In the following I will try to get around some of the most common color schemes used by navies in the late 18th century and around the Napoleonic wars.
The vast amount of text is directed towards the historic background of the different color schemes, if you don't care about that, just look at the pictures.
There was a development towards more and more standardized a color scheme for national navies in this period. Here I will focus on two types of ships: The large ships of the line and the small support vessels.
As examples I am using color renderings of my previously posted LDD models of a 4th rate ship of the line and a brig.
In the middle of the 18th century the color scheme of a warship was more or less up to the captain.
This meant that ships were sometimes left unpainted except from some, often very elaborate, decoration on the bow and stern and the adding of a mostly white but sometimes brown or black coating below the waterline. This can be seen on the Australian HMB Endeavour
However the lengthy periods of war in Europe meant that the vast amount of decorations used in the middle of the 18th century gave way to some more subtle designs.
The LDD file attached to this posting is of these versions as it is the color scheme farthest from the one I have used on my original posting of these ships. The brig has also been changed so the armament is the 6 pdr long guns usual for this type of ship before the introduction of carronades and short guns.
The coating of the lower hull was intended as a protection of the ship from attacks of various woodworms and seaweeds but it was never quite sufficient and different sheathing methods was tried. In the 1708 Charles Perry suggested the use of copper. This was quickly dismissed by the British navy board due to expenses, but in the 1760’s as other sheathing materials failed and the threat from its enemies navies grew bigger experiments showed that copper was the way to go.
This combined with a falling price of copper meant that copper sheathing was standard in most European navies by the end of the 1780’s.
This is a version of how Royal navy ships would probably have looked in that period.
While other nations also copper sheathed their ships, the rest of the color scheme could be quite different.
and a little further
Even though this posting is focused on the period prior to the Napoleonic wars the ships was pretty much the same so I couldn’t resist covering this period as well. In the Napoleonic wars it was fashionable in the navies to paint the hull with a colored line around the Gun ports. Around 1800 the yellow/black pattern became the most widespread color scheme. This can still be seen on the HMS Victory in Portsmouth UK in the distinct British variant “Nelson Mesh” LDD files of the ships in this color scheme can be found here HMS Portland class 4th rate ship of the line and Brig-of-war HDMS Lougen-class
Quoting Stephan Schumann
Awesome story by pics and text. Must have been quite much work, creating all the different colourshemes. The brickcolour orange, looks quite similar to the coppersheathing.
Thanks. This is actually just a heap of research that I did anyway for my own models. About orange: I have had my doubts from time to time, but i'm gaining confidence in my decision with orange as the copper sheathing
Quoting Zol Zork
You giving very nice and valuable information about seafaring, but "The 17th century was the century which lasted from 1601 to 1700" (wikipedia)
Yep it was a glitch in the title that I just kept seeing past, as I was preoccupied with the rest of the details. you probably noticed that this mistake wasn't present in the posting below "About this creation". Thanks for noticing, it has been changed!