Naval Camouflage 1914-1945
A complete visual reference
Author: David Williams
By: Shane Jenkins
is a very ambitious book which seeks to cover the development of camouflage
from 1914-1945. Lavishly illustrated with approximately 350 photos (15
of which are in colour), the photos themselves are reproduced to a high
standard and are clear and sharp with some images of lesser quality used
only where strictly necessary.
Divided into three sections, the first two cover the development of camouflage in WW1 and WW2 respectively. While going into great detail on the use of camouflage in the Royal Navy and the US Navy in great detail, other navies have a tantalisingly small amount of space given to them. The information on the colours used, which individual ships or classes wore certain schemes and what, if any, variants on the scheme existed help to illustrate the usage of camouflage at sea.
The last section deals with the control and stabilisation of naval camouflage practices delving into research and trails of camouflage schemes, specification of camouflage designs and standardisation of paint colours. This section will be of some benefit to the modeller as it gives you Humbrol equivalents or mixes to achieve many of the various colours used. Additional information on the practice of camouflage application is included along with a listing of bodies that hold camouflage documents to help you with your own research. The bibliography is fairly comprehensive listing as it does both primary and secondary sources.
I feel however, that the book should really be titled "Allied Naval Camouflage 1914-1945" as with only 20 pages given to the coverage of Axis ships of WW2, it does not begin to do this wide and varied subject justice. While information may be hard to come by when compared to the amount of source documents available for Allied vessels, it is a shame that more could not have been done in this area.
The use of Humbrol paint mixes looks on the surface to be a good idea but faced with my own experience of Humbrol's additions and deletions to their range (not to mention their renumbering) has dubious merit over the long term. Matching the values to an accepted colour identification system would have ensured that the information does not become obsolete.
Purusing the bibliography gives me some surprise as there are some conspicuous names missing. Yes, he does state some primary sources but considering which authors are listed, the omission of some of the more noted naval historians and their works does make you wonder about the accuracy of this book.
So should you buy this book? If you want it for Axis information, I suggest quite strongly that you check it first before buying. If you want a book on Allied camouflage then go out and get this book. It's worth it for the photos alone. It gathers a lot of material in one place but it is, however, not the comprehensive guide to camouflage that modellers have been seeking. Additional references will be useful and always double check all your references before committing anything to paint.
Recommended with the above reservations.
Copyright © SMML 2002