Blanco (compound)

Blanco (compound)

Blanco was a compound used by British soldiers (and Commonwealth troops of various nations). The compound was used on cotton webbing infantry equipment, notably the Web Equipment '37 Pattern during the Second World War, though Blanco was used both before and after that conflict.

Description

Blanco came in either powder or round cake form, much like soap, and was used as a cleaning and colouring compound. Post WWII rectangular waxy blocks became available. Blanco was applied with a brush and water, and rubbed into the woven cotton material of load bearing equipment, to provide a consistent colour to equipment worn by soldiers in the same unit, and as a method of cleaning the gear.

Blanco came in many different colours, the most common being shades of "khaki" (in practice, a tan colour) or olive green, though white was also used. Black if used was achieved by using boot polish. There were several shades of green used, which are not easy to distinguish in black and white period photos, with shade 97 (light green), and shade KG3 (dark green) being most common. Additionally there was "RAF Blue" for RAF blue grey web equipment. As an alternative khaki coloured mud was used at times to produce tan coloured equipment. Scrubbing the webbing in Sea Water produced a near white result.

A post-WWII blanco colour adopted by at least one unit of the Parachute Regiment of the British Army (5th - later renumbered 15th Scottish Battalion) was maroon, using the waxy form of blanco to give a shiny scuff-resistant finish. Maroon is closely associated with British Airborne units, being the colour of the well-renowned Airborne beret and also used on tactical shoulder patches.

The word also became used as a verb, as in "to blanco a piece of equipment". The past tense of blanco is usually seen in print as "blancoed".

It appears in the phrase "Bull, Blanco and Brasso" to refer to the methods used to bring uniform to immaculate condition.


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