Are my eyes playing tricks, or did Jeeps during WW II usually carry a
grayer, paler version of the Army's OD?
And whatever the answer . . . what paint(s) do you prefer to achieve the
This is 1/24, by the way.
Thanks up front,
The olive drab of today is darker than that of WWII vintage. The WWII
color corresponds to FS595a #34087 or #14084. Of course, once applied
it aged at varying rates so that no two vehicles were the same color.
Paint it whatever color looks right to you.
The OD paint for US Army tactical vehicles in WWII were enamels named
"Lusterless Olive Drab" or "Lusterless Olive Drab, #319", both the same
color. Lusterless does not mean "flat" - the actual finish was a dull
semi-gloss. The QMC and ORD standards required that this color of
paint was to be used for all tactical vehicles, and it was used across
multiple manufacturers, i.e. the LOD on a Dodge WC was supposed to be
the same LOD as used on a Ford or Willys jeep or an IHC halftrack.
Regardless of where it was made, the WWII LOD was supposed to be mixed
to the same chemical proportions by the manufacturers, and government
inspectors checked on it.
There are no equivalent modern colors. FS34087, though often cited as
the same OD as used in WWII, is in fact incorrect. It's close to but
not exactly the same as the WWII LOD.
I've looked at several unrestored WWII vehicles in places where the
paint was not affected by sunlight or weathering, and the original
paint has a very olive cast to it, whereas FS34087 is more brown in
hue. In fact FS34087 has itself changed several times - if you look at
paint samples from different batches and eras of FS595 standards, you
will see differences in color. I've talked to a scientist from the
National Institute of Standards who is knowledgeable about paint
chemistry and he told me that the GSA paint standards are not rigorous
enough, and in fact lead to variations. Unfortunately NIST is not in
charge of paint standards.
This is an unending debate, but the fact is that there was a standard
WWII olive drab used for US tactical vehicles, and the US Army made
manufacturers stick to it. What happened to the color once the
vehicles went to the field is a different story.
John Hairell ( email@example.com)
In an article for Military Modelling Magazine, Steve Zaloga compared
current model paints to the actual color card issued during WW2 for No.
9 Olive Drab, and reported that Tamiya OD is closest to the original
color. For scale effect, he suggests cutting it with a bit of German
Armor Sand. Zaloga reports that the shade for Olive Drab used on
vehicles hardly changed at all from WW1 until it was discontinued in
1974, though the alphanumeric designation did. The Air Force had
different colors, however, and No. 41 OD and AN619 were not the same
The FS34087 chip as shown in the FS595a color book is actually a shade
matched to the flat OD used on helicopters beginning in 1965 (the chip
was changed in the book in 1967--the earlier version was extremely
dark, and not so brown). Unfortunately, most model paint companies used
this chip for their OD paints, so they're not very useful unless you're
painting a Vietnam Heuy.
After WW2, the Army began using semigloss paints, which "read" much
darker than the lustreless shades, though the same pigments were used.
Also, many division commanders in the 1950's and later ordered that OD
be mixed with black, simply because they liked the look--"rank hath its