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Royal Navy Submarines in the Far East


DFritz

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I have been reading "The Hunting Submarine", a book about the T Class submarine HMS Tally Ho operating out of Ceylon in 1943-45. It states that these subs were in an "overall matt slime green" camouflage. Does anyone know if this was an official Admiralty color or a local mix? I am considering building the Starling Models HMS Tabard as Tally Ho.

Doug

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Hi, I am unaware of any official record of such a paint, and have the impression that the submarine fleet generally didn't feel particularly constrained by official guidance half a world away through much of the war.

 

In an official letter I do have dated to 1939 reporting on what colours were in use by the fleet on foreign stations, cruisers and larger vessels are described as being light grey overall, destroyers as having dark grey hulls and light grey upperworks, and submarines being "royal blue" on Mediterranean Station and "dark olive colour" on China Station. From there until P.B.10 is introduced in 1944 there's a gap in the records I have seen, save for some documentation on anti-fouling paints.

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Thanks for the reply, Jamie. The book states this "slime green" was the standard camouflage color for that theater.  Later in the book one officer who observed the damage to Tally Ho by a Japanese ship's propeller stated the light green color made it look like shredded lettuce. That doesn't sound like a "dark olive colour". I guess there is no official record of this color since it was mixed to fit the operational needs of the theater. I will try to improvise accordingly.

 

Doug

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On 4/24/2024 at 5:55 PM, DFritz said:

Thanks for the reply, Jamie. The book states this "slime green" was the standard camouflage color for that theater.  Later in the book one officer who observed the damage to Tally Ho by a Japanese ship's propeller stated the light green color made it look like shredded lettuce. That doesn't sound like a "dark olive colour". I guess there is no official record of this color since it was mixed to fit the operational needs of the theater. I will try to improvise accordingly.

 

Doug

 

The book on Tally-Ho was first published in 1974. Human memory is fallible and the recollections of those interviewed for the book some three decades or so after the events described should not be taken as gospel. In this case they can be compared with photographic and documentary evidence.

 

Here is an early March 1944 photo showing Tally-Ho and the damage to her caused by the Japanese propeller. She is in bright sunlight. There is a clear demarcation line on the top of the ballast tank with what is below clearly darker than what is above. Her bottom appears to have been dark rather than light:

 

Tally Ho 1944 3 A 22884

 

 

This is confirmed by her docking reports D.495 which record that her bottom was BLACK at the time, both the protective and (outermost) anti-fouling coats, not "light green".

 

To my eye her casing and conning tower do not look likely to have been "light green" either:

 

Tally Ho 1944 3 A 22887

  

 

The terms 'light' and 'dark' are subjective. The (genuine/contemporary) colour images and contemporary artwork I have seen of submarines in that theatre at that time (1944-45) show an olive green in use, often with a black pattern superimposed:

 

Far East

 

For what it's worth I would describe the tone of the green as 'medium'. My guess is that it might perhaps have been one of the British Standard 987C camouflage colours, perhaps No.15 which would presumably have been readily available (but others may know more about that range and be better judges. @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies?).  

Edited by dickrd
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From my limited documentary sources, the Admiralty seem to have been experimenting with submarine camouflage from 1938.

According to Confidential Book 03016/39 'Progress in Tactics' 1939 ed., trials in 1938 had confirmed that blue paint produced the best result in the Mediterranean and that International Black produced the least 'aura'.

 

As part of an exercise, some submarines were painted olive green with a matt finish and although olive green had been proved to be the most suitable colour for operations off Singapore during January and February, it was thought that this may not be the best for later in the year. This was being investigated.

 

After this, the next document I have that mentions green being used for the camouflage of submarines is Confidential Admiralty Fleet Order 2269/44 'Camouflage of H.M. Ships and Vessels - Standardisation' dated 12 October 1944. Under the heading 'Scheme J' Submarines on Foreign Stations could be painted as follows.

"Paint black or very dark blue, grey or green at the discretion of Captain (S)."

This can be found in subsequent Orders untill the end of the war. 

I have not seen a Standard of the shade(s) of green used for this purpose.

 

Given that the green finish appears in CAFOs, it would seem that it was an official Admiralty scheme, but there seems to be no indication of its hue. Presumably there would have been a formula published for it somewhere at some time, possibly only locally on China Station and or later within the Eastern Fleet that has not yet come to light. The Navy had a disposition to mix its own paints as can be seen by various AFO and CAFOs, so the formula for PB.10 included in CAFO 2269/44 might hold good for the olive green colour but using different pigments.

 

The RAF colour Dark Green that was an olive green hue was originally made using Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Lithopone, a white pigment and Black.These pigments, or something like them can be found in the 1938 Rate Book of Naval Stores under the heading 'Pastes for Paints' where Admiralty Pattern 52P, Ochre AP 8P Blue, ultramarine, AP 110c Black and AP 104 Zinc Oxide, White are listed, the latter two materials being quoted as constituents of PB.10 in CAFO 2269/44 while the Black was used in a number of camouflage colours in use during 1944 such as A1.G5 also quoted in CAFO 2269/44. To make an olive green, it would presumably have been a case of working out the proportions of the Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Black and White that gave the desired colour.

 

If we go down the SCC avenue with regard to the hue of the olive green colour, a better suggestion might be SCC No.13. This was included in the original 1939 SCC range and is said to have been used in India by the British Army as an overall finish on various types of vehicle. It has been claimed to have been referred to colloquially as either 'jungle green' or 'dark green'. It was retained in BS 987C of 1942 and the Standard for this colour I have seen looked to my eye to be something like FS 34086, but was a bit darker.  This might possibly be described as 'olive green', 'dark olive colour', 'slime green' or 'dark green'. It also has the virtue of having existed from at least 1939 when RN Submarines in the Far East are first described as being a shade of green.

 

At the risk of initiating thread drift, the only mention I have come across of the Royal Navy using SCC colours to paint warships is related to a number of MTBs that were used along the Norwegian coast during what are described as 'lurking operations' from 1943 until the end of the war. Here the intention was to help conceal the vessels from aerial and surface observation whilst lying against the rocky shore of the fiords in wait for passing targets. The colours used originally were SCC 1A (a dark brown), 7 (a green) and 14 (black); but this was subsequently modified by dispensing with the black and introducing SCC 4 (a light brown) and 5 (described as being "Stone Colour", a lighter shade of brown). This scheme was introduced at the request of the Admiral commanding Orkneys & Shetlands during 1943 and to the best of my knowledge, never appeared in AFOs or CAFOs. I have no idea what the technical specification of the paint used for this purpose was. 

 

Edited by Paul Lucas
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Subs

HMs/m Storm in 1944/5 camouflage was  white and  green, there was a white and Blue in a different pattern, Most were a sea grey with a white band around the conning tower spray rail  but in the salt water it might have turned  a shade of green. mainly out of Freemantle and Exmouth Gulf

if your up for a read 

The T a classic British submarine by Paul Kemp is a factual  book about the Ts

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19 hours ago, chrisr57 said:

Subs

HMs/m Storm in 1944/5 camouflage was  white and  green, there was a white and Blue in a different pattern, Most were a sea grey with a white band around the conning tower spray rail  but in the salt water it might have turned  a shade of green. mainly out of Freemantle and Exmouth Gulf

if your up for a read 

The T a classic British submarine by Paul Kemp is a factual  book about the Ts

This looks really good. Is it a R/C model or static?

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@DFritz, @dickrd and @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies,  a little bit more information.

Having seen the model of HMS/M Storm, I have been re-reading  for the first time in many years my copy of the revised 1968 Pan Books edition of 'One of Our Submarines' (first published by Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd. in 1952) that was written by Storm's Captain, Edward Young.

 

On page 160, in the chapter entitled 'Passage to Ceylon' he describes arriving in Beirut circa 20 January 1944 and wrote that 

"In the six days we spent there we had time to carry out some minor engine repairs, paint the ship dark green (the standard colour for Far Eastern waters), and enjoy ourselves ashore."

 

This offers further evidence that the dark green colour was officially sanctioned by the Admiralty, and also shows that it was known about outside the Eastern Fleet as Storm was painted dark green at Beirut prior to transiting the Suez Canal. Thus it seems likely that there would have been some sort of official instruction covering its introduction, formulation and use, presumably issued circa 1938/9?

 

 

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18 hours ago, Paul Lucas said:

@DFritz, @dickrd and @Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies,  a little bit more information.

Having seen the model of HMS/M Storm, I have been re-reading  for the first time in many years my copy of the revised 1968 Pan Books edition of 'One of Our Submarines' (first published by Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd. in 1952) that was written by Storm's Captain, Edward Young.

 

On page 160, in the chapter entitled 'Passage to Ceylon' he describes arriving in Beirut circa 20 January 1944 and wrote that 

"In the six days we spent there we had time to carry out some minor engine repairs, paint the ship dark green (the standard colour for Far Eastern waters), and enjoy ourselves ashore."

 

This offers further evidence that the dark green colour was officially sanctioned by the Admiralty, and also shows that it was known about outside the Eastern Fleet as Storm was painted dark green at Beirut prior to transiting the Suez Canal. Thus it seems likely that there would have been some sort of official instruction covering its introduction, formulation and use, presumably issued circa 1938/9?

 

 

 

Hi Paul, it's certainly possible, but either we've never found it or perhaps the documentation was destroyed. Whilst some document types like the Admiralty Fleet Orders and Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders appear mostly but perhaps not entirely intact, other documents such as memorandums almost certainly are not complete. Almost all camouflage design drawings appear to have been destroyed. We know they did exist as they are referred to in the text documents which accompanied them, but the drawings are not with the documents covering them. Much is missing.

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On 4/26/2024 at 1:16 AM, chrisr57 said:

HMs/m Storm in 1944/5 camouflage was  white and  green

 

Can you say where this information comes from please? 

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I can't help with Chrisr57's reply, but the large RN Submarine Museum model of Storm is definitely in a very pale off-white (RAF sky like colour) and mid green with black saddle tanks.

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On 5/2/2024 at 12:46 AM, chrisr57 said:

will scan in the photos of the real thing  the person I built this for served on her 

Chris

 

Look forward to seeing them. I have to say though that an "off white (RAF sky like colour*)" suggested by @Flintstone as being on the RN Submarine Museum model of Storm might perhaps seem to accord better than pure white given what can be seen in photos of Storm in the Indian Ocean in this scheme:

 

Storm

 

Does any one have any photos of the model at Gosport? It would be helpful to see the tone of the green on that model.

 

* @Flintstone Not knowing anything much about aircraft colours it would be helpful if you could post an image of or link to the RAF Sky you refer to as I seem to recall debates about there being was more than one RAF WW2 'Sky'? 

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Depends on what time you want to do your sub as there are a few  schemes to follow 

53695700749_8d078c8c4f_b.jpg

Storm just outside Trincomalee

53695351496_d4e664af36_b.jpg

self explanatory

53695700439_2cc6b58bf5_b.jpg

A group 2 S with a different pattern this could be neutral grey and Blue 

Storm was painted in these colours at one time according to  Royal Navy Camouflage book 

53694460472_0efd96af3c_b.jpg

Storm after the war  46 may be

 

53695562803_bd5f24e97e_b.jpg

Storm in the Mersey

53694460612_121674c14e_b.jpg

if you can secure a copy of the book it can help you 

 

the Ts were a different kettle of fish  mainly all over  green/grey with  white spray rail  and depending on skipper black or red lead bottoms 

some had the neutral grey and blue Camouflage  I hope this helps  maybe you are right with the Nuetral grey and green  but thats what the man told me, he served on it, so I went with his rendition  and being a working boat its bright under the water.  

Try john Taylor at the Cammel Lairds  heritage centre  Birkenhead town hall  they have thousands of photos of S Class boats there, that's if you do an S class. Ts were the main Boat in the far east  I did Telemachus  for my T 

Have fun 

 

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Just an Afterthought  you could always contact the Submarine Museum in Perth western Australia.  They were very helpful on Telemachus they even put me in touch with the chief ERA Harry Meadows, I Actually went to meet him. that was back in 92, fantastic rendition of ops in a T boat. 

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Regarding the Peter Hodges book, he got some things right (e.g. no "AP507B Medium Grey" which I think was invented by Alan Raven and copied into the Snyder and Short chips) but certainly not everything. There is plenty amiss with the Snyder & Short chips too. B40 didn't exist. G55 was talked about in 1942 before the G&B Series paints were promulgated but by the time they were at the turn of April into May 1943 it was renamed B55 and no G55 was ever promulgated. They were mistaken about G45, not realising it was exactly the same colour as 507C. In short, the provenance of many of their samples is questionable and those they did identify correctly are often badly damaged by age resulting in a rogue yellow component, a result of a well understood age-darkening process which linseed oil paints are famous for.

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