Royal Navy WWII 1920-1941 Paint Set

Published on
October 15, 2023
Review Author(s)
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Company: Tru-Color Paint - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Tru-Color Paint - Website: Visit Site

Bottom Line: I am going to purchase other paints from Tru-Color Paints after my excellent experiences. Tru-Color Paint was founded in 2008 in Phoenix Az by Rick Galazzo & Scott Cohen. They have hundreds of paints, mostly for automobiles and railroad train hobbyists, but also military colors for aircraft, armament and ships. Starting in 2017, Tru-Color provides paints for German, Japanese, Royal Navy and US navies, from 1920s to modern era, but particularly WW2 colors. This review tries out the Royal Navy early WW2 basic warships colors in Set #1, TCP-13002. This is the first Royal Navy warship paint set from Tru-Color Paint, with more sets promised.

What You Get:

TCP-1302 Set#1 has six 1 fl oz. size bottles used from 1920-1941 for early WW2 Royal Navy colors. Tru-Color paints come in 1 or 2 fl oz. (29.6 or 59.1 ml) bottles, with the paint name on the top of the bottle cap. For 1/700 scale warships, this will be sufficient for several large and a dozen or more DD-size ship models. Although listed as 1920-1941, each grey color was used after 1942, especially the darker colors for decks, so this Set is appropriate for most Royal Navy WWII warships.

TRU-COLOR PAINTS 1920-1941 Royal Navy Paint Set #1 Paints:

TCP-1000: Norfolk 65-A, Antifouling Red (for underwater hull areas)

TCP-1053: RN Western Approaches Blue 1941 (a pale blue used mostly for convoy escorts and DDs)

TCP-1054: RN Western Approaches Green 1941 (a light green used mostly for convoy escorts and DDs)

TCP-1066: RN 507A Dark Grey 1920-1941

TCP-1067: RN 507B Medium Grey 1920-1941

TCP-1068: RN 507C Light Gray 1920-1941

You get a 9 inch long by 2 3/8” inches tall and 1.5” inches wide box with a (9 x 1¾ inch pegboard top). The box shows pictures of several cars, a couple of tanks and a ship, with a bleached-out car and plane on the top pegboard. The back of the pegboard has a washed-out car, ship and tank. On the right-hand side panel, the box for Navy is blackened along with the TCP-13002 SKU#, as a sticker. The front has a sticker with TCP-13002: ROYAL NAVY (RN)- WWII, SET #1. The box top has color chips of each paint.

This paint set is a solvent-based acrylic paint. Acetone/water is the solvent base. Acetone used to be the most common nail polish solvent for many years, and your body actually makes a little all the time, and more if you are an uncontrolled diabetic. Tru-Color Paints can be thinned with Tru-Color TCP-015 Thinner which has the same solvent base. Please use standard precautions when airbrushing (a fume hood, spray booth, outdoors or a vapor mask) and adequate ventilation if brushing by hand. Tru-Color also has a light gray primer paint (order separately) if desired.

Tru-Color paints are matched to Snyder & Short chips, the gold standard for true paint colors, and what they should have looked like (given that paint mixing on the spot did not always follow the rules in every nation or every shipyard every time). Right away, this is a good sign for warship modelers.

There is a two-sided Instruction and Information page with the back side listing a selection of military paint sets and possible future sets. Instructions are helpful and informative. Pay heed to their info for best results. There is also a full-color single page of all six paint chips, and side profiles plus overhead views of HMS Ark Royal carrier 1939, HMS Repulse battlecruiser 1941 and HMS Naiad AA cruiser1940. Although not specifically pointed out, the colors on these ships are easy to match with Tru-Color paints supplied. A small sample of Tru-Color adhesive-backed masking paper is included (comes in 8 X 10 inch sheets). Tru-Color explains their Masking Paper can be run though inkjet or laser printers so you can make your own stencil or mask of complicated camo patterns. [I wish I had used their Masking Paper for this build since my standard paper technique for complex camo schemes was not as easy.] Tru-Color welcomes feedback, comments and suggestions. I did call and spoke with Scott Cohen about thinning, who was extremely helpful. Thinning is generally not needed, but depends on your airbrush. Good advice.

This set covers the most common RN warship colors up to 1941, but does not have deck colors (which were either bleached wood, Corticene (a brown linoleum), or Semtex (a medium green used after 1941). Also, Western Approaches camouflage base color was white/off-white, and white is not included in this paint set (almost any dull white or white paint will work). Thus, for certain ships, you will need either extra bottles of colors or other Royal Navy WW2 paint sets. During 1941, the Royal Navy went crazy with all kinds of camouflage colors and patterns after their war experiences, so this TCP-13002 set is primarily intended to paint ships either up to 1941 to be historically accurate. Many ships still used these colors after 1941, even as part of the newer, exorbitant camouflage schemes.


I dug out the White Ensign Models HMS Penelope 1936 light cruiser kit, resin with brass photoetch (WEM K701). Penelope (nicknamed HMS Pepperpot because of the many holes she received from bombing while in dock at Malta) carried an Admiralty Disruptive camo scheme in 1942 as illustrated on page 117 of Malcolm Wright’s British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WWII Volume 3 – Cruisers, Minelayers and Armed Merchant Cruisers. I highly recommend getting this book and Volumes 1 (destroyers and smaller warships) and 2 (aircraft carriers and battleships) if you want accurate colors and patterns for WW2 Royal Navy warships.

This means I had to make numerous modifications to the 1936 HMW Penelope resin kit to approximate her 1942 appearance. It’s not exact but close enough for me. But it gave me the chance to show how Tru-Color paints work on resin, injection-molded plastic and brass photoetch materials.

Being an older resin casting, the parts had many bubble holes, which resisted filling with usual putties, serious warpage and/or defects, and cruddy corners, so I switched to extensive use of photoetch (PE) and aftermarket parts (6in & 4in gun barrels, 2pdrx4 mounts, 20mmx1 mounts, 20mm gun tubs, ammo boxes, radars, hatches, windows, ladders, inclined ladders, railings, lifeboat derricks, lifeboat spars, chocks and many scratchbuilt pieces, including both Type 281 radars on top of the scratchbuilt, huge fore- and main-masts, and the 2pdr platforms, which were added during the 1942 refit, replacing the seaplane and catapult from the kit. The White Ensign Model PE set was extremely fine and close to scale, and used whenever possible (especially the crane).


HMS Penelope carried a three-tone Admiralty Disruptive pattern using light grey MS4a (close to 507C Light Grey from Tru-Color), blue grey B5 (close in color and tone to Tru-Color 507B Medium Grey), and medium olive color M2 that compares to Tru-Color 507A dark grey. Decks were G10 dark grey, which looks very close to 507B. My intent was to show all three grey colors from the Tru-Color set in an actual camouflage pattern so the viewer can see how Tru-Color paints look, and how they match WWII B&W photos, rather than being historically perfect. Besides, using Tru-Color paints have the same look as B&W photos available in web searches for HMS Penelope.

I acquired Acetone, Thinner and other Royal Navy Colors from Tru-Colors (a big thanks to Scott Cohen!). Hand brush painting on resin and photoetch brass led to a thick paint layer and glossy finish to avoid streaks – which I attribute to the old resin kit I used. Other acrylic paints that normally apply well also did not apply well to this old resin. Injection-molded plastics did not have this issue. I airbrushed the entire hull and major parts with Tru-Color TCP-9256 3D Light Gray Primer, which gave a smooth, semi-gloss finish. I normally do not prime 1/700 warships because extra paint layers reduce small details, and I ended up scraping off most of the Primer. But it did give an even, solid coat, and easily accepted other Tru-Color paints over it.

Airbrushing the three grey colors was the easiest airbrushing I have ever experienced. Tru-Color paints were used full strength and at 35-40 psi from an Iwata Eclipse HP-BS airbrush. Lower psi also gave good coverage and was able to make fine lines. Very satisfied with the adherence, coverage and semi-gloss finish on an old resin kit with injection-molded plastic and brass photoetch parts.

Even better was the airbrush cleanup – best ever! Acetone as the first wash/rinse cleaned out all the paint (even some gunk leftover from previous airbrushings). Acetone is also available at home supply stores in large containers, but it needs to be used with adequate ventilation and it can be explosive (No Smoking or open flames nearby when using acetone!). After that, I used Rubbing Alcohol to further clean up the feed cup and airbrush parts – my airbrush is cleaner than it has been in years. Also, do not use water or Rubbing Alcohol as a thinner for these paints. TCP-015-2 Thinner works well if you need to thin Tru-Color paints before application.

Unlike airbrushing, for hand brushing, the darker 507A color needed a couple of coats to fully cover, and both 507A and the light grey 507C gave a semi-glossy finish. Corticene (TCP-1056 acquired separately) was hand-brushed for bridge deck and liferaft wood bottoms and also needed more than one coat and gave a glossy finish. 507B gave the best results from hand brushing.

For HMS Penelope, the darkest color was 507A, the medium color (and decks color) was 507B, and the light grey was 507C. Tamiya Flat White was used for vertical surfaces under overhangs (the 4inx2 plaform, for instance). When put next to each other, the dark grey 507A looked a very dark (royal) blue, but the other Tru-Color paints looked very much like the originals.

LIFECOLOR has had Royal Navy WW2 acrylic paint sets (Early War Set 1 and late-war Western Approaches Set 2) that I have used and have been very satisfied. Lifecolor paint bottles (plastic) are 22 ml (0.74 oz.) and are acrylic, ready-to-use and thinned with Lifecolor Acrylic thinner or water. A comparison of the two paint sets head-to-head brushed on white paper (see Figure 4), along with white and black acrylic paints show differences for each grey color between the two sets. Tru-Color 507A was decidedly a dark blue and a darker intensity than Lifecolor 507A, which did not look dark enough (after looking at hundreds of B&W photos of RN ships), especially when next to Lifecolor Medium Grey 507B. In fact, Tru-Color 507B was a close match for Lifecolor 507A, and darker than Lifecolor 507B, which had a greenish tint. Tru-Color light grey 507C was lighter than Lifecolor 507C. Thus, Tru-Color Paint Set #1 shows more contrast between the three grey colors than Lifecolor Paint Set #1, which looked more like photos of HMS Penelope. Both Corticene paints were very close in color and intensity.

According to Malcolm Wright’s books, the Admiralty standard paint mix for any color was not always adhered to faithfully, especially if particular color bases were not available, in short supply, or the local painter or ship’s captain wanted different shades for their theatre of operations, so it is not surprising that two well-researched paint sets can have obvious differences for the same colors. The Admiralty standard mix for 507A had a blue tint to its very dark color, which Tru-Color represents more accurately. It is also true that when ships were painted, each color had to be mixed from base colors, and like real life, most ships deviated slightly from the Admiralty standards. Also, from decks painted 507A, and next to black or 507B colors, a blue tint cannot be ruled out from B&W photos.

Converting the starboard profile color photo of HMS Penelope (Figure 6) to Grayscale (Figure 7) is a very close match to actual B&W photos of HMS Penelope in this camo scheme. For 1/700 scale ships, I always use an overspray with clear flat, usually a Testors rattle can. But I noticed that liquid CA glue would remove dry Tru-Color paint, so I did not want to risk using a solvent-based clear flat spray or brushing. I did not test this issue, so do your own test with whatever flat overspray you like to use. I settled for Liquitex Matt Varnish, an aqueous acrylic. It gave a wonderful flat finish, but was grainy and lightened all the colors. Accordingly, Figure 8 shows HMS Penelope before the matt varnish to give the actual, out-of-the-bottle Tru-Color appearance. Notice the shiny areas.


Judging from my usage of the most common colors (507A,B,C), each 1 fl oz bottle can be used to paint several large RN warships and a large number of destroyer-sized ships (over a dozen?). Same ship numbers per bottle would apply to the Norfolk 65-A Antifouling red hull paint. The other two Western Approaches colors (WA Blue, WA Green) can paint about 2 dozen destroyer-size warships or more if they are corvettes and sloops. This demonstrates a good value for the price per bottle. But 1/700 waterline afficionados will have little use for the Norfolk Antifouling Red underwater hull color, which was seldom seen on overladen wartime RN warships (unless you mix it with Light Grey to make Mountbatten Pink shades, which HMS Penelope actually carried in the Mediterranean in late 1941). If you have RN full hull ship models, the set is a good value.


I am going to purchase other paints from Tru-Color Paints after my excellent experiences. Tru-Color Paint TCP-13002 Royal Navy (RN) Set#1 WWII 1920-1941 Paints is a good start to nail down accurate Royal Navy basic warship colors for early WW2 up to 1941 and beyond. The three Grey colors are the most important and will run out before the others. If you are doing waterline RN warships the hull red (Norfolk 65A Antifouling Red) is less useful, but absolutely essential for the growing number of full hull kits at any scale or navy. This Set#1 also gives a head start for the numerous models of escort vessels (destroyers, destroyer escorts, frigates, sloops, corvettes, etc.) that wore Western Approaches light green and light blue camo patterns.

Advantages of Tru-Color TCP-13002 Set #1 are the larger size of paint bottles, the match to Snyder & Short color chips – the ultimate authority on WW2 warship colors – and most importantly, the easy airbrushing and cleanup. Your British warships will look trim and proper, By Jove!

A drawback of this RN Paint Set is the lack of deck colors, which means additional paints supplied by Tru-Colors (and other paint lines) need to be acquired to complete most Royal Navy early WW2 warships. Deck colors are available separately from Tru-Color. Other RN Paint Sets from Tru-Color are upcoming and are eagerly anticipated.


  1. This was the easiest airbrushing paint I have ever used! I was simply shocked and pleased how easy the paint went on brass, polystyrene and resin surfaces, leaving a smooth, opaque finish;
  2. Airbrush cleanup was the easiest yet! Tru-Color supplies acetone that cleaned the feed cup and shaft better and safer than anything else I have used;
  3. Matched colors to Snyder & Short color chips – the ultimate authority on WW2 warship colors;
  4. Tru-Colors paints also look close to scale, with thin, even coats from airbrushing and no graininess from a high saturation of pigment;
  5. Tru-Color Instructions and Information enclosed in the Set are excellent resources to trouble-shoot any problems with airbrushing or hand brushing;
  6. Tru-Color’s website has additional helpful information and they welcome feedback and questions – Tru-ly interactive;
  7. Tru-Color paints can be used without dilution for airbrushing;
  8. 1 fl oz bottle size allows for more painting, making the value as good as other paints;
  9. 2 fl oz size bottles will be welcomed by modelers building 1/350 and large scales of warships;
  10. Tru-Colors has an extensive list of Royal Navy WW2 camo colors now and coming up;


  1. Ventilation precautions need to be considered for using Tru-Color solvent-based paints;
  2. Acquiring acetone is a must;
  3. Set #1 does not have any specific deck colors, so this set may not be able to finish a Royal navy early WW2 warship without using other paints (which Tru-Color Paints does sell separately);
  4. For this Set#1 I would rather have a deck color (Corticene for this time period) than a red underwater hull color, which is useless for 1/700 waterline models – the largest number of 1/700 warships;
  5. Cost. At between $7-8 per bottle, this set and individuals bottles can run up a relatively high price to collect the numerous colors used for Royal Navy WW2 warships;
  6. Costing is increased by Set#1 not being a complete package for certain major camouflage schemes – other individual paints will be necessary to complete most RN warships;
  7. I would like model paint companies using glass/plastic bottles to not wrap around the label, and to keep a vertical space open from top to bottom so we can see the level of paint in the bottle, ala Floquil, Tamiya, Vallejo and other brands. Of course, this plea excludes Humbrol and other metal paint tins.
  8. For those who like flat finishes on ship models, need to test whatever you use to make sure it does not adversely affect Tru-Color paints.


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