Full view of all Royal Navy schemes

Full view of all schemes 

 

China Station - 1919 through mid-1930s 

China Station paint schemes are widely repeated to have featured white hull and buff upperworks, but no evidence is known to exist to support that. On the contrary, there is strong primary source evidence to directly contradict this popular belief in the form of orders from 1919 through the 1931 copy of the Rate Book of Naval Stores both specifying grey upperworks. The grey used was Admiralty Pattern 507B.

Royal Navy China Station

East Indies Station - 1919 through mid-1930s

The East Indies Station featured white hull and superstructure but Primrose Yellow (not buff) funnels, masts and yard arms. This scheme appeared to be phased out from around 1938 in favour of all-over 507C for foreign stations.

HMS Norfolk East Indies Station 1937

 

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."

Royal Navy Home Fleet

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.

Meanwhile, the standard colour scheme for ships on foreign stations in the late 1930s was a simple affair over overall 507C Light Grey. Some exceptions are known to have existed including destroyers on South Atlantic station which had 507B hulls with 507C upperworks, but the typical appearance of a Royal Navy warship in a warm climate would be 507C.

Royal Navy Mediterranean and Foreign Stations

 

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 Duke of York 1943 - dark tone equivalent emergency camouflage

 

 

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) - RECOMMENDED

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

HMS Hermes 1942 Camouflage Ceylon

 

 

 

HMS Javelin - summer 1942

HMS Javelin 1942

 

HMS Kent - County Class cruiser

Camouflage - China Stations 1928

Hull - C03 Matt White

Boot topping - C02 Matt Black

Upperworks - NARN05 July 1916 - Late 1920s Light Grey; 507B

Steel Decks - NARN23 Dark Deck Grey

Wooden Decks - C01 Teak

HMS Kent 1934 China Station

Camouflage - After 1938 Refit

Hull - C03 Matt White

Boot topping - C02 Matt Black

Vertical Surfaces - NARN22 507C Light Grey

Steel Decks - NARN23 Dark Deck Grey

Wooden Decks - C01 Teak

 

Camouflage September 1941 through April 1942

 

Camouflage carried onto decks.

NARN22 - 507C Light Grey

NARN23 - Dark Deck Grey

NARN28 - MS1

NARN31 - MS4

NARN33 - B5

HMS Kent 1941

 

HMS Eskimo

(WWII Tribal Class Destroyer)

1940     All vertical surfaces—AP 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 21)

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

HMS Hood 1941 paint colour guide

All vertical surfaces—AP 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 20 or NARN21 - your choice...)

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—Grey (exact shade unknown, but it was dark - we suggest US04 5-D Dark Gray may be a reasonable representation for the fresh appearance of Peacock & Buchan's anti-fouling grey)

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

June 1942 - as completed at Govan

HMS Howe June 1942

 

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—Moravia Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest KM 11)

HMS King George V late 1944 early 1945

 

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—Moravia Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest KM 11).

HMS King George V mid-late 1942

 

HMS King George V late 1943 early 1944

 

HMS Jamaica - Fiji Class Cruiser

1942 appearance

M.S.1 (NARN 28);

B.5 (NARN33)

M.S.4 (NARN31)

507C (NARN22)

HMS Jamaica 1942

 

 

 

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 (C02)

HMS Rodney 1942

 

 

HMS Nelson

1941

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

HMS Nelson 1941

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 (C02)

 

HMS Nelson 1942

 

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 (C02)

HMS Nelson 1943

 

HMS Nelson 1944

 

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 Nelson January 1945 onwards

 

HMS Prince of Wales

Bismarck Action

All vertical surfaces— 507A Home Fleet Grey (NARN 21);

Steel decks— Dark Deck Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—MacArthur's Antifouling Grey (suggest ACUS13 as an approximation).

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—MacArthur's Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest ACUS 13 as an approximation).

HMS Prince of Wales July-December 1941

 

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);

 

HMS Repulse - 1939-1940

Vertical camouflage— 507B Dark Grey (early 1939) replaced by 507A Dark Grey (i.e. glossy pre-war, matt finish from mid 1939 on) (NARN 20 or 21)

Steel decks—Dark Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—Believed to have been red (no primary source evidence known to exist, but a survivor's account in his book describes red) (NARN 42)

HMS Repulse 1939-1940

HMS Repulse - 1941

Vertical camouflage—507C Light Gray (NARN22) and Black (C 02);

Steel decks—Dark Grey (NARN 23);

Wood decks—Teak (C 01);

Boot-topping—Black (C 02);

Underwater Hull—Believed to have been red (no primary source evidence known to exist, but a survivor's account in his book describes red) (NARN 42)

 HMS Repulse 1941

 

HMS Illustrious 

November 1940 Camouflage during Operation Judgement / Taranto Raid - as depicted by Flyhawk and 3D-Wild kits 

Vertical Surfaces — Camouflage pattern of low contrast, possibly 507A and 50/50 emergency mix or possibly fresh 507A patterned onto faded and chalked 507A (NARN 21 and NARN 24);

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

Flight Deck - Bronze Grey (NARN 45)

Lower Hull - Anti-Fouling Red (NARN 42)

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

HMS Illustrious November 1940 Operation Judgement Taranto

Early 1941 Camouflage during Operation Excess

Vertical Surfaces — Same camouflage pattern but in high contrast, almost certainly 507A and 507C (NARN 21 and NARN 22);

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

Flight Deck - Bronze Grey (NARN 45)

Lower Hull - Anti-Fouling Red (NARN 42)

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

 HMS Illustrious 1941 Operation Excess

 

 

 

HMS Formidable

March 1941 Camouflage at Battle of Matapan - as depicted by Flyhawk kit 

Vertical Surfaces — Camouflage pattern in 507A and 507C (NARN 21 and NARN 22);

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

Flight Deck - Bronze Grey (NARN 45)

Lower Hull - Moravia Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest KM13)

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

HMS Formidable March 1941 Battle of Matapan

 

HMS Victorious

May 1941 Camouflage

Vertical Surfaces — Very early Admiralty Disruptive Pattern camouflage originally designed for HMS Illustrious but not used and applied to HMS Victorious instead. Note the colours and the pattern changed over time - notably the island became much lighter in paint tones - and this is applicable to the Bismarck action timescale! MS1, MS2, MS3, MS4, MS4a and White. (NARN 28, NARN 29, NARN 30, NARN 31, NARN 32, C03)

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

Flight Deck - A camouflage pattern of MS1 and MS2 (NARN 28 and NARN 29)

Lower Hull - A Vibrant Anti-Fouling Red (suggest ACUS 26 or ACRN 27)

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

HMS Victorious May 1941 Camouflage Paint Bismarck Chase

 

HMS Iron Duke

1915 - as depicted by Flyhawk kit 

Vertical Surfaces — Admiralty Pattern 507B (WWI version) (NARN 05)

Steel Decks — Corticene (NARN 44)

Wooden Decks - Natural wood (C01)

Lower Hull up to waterline (no boot topping used) - Moravia Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest KM13)

Funnel Caps—Black (C 02);

HMS Iron Duke 1915

 

HMS Warspite

 - 1938

Vertical Surfaces — Admiralty Pattern 507C (WWII version) (NARN 22)

Steel Decks on Bridge — Corticene (NARN 44)

Wooden Decks - Natural wood (C01)

Lower Hull up to waterline - MacArthurs Anti-Fouling Grey (suggest ACUS13)

Funnel Caps, Starfish Platforms and Boot Topping —Black (C 02);

Topmasts - White (C03)

HMS Warspite 1937 1938 Mediterranean Spanish Civil War Malta Gibraltar 507C Neutrality Non-Intervention Stripes

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