French military markings on jeeps


This article was first published in Classic Military Vehicle n°16, september 2002, p.17-19



A - the tri-colour symbol of nationality

B - the registration number

C - the tactical symbol of recognition

D - the code of transport by train

E - identification of the elements of a convoy



A - tri-colour symbols of nationality


The national tri-colour has been used to supplement the vehicle serial number since 1922. Since the end of the “sixties”, the tr-colour has been supplemented by a symbol to indicate the arm of service. From left to right :



- Army (but a sword symbol has been used since 1988) ;

- Air Force : yellow wings ;

- Gendarmerie : black grenade ;

- Navy : black anchor or framed registration of the tri-colour symbol on the left and a white anchor on the right.


The tri-colour does not necessarily also appear with the rear registration.



B - registration number


Before 1947, French jeeps and military vehicles inherited the US army were registered in the series 400 000 without any additional letters (e.g. : 406665 - 2nd Armoured Division - Paris, August 1944). From 1947 to 1959, jeeps and other 4x4 vehicles used a registration beginning with one “0” followed by 5 digits :



Army + Gendarmerie

Air Force


Jeeps and other 4x4

0xx xxx

03x xxx

04x xxx


From 1960, the registration numbers changed to 7 digits then to 8 digits in 1980, but there are no examples of Jeeps having registration numbers of 8 digits (see next page).

There is no standardisation in the exact position and form of the registration number. Indeed, markings for the majority were carried out in the barracks and all types of lettering can be found applied to various backgrounds including painting, stickers, meatl numberplate, etc.). However, the serial number is applied in white figures on a black background, and the first three digits are usually separated from the last four by a dash ; the figures are invariably of the same height and widht.

The front registration is located on the front bumper, generally, in the centre, between the two pairs of bolts which attach the bumper to chassis. The figures make same dimension in general : the three first (and the possible dash) on the left of the crank hole, the last four on the right : the first 3 (and the dash if one is present) are on the left of the crank hole, teh last four on the right. But jeeps has been photographed with the registration numbers located completely on the left of the starting crank hole.

The rear registration is, in general, applied to a plate of approximately 37cm X 9 cm placed behind the left bumperette up against the towing hitch. The first three figures are generally of a smaller size of the remainder and are partly concealed by bumperette, with only the last four figures clearly visible between the bumperette and towing hitch.




C - tactical symbol of recognition


This code first appeared in the Seventies with the standardisation agreements (STANAG) between the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (N.A.T.O.). The symbol is applied in white on black to the front bumper to the right of the serial number. Similarly, the rear tactical symbol is generally white on black and is applied to one of the two bumperettes, usually the right.



D – railway transport code


The railway transport code is applied to either side of the scuttlle, low down below the wondscreen pivot. In its first incarnation, it took the form of a white circle with a “grenade” shape to its top, and with afigure “1” painted in its centre in black. From 1970, it was simplified to a plain white circle with a black painted “0” in its centre. The code “1”, then subsequently “0”, indicates the category of vehicles not complying with the gauge of SNCF transport wagons. It should be noted that on jeeps which are painted in the tri-colour Central European camouflage, the railway transport code is often applied in black to the base colour of the camoflage.




E - convoy identification


The convoy identification (as defined in NATO STANAG 2154 - Regulations for Military Motor Vehicle Movement by Road) is applied to a black-painted panel appearing on the two sides (and if possible at the front) of each vehicle of the convoy. On a jeep, the number is written in white chalk on a black rectangle (9 X 38 cm) painted on each side of the bonnet and/or on the windshield panel. The panel is divided in 3, or sometimes 4, separate areas, each one bordered in white.

Each convoy has either a movement number (displacement within the national territory), or an identification number (displacement within the NATO authority).

The movement number consists of six digits :

- the two first indicate the authority charged with organising the movement (military Area, Army, Army corps, Division) ;

- the next two indicate the day of the month during which the movement starts ;

- the last two constitute the sequence of movement in the course of the day.

Example : 04 - 12 – 03 means (in reverse order) movement of 3rd convoy, on the 12th of the month, movement ordered by the Commander of Area 4.

The identification number is composed of

- two digits indicating the day of the month during which movement starts

- three or four letters indicating the authority ordering the movement, the two first being national symbols as outlined in STANAG 1059 (FR for France)

- two digits indicating the sequence number of the convoy.

Example : 03 - FRD - 08 means (in reverse order) the 8th convoy, started on the 3rd of the current month, ordered by the French authority “D”).


The movement numbers and identification numbers can be supplemented by the addition of a letter at the end of the number to differentiate the components of a convoy.




F – bridge classification


No bridge classification appears on a jeep because the laden weight (including trailer) is less than 3 tons maximum.



G - specific Markings


There are numerous specfic markings. For example, Military Police, vehicles of road traffic units, vehicle name, regimental and unit markings, driving school vehicles, etc.



H – further reading


Mémento sur les déplacements par voie routière, Ministère de la Défense, France, not dated

Marques distinctives, BONIFACE Jean-Michel in Charge Utile, n°38, february 1996, p.24-31



18 octobre 2003