Warship Perspectives

Camouflage volume one
Royal Navy 1939 -1941
By: Alan Raven

Reviewed by John Sheridan

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Warship Perspective has released the first in a series of four books devoted to Royal Navy Camouflage during WWII. These books are designed to help sort through the complex and often confusing subject of camouflage patterns and colors developed and deployed by the Royal Navy throughout WWII. 

The first volume covers the years 1939 - 1941. During this period there was quite a bit of experimentation with color combinations and patterns. Author Alan Raven walks you through this period by grouping these color/pattern combinations in a coherent fashion. The enormous difficulty faced by Alan in gathering this data can best be described by Alan himself 
on page 2 :

Royal Navy use of camouflage was a much fragmented affair, due mainly to the fact that the camouflage section formed part of a miscellaneous staff department and did not have anywhere near the authority of other departments.

The issued instructions became more of a set of recommendations and advice rather than sets of orders, and when coupled with the independent nature of the average British captain, resulted in a six year period that saw everything from strictly correct usage, to any number of individual ideas and colors. Very often the unofficial or amateur idea was carried by only one vessel, and then sometimes by whole commands depending on the interest or whim of individual or group commanders. So prevalent were these practices that the British story has been extremely difficult to reconstruct. As a large percentage of the story is without official documentation, the author spent many years in correspondence and in interviewing trying to find and piece the parts together.

Alan has managed present his data in a well thought out format. Each pattern/color type is grouped together in its own section. Each section begins with a description of the scheme and the colors used. It also gets details why the scheme was chosen and which ships were documented using it. He also gives you variations of how the scheme was applied as well as a little history of who created the scheme. The following sections are covered in this volume:
First Designs Contrast Type
Brown & Green Type 1941 Designs and Ships Serving on Distant Stations
Overall Grey Special Operations Camouflage
Dark Hull Light Upperworks Type Peter Scott Type
One Color Hull and Broken Upperworks Type Alexandria Type
Mountbatten Pink Unofficial Designs for North Atlantic Escorts
Early War Unofficial Camouflage 1941 Admiralty Straight Lined Disruptive Designs

 Examples of the pattern and color are shown in drawings of ship profiles that match the actual warship in question. Most of the ship camouflage profile drawings are in black and white. The book does, however, provide an eight page section in the center of the book that is devoted to color camouflage profile drawings. I personally would have liked to see all of the camouflage profile drawings in the book in color, but this would have more than doubled the cost of the book without adding any real value to the content. 

If you want to learn about Royal Navy camouflage used in WWII, this book will tell you nearly everything you need to know between the years 1939 and 1941. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in camouflage or Royal Navy ships in general . Alan Raven is to be commended for his thorough research on this subject and I am looking forward to additional volumes in this series.  

Books Published by Warship Perspectives

Warships Perspectives #1
Fletcher, Sumner & Gearing Class DD's of  WWII
By Jeff Herne
Warships Perspectives #2
Atlanta Class Cruisers  of WWII
By Glenn Arnold
Warships Perspectives #3
Flower Class Corvettes
By John Lambert
Warships Perspectives #4
Camouflage Volume I The Royal Navy 1939 - 1941
By Alan Raven
Warships Perspectives #5
Camouflage Volume II The Royal Navy 1942
By Alan Raven