An online database of camouflage used by 
United State Naval Warships during WWII

The Development of Naval Camouflage 1914 – 1945
Part III: British Camouflage in World War II

By Alan Raven



(Article reprinted courtesy of  Plastic Ship Modeler Magazine issue #97/1)


believed would suit the British best.  It was based loosely on the British Western Approaches type but differed in that it used the American colors of Sea Blue and Light Gray.  The pattern was different port and starboard.  Photographic evidence shows that almost every vessel was delivered in the same design, and a large percentage of these ships ran around for several months in this scheme before being repainted with the British patterns and colors.  The author has called this type “American Western Approaches” type.


Towards the end of 1943 a conflict arose between those who believed that camouflage was of minimal value and those who felt the opposite.  The non-believers stressed the extensive use of radar with its all weather ability to detect ships and aircraft and its ability to determine intention by the use of IFF.  Radar’s capability to detect at considerable distances allowed the vessel to have a adequate time to prepare her defense thus obviating the need for camouflage.  Not surprisingly, other parties, the camouflage section being one of them, vigorously opposed this proposal and cited examples were radar had no effect upon a ship’s ability to defend itself.  For example, radar was of almost no value during a snowstorm, and other weather conditions such as the level of humidity could also effect its performance adversely, and…. There were many occasions where radar sets were turned off to maintain electronic silence.  The arguments for and against the use of camouflage carried over into the first months of 1944.  The result was a compromise.  The camouflage section managed to convince the Admiralty of the value of retaining some type of deceptive paintwork.  Their opponent’s arguments against its use prevailed to the extent that the current Admiralty disruptive patterns were ruled out and were replaced with extremely simple designs, ones that could be carried by all types of vessels without the need to prepare hundreds of patterns.  Benefits included the reduction in time needed to maintain the paintwork and material savings by not needing to keep an extensive range of colors in stock.


Most of these new designs consisted of a simple rectangle of light or medium tone along the hull, with the upperworks a lighter color, so giving a measure of disruption but with some degree of concealment.  These new schemes began to come into use during the first half of 1944 and within only a few months most of the ships in the Navy had discarded their old camouflage for the new simple standard camouflage.  Although of a very simple pattern and using only two shades, the Admiralty Standard schemes were considered to be the most successful designs ever produced.


With the introduction of the standard schemes and the general feeling that patterned camouflage was of little value, a number of vessels operating in the North Atlantic and the North Sea appeared to dispense with any form of camouflage, and during the last nine months of the war several corvettes, escort destroyers, and frigates ran around painted in overall light grey (507C) in fact almost identical to peace time practice.





Unofficial in origin.

Used from April to December 1940. Carried by battleships, cruisers and destroyers operating with Home Fleet during the Norwegian Campaign.

Colors used: 507C, dark brown, light green, and white.

Decks: As peacetime.

Topmasts: White.

Countershading: None.



Semi-official in origin.

First example believed to he carried by (GREENVILLE in January, 1940. Used by several ships during Norwegian campaign, including two of the (County class heavy cruisers and destroyers of the Brazilian ”H” class from 1940 until some time in 1942.

Colors used: 507A, 507C, MS 1, MS 3, and White.

Decks: As peacetime.

Topmasts: White.

Countershading: Worn on certain ships, but not used generally.



unofficial in origin.

Used on ships from battleships and aircraft carriers down to destroyers, operating in the Mediterranean from mid 1940 to well into l942. Used on some ships operating in the Nnr1h Atlantic in the 1940-42 period. Patterning was almost always different port to starboard.

Colors used: Black, 507A, 507B, 507C, and white.

Decks: believed to be as peacetime practice.

Topmasts; Probably white.

Countershading: No information available.



Unofficial in origin.

Worn by destroyer BROKE during latter part of 1940. Later worn by a few Flower class corvettes during the first part of 194l. Used by small numbers of Coastal Forces craft during 1941 and 1942. Which actual ships used it is not known.

Colors used: light blue, light green, 507C, and white.

Decks: believed as peacetime practice - may have varied between ships.

Masts and topmasts: White.

Athwartship vertical surfaces: Same as 1942 Western Approaches type.

Countershading: As l942 Western Approaches type.



Semi-official in origin.

Used from around mid 1941 to mid 1942. Worn by all types of vessels from corvette size up to and including destroyers.

Colors used: 507A, dark blue, white, and sometimes MS 1.

Decks: As peacetime practice.

Masts and topmasts: White.

Athwartship vertical surfaces: Same color as adjacent surface.

Countershading: No information available.



Unofficial in origin,

Used from late 1941 into 1943 by a small number of escort vessels operating in the North Atlantic during the winter months.

Colors used: White.

Decks: As for 1942 Western Approaches type.

Countershading: As per 1942 Western Approaches type.

Masts: White.

Athwartship vertical surfaces: White.



Official in origin.

First appeared in early 1941 and used extensively on cruiser classes, but also on larger vessels and on destroyers.

Colors used: MS 1, MS 2, MS 3, MS 4, MS 4A, BS, B6, 507A, S07C, and white. 

Decks: Wood, semtex, and corticene decks were left in their natural colors. Bare steel areas were either 507B, 507A, or MS 1. Choices of

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