Nelson Chequer

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HMS Victory on display, painted with the chequer pattern

The Nelson Chequer was a colour scheme adopted by vessels of the Royal Navy, modelled on that used by Admiral Horatio Nelson. It consisted of bands of black and yellow paint along the sides broken up by black gunports. Nelson, apparently, used the same style for all vessels under his command "to be distinguished with greater certainty in case of falling in with an enemy".[1]:171 After the Battle of Trafalgar all vessels in the Royal Navy generally sported this pattern, though it was not mandated and some captains changed it.[1] Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, was painted with a more traditional scheme of black with yellow stripes along the level of the gunports in Chatham in 1800.[2] Nelson later had the gunports painted black as well, creating the distinctive chequer pattern. In spite of Nelson's desire to differentiate vessels by means of this colouring, it was also found among vessels of other navies, including some ships of the United States Navy by the time of the War of 1812. It is suggested by Sam Willis in The Fighting Temeraire that the black gunports were intended to make them appear opened, and so the ship would appear more intimidating from a distance.

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  1. ^ a b The words of Jack Nastyface, a seaman who fought at Trafalgar. This was not his real name, but the nickname traditional at the time for the cook's assistant. Quoted in Nelson's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Commander, Stephanie Jones and Jonathan Gosling
  2. ^ "Service Life". HMS-Victory. 1922-01-12. Retrieved 2009-07-19.