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If you are painting the Victory after the present ship then the gunports are black outside with red inside and red edges.  Internal / external metalwork is the same as prevailing gunport colour red inside, black outside.


If you want historical accuracy at Trafalgar the gunports were hull coloured outside, so yellow ochre, and red inside / to the edges.  You can check this against the great contemporary paintings of JMW Turner and Clarkson Stanfield.  Turner certainly saw Victory first hand post battle and his preparatory sketches confirm hull colour, Stanfield was guided by Trafalgar veterans, including Hardy himself.  

The black gunports were a post Trafalgar tweak to the colour scheme arising from the belief they were black, in fact this was a misinterpretation, the black contrast effect was achieved when the gunports were raised and Victory bared her teeth, this would produce the chequerboard effect.  This became the prevailing RN colour scheme post Trafalgar but has become mistakenly synonymous with Nelson and Trafalgar.



Edited by Morgan
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Hi Jake,

The line of the gun ports follow the line of the deck as would be normal.  The wales usually did not  follow the deck line.    As a result, some lids sometimes had two colors on the outside as seen in the contemporary model from RMG of Victory as built in 1765. (pics below)    This is in contrast to the Popock painting from 1807 which is more in line with the Stanfield painting.  The model in the photos below is 40 years before Trafalgar so the paintings may be the path to follow.  Pick your poison.😀






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This article provides great insight into the dozen or more layers of paint identified on HMS VICTORY. They also tried to date the various layers, which led to the ship's current paint-scheme, I believe.


Vale, B. (2020): Pitch, Paint, Varnish and the Changing Colour Schemes of Royal Navy Warship, 1775-1815: A Summary of Existing Knowlege.- The Mariner’s Mirror, 106(1): 30-42.    


This may be more reliable than more or less contemporary paintings.

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It may be worthwhile waiting a couple of weeks for a new book on Victory by Dr Kerry Jang who sometimes frequents this site, it may answer this and many other questions.


“The ‘ShipCraft’ series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warships. Previously, these have generally covered plastic and resin models of 20th century subjects, but this volume is a radical departure – not only a period sailing ship but one for which kits are available in many different materials and scales. This requires some changes to the standard approach, but the main features of the series remain constant.

Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, is probably the world’s most famous sailing warship, and survives in restored form at Portsmouth. With lavish illustration, this book takes the modeller through a brief history of the ship, highlighting differences in appearance over her long career. Detailed colour profiles reveal decorative detail and changes to paint schemes over 250 years, and outline some of the debatable features experts still disagree about. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit, including the complexities of rigging. This is followed by an extensive photographic gallery of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and coverage concludes with a section on research references – books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.

Following the pattern of the series, this book provides an unparalleled level of visual information – paint schemes, models, line drawings and photographs – and is simply the best reference for anyone setting out to model this imposing three-decker.”



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Hello Jake, 


I am quite excited that the Victory book will be released in a few weeks. Victory is the first in this series on a sailing warship, and was an experiment to see if it works.  I look forward to people’s thoughts on the book when it comes out.

The colour profiles were drawn by John McKay (he’s done two books of drawings on the ship) and together we created a number of colour schemes illustrating her appearance at different times during her long career.  It was quite a bit of fun compiling information and turning it into a drawings. I hope you find the book helpful, and you can always contact me with any questions from what you find in the book. 

I am now just finished a new volume for the series on HMAV Bounty, again with colour profiles by John McKay. I need a rest!


Warm regards,



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