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British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II – Vol I (ePub)

Destroyers, Frigates, Sloops, Escorts, Minesweepers, Submarines, Coastal Forces and Auxiliaries

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Modern Naval Military > Modelling

By Malcolm George Wright
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 30.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 160
Illustrations: 740 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781848322721
Published: 15th September 2014


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During the Second World War navies developed low visibility camouflage for their ships, on both the vertical and horizontal surfaces, in order reduce visibility by blending in with the sea, or confuse the identity of a ship by applying more obtrusive patters. In this new book by maritime artist Mal Wright both the official and unofficial paint schemes that adorned ships of the Royal Navy and Commonwealth are depicted in detail, along with discussion on changes of armament and electronics that effected the outward appearance of each ship.

Starting with destroyers from WW1 still in service during WW2, the book progressively covers ships below cruisers, class by class, to provide a detailed and easy-to-use guide to paint schemes in use. In some cases individual ships are shown in the several schemes they wore thus providing a source that covers various periods of service. With 740 full colour illustrations, all of named vessels, this book concentrates information into a single volume to provide a one-stop reference source, and, for the first time in a single volume, it covers not just the well-known ships, but also escort vessels, minesweepers, trawlers, coastal craft and auxiliaries in sequential format.

Many schemes would be difficult for the reader to have found other than with the most intensive research so that historians, collectors, modelmakers and wargamers will find this unique reference source absolutely invaluable.

This is a small book, a little over A5 in size but it is packed with well researched and well illustrated profiles. There is a common misconception that warships in WWII were visually bland; grey or maybe three tone greyish. This book presents us with a dizzying array of camouflages in a huge variety of pattern and colour. Along with the profiles we get brief but informative descriptions helping us to identify the area of operation, period and other useful information.

Read the complete review here.

Inside The Armour

As featured in

STORIA MILITARE, February 2017

Mal Wright is an Australian maritime artist, naval gamer and student of history who has compiled a large collection of colour illustrations of British naval camouflage, which will be a benefit to historians, modellers and gamers. Volume 1 covers destroyers, frigates. escorts, minesweepers, costal warfare craft, submarines and auxiliaries.

Volume 1's coverage of the smaller ship types is a smorgasbord of classes and types. In many cases you see entries for a ship at different times during the war, and the narrative explains the changes implemented as the exigencies of wartime demands evolved, newer equipment became available or the threat increased. Among the unique schemes covered is "Mountbatten Pink" and HMS Nith's overall red lead scheme at Normandy. The entries are mostly starboard side views, and many have overhead drawings. The entries provide plenty of fodder for kit-bashing variants with updated fits and different paint schemes.

These books are invaluable sources for the modeller, gamer and historian. While many of these designs have been documented previously, this is the largest collected work on British and Commonwealth camouflage, and probably the most cost effective way to obtain the material, as many of the sources Mal cites are long out of print. These volumes should be considered for your naval reference library not only for their colour schemes, but also for the ship histories.

SITREP, April 2016 - Ed Kettler

To his credit, Wright is very clear about the factors limiting his work. He makes some good points about the difficulties of determining accurate colours and shades. This includes the impact of the 'that looks about right' (TLAR) approach that must have inevitably been adopted by crews when painting ships under stress of wartime conditions. The extent of his knowledge is evident in his coverage of a very wide range of minor warships, may of which have not been depicted in other published works on camouflage. The layout of the book is good and drawings themselves - whilst relatively simple - depict the patterns with clarity.

Warship annual - Conrad Waters

Impressive. 50 years of study on paint schemes official camouflages and unofficial used by the Royal Navy and Associates during World War II, ordered by the class of ship that in this first volume includes: Destroyers, Frigates, Boats, bodyguards, Minesweeper, Submarines, coastal and auxiliary forces, and all condensed into a book of 160 pages ...

...Amazing, wonderful and indispensable for both historians and for modellers or naval wargames players.

Translated from Spanish

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

Historians, collectors, modelmakers and wargamers will find this unique reference source absolutely invaluable.

Mainmast Books

This new volume by Malcolm Wright blows other Warship camouflage reference books out of the water, giving new details and highly accurate photographs and drawings for all major Royal Navy Battleships and Battle Cruisers, along with Monitors and Aircraft Carriers.
Comprehensive captions accompany each illustration and are shown in both Port and Starboard views.

Dreadnought Newsletter

The book is intended as a quick reference source for people wanting to paint model ships, but will appeal also to a wider naval audience.

Ships Monthly

With 740 full colour illustrations, all of named vessels, this book concentrates information into a single volume to provide a one-stop reference source, and, for the first time in a single volume, it covers not just the well known ships, but also escort vessels, minesweepers, trawlers, coastal craft and auxiliaries in sequential format. Historians, collectors, model makers and wargamers will find this unique reference source absolutely invaluable.

Marine Modelling International

There is a massive amount of information here both in text and in the intricate and immensely varied array of artwork. This book represents a huge project and there are more volumes to come. The author has used years of skill to discern accurate colour schemes from a wide source of photographs. Now, this is where I really took notice of what was happening here, because he rightly points out that the variation in film processes and quality, especially during wartime, was vast. ... It offers a colourful look at a black and white world and tells us much more about the skill of the camouflage art used at the time along with a nod to the stunning world of dazzle ships from an earlier war and how those ideas were refined and applied in the Second World War.

War History Online

This is a delightful book, providing drawing and text for a cross-section of British and Commonwealth warships that served during WWII. This reviewer has been reviewing books for many decades and cannot think of a similar book for the classes of warship covered. Highly recommended.


In this beautifully illustrated book, maritime artist Malcolm Wright depicts the official and unofficial paint schemes that adorned the ships of the Royal Navy and Commonwealth.
I feel sure that thus book will stimulate a great deal of interest in the warship modelling community.

Marine News

This outstanding book fills a gap in the available literature concerning the camouflage schemes used by the British and Commonwealth navies. ... I am confident that this book will appeal to historians, collectors, model-makers and war-gamers. It is difficult to stress how useful this book will be and it comes highly recommended.

Military Archive Research

Based on five decades of research, this book is an extraordinarily comprehensive account of the camouflage schemes used by destroyers and all types of smaller craft including minesweepers, coastal craft, auxiliaries and submarines in WWII. There must be well over 500 vessels displayed - some are shown with several schemes - each beautifully illustrated and with full explanatory notes.

Warship World

Wright accompanies his profile drawings with chapter headings of his paintings depicting the camouflaged warships in action at sea. The reader can spend hours dipping into this book marvelling at the imagination of the scheme designers and the reasons for the particular schemes.
'British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WWII' is very well laid out with a ship index and is indispensable to modellers and warship historians. It is a worthy tribute to the salt and rust-grimed little ships manned by the thousands of Hostilities Only officers and ratings who have now passed from our sight.

Australian Naval Institute

This new hardback book from Seaforth Publishing is just the kind of book I think most modellers will snap up. ... The heart of the book then lies in the 740 colour illustrations of this multitude of vessels, each one with notes on the individual vessel and the colours used.

Military Modelling

A book that all steel navy fans will want in their library. In 160 pages the author provides 740 full color drawings of just about every smaller craft that fought in WW II. The book is heavily researched and I doubt that anyone else but the author knows more about this subject.
The color illustrations, all hand drawn by the author, are excellent and are accompanied by short descriptions. There is a ship’s name index for quick locating.
All I can say is Wow to all of the information packed into this small book. It is perfect for the WWII researcher, and the model maker.

Bob Friedman, Ship Modellers Forum

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for the wargamer and model maker as the primary source for WW2 British and their allied ships.

Battlefleet Magazine

 Malcolm George Wright

About Malcolm George Wright

MAL WRIGHT is an Australian maritime artist who is also an internationally-known wargames designer and writer and lecturuer. He has spent five decades researching this volume, making notes while interviewing veterans, as well as consulting official sources, photographs and the work of artists of the era. He lives in Adelaide and is currently working on a second volume covering capital ships.

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