Tanks are not particularly colorful. In fact, they are painted so as to blend into whatever background they are in. However, there is something about a color photograph that places a massive tank in context better than a black-and-white photograph does.
|A US M24 Chaffee Tank, taken in 1943.|
Accordingly, this is a page of World War II tanks in color. I make every effort to cull out any photos that are from post-war movie sets and the like.
|Three Germans (on the right, in black, is a Panzer commander) pose with a knocked out French AMC Somua S 35 Command tank (serial Nº 10664). This was taken somewhere on the Western Front (maybe Arras) during the invasion of France in 1940 (colorized).|
As far as I can determine, these are authentic photographs from the World War II time frame (I extend that liberally through the 1930s because 1930s tanks were used in the conflict, but with a definite termination point of 1945).
Naturally, all combatants had tanks of one sort or another. However, everybody on both sides was more interested in German tanks rather than any others. The Germans didn't think particularly highly of Allied tanks (with a few exceptions), and the Allies found German tanks to be a novelty. So, aside from static pictures taken at training grounds or posed pictures well behind the front and the like, there are far fewer pictures of Allied tanks than there are of Wehrmacht tanks. That preference, if anything, has been amplified during the post-war years. However, these pages are intended to show a balanced picture of the war and not just focus on one side or the other.
A lot of photos have been colorized, and I mark them as such when I am 100% certain - but any photo here could have been colorized.
|During the drive on Naples in 1944, the crew of ‘Sheik’, a Sherman Mk.III (M4A2) belonging to 'A' Squadron of the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons), watch water vapor coming out of Mount Vesuvius.|
I have no problem with colorization as long as the source photograph is authentic. Generally, after you have seen a lot of these pictures, you can pick out the fakes - but not always. A film set from 1962, for example, using original equipment that was still fairly common can look as authentic as the real thing. There are usually little hints as to authenticity, though.
Another problem is that the same equipment was used by the Americans in the Korean War, but those shots usually are easy to identify.
|M26 Pershing heavy tank of US 9th Armored Division near Vettweiss, Germany March 1945 (colorized).|
A color picture from World War II is usually denoted as such with a watermark. There were indeed color photographs during the World War II timeframe, some quite good, but shot in the field usually were in black-and-white because that is what the newspapers and magazines could print
|M4 Sherman Tanks during manoeuvers in the California desert.|
Color film was several times as expensive as black-and-white film and it couldn't be used anyway. So, most color photographs are of very highly placed individuals whose dignity required color shots such as studio portraits of generals and admirals. A few wealthy individuals, such as Eva Braun, also used color at times.
The bottom line is that you should assume that any color photo from the World War II timeframe has been colorized using some flavor of photoshop unless otherwise indicated. There are no guarantees either way, but odds are that anything that looks too good outside of an obvious portrait situation is likely to be colorized.
|As shown by the watermark in the lower right-hand corner, this was colorized. It shows a Sherman IIA (M4A1(76)W Medium Tank of the 2nd English armored brigade in Italy in 1944.|
As always, thank you for stopping by. If you have any pertinent comments or observations, feel free to leave them below.
If you like these color photos, you may wish to check out my other pages of color photos of World War II.
|Panzerkampfwagen Panzer II from the 10th Panzer Division during the battle of Sedan, France, May 13, 1940. The Panzer II was one of the main Wehrmacht tanks in 1940.|
|"New Zealanders take prisoner the crew of a Matilda tank, captured by the Germans and used in an attempt to break through the Allied lines, during which it was knocked out by an anti-tank gun, 3 December 1941." The Germans have placed markings on the tank to avoid friendly fire because the Luftwaffe was quite powerful at this time. Colorized from © IWM (E 3743E).|
|Japanese tanks (Type 89 and 95) with flags draped to prevent friendly fire. This is probably in China, but there is no certain ID on this picture that I have found.|
|Some Tommies brewing tea by their Crusader Mk II in North Africa, 1942.|
|Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger tank #231 in northern Russia, mid-1943. The tank is straight from the factory and has not had any camouflage applied yet.|
|Panther tank of the 1st SS-Panzer-Division “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” in Eeklo, Belgium, June 1944.|
|Panzer MK IV tanks knocked out by air attacks near Lanuvio, Italy, mid-1944.|
|Men of the 26th Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), 169th Brigade, advance past a pair of burning German Panzer IV tanks in the Salerno area of Italy, September 1943. Looks like an effective ambush of a German tank column (colorized).|
|24th Panzer Division during Operation Barbarossa, Summer 1942 (colorized).|
|An M4A1 Sherman of 1st Armored Division on the road to Lucca, Italy (west of Florence) on the Gothic Line, 10 March 1945. The driver appears to be wearing glasses.|
|Long after the battle and perhaps the war, a King Tiger with “octopus” camouflage scheme sits silently in a field.|