Home Forums Air and Sea Naval How was HMS Exeter painted at the Battle of the Java Sea?

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    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke

    This is a bit of a long shot, but does anyone here know how HMS Exeter was painted at the Battle of the Java Sea in February 1942?

    It’s well documented that she was in light grey (507C) at the Battle of the River Plate in 1939. That was standard for British warships on overseas stations in 1939 and there’s plenty of clear photographic evidence.

    I would have assumed that she was again in overall light grey in 1942, but for a photo on page 125 of Robert C. Stern’s Big Gun Battles that shows Exeter in a dark overall grey (presumably 507A) with bright awnings, apparently at Calcutta in October 1941.

    There are some photographs of her in 1942, including the famous one of her sinking, but the quality of the copies I have seen isn’t great and it’s difficult to judge the shade of colours in photographs taken in bright sunlight.

    I’m wondering whether anyone can confirm her paintwork, or has the Warship Profile 13 or the Profile Morskie of Exeter. The profile of Exeter on Profile Morskie’s web home page suggests that she retained the dark grey: http://www.profilemorskie.com/.

    Thank you for any guidance. 🙂

    Avatar photoSimon Butler

    Mal Wright in his book British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WWII, vol. 3, states that when the Exeter re entered service it was painted mid grey, probably 507b. The metal decks were the same colour and the wooden decks unpainted. I recommend getting a copy of this book.

    Just to confuse this, there is an old Altmark Publishing book by I think Peter Hodges, published in 1973. This shows a the Exeter in a complex three tone pattern camouflage scheme. The note accompanying the drawing states that the pattern is taken from a contemporary model in possession of Lt. Commander Gordon McLaren. The colours used were MS51, B5 and 507C. Wooden decks were unpainted. The note also states that the model was built in Devonport dockyard at the time of her refit and that the ship had been repainted to a much lighter pattern when deployed to the Far East. It’s possible that the model is a proposed camouflage scheme that was never implemented.

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