M113s in MERDC

I think this last project is probably one of my most excessive. I’ve decided that I want to paint my US cold war force in one of the MERDC schemes. However the ever popular winter verdant seemed a little boring. Instead I’m going to paint them in Snow with trees which has base colours white and green with smaller patches of black and tan. It’s winter verdant with white instead of brown. So this will involve 2 of the harder colours to paint: black and white with plenty of white.

My next challenge relates to the method I’ll be applying. All the techniques I had also seen involved spraying the base, using a mask for the second major colour and then hand painting on colours 3 and 4. I wasn’t happy with that approach. To fill out my mental plans it’s going to take more than 20 M113 based vehicles (APCs, FIST, M163 VADSs & M901 ITVs) and I would like them to all look as similar as possible. So instead of one mask I’m going to mask all of the colours. That works out to the following: a white base coat, then a green mask over-spray, then a khaki mask over-spray and last a black mask over-spray. So it involves 3 masks, for each side. This means for each vehicle there are 15 masks (front, right, left, back and top) and if there’s a turret an extra 15 masks. So the Abrams look like they might each have 30 masks I’ll need to create and then cut out. Fortunately there are not many different vehicles: Abrams, M109s and M113s are pretty much all the vehicles available for the US at the moment.

Unperturbed by the scale I got to work on creating everything I needed for some M113 APCs. Below you can see some work in progress pictures of my first trial with the sides of 3 APCs.

Step 2: Green sprayed over the white.
Step 2: Green sprayed over the white.
Step 4: black is sprayed over the tan coat.
Step 4: black is sprayed over the tan coat.
Note how consistent the camouflage is on each APC.
Note how consistent the camouflage is on each APC.
However, it's just the sides at this point; front back and top are still to go.
However, it’s just the sides at this point; front back and top are still to go.
A picture of the masks for the two sides.
A picture of the masks for the two sides.

I’m pretty happy with how they look to this point. Things I’m happy with: the colours look great, the shapes are dead on and they’re pretty consistent. Things I’m not happy with: I think I should have gone dark grey instead of black, there’s some issues with how the different colours line up, the edge fuzziness varies, how hard it is. Any way I think I’m being overly critical here. I think as I add the details and weather them my errors will start to be less and less obvious. This try was also my first, and I think I’ll get better as I go. I’ve gone on and made the other 9 masks for the M113s and you can see below what they look like when they’re all sprayed.

My first three test M113s; spraying complete.
My first three test M113s; spraying complete.

Base colours:

  • Primer: Black (VPC 74.602)
  • Base coat 1: White (VPC 74.600)
  • Masked colour 1: Protective NC 1200 (A.MIG-053)
  • Masked colour 2: Sand Yellow (VMA 71.028)
  • Masked colour 3: Black (VMA 71.057)
  • Filter: Filter for NATO Tanks (AK-076)
  • Wash: Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008)
  • Track base coat: Burnt Umber (VMC 70.941)
  • Track pads: Black Grey (VMC 70.862)
  • Track wash: Tracks Wash (A.MIG-1002)

Detail colours:

  • Gas tank base coat: Russian Green (VMC 70.894)
  • Gas tank wash: Dark Brown for Green Vehicles (AK-045)
  • Tool handle: Brown Sand (VMC 70.876)
  • Tool handle wash: Tracks Wash (A.MIG-1002)
  • Tool blade: Gunmetal Grey (VMC 70.863)
  • Tool blade wash: Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008)
  • Cable ook: Black Grey (VMC 70.862)
  • Cable: German Camouflage Black Brown (VMC 70.822)
  • Cable & hook wash: Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008)
  • MG: Black Grey (VMC 70.862)
  • MG wash: Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008)

Uniform – Woodlands BDU:

  • Base coat: Luftwaffe Camouflage Green (VMC 70.823)
  • Camouflage I: Saddle Brown (VMC 70.940)
  • Camouflage II: Black Grey (VMC 70.862)
  • Wash: Dark Wash (A.MIG-1008)
  • Camouflage III: Khaki (VMC 70.988)
  • Helmet: German Uniform (VMC 70.920)
  • Helmet Accessories: Black Grey (VMC 70.862)
  • Skin: Dark Flesh (VMC 70.927)
  • Skin wash: Tracks Wash (A.MIG-1002)


  • Streaks: Winter Streaking Grime (AK-014)
  • Mud: Nature Effects: Dark Mud (A.MIG-1405)

On this last step, I like to give my vehicles a bit of a used feel, which is best achieved with a layering of effects. I’ve also found that enamels much easier to work with than acrylics. A lot of the steps involve applying some stuff and then removing it; which is much easier with enamels and white spirit. The first step is some streaking that starts at the top of the vertical (and sloped) panels and comes towards the bottom. I do this by painting a number of strokes, starting from the top of the vehicle down. I also vary the height they come down. After this has dried for 10-30min I then come back with a brush that is damp with spirit and wipe some of the stripe away to get a varied streaking effect. The next step is a splattering of mud. This step is a bit more tricky and involves the airbrush. I dip an old brush in the colour and then wipe most of it off. I then hold this in front of the model and then bring the airbrush in nice and close to blow the paint onto the model. This trick takes a bit of practice, and is easy to get paint where you don’t really want it. However, it is splattering so it shouldn’t be nice and need and a bit of overspray doesn’t actually hurt any. I concentrate more on the lower edges of the sides, but not entirely. I also don’t touch the top at all in this step. The third step is to apply the mud to the bottom 1/3 of the vehicle. I take my mud colour and then mix it with some plaster (about 2-3 parts enamel to 1 part plaster – you want a thick paint consistency). This is the splotched onto the bottom of the vehicle with another old brush. Coverage is probably about 90% at this point, you want some small patches of colour showing where the mud it, but these are dirty vehicles. The tracks and road wheels should be very well covered, as should any mud guards and the lower portions of the vehicles. I also make sure I get a bit of extra coverage on the front and back: this is where the dirt will end up. Like previous I come back with a white spirit cleaning step to neaten and soften the edges where the edge of the mud runs into the underlying vehicle colour. Lastly I get a dilute wash of the mud colour together (probably more a filter consistency than a wash). Up until now the top is untouched, and can look a little too clean. This was is just applied to the top, as a thick filter. You’re not looking to get any real colour, just stain it so it fits in with the rest of the vehicle.

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