Faces, Bases: Painting AUSCAM

Listeners to the pod cast will know that I have thrown my principals to the wind and embraced the ANZAC force from WW3: Team Yankee “NATO FORCES” as both a painting and gaming challenge. I was asked how I painted the Australian armour in their three tone camo so, as always, there’s an article for that…

A LAV-25 in “AUSCAM”


Firstly, and to pacify the Australian Cold-War Warriors reading, the name of “AUSCAM”is something of a modeller’s conceit, like “Allysloper” being the name for the distinctive M3 Grant camo in WW2, based on one tank having the Allysloper name. AUSCAM really refers to the distinctive “jelly bean” camo worn by Australians from the mid-late 80’s onwards. However, it has also become attached to the three-tone tank camo adopted about the same time.

The tank camo follows the trend for three-tone tank camos in the late 80’s/early 90s that can also be seen with NATO tri-colour. In the Australian case the palate better suits the Australian bush with a tan brown camo in place of red brown and Australian olive green in place of NATO green. This scheme replaced the flat olive green previously worn by Australian tanks.

The camo is hard edged and crew applied over the base green to a template, although there appear to be variants to this as I’ve seen a fair few patterns on the Leopard and M1A1 The LAV appear to be a bit more consistent whilst the M113 seem to vary a lot. I decided to try and have each tank of the same type appear to be roughly the same, but not sweat small variations.

A Leopard AS1 in “AUSCAM”

The “AUSCAM” was implemented on every AFV type (although not neccesarily every example of that type) in Australian inventory and would continue on to the post war acquisitions of LAV-25 and M1A1 and now onto its new wheeled APC, the Boxer.

A Boxer in “AUSCAM”

First Attempts

I started with the LAV troop. I had seen Vallejo Model Air “USAF Brown” suggested for the brown camo so I used that as the base for the brown modulation. The green was trickier. Various places suggested different Vallejo Model Air or Colour paints for the green. I thought it looked quite vibrant in the photo of the lFV at the start so opted for a Vallejo Primer “NATO Green” base, followed by VMA “Medium Olive” and VMA “Light Green”. The result was a little too…vibrant.

On the M113 I adjusted to something a bit more muted and this seemed to work.

So, using the M1A1 as an example, let’s look at how I did it.

Painting AUSCAM


This method makes use of airbrush panel modulation. In this technique, we lay down progressively lighter colours on each panel of the tank to give the model some depth. It works well with monotone camo on flat sides like the M113 and M1A1 have, but can be made to work with camo. I used an airbrush with a 0.4 nozzle for this work.

First up, I laid down the green base as its on the roadwheels and lower hull which aren’t camouflaged. I started with a “Russian Green” primer but any green or neutral colour works as it will be entirely covered.

Next up, the model is entirely covered by VMA “Medium Olive” to serve as our base.

Next, I used VMC “Russian Uniform”, thinned to run through the airbrush. I desperately need to find a colour equivalence to “Russian Uniform” in an airbrush range as making Vallejo Model Colour run through an airbrush is hard work as it constantly clogs. We apply this to the center of the panel, just leaving a fade to medium olive at the edges.

Finally, I used VMA “Tank Ochre” in the centre of the panel, leaving most the previous stage showing.


Now we break out the Masking Putty. This is a black rubbery substance that you peel out a tin and apply to model. You can use blue-tac but the masking putty won’t risk peeling the paint off. Using photos or the Battlefront templates as a guide, we apply this over the green painted areas to preserve them.

Once that is done, we apply VMA “USAF Brown” over the remaining areas.

Next we apply thinned VMC “Tan Brown” to the panels, leaving the “USAF Brown” at the edges.

Finally we apply VMA “Sand Beige” to the panel centres.

Back in Black (Grey)

The final stage are the black areas. Rather than using plain black, I tend to go with VMC Black Grey as going lighter generally benefits a small scale model. The black areas are much smaller than the other two colours so I removed the masking and applied this by hand.

And there we go! Some fully painted M1A1. I also painted up some Leopard 1s to match.


Leopard AS1

I’ve also been asked how I do my weathering and I’ll cover this in my next article. Until then, put another shrimp on the barbie improvised from a burning BMP!

3 thoughts on “Faces, Bases: Painting AUSCAM

  1. great job, Lee. If I ever start Anzac, I will take your work as a reference. Thank you so much

  2. AUSCAM is the reference for vehicle camouflage, and the correct name for the ‘jellybean’ uniform is DPCU – Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform.

    Great article, awesome paintjobs. But please, do a proofread and spellcheck in future!

    Really looking forward to the weathering article. 🙂

    1. Many thanks for the clarification and apologies for the typos. Clearly my normal grammerly sweep got missed for some reason and left the article below my normal standards.

      I’ve rectified it now and will do a better job going forward!

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