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Royal Navy Colour Schemes

aRoyal Navy Colours of World War Two - B5 and B15

C.A.F.O. 1112 Camouflage of Sea Going Ships - June 1942

Royal Navy Colours of World War Two - The Pattern 507s, G10 and G45

Royal Navy Colours of World War Two - The Standard Camouflage Colours 1941-1943

Royal Navy Colours of World War Two - B & G Series Camouflage Colours 1943-1945

 Sovereign Hobbies Colourcoats - Royal Navy WW2 enamel model paints

 

General colour schemes - 1936 to 1941

Despite the confusion which has prevailed over the past 20 to 30 years, the Royal Navy was fairly robust in painting directives in times of peace and until around 1941. There are some outlying schemes which flew in the face of standing orders, but these are the exceptions and are fairly easily spotted.

The shades of grey to be used by the Home Fleet and on foreign stations went through some evolution during the late 1920s and early 1930s, but by 1936 these were finalised.

Admiralty Fleet Order 2680 "Painting of H.M. Ships in Time of Peace – Standardization of Colours – REPORTS" issued on 5th November 1936 was the document which promulgated these paints and their prescribed uses:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0730/0927/files/AFO2680-36.pdf?4195512853471384647

 

In January of 1939, Admiralty Fleet Order 211 reintroduced Admiralty Pattern 507A with the following:

"Dark grey paint, Home Fleet shade, for other than weather work, is being added to the Authorised List as Pattern 507a. The formula is the same as for Pattern 507B except that the enamel is omitted.

2. The description of Pattern 507B has been amplified to read:- “Paint mixed dark grey, Home Fleet shade, for weather work”."

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0730/0927/files/AFO_211-39.pdf?4195512853471384647

 

In December 1939, a memo extract from CB.3016 shared the following insight into the then-current painting practises of the Royal Navy:

"Sir, With reference to your letter No.N.C.388/6801 of 8th November, 1939, I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to inform you that H.M. Ships on foreign stations are painted as follows (vide C.B.3016 (37), paragraph 261, and C.B.3016 (34), paragraph 179):-

Cruisers and larger vessels - light grey all over.

Destroyers - dark grey hulls and light grey upper works.

Submarines - royal blue on Mediterranean Station, and dark olive colour on China Station.

2. All ships of the Home Fleet, including submarines, are painted Home Fleet grey, and a matt surface paint is employed both at home and on foreign stations.

3. Armed Merchant Cruisers are painted in their normal peacetime colours."

Point 2 above indicates that Admiralty Pattern 507A Dark grey, Home Fleet shade is in use. Containing 10 pints of enamel per hundredweight, Admiralty Pattern 507B Dark grey, Home Fleet shade had a glossy finish.

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0730/0927/files/CB3106_Extract_Memo_dec39.pdf?4195512853471384647

 

In August of 1940 the above orders are reiterated in Home Fleet Temporary Memorandum 288.

"PAINTING OF SHIPS. Camouflage painting of ships in patches of green and brown is not considered to be of any value for seagoing ships and is to be discontinued. There is some evidence that in certain conditions of light and background, a form of camouflage or dazzle painting, using light and dark grey, may confuse identification and determination of course by observers, particularly by those in aircraft.

2. Capital ships and aircraft carriers of the Home Fleet when in Home Waters are to be painted Home Fleet Grey. Cruisers, at the discretion of the Flag Officers Commanding Squadrons, may be dazzle painted as in paragraph 1 or painted Home Fleet Grey.

3. The decks of all ships, cruisers and above, are to be of a dark colour. For wooden decks and approximate mixture of Japan Black 6 parts Turpentine 1 part Liquid Dryers 6 parts Applied to a dry deck gives good results.

4. The tops of gun turrets and other horizontal surfaces are to be painted to tone with the decks, using the non-slip deck paint referred to in C.A.F.O. 1446/40. When dazzle painting is adopted these flat surfaces should be included in the colour scheme."

 

In summary, unless there is a primary source reference to state otherwise, the practise from 1936 to circa 1941 was to paint ships in the Home Fleet in Home Fleet Grey, or more fully "Dark grey, Home Fleet shade" to Pattern 507B pre-war and Pattern 507A which was exactly the same colour, just matt instead of glossy finish, from some time in 1939 onwards. Note that horizontal surfaces are specifically mentioned in HFTM.288 and that whilst the use of darkening turret tops to match the Japan-blacked wooden deck tones using non-slip deck paint is ordered, this deck paint is not Admiralty Pattern 507A. Therefore, any reference claiming an early war ship to be wearing 507B Medium Grey verticals with 507A Dark Grey horizontals is incorrect. 507A and 507B are exactly the same colour and the horizontal surfaces are painted in a different paint entirely.

 

 

Specific colour schemes

HMS Duke of York - late 1943 (Battle of North Cape)

Hull - G10 (NARN 21)

Superstructure - G45 (NARN 22)

Both wooden and steel decks and horizontal surfaces - G5 (NARN 28)

 

 

HMS Hermes - 1942

Darkest camouflage tone - MS1 (NARN 28)

Middle camouflage tone - B5 (NARN 33)

Lightest camouflage tone - 507C (NARN 22)

Flight Deck - Option 1 (according to Alan Raven "dark green") - pattern 631 Bronze Grey (NARN 45)

Flight Deck - Option 2 (according to Alan Raven "dark green") - unofficial dark "sea green" paint (e.g. ARIT 05)

Flight Deck - Option 3 (available & approved civilian manufactured non-slip paint) - B.S. 32 Dark Battleship Grey (M 16)

Flight Deck - Option 4 (available & approved civilian manufactured non-slip paint) - 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 21)

Other steel decks and horizontal surfaces - NARN 21 or M 16

 

 

1942HMS Belfast 

 As depicted in Airfix 1/600 kit

 Admiralty Disruptive Pattern Camouflage, using the following on the 

Vertical surfaces:

 

AP 507A Admiralty Dark Grey (NARN 21);

AP 507C Admiralty Light Grey (NARN 22);

B.5 Dark Blue-Grey (NARN 33);  

B.6 Light Blue (NARN 34);

Bridge Decks—Corticene (RN 24);

Steel decks & walkways:— Dark Grey (NARN 23);

Boot topping, funnel caps, pom-pom barrels—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42); Countershading—Paint the following white (C 03):

  1. Underside of blast shields, flag decks, boats, Pom-Pom decks and other platforms;
  2. Lockers, vents, davits, etc.
  3. All darken ship screens, canvas covers for reels, etc.
  4. Lower 1/3 of gun barrels, searchlights, etc.
  5. Masts and crow’s nest;
  6. Insides of gun shields;
  7. Stanchions and other small fittings on upper deck.

 

HMS Dreadnought

1906-12 and WW1: Overall #2 Grey (Colourcoats GW 02)
1913: Overall #3 Grey (Colourcoats GW 03)

Wood decks: natural teak (Colourcoats C 01)
Steel decks: #4 Grey (Colourcoats GW 04)


No apparent boot-topping.

 

HMS Eskimo

(WWII Tribal Class Destroyer)

1940     All vertical surfaces—AP 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 20)

Steel decks & walkways, decks of launches (except Admiral’s Barge)— Dark Grey (NARN 23)

Areas of steel decks covered with Semtex non-slip compund - AC US 02 Dark Gull Gray (this may have been overpainted with AP 507A.  We have no definite information).

1941-43 Hull repainted in Western Approaches scheme using RN White (C03) and Western Approaches Blue (NARN 37)

 

HMS Hood

As Lost

All vertical surfaces—AP 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 20)

Steel decks & walkways, decks of launches (except Admiral’s Barge)— Dark Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks, deck of Admiral’s Barge—Teak (C 01);

Bridge Decks—Corticene (NARN 44);

Underwater Hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42);

Boot-topping, pom-pom & machine gun barrels, funnel cap—Black (C 02);

Cabin tops and hull below waterline of Admiral’s Barge—White (C 03);

Hull of Admirals Barge above waterline—Mid-green (ACUS 16);

Interiors of open boats, boat booms, jack & ensign staffs—Mahogany ( US 15);

15” gun blast bags pre-war (if fitted), H.A. director covers were stained dark grey to match the Home Fleet Grey paint at the time of sinking (but were off-white pre-war)

 

HMS Howe

1945

Admiralty Standard Camouflage Scheme A:

Vertical Surfaces—G.45 Light Grey (NARN 22);

Blue panel on hull—B.20 (NARN 36);

Steel decks & walkways—G.10 Dark Grey (NARN 21);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping & Funnel Caps—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull - RN Antifouling Red (NARN 1942)  

 

HMS King George V 

As depicted in Tamiya kits

 Admiralty Standard Camouflage Scheme A:

Vertical Surfaces—G.45 Light Grey (NARN 22);

Blue panel on hull—B.20 (NARN 36);

Steel decks & walkways—G.10 Dark Grey (NARN 21);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping & Funnel Caps—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42)

 

As depicted in Airfix/Heller 1/400 kits - 1942 fit (scheme generally similar for HMS Anson and HMS Howe in 1942 also, although Anson and Howe used M.S.1. (NARN 28)  in lieu of 507A)

Admiralty Disruptive Pattern camouflage using the following on vertical surfaces:

507A Admiralty Dark Grey (NARN 21);

507C Admiralty Light Grey (NARN 22);

B.5. (NARN 33);

M.S.4. (NARN 30);

Steel decks & walkways— Dark Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Countershading—Paint the following white (C 03):

  1. Underside of blast shields, flag decks, boats, Pom-Pom decks and other platforms;
  2. Lockers, vents, davits, etc;
  3. All darken ship screens, canvas covers for reels, etc.;
  4. Lower 1/3 of gun barrels, searchlights, etc.;
  5. Masts and crow’s nest;
  6. Insides of gun shields;
  7. Stanchions and other small fittings on upper deck.

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42).

 

 

HMS Montgomery

As depicted in Mirage/Airfix 1/400 kit:

Modified Western Approaches Camouflage, using the following on the vertical surfaces:

MS.1 Dark Blue-Black (NARN 28);

MS.2 Dark Grey (NARN 29);

Pale Blue-Green—50/50 mix of Western Approaches Blue (NARN 38) & Western Approaches Green (NARN 39);

Western Approaches White (C03);

Steel Decks—MS.2 Dark Grey (NARN 29);

Bridge Decks—Corticene (NARN 44); Boot topping, funnel caps, Oerlikon barrels—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 19)

 

HMS Rodney

 

1942

Admiralty Disruptive Pattern Camouflage, using the following colours:

MS.1  (NARN 28);

MS.3  (NARN 30);

M.S.4  (NARN 31);

B.5 (NARN 33);

507C Admiralty Light Grey (NARN 22).

Boot topping - Black (C03)

Underwater hull - Antifouling Red (NARN 42)

 

 

HMS Nelson

1941

Standard Home Fleet Grey scheme painted in Admiralty Pattern 507A or dockyard equivalent matt paint:

Mid-1942

Admiralty Disruptive Pattern Camouflage, using the following colours:

MS.1  (NARN 28);

B.5 (NARN 33);

M.S.4  (NARN 31);

507C Admiralty Light Grey (NARN 22).

Steel decks Dark Grey (suggest NARN 21 or NARN 23)

Boot topping - Black (C03)

Underwater hull - Antifouling Red (NARN 42)

 

Latter part of 1943 through 1944

Admiralty Disruptive Pattern Camouflage, using the following colours:

G5  (NARN 28);

B15 (NARN 33);

B30 (NARN 37);

G45 (NARN 22).

Steel decks Dark Grey (suggest NARN 21)

Boot topping - Black (C03)

Underwater hull - Antifouling Red (NARN 42)

 

January 1945 until end of war (as she left the USA from refit carrying 40mm Bofors gun mounts)

Painted in Standard Scheme "A" comprising:

Steel decks - likely G10 (NARN 21);

Vertical surfaces - G45 (NARN 22);

Rectangular panel on hull - B20 (NARN 36)

 

HMS Prince of Wales

Bismarck Action

All vertical surfaces— 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 20);

Steel decks— Dark Deck Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42).

As Lost

Camouflage—MS.1 (NAR28), Home Fleet Grey (NARN 21) MS.3 (NARN 30), M.S.4 (NARN 31), 507C Light Grey (NARN 22), White (C 03). 

Steel decks—MS.1 (NAR28);

Wood Decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42).

HMS Queen Elizabeth 

1918

Vertical surfaces—#1 Grey (GW 01);

Funnel caps—Black (C 02);

Steel decks—#4 Grey (GW 04);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Bridge decks—Corticene (RN 24)

Underwater Hull—RN Antifouling Red (RN 19). 

June - August 1943 - NOT UPDATED SINCE NEW RESEARCH

 Admiralty Light Disruptive Pattern camouflage: MS.2 (RN 05), B.5 (RN 07), MS.3 (RN 06), MS.4A (RN 13)

                          Steel decks & walkways—MS.2 (RN 05);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (RN 19);

Countershading: Paint the following white:

  1. Underside of blast shields, flag decks, boats, Pom-Pom decks and other platforms;
  2. Lockers, vents, davits, etc.;
  3. All darken ship screens, canvas covers for reels, etc.;
  4. Lower 1/3 of gun barrels, searchlights, etc.;
  5. Masts and crow’s nest;
  6. Insides of gun shields;
  7. Stanchions &other small fittings on upper deck.

 

August 1943 - 1944 - NOT UPDATED SINCE NEW RESEARCH

Admiralty Light Disruptive Pattern camouflage: Colours may have been as cited above, or may have changed to 1943 colours: G.10 (RN 23), B.15 (RN 15), G.20 (RN 25), G.45 (RN 14);

                          Steel decks & walkways—G.20 (RN 25);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (RN 19);

Countershading: Paint the following white:

  1. Underside of blast shields, flag decks, boats, Pom-Pom decks and other platforms;
  2. Lockers, vents, davits, etc.;
  3. All darken ship screens, canvas covers for reels, etc.;
  4. Lower 1/3 of gun barrels, searchlights, etc.;
  5. Masts and crow’s nest;
  6. Insides of gun shields;
  7. Stanchions &other small fittings on upper deck.

Masts: White topmasts. Remainder of mast should be the same as adjacent surfaces.

 

HMS Renown

1945

Admiralty Standard Camouflage Scheme A:

Vertical Surfaces—G.45 Light Grey (NARN 22);

Blue panel on hull—B.20 (NARN 36);

Steel decks & walkways—G.10 Dark Grey (NARN 21);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping & Funnel Caps—Black (C 02);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (NARN 42)  

 

HMS Repulse - TO BE UPDATED

Vertical camouflage—AP 507C Admiralty Light Gray (RN 03) and Black (C 02);

Steel decks—AP 507A Admiralty Dark Grey (RN 01);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—RN Antifouling Red (RN 19).

 

HMCS Snowberry  - TO BE UPDATED

Vertical surfaces—Western Approaches White (RN 10), Western Approaches Blue (RN 08), and Western Approaches Green (RN 09);

Steel decks: MS.2 (RN 05)

Wood decks: Teak (C 01);

Underwater hull: RN Antifouling Red (RN 19).

Countershading: Extensive use was made of countershading in Western Approaches camouflage. The following surfaces should be painted white:

  1. Undersides of blast shields, flag decks, boats, Pom-Pom decks, and other platforms.
  2. After side of bridge.
  3. Lockers, vents, davits, etc.
  4. Whole of after blast screen.
  5. Darken ship screens, canvas covers to reels, etc.
  6. Lower 1/3 of gun barrels, searchlights, etc.
  7. Both masts (if two carried), and crow’s nest.
  8. Insides of gun shields.
  9. All stanchions and other small fittings on deck.

 

The camouflage was always taken over the boot topping, down to the waterline, so there is no black boot-topping stripe.  

 

HMS Warspite - TO BE UPDATED

Vertical surfaces—AP 507B Admiralty Medium Grey (RN 02) & AP 507C Admiralty Light Grey (RN 03);

Steel decks—AP 507A Admiralty Dark Grey (RN 01);

Some bridge decks—Corticene (RN 24);

Wood deck—Natural Teak (C 01);

Underwater hull—RN Antifouling Red (RN 19).

Boot-topping, pom-pom & machine gun barrels, funnel cap—Black (C 02);

Cabin tops and hull below waterline of Admiral’s Barge—White (C 03);

Hull of Admirals Barge above waterline—Mid-green (ACUS 16);

Interiors of open boats, boat booms, jack & ensign staffs—Mahogany ( US 15);

15” gun blast bags (if fitted), H.A. director covers—Off-white (RN 10). 

 

 

 

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