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The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

Article about: The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual I have referred several times to this manual in the past, so it’s time I give you a full translation. 90% of the army’s camouflaging resear

  1. #1

    Default The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual




    I have referred several times to this manual in the past, so it’s time I gave you a full translation. 90% of the army’s camouflaging research went into evading attacks on their transport ships, but a brief section discusses camouflaging of other weapons.




    "Guidelines for Camouflaging Weaponry (excluding aircraft and ships) 1943"


    Chapter 1: General Principles


    1. Camouflaging of weapons is done for the purpose of making the presence of a weapon undetectable, hard to detect or to encourage misidentification through the effect surface color has on visual perception.

    2. The camouflage effect should be designed to be most effective with the sun at one’s back under a clear sky.

    3. As camouflage paint finish is only a passive form of concealment through protective colors, it cannot always evade detection from intense scrutiny or reconnaissance through aerial photography. Therefore it is recommended to reinforce the effect by adding other measures of concealment.



    Chapter 2: Color Usage

    4. Regardless of whether the weapon is static or mobile, the basic colors to be used are (1) Earthy Grass 土草色, (2) Ground Color 土地色, (3) Dead Grass 枯草色 and (4) Grass Green 草色. (Corresponding Gunze and Tamiya Colors indicated below for modellers)

    5. 土草色 Tsuchi Kusa-Iro, Earthy Grass (Mr. Color TC18, Pactra Tamiya Khaki) is the most basic color that blends in favorably with backgrounds throughout the seasons. Its brightness is defined as 9% (brightness is expressed by reflection rate).

    6. 土地色 Tsuchi-Iro, Ground Color (Mr. Color TC13, Pactra Tamiya Red brown) is the darkest color among the basic camouflage colors and blends in with forests or wet earth as background. Also effective in breaking up the weapon’s visual mass and to make the area appear concave by simulating shade. Brightness is 4%.

    7. 枯草色 Karekusa-Iro , Dead Grass (Mr. Color TC15, Pactra Tamiya Buff) is the brightest among the camouflage colors and blends in with fields of dead grass or sand as background. It is also effective in breaking up the visual mass and making the area appear convex. Brightness is 19%.

    8. 草色 Kusa-Iro , Grass Green (Mr. Color TC14, Pactra Tamiya Dark Green) blends in best with greenish backgrounds, typical of spring and summer, as well as of tropical regions, having a brightness of 9%.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 09-14-2018 at 09:49 AM.

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    Chapter 3: Camouflaging of Mobile Weaponry

    9. The best formula for effective camouflage coloring throughout the seasons is to use Earthy Grass 土草色 as the base color, and to add alternating patches of Ground Color 土地色 and Dead Grass 枯草色 to achieve a color distribution of 50% Earthy Grass 土草色, 35% Ground Color 土地色 and 15% Dead Grass 枯草色. There should be no use of border outline colors such as black (They used black-bordered camouflage during the Manchurian Incident).

    10. When the weapon is mainly used in the tropics or when it can be afforded to repaint the camouflage in spring or summer, using Grass Green 草色 as the 70 % base color with patterns in Ground Color 土地色 for 30% is ideal.

    11. When the weapon is only used in the northern grass lands, using Dead Grass 枯草色 as 80% base color, and adding patterns in Earthy Grass 土草色 of 20% is ideal.

    12. When the environment is snowy plains, a white finish with more than 60% of reflection ratio is effective. In case of patchy snow cover, white as a base at 90% and patterns in Dead Grass 枯草色 at 10% is effective.

    13. The patterns should be shaped like floating clouds, and though their patch sizes should be varied, according to the anticipated distance of the enemy observer, for a range of 500 meters to a 1000 meters, the area of Ground Color 土地色 patterns should be roughly 1.5 square meters (effective width or diameter of approx. 1.2 meters), patterns in Dead Grass 枯草色 should be 60 square centimeters (effective width or diameter of 50 centimeters), patches of Earthy Grass Color 土草色 should be 80 square centimeters (effective width or diameter of 80 centimeters) and for dead grass fields, patches of Dead Grass 枯草色 should come to approx. 50 square centimeters (effective width or diameter of 50 centimeters).

    14. Regardless of the percentages given above, areas in permanent shade, like the underside of gun barrels or undercarriage of a tank should be painted in a bright monotone of Dead Grass 枯草色 (This area should be disregarded in calculating the overall color ratios). However in this case, patches of Ground Color 土地色 may be added to effectively break up the visual mass.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 09-14-2018 at 07:07 AM.

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    Chapter 4: Camouflaging of Stationary Weapons


    15. Stationary weapons should basically follow the same principles as the mobile weapons, but because the background will remain constant, those responsible for applying the camouflage must carefully consider the enemy’s method and distance of observation and direction of the sun before deciding on the colors and ratios, to maximize the effect of the outcome.

    16. Patch sizes of color should depend on the method and distance of the enemy’s observation, so the patch width and diameters given for mobile weapons should be proportionally adjusted to the anticipated distance.



    Chapter 5: Camouflaging of Small Weapons


    17. Small portable weapons such as flamethrowers, armored shields or steel helmets should be in monotone coloring of Earthy Grass 土草色, but for use in permanent snowy plains, there is advantage in considering white.



    Chapter 6: Monotone Camouflage in Earthy Grass 土草色


    18. This single color camouflage is to be applied whenever multicolored camouflage according to season or tropical backgrounds cannot be applied to stationary or mobile weapons.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  

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    Chapter 7: Handling of Camouflage Paint


    19. Mixing these colors with other paints is prohibited.

    20. As the paint is oil-based, and use of thinners is required when painting, care against fire hazard is critical. Also, for that reason, storage in a cool shady area in a sealed container is required to prevent evaporation and degrading through oxidation.

    21. Thinning ratio for application by brush is 10 to 30%, and 20 to 40% for spray painting. However, cold weather requires a more thinner rich mixture.

    22. Volume of paint required greatly differs, depending on the condition of the surface to be painted. Rough surfaces, wood or cloth requires more paint.

    23. Painting must be repeated 1 to 3 times until the base color is no longer visible. Second or third coatings need to be applied after allowing the earlier coat to dry.

    24. Mix well before use.

    25. The surface needs to be clean for paint application. Oil, in particular, needs to be removed prior to painting.

    26. Drying is by open-air exposure.

    27. Camouflage paint is to be applied without stripping off anti-rust primers, unless the paint surface is heavily damaged.

  5. #5

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    Here are the photos attached to the manual
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual   The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual   The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  


  6. #6
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    Very interesting, that is for the 1943, i read in some book who before the scheme was different, the tanks until 1942 had a different base color and use a yellows line (many time in cross shape)

    That is from a book "Japanese Armor 1931-1945" AJ-Press

    The Japanese used 4 colors but three were used more often: Tutikusa - Iro (Kaki), Tuchi-Iro (Dark Brown), Karekusa - Iro (Light Brown).
    Kaki (perhaps tending to olive green) was the basic color (50% of the vehicle) dark brown covered 30% and light brown 20% the pattern was broken by yellow stripes that often formed an irregular cross and served to deform the silhouette of the tank so that the enemy could not understand the real dimensions, this scheme was used in '40 and '41 and applied to Type 89 and Type 95 even the Chi-Ha at least at the beginning of their service in some cases were painted according to this scheme.
    In 1942 the scheme changed, the yellow stripes disappeared and the khaki base color was replaced by the Kusa-Iro (Green Willow), this to favor fighting units in the South Pacific as the Kaki adapted better to the temperate climates, the auxiliary colors remained the same.
    The 4-color scheme was abandoned, which in some cases and especially in China had been the dominant scheme until '41, where on a Khaki base they were used, dark brown, light brown (dry grass) and yellow Yamabuki (Kerria Japonica a type of rose), from 1925 to 1940 were also used black lines to outline the camouflage patches in '42 as the
    yellow lines also the use of black was forbidden, towards the end of the conflict mani tanks were painted in two tones with patches Brown (dry grass) and dark brown spots or alternatively green patches.
    The dry brown grass had high anticorrosive properties and therefore recommended its use in the lower part of the tank especially in the rolling train and suspension, there were also tanks painted in a tone usually khaki or green (rare for the army and very common in navy landing forces), the Ka-Mi had initially a dark green blue color with steel-colored shades (color also used for warships) afterwards it was colored all in green said IJN Gaigen n ° 21 also the tank of the school of Tateyama a Shinhoto Chi-Ha was painted with the same color, maybe even some tanks of the ground forces were painted with this type of green.
    The tanks that were used in Manchuria were painted white washable in winter, these were orders given by local officials and not directives of the army, if at the beginning the camouflages were painted by hand over time the spray system became more and more used, in the Chi - Ha the support of the machine gun, the sleeve of the same and the antenna support were not painted, the wooden parts were however treated with impregnation.
    The cannon was painted in khaki directly at the factory and therefore it was of a different tone color than the tank.

    Here a picture of the scheme used until 1942

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

  7. #7

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    I have added the Japanese reading of the 4 colors to post #1, so readers can relate the manual's colors to Type 4's post. To give you a point of reference, Tsuchi Kusa-Iro was the paint color for helmets, often referred to as "IJA Khaki" by modeller's paint manufacturers.

  8. #8

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    There was also supposed to be an earlier version of the manual exchanged with the USA, which unfortunately is not in the archives.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual  

  9. #9
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    Nick i wait the arrive of this book i not known if it can help for the notice in camouflage of first period

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

    The Japanese Army’s 1943 Weapons Camouflage Manual

  10. #10
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    Any mention of black in respect to small arms, particularly type 95 sword scabbards??
    I have had several examples of a matt black on Tokyo 1st issued swords and gloss black on Nagoya issues.
    They all appear to be period painted and not post war.
    thanks in advance...

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