US Army Europe MAASTER Paint scheme patterns

Based on a request by Andreas Kirchhoff, I’m posting the entire set of MASSTER pattern templates. I may have already posted all of them in another posting, but here they are again.

He specifically asked if there was a pattern for the M551, and there is a good reason why the answer is “Sadly, no.” (There’s no Gama Goat either).

And the reason is that these drawings were originally created to support a previous plan to pattern paint vehicles that began in 1966 and through a funny chain of events, were originally created in December of 1966, The program they were intended to support was put on a temporary hold and then cancelled in June of 1967, The drawings then just sat in some file cabinet in the USAREUR Chief Engineer’s office until 1973 when the decision to implement MASSTER was made. They made a couple of changes to which color went with which “number”, but pulled the old drawings out of the file cabinet and re-issued them. And of course the reason they didn’t include either an M551 or a Gama Goat, both of which were all over the place in 1973 is because neither of those vehicles was in the European Theater in 1966.

Here are the drawings which were created in 1966 and re-issued to the field in 1973 to implement the MASSTER paint scheme in USAREUR.

And remember, these were hand done by THOUSANDS of G.I.s in the motor pool by using these pictures to draw an outline in chalk by hand on the vehicle and then hand painting with a brush, so if anybody tries to tell you that YOUR model isn’t “perfect”, that’s just wrong, because there IS no “perfect”!


Nice. These will be very helpful in recreating the MAASTER scheme.

One comment I would make on these. Several of them show an overlapping pattern with two different colors being applied to various wheels. My recollection is that in almost every case, any wheel was probably going to be painted entirely in one single color so that it doesn’t appear to “spin” when the vehicle is moving.

But once again, these things were all painted at the UNIT level in the motor pool by the soldiers themselves so there is absolutely NO certainty except in the case where you have an actual photo of the exact vehicle you’re modeling!

Everyone talks about two color wheels lookinglike they are spinning when the vehicle is moving, but the main purpose is to make the vehicle blend into the background when still so a wheel painted two colors would not appear as a circle (or a wheel) in the overall picture.

That’s certainly true. There’s no doubt that there were some vehicles with two color and some with single color.

And of course the reality is, after about two minutes on the tank trail they were ALL one solid color of dust/mud anyway!

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Thank you @thathaway3 ! Do you know if there were MASSTER patterns for any of other artillery pieces? If so where to find them…

Short answer, probably not.

USAREUR originally began considering pattern painting in 1966 when they published USAREUR Reg 746-5 on 28 April. (I actually have a copy of that Reg.) Later that summer, the then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Creighton Abrams visited USARER and it was decided to further study the subject and get the US Army Corps of Engineers involved. Before that happened, USAREUR published some "implementing instructions to the basic Regulation, with specified colors on 07 November of 1966. This was what included the infamous pattern and instructions for all units to:

a. prepare a 1 inch equals 30 inches drawing of the vehicles or equipment to be painted;
b. superimpose the disruptive pattern (which was included with the letter as Incl 1.) on the scale drawing:
and then
c. using the scale drawing as a guide, draw chalk outlines freehand on the vehicles or equipment surface.

Now I’m sure to the fine officers of the USAREUR Engineering Staff, these seemed like perfectly fine instructions. (After all as engineers they all would have had plenty of training creating and using blueprints and scale drawings.)

But the reaction from the field was swift and obviously less than kind as you can imagine!! Can you even consider having the above instructions issued to literally THOUSANDS of soldiers in the field, what the ultimate results might have looked like, even if they could have figured it out!!!

So what happened next was on 2 December, USAREUR issued further implementing instructions which included the 38 page (you’ll notice in the rush to get this out, they mis-numbered the Inclosure) set of drawings of 12 different vehicles to be used as a guide. That’s what is included above, but that’s only half the story.

The program was not implemented immediately so that they could conduct a staff assistance visit from the Army Corps of Engineers in CONUS which took place in February and March of 1967. After the visit there was some back and forth correspondence trying to make a final decision and then in June of 1967 the project was halted. My guess is that there were two reasons for this. Number one, USAREUR got a new Commanding General, (not MY project!) and two the 6 day war started and I’m sure pattern painting vehicles for Northern Europe at that time might not have seemed like a good idea. And of course the with Vietnam War drawing most of the attention and resources of the Army, this whole project seemed very low priority.

Fast forward to late 1972, the idea resurfaced again and ultimately the four colors of MASSTER were decided upon and SOME bright young staff officer remember the old drawings from back in 1966, and so this same Inclosure was dusted off and attached to the NEW implementing Regs in the June time frame of 1973 and viola’, we have MASSTER!

To my knowledge the above drawings were the ONLY drawings ever issued for MASSTER, but there is some uncertainty on my part. Despite the extensive records I have copies of for the ORIGINAL project, for some reason I have been absolutely unable to find a copy of either the USAREUR Reg from 1973 implementing the program, OR either the V Corps and VII Corps Supplements to that Reg.

I KNOW they existed, because in 1973 I actually had a copy of the V Corps reg, with the above 12 vehicle set of patterns, and we went out into the motor pool, chalked off these patterns as best as we could and did the paint by number, by hand. Did some units have and use air guns to spray paint the scheme? Almost certainly, but for the most part it was all done at the crew level and done by hand.

And in addition to the fact I was there when it was implemented, that’s why I like MASSTER so much. In addition to being the first widespread application of a formal pattern painted scheme for the Army, the modeler can apply it by hand with the ultimate confidence that even if it “looks hand painted” or "doesn’t EXACTLY match the pattern, NOBODY can say “it’s wrong” because of the huge variation that no doubt existed in the field.

That’s the LONG answer. Aren’t you sorry you asked? :rofl:


Thanks. More knowledge is better even if it isn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I’ll be searching for photos to get some ideas.


I’m sure I’m teaching you to suck eggs but the Tankograd books would seem to fit the bill here; guaranteed that there are no overarching shots of the MASSTER scheme on the equipments shown – not least due to the nature of the pics and of course mud/dust etc – but they are atmospheric and certainly capture the essence of the beasts in action during what are now those far off days.

I’ve listed a few here ie the Artillery equipments - from the titles I have in my library; titles in bold:

MASSTER/MERDC/DUAL-TEX. Devoted entirely to these schemes. Lost of good colour pics and paint chips.

Small photo of M110 on page 20 in colour; camouflage scheme indistinct but large black star on lower hull front.

M109A1 on page 21 showing scheme on right hand side. Note however, that Tom Hathaway’s huge build project of his unit elsewhere on this site will provide an accurate guide for this equipment. And of course his original sketches covering the M109.

Page 25 – black & white photos of M109A1 and Lance missile.

Page 58. Colour pic of M110 again but with vivid, almost red superstructure.

REFORGER 73 – Certain Charge.

Page 20. M110 but scheme indistinct.

Page 50. M107 in black and white with what appears to be a MASSTER scheme but a plain colour gun barrel.

REFORGER 75 – Certain Trek.

Frontispiece black & white pic of M110 - scheme shown well – or at least from ¾ profile aspect. Crew all fast asleep!

Page 45. Larger rendition of the M110 above.

Page 47. 2 x pics of M109A1 in colour.

Page 48. M109A1 again but in black & white.

Page 63. M110 in black & white.

Page 64. M110 in black & white.

REFORGER 76 – Gordian Shield/Lares Team.

Page 20. 3 x colour photos of M109A1.

Page 21. M109A1 and M548 as Limber vehicle. Colour.

Page 25. Colour M109A1.

Page 29. 2 x colour pics of M109A1 but mostly obscured by camouflage netting in firing position.

Page 59. Black & white M109A1 – front view.

REFORGER 77 – Carbon Edge

Page 56. 3 x colour pics of M109A1.

Page 62. 2 x colour pics of M109A1.

Page 63. Colour pic of M109 – from the rear in gun position.

Just to stress that these publications are chock full of other equipments in MASSTER, and MERDC as it crossed over into service. In my opinion they are not hugely expensive.

I have one further image that shows an M102 Howitzer being towed by a Gama Goat on Exercise Advent Express 75 (which I was on but sadly took no pics whatsoever!) from an Airfix Magazine of 1976, but the pic is so indistinct as is the MASSTER pattern that I have not included it.

'Hope this helps somewhere along the line even if only to whet your appetite for MASSTER!.

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Thank you Boots! The Tankograd MASSTER/MERDC/DUAL-TEX is enroute to me now. I may have to order a couple of the REFORGER books also. I am building a collection of US artillery weapons from 1900 to present. So, my display case is chock full of OD. I’ve done all but one of my WW1 pieces in camo. Now as I move beyond Vietnam I’m trying to do as many different camo schemes as I can. Fortunately, between MASSTER, MERDC, DUAL-TEX and Nato, I can add some more color to the case.

Thanks again!

'Glad to be of help; for me MASSTER is especially redolent as I remember seeing it, first on exercise in Germany in 71-73, when a US component would always turn up on our Corps HQ exercises. Then again on Advent Express as I briefly mentioned earlier.

Happy modelling!

I have the Tankograd MAASTER, MERDC_DUALTEX book and agree that it is an excellent reference.

Not only are there great pictures in the book, but the text in the section describing the MASSTER scheme is particularly revealing. First of all it points out that despite its widespread usage as the name for the USAREUR/7th Army scheme applied in 1973, it probably is inaccurate to refer to it as such. As the text mentions, there was a lot of back and forth concerning patterns and colors, particularly between USAREUR HQ and both the US Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Center (MERDC) at Fort Belvoir, and the Modern Army Selected Systems Test, Evaluation and Review, (MASSTER) at Fort Hood.

It may well be that what ultimately was released for implementation by USAREUR in 1973 was in fact developed at Fort Hood. What the authors say next is especially interesting. They state:

“During the research for this work, former US soldiers mentioned that experiments with camouflage patterns were conducted by USAREUR/7th (US) Army as early as 1968 . There was no way to verify this information at the time of writing, so this has to be treated as speculation and it is not the subject of this work,”

As I know for certain due to the paperwork I have that this work actually goes back to 1966, I wrote a letter to the editors of the publication indicating that I did have further information, but regrettably, they never responded to my inquiry. If any of our German members has a way to contact them it would be greatly appreciated.

The MAIN reason I would like to hear from them is what follows next:

“The pattern and colours that had to be used for the MASSTER camouflage were prescribed in USAREUR Regulation 5-525.”

So it would appear that whoever did the research for this section of the book is not only aware of but perhaps in possession of a copy of this Regulation. They do not specify a date for this Reg, but it is almost certainly some time in the first half of 1973. You will notice that it is NOT the same numbered Regulation of which I have a copy from 1966, so the fact that they cite a different number leads me to conclude that the author has a copy. This basic USAREUR Reg would have been issued, WITH the Inclosure originally created in December of 1966 with the patterns. And what would have happened next is that BOTH V Corps and VII Corps would have issued their OWN Corps Level Regulations, referencing the USAREUR Reg, and passed them down with the templates. And those were the documents that would have been taken to the motor pool and used to chalk off and paint the vehicles.

And either the Basic USAREUR Reg they cite, (or as a bonus one of the Corps Regs) would be absolutely fabulous to find as it is the missing link to the story.

Sure would love to get my hands on a copy!

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Does anyone have source documents that provide the FS numbers or NSN’s for the paint? In secondary sources I’ve seen 3 different FS numbers listed for the MASSTER green - 34151, 34127, and 34079.

That’s almost like the classic, “What color OD do I use?”

The Tankograd book (the authors of which presumably had the USARER Reg 525-5 in hand which I do not), will tell you that it is Forest Green, 34079. And then they proceed to print Color Chips for MASSTER, MERDC, and Dual Tex, all three labeled Forest Green 34079, but in two completely different shades, not even close. (Both look to “olive” to me.)

And then FINALLY they show the Tank Template on page 6 (which is from the attachment I’ve already posted) which again leads me to believe they have the 1973 USAEUR Reg 525-5 in hand) and THERE they tell you the MASSTER green should be Forest Green FS 34127!!!

The ORIGINAL USAREUR reg from back in 1966 (which was never actually implemented, calls for a Forest Green and gives the FSN of 8010-597-8248. But I’m not sure what that equates to.

What I have pretty much always found to be the closest match is the Model Master Acrylic 4734 Medium Green which one chart I have refers to as FS34107. But off course that’s pretty much no longer available.

When you look at the variety of photos in the Tankograd book, the colors seem to vary all over the place. But I’ll tell you the one green which seems the closest match to my eyes is the small green spot up by the USA number on the M163 Vulcan track on page 22. Match THAT and you’ll be close enough.

Or just recognize that the references and the quality of the color photos show quite a bit of variance. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…unless you decide to paint a BUNCH of vehicles from the same unit all in MASSTER!!!

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I think Tom’s advice is useful here; I’m not saying that any old green will do, but the variance in the colours is well shown in this, and many other Tankograd books. The red-brown also seems to vary quite a bit.

I still major in enamels and hitherto have used Humbrol’s Forest Green (150) and their Matt Rust (113); I did however, apply these over Tamiya’s aerosol Deck Tan when it came to my - rather ancient now - M113:

(excuse my abysmal effort at a German road sign).

The Humbrol Forest Green is quite "olivey but it’s the green that seems to vary most; the Tankograd book on the Goer and Gama Goat also has some very good renditions of the MASSTER scheme, not that I’m suggesting you purchase around £50 worth of Tankograd publications as listed above! However, they do cover the variations in the consituent colours and might be worth investigation. I must admit I find them quite reasonably priced, or at least here in the UK.


The green as it appears in Brian’s phote is absolutely what I would consider a perfect green for the scheme. Interestingly enough, I have one of my paint cross reference tables and it says that the Humbrol Forest Green is…FS 34127, so that would be a great one to use, assuming you work with enamels. Regardless, that’s the shade and tone which I’d shoot for.

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Thanks Tom - I do try(!)

Excellent job on that dio Brian, vehicles look great as well as the figs. Sign looks fine to me except it’s bent a little, which actually isn’t unrealistic lol.

Well, that’s kind; the actual sign is off one of those Tamiya accessory/figure boxes so sort of assumed it was apposite for a USAREUR vehicle. What I only realised later is that such signs are positioned in a sort of frame, a tubular metal support if you like. I actually knew that and can’t really remember why I ignored that memory. Perhaps I’ll get around to it one day. I tried to depict the vehicle as if “directionally challenged” on exercise whuch is why both Driver and Commander are, well, sort of looking at the sign.

I also tried to model cables lying alongside the road, as I remember seeing those often on Brit exercises; I have no idea if that ever happened on US exercises.

Thanks for your interest.

Brian, that is a good-looking M113!

Tom, thank you! In looking through my paint racks, AK Real Colors RC028 is a close match. It is FS34151.

I looked through a boot box full of my old photos today looking at camo schemes. In most of the photos you couldn’t tell what scheme was used due to dust or mud. It is surprising how little attention I paid to the color of my vehicles at the time and how much variety there was. One of the guns in my M110A2 battery was in MERDC red desert vs winter verdant. The crew nicknamed it the Golden Goose. In my M101 battery the wheeled vehicles were summer verdant and the guns in winter verdant. Go figure… My M102 battery was all Nato 3-color. Lots of memories in that box. I have to do something with them one of these days.