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Painting the Vickers MG

In the absence of another place to put this information on the website, this is being written as a blog post rather than a specific webpage. It is cross-cutting so there isn’t a specific category to place it in.

It will be written as a collection of information and references as we come across them, rather than a single coherent article. It should help restorers, living historians and collectors alike.

An overview video of the colour of the Vickers machine gun and tripod for living history purposes is available.

Army Council Instruction 96 of January 1939

This Army Council Instruction notified that “all vehicles (other than limousine staff cars) and all tanks, guns and supporting weapons which are at present painted with service paint shall in future be painted with a standard basic camouflage paint, Khaki Green, No. 3.” It wasn’t to apply to units in Egypt and Palestine. This instruction was amended in December 1939 to show that “unit arrangements” merely meant “unit labour“.

Army Council Instruction 386 of April 1940

To provide additional detail, ACI 386 was issued that set out the requirements for painting specific small arms in camouflage paint khaki green No. 3. For the Vickers MG it included the barrel casing and the exposed surfaces of the feedblock if the feedblock is in gunmetal. The tripod was painted all over except the gun and joint pin bearing surfaces, screw threads of elevating gear and stems of joint pins, and direction dials.

Army Council Instruction 465 of May 1940

This introduced the requirement for disruptive camouflage on vehicles, etc. It’s unclear as to whether it includes small arms but it’s likely that it wasn’t intended to.

Army Council Instruction 1147 of September 1940.

This ACI detailed that machine guns, except Bren guns, were to painted with the Paint, P.F.U. [prepared for use], khaki green, No. 3, heat resisting, special. This was as opposed to the non-heat resistant paint used on mountings and magazines.


  • The National Archives, WO 293/24, Army Council Instructions 1939.
  • The National Archives, WO 293/25, Army Council Instructions 1940.

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