Gun color

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Weapons colors are used in a number of armed forces in military uniforms rank insignia , shoulder pieces , leg stripes or piping as a differentiator for different weapon classes , special troops, services and applications.

Historical development

By the beginning of the 20th century at the latest, it became clear that technical advances in weapons development made the colored uniforms traditionally used in many armies unsuitable. Its carriers were too conspicuous and therefore unnecessarily endangered in view of the introduction of the low-smoke powder , the ever increasing accuracy, rate of fire and range of fire of infantry and artillery weapons. A renouncement of elaborate uniform design also rationalized the equipment of the mass armies, which were constantly growing under the sign of the arms race . A number of states had already introduced inconspicuous uniform uniforms before 1914, such as Great Britain , or prepared for war, such as the German Reich . This development came to an end in the trench warfare of the First World War . The z. In Germany, for example, the colorful badge colors on collars and cuffs, some of which were initially retained as a sign of centuries-old regimental tradition, disappeared in the course of the war with the introduction of more practical field uniforms. In order to make at least the branches of the armed forces recognizable, a few uniform parts in Germany and France were given colored advances and regimental numbers from around 1915. After 1918, fixed color assignments became established in many armies. In Germany , when the Reichswehr was re-unified in 1921, the term weapon color was used for this . For the combat or work suit, the weapon color is now often only used for very few components (in the Bundeswehr, for example, only for a narrow strand on the rank insignia ), while it is clearly visible on the company or service suit , typically on the collar tab or the base of badges.

As an alternative to weapon colors , various armed forces, such as the US Army , British Army and the Swiss Army , use stylized badges to differentiate the type of service, which are usually attached to the collar. There were also combinations of weapon colors and generic badges, such as those used in the Soviet Army .


The National Chinese Army introduced rank insignia and weapon colors based on the Japanese model in 1912. The choice of colors was different, however.

  • Infantry: red
  • Cavalry: yellow
  • Artillery: blue
  • Pioneers: white
  • Transport Troop: Black
  • Medical troops: dark green
  • Military Police: Pink (from 1929 carmine red)
  • Military Administration: Carmine


The color of the weapon is intended to create identity in the German armed forces and promote the spirit of the corps . Sometimes even songs of the troops refer to them, for example "Green is my weapon color" for the border troops of the GDR , "We wear the red mirrors " in the Feliks Dzierzynski guard regiment and "Bordeaux red are the mirrors, Bordeaux red is the wine, Bordeaux red is the sky "ABC must be" in the NBC defense force of the Bundeswehr. But the everyday language of the soldiers is often significantly less respectful with it: for example, was the text of the Grenzer song to "Green monkeys a color is" garbled . And the fact that the ABC song still creates identity today is being questioned by the Bundeswehr itself.

Federal Republic of Germany

armed forces

When it was set up in 1955, the Bundeswehr did not use collar tabs to differentiate between the various branches of service. Following the example of the US Army , characteristic metal emblems were initially attached to the collar to differentiate between the military types. Only generals and officers in the general staff service had worn collar tabs in the traditional form since 1955. By spring 1957 at the latest, the collar tabs in weapon color were also reintroduced for all other soldiers.

Federal Police

Even if no different weapon colors were used within these police forces, the uniform parts that were typically weapon-colored in the military were also kept in a characteristic color that deviated from the uniform, so that one can also speak of one weapon color here.

German Democratic Republic

In the area of ​​responsibility of the "ministries of the armed organs " of the GDR ( defense , state security and home affairs ) there were the following weapon colors:

Ministry of National Defense

See also:

Ministry of State Security

  • all uniformed forces: burgundy
  • to disguise the affiliation also other weapon colors: z. B. white, black

Ministry of the Interior

Barracked People's Police

The Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP), as a forerunner organization of the NVA, oriented itself towards the Soviet Army in terms of uniform cut and weapon colors.

  • Generals:
    • Infantry: cap piping: crimson, trimmings as above, shoulder pieces: as above. Collar tabs as above with gold border
    • Artillery: cap piping: crimson, trimmings dark olive, shoulder pieces black, collar tab: black with golden border
    • Armor: cap piping: blue, trim blue, shoulder pieces blue, collar tab: blue with golden border
    • Other (railway, motor vehicle, chemical, reverse services): cap piping : malino , trim dto., shoulder pieces: malino, collar tab: malino gold rimmed
  • Artillery: cap piping: malino, trim black, officers dark olive (?), Epaulettes: black, collar tab: black with malino border
  • Chemical troops: cap piping: black, trimmings: dark olive, epaulettes: black border, officers full black, collar tabs: black
  • Railway troops: hat piping: green, trim dark olive, collar tabs black with green border,
  • Intendant, administrative, medical and legal service: cap piping: malino, trimmings green, epaulettes: bordered in green, officers full green, collar tab: green, officers dto. Malino bordered
  • Infantry: cap piping: malino, trimmings as above, epaulets: border malino, collar tab: malino; Officers with black umran collar tabs
  • Motor vehicle troops: cap piping: malino, trimmings dark olive, epaulets: black border, officers full black, collar tabs with red border
  • News: cap piping: yellow, trimmings: dark olive, epaulets: border black, officers full black, collar tab: black with yellow border
  • Armor: cap piping: blue, trim blue (also officers), epaulettes: border blue, collar tab: blue, officers with black border
  • Pioneers: cap piping: blue, trimmings: dark olive, epaulettes: border black, officers full black, collar tab: black with blue border
  • People's Police Air: light blue
  • People's Police Lake : dark blue

With the transition of the KVP to the NVA in 1956, the gun colors of the NVA were used.

People's Police

The People's Police used the following weapon colors until 1990:

German Empire 1919–1945


In the army of the Reichswehr in 1921, the weapon branches and special uses weapon colors were assigned.


The army led from 1935 initially continued the weapons colors of the army. From 1937 onwards, the army's weapon color was changed and new colors were introduced. In addition, colors were added for the newly established air force .

air force

Weapon colors were alien to traditional naval uniforms, but uniforms similar to those of the army were issued to some non-swimming units of the Navy for service on land. The shape of the bag was slightly different, buttons and braids were made of yellow metal. The following weapon colors were worn:

  • Admirals: Navy blue
  • General: Navy blue
  • Coastal artillery : red, trimmings, braids etc. instead of silver gold and epaulettes with a golden "bomb"
  • Wehrmacht officers of the Navy (underlay for the shoulder pieces), sleeve stripes: silver
    • Navy High Command: dark blue
    • Administrators, naval doctors, naval pharmacists, non-technical teachers at naval schools: cornflower blue
    • Imperial Court Martial, Naval Court Martial: Crimson
    • technical officers, pilot commander, seafaring vehicle officers, sea machinists, technical teachers at marine technical schools: black
  • Military Chaplaincy: Purple

Order police

The police departments of the Ordnungspolizei were also identified by weapon colors:

Armed SS

In the Waffen-SS , only the advances or documents on the shoulder pieces were in the color of the weapon, overall they followed the example of the army .


The Finnish armed forces use the following weapon colors (not on combat suits):

  • General staff officers: raspberry red with a gray border
  • Infantry: green with white border
  • Hunter: green with a yellow border
  • Guards Jägerregiment: green with a gray border
  • Panzer troops: black with a gray border
  • Field artillery: bright red with a black border
  • Air defense: red with a gray border
  • Pioneers: dark purple with a gray border
  • Army aviator: blue with green border
  • Telecommunication troops: dark purple with a yellow border
  • Replenishment: blue with a gray border
  • Medical troops: gray with a red border
  • Dragoons: yellow with a blue border
  • Häme Cavalry Jägerbataillon: yellow with red border
  • Military music: light blue with a white border
  • Luftwaffe: blue with black border
  • Reserve officer school: dark blue with red border
  • Cadet school: blue with a yellow border
  • Special Officer School of the Army: green with red border
  • Border troops: green with an orange border


From 1915 France introduced different colored collar badges ( soutache , number, other symbols), partly on colored collar flaps (cavalry, artillery, etc.) for the horizon blue or khaki colored field uniform to differentiate between the arms . This remained essentially unchanged until 1940.


  • Infantry: dark blue
  • Hunter (dark blue uniform): green
  • Colonial infantry: red
  • Zouaves : garance-red
  • Foreign Legion : green
  • Algerian Tirailleurs : sky blue
  • Moroccan tirailleurs: green
  • light African infantry (formed from convictions): purple
  • Cuirassiers: crimson on a dark blue flap
  • Dragoons: white on dark blue flap
  • Hussars: sky blue on dark blue flap
  • Hunters on horseback: green on dark blue flap
  • Chasseurs d'Afrique : yellow on a dark blue flap
  • Spahis : yellow on dark blue flap
  • Field artillery: light blue on a scarlet flap
  • Foot artillery: green on a scarlet flap
  • mounted artillery: dark blue on a scarlet flap
  • heavy artillery: ash gray on a scarlet flap
  • Artillerie spéciale (tanks): iron gray on a scarlet flap
  • Colonial artillery: scarlet
  • African artillery: light blue on a scarlet flap
  • Pioneers: scarlet on a black flap
  • Balloon troop: orange on black flap
  • Aviator: black on orange flap
  • Train: scarlet on a green flap

Pants tucks:

  • Infantry: yellow
  • Cavalry: dark blue
  • Artillery: scarlet
  • Pioneers: black
  • Air force: orange
  • Train: green


Collar tab of the Italian Army.

Italian military personnel (including members of police forces with combatant status) wear two stars on their collars as a sign of their belonging to the armed forces . In the army, these are integrated into the two collar tabs on the uniform , if the latter are available. With the Carabinieri (silver braid-shaped collar tabs or ornaments for officers) and the Guardia di Finanza (yellow collar tabs in the shape of a tongue of flames), this is always the case with service suits . The affiliation to a branch of arms (possibly including the regiment) is shown by the emblem on the headgear and by the collar tabs. Instead of the emblem, generals wear a stylized standard from the Roman era on their headgear and have no collar tabs in the army. In the army, the beret color is generally black, regardless of the weapon colors, exceptions to this are the paratroopers ( burgundy red ), the army aviators and the airmobile troops (blue). Grenadiers , Alpini , Bersaglieri and members of the " Artillery Regiment on Horseback " have ( under certain circumstances) special headgear.

The collar tabs of the Italian army can take on quite complex features. They either have a rectangular shape and / or that of stylized tongues of fire (based on the widespread garnet problems). The color of the infantry is basically scarlet (flame-shaped collar tabs with two tongues). The regiments of the (mechanized) " line infantry " have their own colors (in rectangular collar tabs without tongues), which they inherited from the brigades to which they belonged until 1919 . The collar tab of the grenadiers looks very similar to that of the German artillery . The collar tabs of the Bersaglieri are crimson, those of the Alpini green, those of the paratroopers light blue, those of the Lagunari scarlet. The members of the cavalry, as far as they do not belong to individual regiments, have orange collar tabs, which here always have the shape of a flame with three tongues. The regiments of the line have their own colors. The color of the armored troops, which today belong to the cavalry, is blue-red (rectangular shape with two red tongues on a blue background). The weapon color of the artillery (including air defense and NBC defense ) and the engineer force is black. Here, in addition to the black color (a tongue with a yellow border in the artillery, with a crimson-red border in the pioneers), the color of the branch of arms supported by the respective artillery or pioneer unit (e.g. black-green: mountain artillery, black-blue: airborne pioneers; partly also black with the colors of the superordinate large association). The combat pioneers (genio guastatori) also have a stylized grenade with a gladius on their collar tabs . This mixed method is also used by the telecommunications service (two blue tongues with a red border), in the field of logistics (two black tongues of fire with a blue border) and medical services (one red tongue; for the veterinarians light blue). The staff in the administrative area has rectangular collar tabs that are completely blue. Those of the Army engineers are completely black, but some have special badges that indicate special areas of responsibility. The army aviators have light blue collar tabs on which the emblem of this troop can be seen. The collar tabs of officers in the General Staff Service have a rectangular gold emblem on a blue background.

The Navy and Air Force do not have collar tabs, but only job badges or smaller variations of other badges (such as job badges above the rank badges of men and officers in the Navy).


The Japanese army had initially following the introduction of Western uniforms in 1880 weapons Colors:

  • Guard infantry: red
  • Infantry: yellow, after 1905 red
  • Guard artillery: white, red hat stripes, everything yellow after 1905
  • Artillery: white, yellow after 1905
  • Train: light blue
  • Pioneers: dark red

From 1916 to 1945 there were the following weapon colors:

  • Infantry: red
  • Cavalry: green
  • Artillery: yellow
  • Train: blue
  • Pioneers and aviators: dark red
  • Field police: black

On the field uniform in World War II , the weapon color only appeared above the right breast pocket as a jagged border.


The Manchurian Army used similar weapon colors as the Japanese:

  • Infantry: scarlet
  • Cavalry: light green
  • Artillery: yellow
  • Pioneers: brown
  • Train: dark blue
  • Resupply force: silver gray
  • Medical troops: dark green
  • Veterinary: purple
  • Military justice: white
  • Military music: blue
  • Luftwaffe : light blue
  • Gendarmerie: black


The Mexican Army uses gun colors that appear as a narrow stripe on the shoulder flap. In addition, symbols are used for individual branches of service.

  • Generals: gold
  • Staff of the President, Guard of the President, General Staff: light brown
  • Infantry: scarlet
  • Artillery: burgundy
  • Quartermaster troop: red-brown
  • Transport troops: light orange brown
  • Judicial service, military police: green
  • Pioneers, communications troops: blue
  • Cavalry: light blue
  • Cartographic service: light gray-blue
  • Luftwaffe , Paratroopers: purple
  • Military music: gray
  • Panzer troop: light gray
  • Message service: very light gray
  • Administrative service and directors: brown-gray
  • Medical troops, veterinarians: yellow


Federal Army

When it was established in 1920/21, the armed forces, with a uniform strongly based on the model of the Reichswehr, basically also adopted their weapon colors, except that the infantry were given grass-green and the hunters yellow-green. At the end of 1933 clothing based on the Austro-Hungarian pre-war uniform was introduced, and weapon colors made way for the traditional equalization of regiments with button and badge colors .

The armed forces of the 2nd republic are also based on Germany with their weapon colors. The color of the weapon determines the basic color of the badge of rank ( collar tab ). Weapon color (s) , or equalization color (s) are traditionally worn in Austria by the military and police with uniforms and badges of rank or badges of distinction. In the armed forces, weapon colors indicate the soldiers' affiliation to military branches, special troops, units, uses or rank groups.

Historical development

When it was established in 1920/21, the armed forces, with a uniform strongly based on the model of the Reichswehr, basically also adopted their weapon colors, except that the infantry were given grass-green and the hunters yellow-green. At the end of 1933 clothing based on the Austro-Hungarian pre-war uniform was introduced, and weapon colors made way for the traditional equalization of regiments with button and badge colors .

Gun colors today

The armed forces of the 2nd republic are also based on Germany with their weapon colors. The color of the weapon determines the basic color of the badge of rank ( collar tab ).

The following table shows examples of the weapon colors currently used in the armed forces:

→ Main article Ranks of the Austrian Armed Forces

Troop, unity, use Gun color Example
( Paroli )
Guard scarlet with white protrusion       Ostwm skirt collar AT.jpg Chief Staff Sergeant

Jagdkommando / Army Sports Center

yellow-green     Complete skirt collar AT.jpg corporal
Hunter grass green     Olt skirt collar AT.jpg First lieutenant

Panzer / Panzergrenadiers

black     Lt skirt collar AT.jpg lieutenant
spotter yellow     Stwm skirt collar AT.jpg Staff sergeant
Theresian Military Academy red       Fhr skirt collar AT.jpg Ensign

Artillery / Air Defense / LV Academy

Ostv skirt collar AT.jpg Officer deputy
Pioneers steel green       Zgf skirt collar AT.jpg Platoon leader
NBC defense force pike gray     Frozen skirt collar AT.jpg Private
Telecommunications force rust brown     Vzlt skirt collar AT.jpg Vice Lieutenant
  • Aviator: purple
  • Technical service: brown
  • Higher military technical service: brown-red
  • Higher military professional service: red-blue
  • General Staff Service: red-black
  • Director's service: green-dark red
  • Supply: dark blue
  • Military medical service (doctor): blue-black
  • Military medical service (veterinarian): dark red-black
  • Military medical service (pharmacist): purple-black
  • Medical: sky blue
  • Economy: light blue
  • Generals: gold
  • Basic colors of uniform: field gray uniform skirt, stone gray uniform trousers
The adjustment regulation contains the color sample tables

Federal Police

With the Federal Police , the weapon color appears on distinctions and plate cap bars :

  • general and police chaplain: Krapprot
  • Higher service (police lawyers and medical officers): Bordeaux violet

Kuk leveling colors

The term breaks down into equalization as overall and equalization colors or weapon colors or badge colors as a sub-term.

In this colloquially colors Kastl mentioned very complicated system of imperial military is denoted by leveling the one hand, the distinctive features in the last 102 infantry - regiments , the Lancers and Dragoons of the peace prior joint army with each other hand in all the other belonging to a branch of service , branch of service , Special force or a service position or an application.

→ Main article Badge of rank of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces


The Polish army used the following weapon colors on collar flaps and cap straps in the 1930s:

  • Infantry: blue
  • Border Guard Corps : green
  • Artillery, air defense: green
  • Pioneers, technical troops, railway workers, intelligence troops, motor troops: black
  • Aviator: yellow
  • Medical troop: red
  • Gendarmerie: orange

Depending on the regiment, the cavalry had different colors according to the lance flag and instead of full-colored collar flaps a small flag on the basic cloth of the collar. Likewise train (light blue flag) and chariot (black and orange flag).

Today's weapon colors:

  • Generals, mechanized troops, judiciary and honor guard: dark blue
  • Successor to historical tank units and reconnaissance: Orange
  • Artillery, Missile Forces, and Air Defense: Dark green
  • Pioneers and military students: black
  • Headquarters and communications force: light blue
  • Medic: cherry colors
  • Military Police: Red
  • Clergy: purple
  • Headquarters, 1st Mechanized Division "Warsaw" and 1st Armored Division "Warsaw": yellow


The Romanian armed forces wore collar flaps and cap ribbons in the following colors from the 1980s to around 2005:

  • Infantry, administration, justice, music: red
  • Artillery, tanks, engineers, chemical and technical forces: black
  • Medical supplies: brown
  • Mountain troops: dark green
  • Border troops: light green
  • Aviator : blue
  • Logistics: purple


According to the “ Army XXI ” model (valid since January 1, 2004), the collar tabs and the ranks of the Swiss Army's starting uniform (Tenue A) are in the same color as the weapon. The sergeant's pipe cord is black, but can be obtained privately in the color of the badge. In the infantry, artillery, medical troops, air and anti-aircraft troops and logistics troops, the Bérets are also kept in the badge color (otherwise black).


The armed forces of the first Czechoslovak Republic used the following weapon colors from the beginning of the 1920s:

  • Generals and general staff as well as artillery: scarlet
  • Infantry (including border guards , castle guards and mountain troops) and armored forces: cherry red
  • Cavalry: golden yellow
  • Pioneers: dark brown
  • News Troop: light brown
  • Train: first dark green, later orange, then golden yellow
  • Motor force: dark green
  • Luftwaffe: light blue
  • Medical service: black with different colored lugs:
  • Intendant's office: dark blue:
  • Justice: purple:
  • Supplementary authorities: ocher:
  • Teaching staff / cartography: light green:


The Soviet armed forces and security forces used the following weapon colors in the last decades of the USSR :


From 1936 to 1945 the Royal Hungarian Army wore the following weapon colors:

  • Officers in the military chancellery of the Reich Administrator : white
  • Generals and artillery: scarlet
  • General Staff :: black velvet with scarlet advance
  • Technical General Staff :: brown velvet with a scarlet advance
  • Infantry and cycling troops: grass green
  • Border guard: green with red advance
  • Hussars: light blue
  • Armored force: purple
  • Military music: purple
  • Medical service: black
  • Technical troops and liaison troops: dark steel green
  • Motor troop: brown
  • Train: yellow, from 1922 brown
  • Local officers: orange
  • Economic officers: carmine

United States

The United States Army has used the following weapon colors since around 1830, but these can only be found on the dark blue uniform for special occasions today.

  • Infantry: light blue
  • Cavalry: yellow
  • Hunters on Horseback (erected 1846): green
  • Dragoon : orange
  • Artillery: red
  • Military Police: white

(Hunters on horseback and dragoons were included in the unit cavalry in 1861 and also got their weapon color)

Individual evidence

  1. a b Chinese Civil War Armies 1911–49 By Philip S. Jowett, Stephen Andrew.
  2. Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr : Exhibit of the month February / March 2009: "Stay away from me with the merely decorative!" - Fabric seal pattern for collar tabs of the Bundeswehr from 1959. Federal Ministry of Defense , head of the press and information staff , March 27, 2009, archived from the original ; Retrieved June 29, 2014 .
  3. Puolustusvoimat: Tunnusvärit accessed on March 27, 2011 (Finnish)
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l Richard Knötel, Herbert Knötel and Herbert Sieg: Farbiges Handbuch der Uniformkunde, Volume 2, Stuttgart 1994 p. 181f
  5. ^ Ranks of the armed forces
  6. K. Urban: Brief compilation of the Polish Army, Berlin 1931
  7. Regulations for clothing and packs (PDF; 833 kB) In: Swiss Army . Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  8. a b c d e f g Richard Knötel, Herbert Knötel and Herbert Sieg: Colored Handbook of Uniform Studies, Volume 2, Stuttgart 1994 p. 168
  9. Richard Knötel, Herbert Knötel and Herbert Sieg: Colored Manual of Uniform Studies, Volume 2, Stuttgart 1994 p. 211
  10. a b c d e K. Urban: Short compilation of the Czechoslovak Army, Berlin 1937 p. 89
  11. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Richard Knötel, Herbert Knötel and Herbert Sieg: Colored Handbook of Uniform Studies, Volume 2, Stuttgart 1994 p. 167