Austro-Hungarian Paint Schemes

Courtesy of Brooks A. Rowlett (
Some minor details, based on the new Wladimir Aichelberg book K.u.K FLotte 1900-1918, as well as Sokol's The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy. The "Olive green paint scheme" was in use 1900-1914. Change to grey may have been completed at the outbreak of the war, with possibly the oldest coast defense battleships being among the last to switch. While 1913 photos of the VIRIBUS UNITIS class show them still in olive green, a TEGETTHOFF photo from May 1914 indicates she is by then grey, as do photos of VIRIBUS UNITIS bearing the Archduke's body in August. A photo of armored cruiser KAISER KARL IV on the third day of the war also appears to be in grey. Certainly the entire fleet above the DD and TB size shows in grey in 1915 photos,and photos of light cruseirs in December 1914 confirm they are grey by then. The torpedo boats and destroyers, however, were in 1914 switching from the green to *black* like many other countries; they were changed to grey around October 1915. (Photos in August 1915 definitely still show them in black). The ships of the ERZHERZOG KARL class had linoleum (corticene?) main decks, with no planking outboard; they appear to have planking on the superstructure deck or inside the bulkheads around the funnels, in a walled but open to sky space. This is the only class of big ships lacking main deck planking.
Erwin Sieche has added:

All AH ships had teakwood planking only on open decks. All interior decks were covered with Linoleum.

The color schemes of the AH navy were adopted in a bureaucratic manner - as in every navy. The respective regulations including the exact mixture of the colors can be researched at the Austrian War Archive. Here a short synopsis:

From 1900/06 to 1914

Hulls, superstructures, all exterior visible parts like vents, masts, cranes, boats etc. in dark green. After the then CinC this was nicknamed 'Montecuccolin'.

Waterline pink, submerged hull with green poison color.

The first unit to receive this scheme was the cruiser LEOPARD in September 1899, from 1st June 1901 all new commissioned warships received the new scheme. In 1906 this was adopted officially for the whole fleet with the exception of the torpedoboats - which were painted overall black - and the yachts, which were painted white.

From February 1914

As it was assumed that the fleet will fight on the open sea the dark green color, supposed to hide the ships operating under the coast, a new bluish light gray color scheme was adopted and first applied on the RADETZKY and the SAÏDA from her launching day on. On 23 December 1913 this scheme was adopted for the fleet and nicknamed 'Hausian' after the then CinC. In 1915 the pink waterline, which had a too big contrast to the hull was changed to a dark gray waterline.

From 9 October 1915

All destroyers and torpedoboats had their color changed from black to dull gray.

Last Updated: 2 January, 2000.

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