Painting a 101st US Airbourne Uniform

Brief History

During World War II, the Pathfinders of the 101st Airborne Division led the way on D-Day in the night drop prior to the invasion. They left from RAF North Witham having trained there with the 82nd Airborne Division.

On 25 August 1944 the division became part of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the First Allied Airborne Army. As part of this formation, the division took part in Operation Market Garden.

During the Battle of the Bulge the 101st, as one of the few forces available to contain the German advance, was rushed forward by truck to defend the vital road junction of Bastogne. Famously, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe answered the German demand for surrender with the reply "To the German Commander: NUTS! -The American Commander" and the division fought on until the siege was lifted and the German advance halted.

On 1 August 1945, the 101st Airborne Division left Germany for Auxerre, France, to begin training for the invasion of Japan. When Japan surrendered two weeks later, the operation became unnecessary. The 101st deactivated on 30 November at Auxerre.

For their efforts during World War II, the 101st Airborne Division was awarded four campaign streamers and two Presidential Unit Citations. The division suffered 1,766 Killed In Action; 6,388 Wounded In Action; and 324 Died of Wounds during World War II.

Popular shows lke the Band of Brothers and A Bridge Too Far depict the real life stories of US Airbourne troopers in WW2 and are great reference points.

Painting the Figure

This 101st airbourne miniature figure was attempted through a process of trial and error. For this project I used filters to colour correct the uniform of my miniature figure instead of repainting my whole figure. Below I have given two alternate base colours for the uniform. For this process I used Yellow Green as my basecoat. The miniature figure is 1/35 scale from Dragon models titled Operation Varsity. It is basically built out of the box with a small addition; I added a Screaming Eagles badge made out of "greenstuff" for the left arm.


Vallejo Yellow Green or Khaki
For the basecoat about 3 coats of diluted in 1:2 Vallejo Yellow Green was applied to give good coverage on all the uniform areas.


Yellow green(or Khaki)+Basic Skintone
The first highlight was painted onto most of the prominent areas of the uniform. A ratio of 70:30 of the abovementioned colours was used. The second highlight was used to paint the areas facing the top. For these a ratio of 50:50 was used. For the third highlight only the highest areas were highlighted. Diluted Basic Skintone alone was used for this purpose.


Yellow Green(Khaki) + Black Grey
For the first shade, a mixture of 60:40 was used for most of the shade areas. For the second shade only pure Green Grey was used for the darkest creases. Blending is done once all the highlights and shades were established.

Applying Filters

If you are using Khaki as the basecoat, you do not need to give it this wash. After the figure was blended, it looked a bit too greenish in tone , so I decided to apply an khaki wash to make it look closer to photo references I have. For this purpose the acrylic paint was thinned down up to a ratio of 1: 8 and above to achieve the effect. Please refer to the filter section at Washes and Filters page.

Afterwards, I rehighlighted the highest points once more using diluted Basic Skintone.


All the recesses below folds and seams were then outlined in diluted black paint to make the details stand out. Diluted Tamiya Matt Black was used for this purpose.

Painting Accessories

Leather Brown + Orange Brown
The boots and gun holster was painted using the above colour combination. Diluted Orange Brown was used as highlights. Iraqi Sand was used for boot laces.

Bags, Rifle Sling and Straps
Khaki(base), iraqi Sand(highlight)

Olive Drab colour was used as its basecoat. The netting on the helmet was drybrushed with khaki.

The barrel and metallic parts of the weapon were a mix of Chocolate brown and Glossy black. The wood areas were painted in a combination of dark browns mix of acrylics.

Using filters is another way of altering colours in a controlled and limited way. The uniform looks pretty worn and seasoned now.