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HMS Suffolk research


Ships doc

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I had guessed not - as this would have made many discussions around this and other ships trivial! Worth asking though. 

 

I will try to finish my version of a colour profile, work has got in the way of progress! MS1 plus MS3 OR B5 plus MS4 OR 507C is my current conclusion. 

 

There is also the recent colour footage of her 1943 scheme to analyse, on my to do list...

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have been looking over images of Suffolk again trying to see if there is anything new I didn't notice before. One approach might be to find Suffolk near to a ship of a known colour.

 

On this photo of Suffolk, Norfolk is in the background. I don't know what the colours are for Norfolk. However, the lightest tone seems lighter than the lightest one on Suffolk, and also a greater contrast to the mid tone (which may not be the same as Suffolk).

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205032854

 

One possible interpretation is that the lightest tone on Norfolk is 507c, and the lightest on Suffolk is MS4. The dark tones in both cases are likely MS1. Mid tones unknown.

 

I'm conscious that this may be confounded by the effects of distance and lighting, but I think it lends some weight to the lightest tone on Suffolk being MS4.

 

 

 

 

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I have had a go at drawing some profiles of Suffolk to get an idea of how the colour combinations might look. Draft below- the pattern is simplified. 

 

Within the limitations of computer screens, my best guesses at close colours, converting B&W to colour etc. I think the MS1/MS3/MS4 combination looks the most convincing compared to the photos. The MS3 is definitely too green though, and the MS1 too dark. 

 

The first one is the Warship Perspectives suggestion 

The others are combinations of MS1 with either MS3/B5 and MS4/507c 

 

Comments welcome! 

 

53468823363_e5293a4801_z.jpg

 

 

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In keeping with the mark-up convention which @dickrd and @foeth were using when they introduced me to their works on HMS Prince of Wales originally which is marking up tones from darkest to lightest, I have avoided using "A" in this photograph saving that for what I am fairly sure is MS1. This is IWM A4170 showing close up and in very good quality the relative tones of the mid and lightest tones, which I've labelled as "B" and "C" respectively, in an environment with other things like sailors' uniforms.

 

A4170_June_1941_-_JD_Markup.png

 

I simply can't see "C" as 507C. It's dull and drab, and I feel quite strongly that this is no lighter than MS4. There also appears to me to be a fourth shade "D", lighter than others, amidships on the hull on the starboard side.

 

A3948_-_JD_Markup.png

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Thanks Jamie - Seems like consensus with MS1 (A) and MS4 (C). I agree 'drab' is the description.

 

I'm not sure about the 4th tone D (lighter than MS4) - in some images there might be some patches on the starboard side, on the hangar. In the picture you've annotated I also noticed that area, but I think it might be where the paint has been reapplied - to my eye there is a vertical line extending down into the MS1 below, and a horizontal one extending forward, leaving a rectangle of worn paint forward above the waterline. 

 

I am trying to piece together a tone map - challenging because the scheme seemed to be altered over 1941. I will post when more progress but I have the basic line drawing now to work from. 

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Here is an attempt at the port side profile. The profile changed over time, as shown in the IWM photographs. There are quite a few on board photos taken in June 1941, which help with some of the details. There may be another patch of MS1 on the stern as shown in the aerial photo June 1941, but I am not sure. The hull paint is worn, and the mid tone is hard to make out with the angle of the light in that photo. The decks seem to be painted dark grey. There are also some photos not available online that were helpful in constructing this - from the 'Man O' War' county class book, and an overhead photo in Friedman's British Cruiser book. 

 

 

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Hi @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies

 

Yes I think so - done in Inkscape so this is RGB, not sure if that's the same as sRGB 

 

The tones seem very close to each other, but I think this matches the photographic references even better now. The distinctions between the light and medium tones are quite hard to spot in places, eg. on the after part of the bridge. 

 

Are you happy with the MS1? This is just a generic dark grayscale. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Ships docLeamington's understanding of the tones of one or two of the paints they were using in their designs varied a bit over time. But at time of their observations of the Home Fleet in late July and early August 1942 (and earlier) they thought that MS1 had an RF of 4%, MS3 an RF of 20% and MS4 an RF of 32%. Given your above estimated percentages of the amount of the side of the ship covered in each paint, this palette would give an overall average of 19.56% RF.

 

In the Fleet Orders in force at that time, Leamington categorised their disruptive designs for their lay audience as dark, dark-medium, light-medium and light types plus Western Approaches type.  However, in-house the Leamington team further categorised their designs in various ways including by their overall RF.  According to the Leamington team's Scapa observations report, Suffolk's scheme was a "Type 12 approx".

 

So the question is, is 19.56% close enough to 12% to be covered by "approx" (probably not), or can we get closer to 12% by either by increasing the areas painted the darker tones or do we need to consider darker paints?

 

I feel you have got the way the different areas were painted, and so the proportions, as correct as can be given the available photos. So for consideration:

 

a) If the middle paint was B5 with RF 15% then we get an overall 18.46% scheme (with MS1 & MS4 as the other two). This is still some way from 12%. Does it 'look' like B5? 

 

b) Then if in addition the darkest paint was black with RF 2% (rather than MS1) we get to an overall 17.6% scheme which is still some way from 12%.

 

I consider it perfectly possible that black was used in what was one of the very earliest Leamington designs at a time (January 1941), before the final slate of MS&B series paints was selected and codified (by late July 1941). (JD: Black was included in the RE/CAM 30/1/1 list)    

 

The Scapa observations were done 18 months after Leamington designed the scheme, and they were not focused on Suffolk in the observations. When you read the report they were clearly not that interested in it and don't dwell on it. They dismissed it as one of their old designs and as too dark and doubtless just looked up what 'Type' it was in their records.  My point being I doubt they cared enough about any of the changes that had been made to the original design to realise that their original calculation of the overall RF was perhaps by then slightly out. 

  

As a side note, Norfolk's scheme was noted as a "Type 25 approx".  This would confirm the impression you felt you were getting from the aerial photo FL 3943 that Norfolk was lighter than Suffolk.

 

 

Edited by dickrd
Incorrect calculations
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Thanks @dickrd, very interesting! 

 

Does the 'type 12 approx' refer to the original 1941 design, or the observed result in 1942? I wonder if there is a patch of dark tone on the stern, just visible in the June 1941 aerial photo, which might bring down the average as designed.

 

What do you think about B5? To me the mid and light tones seem very close, which is why I was favouring MS3 to go with MS4. Are you aware of any good examples where we know these tones are together for comparison? 

 

Do I remember that Suffolk was design number 2? Would there have been quite a lot of variation in the early designs, before practice was established?

 

I am working on the pattern for the starboard side, which will be interesting to compare. 

 

Edited by Ships doc
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One thing you might consider is that period film, if it is orthochromatic, will disproportionately overexpose blues (and to an extent greens). So the middle colour could be B5 and still have low observed contrast to MS4 in photos, depending on lighting conditions and film used.

 

Alternatively, if the overall is meant to be as dark as 12% average, you get 13.3% with the combination MS1, B5 and MS3, which could also account for the low cantrast between the latter two.

 

Otherwise, fantastic analysis, I continue watching this one with interest.

 

Also to continue dickrd's tangent, a mix of 507A, B5 and 507C in equal areas would give 23.3% for Norfolk.

Edited by Vlad
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Aiming for a dark disruptive scheme with an overall RF equal to that of the RF of Home Fleet grey/507A would be perfectly in line with their thinking at the time (1941).

 

My interpretation of the 1942 report is that it was an RF 12 scheme at the time they designed it in January 1941.

 

I need to think about the MS3 option and look for examples of the colour combinations we are now considering. 

 

What slightly concerns me is that we have no photo of Suffolk in the scheme pre May 1941, ie when it was first and freshly applied.

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Here is a candidate for the sort of palette we are now considering from CAFO 679/42: 

Newark scheme

But the draught marks on Newark near the bow are dark and they should be light if it was B5 there. But at least the CAFO shows the colour combination MS1/B5/MS3 was potentially possible.  

 

Edited by dickrd
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Thanks @dickrd - I think we are doing the same search! 

 

I found the one below of HMCS Iroquois which matches the dark disruptive pattern for the tribal class in CAFO 679/42. There is some MS4 in this one too, the midships => stern pattern is relevant though. This assumes the RCN were using the British tones in this case. I will keep looking but no luck on 4 stackers, E&F or JKN yet.

 

Noted that this CAFO contains lots of examples of MS1/B5/MS3. 

Also in the accompanying text - I) MS3 is the tone used for athwartships surfaces & masts, not MS4 and II) decks are MS1 which I think matches Suffolk. 

I'm assuming that the principles were scaled to the larger ships?

 

Also - it seems quite hard to find examples of dark disruptive patterns - would this be in keeping with perceived lack of efficacy?

 

Could @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies provide the RGB code for B5 and I will draw up an example?

 

 

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Edited by Ships doc
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The knowledge on here is, well just unbelievable. Watching with my amateur eyes with very much interest 

 

Colin Wall

Edited by RN WW2
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3 hours ago, RN WW2 said:

The knowledge on here is, well just unbelievable. Watching with my amateur eyes with very much interest 

 

Colin Wall

Yes it's the place to go! I have been struggling with this profile for a long time, but think we may have made progress in the last few weeks with the help from everyone here @dickrd @Vlad @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies.  

 

Here is the updated profile, taking into account the value from the camouflage observation report. This is quite surprising given what is published on Suffolk's profile, the scheme is much darker than I expected. However the written report is the only direct evidence of the scheme I've heard of, and I think we can have reasonable confidence in this, given how close the calculated RF figure comes to 12%, and also the combinations used for dark Admiralty disruptive patterns for smaller ships. A test will be how close the starboard profile comes out. 

 

For comparison, an old photo of my model of HMS Suffolk in 1/96 scale. This is painted in the former Colourcoats range 507a/MS3/507c. The model was as good as I could do at the time, but there are a few errors in addition to the camouflage.

1) The bridge should be covered, I have found better images since I built the ship.

2) Wood decks should be darkened. Steel decks probably MS1 or dark grey non-slip. At the time I had spent 3 months planking the deck so I was reluctant to ruin it with grey paint without more evidence.

3) Boot topping should probably not be there.

4) There should only be one Walrus aircraft! You can't see the other one in the hangar. However Suffolk's action report from the Bismarck action reports only on Walrus was on board, but it was out of service at the time so could not be used. 

 

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Here is an attempt at the starboard profile. The percentage area is indicated by each colour (as measured in ImageJ software). Reassuringly, the weighted average RF for this initial try also works out as 13.3% mean RF. I am not sure if this match port vs starboard can be taken as evidence of correctness of this combination though - other combinations also come out very close to each other. And my outlines are not 100% accurate to the ship. 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Ships doc said:

 

3) Boot topping should probably not be there.

 

In some photos you see bits of boot topping at the waterline, especially towards the stern. My interpretation is that they have overpainted the upper boot-topping area with the camouflage paints down as close to the the waterline as they could go, but that if the ship was out of the water you would see that quite a wide band of boot topping was in fact still there underwater extending down to the light load line. 

Edited by dickrd
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