the attached commissar. Flags of the armored units were normally rectangular, with a base color of red. surmounted by white letters or designs and sometimes yellow-gold, but the more elaborate ones could include many colors.

Armored Trains

The base colors of armored trains were usually olive green, dark green, naval gray, dark steel gray, or khaki. By 1919, a few trains began sporting camouflage patterns of green and olive green and even a winter pattern that seems to have included white, a yellow-ochre or gray, and green, die splotches being delineated by black lines.

From autumn 1918, crews began placing numbers, names, unit designations and the letters "RSFSR" in white or red on the sides of select wagons. This process continued throughout 1919 and had been completed by 1920. Simple red stars, or those with white borders, adorned certain wagons along with the red crossed axe and anchor emblem of the railway units and the red wings, crossed cannons and wheel emblem of the armored train forces. Based on photographic evidence, crews were allowed a certain creative expression within the bounds of political correctness.

Gun wagon, twin semi-open turrets, constructed at Bryansk (76.2mm guns, two machine guns to a side). Winter camouflage Is possibly grey, white and black. This train served on the Southern Front in igig. Side insignia (red), top to bottom: star - "RSFSR" -"Armored Train No. 59" - In Honor of Sverdlov. (Kolomiets)

Photo German Armored Trains

Armored Cars

Armored cars were painted overall in olive, dark olive or naval gray. By 1921-22 select vehicles began appearing in camouflage patterns, olive and/or khaki contrasting against dark olive and dark olive opposite yellow ochre. Occasionally an entire detachment could have the same pattern, but a single car could appear in camouflage alone and alongside those that did not.

Names, when they appeared, were painted in white or red on either an olive or a gray base, along the sides and over or under the driver's apertures on the front. Vehicles did not always have distinctive insignia. Those that did could have many designs, an "Adam's Head," known in the West as the "skull and crossbones," simple brush-stroke stars, a slogan in simple or elaborately enlarged script, or the name of a particular detachment. Some had the "RSFSR" (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic) national designation on the sides.


Mark V and Mark A tanks were retained in their original dark green color, or had lighter green splotches over-painted to create camouflage. The single Mark B captured in North Russia had the dark green/light green scheme in 1920. Renaults from the Sormovo Works appeared only in dark green.

Some of die Mark V and Mark A tanks had names, but many did not. During the civil war, names usually appeared in white below the star insignia on the front horns. All of the Renaults in the Far East had names but, based 011 photos, not all were painted on, at least 011 both sides of the turret

The Far Eastern Renaults had four black numbers just below die turret while the Mark V had a sequence of four white numbers starting with "9" on the side and to the rear of the sponson. The Mark A had an "A" followed by three numbers, all in white, starting with either "2" or "3" 011 the cab. These sequences were die original tank numbers applied by the British and later used by the Whites. Initially, the Reds began painting black numbers and letters on dre British tanks, "B" for heavy and "S" for medium: for example, "1 B" for Mark V (heavy) tank No. 1, "3 S" for Mark A (medium) tank No. 3 (see Plate Cl). However, in order to avoid confusion as more tanks were captured, many original British-White numbers were retained. This resulted in two numbering systems existing side by side into the 1920s, but not, apparendy, on the same tank.

lank insignia included simple five-point red stars, red stars with white borders, and stars of either design with a white hammer and plough in the center. The hammer and sickle could be seen in 1920. but generally came into use after the civil war. The "RSFSR" national designation usually appeared above die star configuration in white or red. Where white had been applied directly over red, insignia inside could seem to be yellow or even orange as a consequence of painting one color over the other.

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