Painting the M4 Tank

Instructions for painting the M4 Sherman tank from the Technical Manual TM 9-731B: Medium Tank M4A2, January 1943.



a. Ordnance materiel is painted before issue to the using arms. One maintenance coat per year will ordinarily be ample for protection. With but few exceptions, this materiel will be painted with ENAMEL, synthetic, olive drab, lusterless. The enamel may be applied over old coats of long oil enamel and oil paint previously issued by the Ordnance Department if the old coat is in satisfactory condition for repainting.

b. Paints and enamels, usually issued ready for use, are applied by brush or spray. They may be brushed on satisfactorily when used unthinned in the original package consistency or when thinned no more than 5 per cent by volume with THINNER. The enamel will spray satisfactorily when thinned with 15 per cent by volume of THINNER. (Linseed oil must not be used as a thinner in this enamel, since it will impart an undesirable luster.) If sprayed, enamel dries rapidly enough to permit repainting after one-half hour, and dries hard in 16 hours.

c. Certain exceptions to the regulations concerning painting exist. Fire-control instruments, sighting equipment, and other associated items will not be painted.

d. Complete information on painting is contained in TM 9-850.

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The New AR 850-15

Summary of vehicle painting and maintenance instructions from AR 850-15 from Army Motors, Vol. 6, No. 6, September 1945.

New AR 850-15 Painting Regulations

THE NEW AR 850-15

The law on “Miscellaneous—Motor Vehicles” gets a major overhaul for the first time in two years. This’ll help you get hep to what’s what.

Changes that affect you—because they affect vehicle operation and maintenance—blew in with the newly-revised AR 850-15 (1 Aug. 45). New do’s and don’t’s, new words like “semigloss” and “full gloss” have been written into the regulations. And a lot more, too.


Good news for maintenance men who’ve long been bitching about lusterless OD breaks out in par. 7, which prescribes approved semigloss olive drab for vehicles (certain ones excepted). The new paint is Enamel, olive drab, rust-inhibiting, U.S. Army spec. 3-181, amendment 3, type V—Fed. Stock No. 52-E-7574 for a 1-gal. can, 52-E-7574-75 for a 5-gal. can. But don’t start requisitioning it now—the stuff won’t get into supply channels for 60 to 90 days, and anyway, you only put it on when the vehicle’s due for a repaint. ASF Circular 291 (1 Aug. 45) says: “The new painting procedure… will be applicable to U.S. Army motor vehicles now in use, other than those excepted… when the vehicles require complete refinishing in accordance with established maintenance schedules and upon the availability of the semigloss paint prescribed.”

On busses, ambulances (except 3/4-ton 4×4’s), and passenger sedans, the AR goes whole hog on gloss. It says they may be painted a full gloss OD—but not until a repaint is necessary.

Continue reading The New AR 850-15

Vehicle Paint Problems

Vehicle paint problems from Army Motors, Vol. 6, No. 5, August 1945.

Jeep Paint Markings

Dear Half-Mast,

We’ve had a lot of trouble with gasoline-soluble paint, used to paint the large service command insignia on administrative vehicles and the national symbol on tactical vehicles. The nomenclature is Paint, gasoline-soluble, lusterless (paste), white; Fed. Stock No. 52-P-2732. This problem came to a head at our last inspection by the CG, who was able to wipe the things off by hand. We’ve also found that rain causes them to run and wash away or fade.

How can we prevent this?

— Lt. R. W. G.


Dear Lieutenant,

It’s now okay to use Enamel, synthetic, stenciling, lusterless, white (Fed. Stock No. 52-E-8400-275) for the star on all motor vehicles assigned to tactical units and AGF installations, and on administrative vehicles in theaters of operations as directed by the theater commander. Says so in AR 850-5 (15 Feb. 45).

This white enamel should also be used for registration numbers. If yours are still blue, AR 850-5 says repaint ’em by 15 Aug. 45.

For any other national symbol, as directed by the Commanding General, ASF, for vehicles assigned to service command installations, gasoline-soluble paint will still be used. Likewise for unit identification markings, tactical markings, and weight-class markings—which ain’t necessarily permanent.

— Half-Mast