When did the US Army stop using the white star roundel on it’s vehicles and why?

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When did the US Army stop using the white star roundel on it's vehicles and why?

In 1972 and 1973 (August through the winter to March), the United States Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Center (USAMERDC) along with the Mobile Army Sensor Systems Test, Evaluation, and Review project (MASSTER) developed new camouflage guidelines using a variety of drab or earthy colors, replacing the previously used overall FS 24087 semigloss olive drab base color of vehicles. The schemes, suitable for eight different environments, began to be implemented in 1973, being tested on vehicles at Fort Hood. Units overseas (such as the US 7th Army in Germany) at the time that did not have access to these exact paints came up with expedient camouflage schemes until they could receive the proper paints, and sometimes used their own schemes alongside the MERDC ones. On August 28, 1975, Technical Manual 5-200 Camouflage Pattern Painting was released.

The standard camouflage colors listed in TM 5-200.

Number Abbreviation Name
1 W White
2 DS Desert Sand
3 S Sand
4 EY Earth Yellow
5 ER Earth Red
6 FD Field Drab
7 EB Earth Brown
8 OD Olive Drab
9 LG Light Green
10 DG Dark Green
11 FG Forest Green
12 BL Black

As a part of this scheme, the white stars and registration numbers, previously readily visible on vehicles, were to be repainted in black or more commonly, left off entirely. A variety of four-color combinations were tested. Colors 1 and 2 each cover about 45 percent of the vehicle, while colors 3 and 4 each cover about 5 percent. Below are illustrations of what the various schemes looked like. Sometimes, the Sand color was left off of the winter verdant scheme, making it easy to confuse with the three-color NATO camouflage adopted in the mid-1980s.

Tank patterns (1).

Tank patterns (1).

Tank patterns (2).

Tank patterns (2).

Condition Color 1 (45%) Color 2 (45%) Color 3 (5%) Color 4 (5%)
Winter US & Europe – verdant1 FG FD S3 BL
Snow – temperate w/ trees & shrubs2 FG W S3 BL
Snow – temperate w/ open terrain2 W FD S3 BL
Summer US & Europe – verdant1 FG LG S3 BL
Tropics – verdant FG DG LG3 BL
Gray Desert S FD EY3 BL
Red Desert ER EY S3 BL
Arctic Winter W W W W

1: Verdant means generally green–in summer due to trees, shrubs, and grass; in winter due to evergreens.
2: This color combination is for use only in areas that occasionally have snow which does not completely cover the terrain, thus leaving trees or patches of soil bare.
3: This 5% color should be the camouflage color that matches most clearly the color of the soil in the local area. A typical color for such use is sand, but earth red, earth yellow, or one of the others may be closer to the predominant color, and in that case, should be used.

Sources
1. Report 2090 Camouflage Pattern Painting Report of USAMERDC’s Camouflage Support Team to MASSTER, by Adolph H. Humphreys and Sharon V. Jarvis (February 1974)
2 .MERDC camouflage
3. MERDC camouflage illustrations
4. Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles, 2nd Edition, by David Doyle
5. M551 Sheridan: US Airmobile Tanks 1941-2001, by Steven J. Zaloga
6. M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982-92, by Steven J. Zaloga and Peter Sarson

Last modified: February 15, 2017

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