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Panzer Colours (2): Markings of the German Army Panzer Forces 1939-45
By Bruce Culver, Bill Murphy, Don Greer
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc. 1978 94 Pages
PDF 63 MB
Military markings, in the basic sense of providing identification in battle, can be traced back to Neolithic man. Tribes and village clans would often paint themselves with distinctive patterns of "warpaint". In some othercases, tattoos or scars were used to mark members of a clan or tribe. These were permanent markings that usually had religious or mystical ritual meanings, and were not solely for use in warfare. Later in history, as armies became more organized in the specialty of military action for conquest or defense, flags, banners, and standards came into use to rally troops in the field and identify the positions of commanders. While elite troops (many of them professional soldiers hired and equipped by rulers or nobles) often wore standard uniforms which helped units stay together, the use of auxiliaries (who usually wore a variety of clothing) made the use of flags imperative. Most military transport was by horse drawn wagons, andthese were sometimes, during the Middle ages, hung with regimental flags and used as rallying points. These can be considered the first modern military markings.
World War I saw the first widespread use of national symbols, on aircraft and, in some cases, on armored vehicles. Unit symbols, such as the French system of playing card signs, were used to denote smaller organizations (regiments, battalions, companies, or platoons). Occasionally, vehicles carried individual identifying numbers within these units.
By the beginning of World War II, most nations had developed systems of symbols for their military vehicles and equipment. Modern military markings were developed with the conflicting goals of identifying units to friendly troops while denying this information to the enemy.