40mm Bofors US Color Codes

Looking for an “official” listing of the many varieties of 40mm L/60 projectiles and the color codes used by the US. What I have found is limited and often in conflict with other sources. It seems that a particular color doesn’t always mean the same thing when in combination with other colors? Specifically interested in green body w/ black band fitted with a red tip fuze with yellow band. Is this a real combination or just stuck together?


U.S. Navy Ordnance Pamphlet 2238 dated September 1957 [shameless plug- available on CD with many other manuals on Buy-Sell-Trade page] does not list that combination.

The green body and black body band is only listed as used in the HEIT-NSD (High Explosive Incendiary Tracer- Non-Self-Destructive) round, and these had the red tip with white nose band.

The red tip with yellow nose band is ony listed as used on the HEIT-(DI)-SD (High Explosive Incendiary Tracer- Dim ignition- Self-Destructive) which had green body and green body band.

Of course, that is only the U.S. Navy marking scheme for that period, so it may be a legitimate combination from another time or service. (e.g.- Army use or USAF AC-130 may use others).

Dave E

I have a photograph of the 40mm projectile that you described (green/black/yellow/red). I am digging thru my stacks of paper to try to find the description of it. I’ll let you know if I do. But, at least you know that it’s a real projectile color scheme.



Here’s what I found in my notes:

Green/Black/Yellow/Red = HE-I-TDI-SD High Explosive-Incendiary-Tracer,Dark Ignition-Self Destruct.

This seems to conflict somewhat with what John posted. I think “dark” and “dim” tracer are the same thing but maybe there is enough difference for them to have unique color codes.

John’s reference to “green body band” is somewhat confusing to me since the projectile body is green and it would be difficult to add a green band without it being lost in the shuffle.

These are USN colors, BTW. I don’t collect Army artillery stuff.

Sorry I cannot help more.


John S.,

Thanks for the USN Pamphlet reference. I put it on my list of “wants”.


Thank you for the info. There does seem to be conflicting color scheme descriptions to the various loadings. The round in question seems to have an SD feature installed between the tracer cavity and main charge cavity. This conflicts with body being an HEIT with an HEIT-DI-SD fuze installed post tear-down. On the other hand, maybe the device between the cavities is not for SD. Any way, it is nice to see that mine’s not the only one out there…


I took a pic of a 40mm ID board you can see it on my site inertord.com/projectiles40mm.html

Here are pics of a different 40mm board. I wish it was better quality so you can read the ID tags. I will try to find better pics.



Thanks for the link.


Very nice display similar to that in Jawasinger’s link. Both have the same layout format. That would be great if you can get the tags readable. The top complete round with a sectioned base has an interesting variation of the shell body band color. Looks almost like it’s bare steel or maybe it’s the light…

They even sectioned a couple shells in half for you Jason!


Does anyone know the OFFICIAL number of the “color code” (RGB #'s) of that kinda mossy green (at the risk of offending someone with my description)…(or all the board’s tip colors)

One of these days I wish to re-condtion that same board (I have) and would like to get the colors right (safe to assume the red/white/black are “routine”)

The “green” does not look like one I pick off the shelf at Home Depot.

What would be the best technique to tape (?) off the lines on the “ogive” (taper)…a rubberized tape that would lay flat and maintain a true line ?

I can take a higher res photo if anyones wishes (to read tags, etc.)


Most everyone I know who re-finishes USN projectiles from WW II era use Hunter Green, preferebly Satin. Rustoleum #7732. The board projectiles look a little bit too pale, maybe it’s the lighting.

Paint the different colors starting at the tip. Let it dry and them mask off for the next color. Etc.

It’s interesting that the projectile that started this thread isn’t on any of the boards. But it does exist.

While all those colors make for a pretty picture, most were never encountered and the cartridges most commonly seen aboard ship were the HE-I-T/SD and HE-T/SD.


Pepper, your board is perfectly fine and restauration would reduce the value a big time IMHO.