CAMOUFLAGE

 

             

Pre-War paint.
                                           As HMS AMPHION, she was painted in the Royal Navy color of 507C which was the standard light grey.  As HMAS PERTH, she still wore this when commissioned.  In late October 1939, in the Caribbean, she was painted in a slightly darker light grey. ( George Hatfield Diary). She remained in a plain grey color until December 1940.

              Dummy Funnel and Funnel Flaps.
                                                                        On 3rd September 1939 PERTH was in the West Indies and it was decided to rig a dummy funnel between the two real funnels so that enemy observers would think there were two British cruisers in the area.  This disguise was only used for a very cshort time as far as is known.  The funnel flaps were fitted at Kingston, West Indies on 27/28th August 1939. The frame of the one on the aft funnel can be seen in the photo of PERTH at Kingston.  (For some reason the flaps were removed when the PERTH went through the Panama Canal in either November 1939 or March 1940.) The idea was that they would break up the outline of the two funnels and so confuse enemy rangefinders.  It is not known if they were very effective.  The flaps were worn until the time of her loss and their positions were altered in the last camouflage.

 Aerial Recognition Boards.

The following description is taken from the diary of crewman George Hatfield and is dated 3rd Nov 1939.

"On the forward and quarter deck of the Perth are two
pieces of board, one forward, one aft about 30 feet long and 4 feet
wide. They are identification marks for aviation and painted
white, are easily seen from the air. Each day at G.M.T. they are
changed to a different position thus the aircraft must have the key
to the code to identify us. "

Aerial Recognition Letters.
                                                             Probably at the time of her commissioning in 1939, the letters"PR" were painted in white on B and X Turret.  In late October 1939 these were changed to"PA".   This was apparently in keeping with the practice of the RAN and RN using the letter system at the time. ( Photos show AUSTRALIA wearing "AU" HOBART wearing"HT" and CANBERRA"CB".) "PA" was still in place when she arrived in Sydney in March 1940.

Caribbean Oct.1939

Carib. late 1939
early 1940

Sydney Mar.1940

Aerial Recognition Roundels

Photos exist of HOBART, ADELAIDE, and YARRA wearing a red,white,and blue roundel (The same as worn on RAAF aircraft) in 1940. No evidence has been found that PERTH wore this device.

HMAS HOBART with roundel

.

Paint when commisioned in July 1939 was 507C. This was the standard RN Light Grey. She wore this color scheme until Oct.1939

 

EARLY WAR
In October 1939, apparently because of her high visibility at night, PERTH's light grey 507C was changed to a darker grey. The ID letters on B and X turrets were changed to PA.


1st CAMOUFLAGE PATTERN
Dec. 1940 - Nov. 1941
Pattern was the same on both sides

The first pattern was applied at Alexandria on the 27th December 1940.  A competition was held for the design and it was won by AB Ross Birbeck and was often called the "Harbour Bridge" pattern.The colors used were Royal Navy Dark Grey 507A and Light Grey 507C. The deck was painted a dark blue but was painted slightly offset at the bow and the stern to confuse aircraft as to her true course. The tops of the turrets were painted Dark Blue.
( Information courtesy of the late Mr.Ray Parkin who was in charge of painting the design on the forward part of the ship )
Repainted in same pattern during refit at Alexandria Feb 10-19 1941 ( Ship's Log Feb 1941 ).

          
                                       

 

2nd CAMOUFLAGE PATTERN
Nov 1941 - 1st Mar 1942

2nd CAMOUFLAGE

In the later part of 1941 camouflage pattern trials were carried out off Sydney under the supervision of Professor Dakin, from the Directorate of Camouflage. The trials were conducted on the anti-submarine vessel HMAS KYBRA which was loaned by the RAN.
As a result of these trials Prof. Dakin was given the loan of HMAS PERTH to conduct further trials and was requested to provide patterns for PERTH, CANBERRA, and AUSTRALIA.

In a letter to Garden Island from Dakin on 3rd October 1941, Dakin states that he handed over a painted model
of PERTH and one plan with instructions for the design and colors of the experimental camouflage scheme
(See tables below)

A letter from the Navy of 4th Oct 1941, listed the paints they would be ordering. This list differed from Dakins. It included a Green and a Dark Green/Grey but no Olive Green as requested . However, the letter then went on say that the greys supplied were the Standard Navy Greys. These would appear to be AP507A and AP507C which were in use by the RAN at this time.

The above correspondence was made in early Oct 1941 and the camouflage painted on PERTH in mid November. During this time
Dakin either revised his early pattern colors as a result of his tests or to fit in with what paint the Navy could supply.

For whatever reason, no green paint was used in PERTH's final pattern.
( Confirmed in conversation with Frank McGovern Nov. 2011 )

PART OF SHIP
COLOURS REQUESTED BY DAKIN - Oct 1941
COLORS ORDERED BY NAVY - Oct 1941
Starboard Side Disruptive Light Grey Light Grey
Starboard Side Disruptive Olive Green Dark Green/Grey
Port Side Dark Blue Grey Blue Grey
Port Side Dark Grey Green
False Waves and Deck Patches White White

( Aust.Nat Arch. Files C1707/P1 and Series A5954/69 Item 396/7.)

FINAL COLORS FOR 2ND PATTERN
(Confirmed by Frank McGovern, a survivor of the PERTH sinking, who was in charge of the paint locker at the time.)

PERTH's last pattern was applied between 10th and 21st Nov 1941. (Ship's Log Nov 1941)

The Starboard side: Was painted in a pattern using Light Grey  (507C)  and Dark Grey (507A). Bow and Stern false waves
painted white.  The intention of the design was to confuse the enemy as to which way she was actually steaming.

The Port side: Carried no pattern and was painted in two tones of  Dirty Blue-Grey.   The two blues were very similar in tone and look
like one color in photos. ( This blue is virtually identical with the Sea Blue worn by the U.S.Navy in mid-1942) The deck was painted
Dark Blue. Both patterns were still worn at the time of her loss.

The Deck: Painted in the same color as the darker blue of Port side with white patches. The white patches were probably similar to those used on the Dec 1940 pattern to confuse the direction of the ship from the air. Whether they were painted in the same position as those on the first camouflage is unknown.

On Nov 24th, Professor Dakin observed PERTH from the air to assess  the effectiveness of this paint scheme.
He gave the opinion that , although the camouflage scheme was an experiment, they should remain on the ship as they are.


-oOo-

NOTE FOR MODELLERS

There are some publications and model instructions that show a "Dazzle Pattern" being worn on PERTH's port side as part of her second camouflage. In 2009 I raised this matter with Frank McGovern, a survivor of the PERTH sinking, who was in charge of the paint locker at the time. Here is his reply.

You are quite right regarding the PORT side being a blue-grey color and remained so when we were sunk.  The starboard side was painted with the angle camouflage whilst in Sydney. As a matter of fact, I remember being in the bosun’s chair alongside Syd Matsen painting the aft stack.

My feeling is that the MED camouflage on the PORT side was painted over in the blue-grey color maybe prior to applying the new camouflage which we were unable to do due to the almost constant movement in and out of port. If you look closely at the last photo of the Perth, you may just discern a faint outline of the MED camouflage”

(I couldn’t identify the old camo pattern under the paint in her last photo as Frank mentioned.)

Whether Prof.Dakin designed another “Dazzle” pattern for the Port side  I have been unable to verify. If he did it certainly wasn’t used.

 

Thought to have been taken from HMAS Australia
between Dec. 1941 and Jan. 1942


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NOTE: There are some publications and model instructions that show a "Dazzle Pattern" being worn on PERTH's port side as part of her second camouflage. In 2009 I raised this matter with Frank McGovern, a survivor of the PERTH sinking, who was in charge of the paint locker at the time. Here is his reply.

You are quite right regarding the PORT side being a blue-grey color and remained so when we were sunk.  The starboard side was painted with the angle camouflage whilst in Sydney. As a matter of fact, I remember being in the bosun’s chair alongside Syd Matsen painting the aft stack.

My feeling is that the MED camouflage on the PORT side was painted over in the blue-grey color maybe prior to applying the new camouflage which we were unable to do due to the almost constant movement in and out of port. If you look closely at the last photo of the Perth, you may just discern a faint outline of the MED camouflage”

(I couldn’t identify the old camo pattern under the paint in her last photo as Frank mentioned.)

Whether he later designed another “Dazzle” pattern for the Port side  I have been unable to verify. If he did it certainly wasn’t used.

 

Thought to have been taken from HMAS Australia
between Dec. 1941 and Jan. 1942

* Private Diary: George Hatfield.
** Aust.Nat Arch. Files C1707/P1 and Series A5954/69 Item 396/7
*** Ship's Log for November 1941.

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