Home Forums Air and Sea Naval Help painting WW1 RN 1/3000 ships

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    Hi everyone,

    New to the forum so ‘hello’. I was wondering if someone might be able to help me?

    I am looking to paint up some Royal Naval ships (BB’s, BC’s, CA’s, CL’s and DD’s) from the World War 1 era (1/3000 scale). I am looking for some help defining the correct colors for ships in this period – being color blind, I find it hard to match them up at the best of times, but this period seems particularly difficult.

    I normally work with Vallejo, Citadel or Warpaint (or a combination). Can anyone suggest what color schemes were common for the periods below and ideally any good matches with the aforementioned paint brands?

    The periods I am looking to represent are:

    1900-1906 (pre-dreadnought).

    1906-1913 (post-dreadnought ships, pre war)

    1914-16 (early-mid war). I understand this will almost universally be ‘Battleship Grey’?

    1916-18 (late war). I understand a ‘lighter’ grey was used – but can anyone recommend one?

    Post war. I have a couple of ships (like Hood, N3 and G3) that were either never built or were built after the war. These will be used in hypothetical, but can anyone suggest a good color scheme for post war – or would it make more sense to continue with late war paint scheme on the basis the ‘war never ended’ or similar?

    Very many thanks,



    Thanks for joining, good user name too!


    Mal Wright a very knowledgeable naval gamer and artist wrote this article on WW1 colors a while back.


    Pre-dreadnoughts for the RN are usually depicted (if not in a wartime grey) in their Victorian colors of black hull, white upper works and a fairly bright yellow ochre for the funnels and masts. Google has tons of images to help get that yellow right.

    I might caution that the smaller the scale, the darker a particular paint may look. For the 1/4800 and 1/6000 20th century ships I prefer, I always go a shade or two lighter in the grays as dark gray on a smaller ship looks almost black on the table and can hide detail. For what it is worth, I also use a white primer to help keep things a bit lighter.

    You also may look up a member here, Yarkshire Gamer, who did a whole Jutland thing in 1/2400 and is quite skilled at WW1 painting.


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by McKinstry.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.


    You forgot to mention Mal has authored a few books on the subject as well.🤓

    "Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing"
    Wernher von Braun


    Mal (who’s a mate of mine) tends to mix his own colour combinations, based on a lot of original research. McKinistry’s summary is a good one & I ‘d agree on the idea of lightening colours by a shade, using light gray rather than white as it doesn’t change the pigment colours.


    I’m familiar with Mal’s WW2 treatments of British/Commonwealth camouflage but if he’s got a WW1 book out there, where can I get it?

    The tree of Life is self pruning.


    Only WWII versions published AFAIK, but I’m sure he’d like to do  a WWI book if someone pays him!


    His WWII Brit battleships book includes dazzle paint for R class BBs in WWI

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