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Royal navy - stern colours?


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Is there any good guide on how to paint the Royal navy sterns? I am about to paint my Granado and according to the AOTS book, its colour hasnt been clarified so you can do it as you wish. But there should be some kind of standard basics that what usually followed for English ships at the time? 

 

Here are just a few pics of stern examples which i borrowed from various buildlogs here for inspiration and it can look quite different. 

 

 

 

 

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In addition to colors keep in mind that the  names were not normally painted on the stern of RN ships prior to the 1771 order of the Admiralty.  They were allowed until the Admiralty rescinded this in 1782 so it is only a ten or eleven year window where the names were commonly found.  Were there exceptions, probably.  This order from the Admiralty obviously changed again many years later, but I am not sure if was in  the late 19th or 20th century.   Common sense comes into play here.  Flying false colors and such was supposedly  used on occasion when coming on the enemy.  Having  your ship's name on the stern would pretty much negate the idea of flying a false flag. 

 

I don't know which Granado you are building as there were several built by the RN over time, but look at photos of contemporary models in your time frame on the RMG collections site for some ideas.  Their model of the Granado 1742 has the lower counter painted black and no name is on the stern.

Granado.jpg.0fdfc162f340d569aef05a89a49964c0.jpg

 

Edited by allanyed
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An Admiralty order dated 12th July 1715 stated the outsides of ships be painted of the usual colour yellow and the ground black, but the practice seems to have been in place also in 17th century.

This does not mean that the order was universally applied and we see from contemporary models that both blue and red were used extensively as the frieze ground, but possibly involved a high degree of artistic licence.

Such licence is evident with the extensive decoration on small ships as depicted in models and paintings, which almost certainly wasn’t applied in reality.

As a modern ship modeller I am not immune to dressing models to reflect the colours used by 18th century ship modellers, I rather like the effect.

As far as Granado is concerned you could legitimately paint all the ground black with ornament picked out in yellow Ochre, the hull left bright or painted yellow, with the inboards red ochre.

All down to personal preference.

 

B.E.

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I would not necessarily rely on build logs here; many models are painted to 'captain's fancy'. Go to sites like

 

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects#!cbrowse

 

to see contemporary models and paintings of the time period; these will give you a more accurate picture of what ships actually looked like.

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3 hours ago, allanyed said:

In addition to colors keep in mind that the  names were not normally painted on the stern of RN ships prior to the 1771 order of the Admiralty.  They were allowed until the Admiralty rescinded this in 1782 so it is only a ten or eleven year window where the names were commonly found.  Were there exceptions, probably.  This order from the Admiralty obviously changed again many years later, but I am not sure if was in  the late 19th or 20th century.   Common sense comes into play here.  Flying false colors and such was supposedly  used on occasion when coming on the enemy.  Having  your ship's name on the stern would pretty much negate the idea of flying a false flag. 

 

I don't know which Granado you are building as there were several built by the RN over time, but look at photos of contemporary models in your time frame on the RMG collections site for some ideas.  Their model of the Granado 1742 has the lower counter painted black and no name is on the stern.

Granado.jpg.0fdfc162f340d569aef05a89a49964c0.jpg

 

I am not planning to paint any name on this one. I know it has been a discussion in other buildthreads but the granado doesnt have a natural  space for it so it wouldnt look good.

Edited by Vane
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Well historical accuracy can also be bad... many probably remember when Victory was completely massacred by pink rather than yellow stripes. Wasa also used to be painted very nicely in blue with golden figures but in the late 90s they decided to look at the paint fragments in microscope and concluded a horrible colourscheme in red and various of colours....

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33 minutes ago, Vane said:

Well historical accuracy can also be bad... many probably remember when Victory was completely massacred by pink rather than yellow stripes.

Those yellow stripes had their genesis in the 1920’s following her restoration as a chromium yellow, a paint that didn’t exist until the 20th Century, so care needs taking when using reconstructed resources, it looked nice but technically impossible. I’d rely on strictly contemporary paintings where possible, even then artistic licence has to be considered.

 

Gary

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3 hours ago, druxey said:

I would not necessarily rely on build logs here; many models are painted to 'captain's fancy'. Go to sites like

 

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects#!cbrowse

 

to see contemporary models and paintings of the time period; these will give you a more accurate picture of what ships actually looked like.

Thanks for the resource! Good for lots of detail, not just color. 👍😀

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From Naval Miscellany by Angus Konstam, 2010.   (I have no idea what his sources are): 

The Nelson Chequer was a color scheme adopted by vessels of the Royal Navy, modelled on that used by Nelson in battle. It consisted of bands of black and yellow paint along the sides of the hull, broken up by black ports.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, vessels of all nations were painted in a variety of colors. Captains were allowed great latitude in the way they painted their vessels, as it aided identification in battle. 

Periodically the Royal Navy sought a uniform color scheme; In 1715, an Admiralty order decreed the use of yellow and black, and a uniform color within. However, this was generally ignored. Again in 1780 the Admiralty then issued a further order allowing captains to paint in yellow or black.

Below is the stern of a contemporary 50 gun model at RMG circa1715. https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-66365  Someone apparently did not get the memo.🤪

Allan

Edited by allanyed
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Good Evening Allan;

 

I would not be guided too much by the colours displayed in the model of Granado. Whilst she is a beautiful model, I am pretty sure that it was actually constructed by Bob Lightley? in the 20th century, and purchased by the NMM at around the same time as they also bought the excellent model of the Egmont, built by (Oh God! I can't remember his name! Mind is going!)

 

Which is not to say that the colours shown are not in accordance with contemporary sources, of course. 

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P
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The very first issues of the now defunct magazine Model Shipwright featured a series of articles by the South African model builder Bob Litchey (sp?) about building a model of Grenado.  I am quite sure that this is the same model that Allen posted above from the RMG collection.  It dates from c1975.

 

Roger

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The Colour Blue in Historic Shipbuilding from Antiquity to Modern Times by Joachim Mullerschon, provides a focused, historical view on the maritime and naval use of that color and a generalized history on ship paint and painting practice.  It covers all this in 172 pages of text.  FYI: This book is an historical overview - not a concentrated study on the Royal Navy's painting practice nor that of any other individual nationality. 

 

From this and other sources, my short answer to your question is, not much definitive information concerning it is available. 

 

Areas of Mullerschon's text describing Royal Navy painting practice are punctuated with qualifications e.g., unfortunately, no further details, if, also, or, "standardization was not achieved", "official paintings...showed red instead of blue, while the strict order was to keep them black.", etc. 

 

Painting practices from other nationalities through the 18th century read the same.  An exception comes from paintings, mosaics, models and ancient texts depicting painting practice of the pre-Egyptian through the Roman period.  My impression is, together these sources (along with recent archeological discoveries) provide more veracity to that era's painting practice than can be said for what came much later. 

 

The book is very well illustrated with photos of contemporary paintings and models from around the world from all eras, along with photos of period, modern models and full-size reproductions.  Most of the photos are unique, having been taken by the author. 

 

In your case, from all the sources available to you (and Mullerschon's would be a good one) - Pick one with acknowledged credibility and go to work!            

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Several years ago the Nautical Research Journal published an article about a model of USS Arizona built for the visitors center at Pearl Harbor.  A good bit of the article involved her surprisingly complex paint scheme at the time of the attack.  It seems that there is debate even for this well documented major warship sunk 81 years ago.

 

The chances of finding a definitive paint scheme for a small vessel that sailed 270 or so years ago would seem to be nonexistent.

 

Roger

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You can view many models on the NMM site which I would definitely recommend.  Books are an investment, but some I have invested in are the Rogers Collection Volumes 1&2 and 'The Sailing Frigate' by Gardiner, and 'The Ship of the Line' by Lavery.  Both of the latter titles walk you through chronologically the evolution of ships interpreted through existing models.  Absorbing all of the wonderful images of original models is something I will never tire of.  It quickky becomes clear that there are many variations as has been pointed out.  It is also clear that models do not always represent what is probably actual practice on ships - this leads to the first question to think through which is do you want to build a 'model of a model', or a model of the ship as it likely existed - there is bountiful evidence of the former, but not the latter.  There are many examples, some of the most noteworthy being that models often appear highly decorated with friezes on blue backgrounds - likely not practical on a real ship, but very appealing to model makers when it seemed to be in fashion.  The other consideration would be availability of paint colours - during the period in question, many colours existed but would have proved prohibitively expensive to all but the richest captains - so its most likely that red and yellow ochre predominated given its availability and low(er) cost.  This does seem to be reflected on most contemporary models, which do not typically show multi-coloured stern decorations (or gold which seems to be some people's preference).  Moving into early 19th century, white and green paint became more fashionable, and affordable and these started to replace the 'ochres'.

 

These, and many more considerations suggest, as has been pointed out above, that there is not really a 'correct' answer, the best you are likely to achieve is 'directionally correct' 🙂

 

For what its worth, I am shamelessly taking the 'model of a model' approach for 'Jason', it is highly unlikely that any of the Artois class would have been so beautifully decorated.  Indeed the only print I can find of 'Jason' shows her with the ubiquitous black hull with a stripe between gunports.

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12 hours ago, Beef Wellington said:

Artois class

Jason, While they do not usually make mention of paint, do you have a copy of the Jason contract?  I have found that if you can find a contract for the ship you are modeling, the scantlings and such are extremely helpful overall.   There is a 14 page contract for a number of Artois class ships, including Jason 1794 at RMG.

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-459306.   As it is a relatively modern ship, the contract was probably printed with typeset so easy to read compared to the hand written contracts from earlier years.

Allan

Edited by allanyed
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