R/E AW16: Pennant Number Typography

September 06, 2016

R/E AW16: Pennant Number Typography

WW2 Royal Navy Pennant Number Typography Design

The naval inspiration behind the Submerged Collection surfaces in a variety of forms, from imagery to design. Of course, there would be no inspiration without the real stars of the show - the ships of the Royal Navy fleet.

The Op Hurricane tee displays an image of HMS Plym, a ship that survived the Second World War only to meet her fate during a nuclear weapons test. Yet our designers have also dug deeper, finding other, subtler ways to represent Britain's armada. On a typographical tip, we've incorporated the stylistic forms of pennant numbers.

WW2 Pennant Number Typography | Realm & Empire

What are pennant numbers?

Pennant numbers, called pendant numbers before 1948, are the alphanumeric codes that adorn a ship’s hull. Adopted by the Royal Navy shortly before the First World War, the system helped Navy personnel to quickly distinguish ships by class, leading to smaller designations and improvements in security.

The format used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War grouped ships under the ‘flag superior’ of their class (e.g. D for a Destroyer), followed by the number of the individual ship. There were several variations on this format, but this was the general rule.

Naval typography inspired tees from Realm & Empire

The simplicity of pennant numbers made them instantly recognisable, and through the turbulent years of the 20th century, they became the symbol of naval sea power. It’s in this typography that we found the inspiration for this season’s Shipyard and Hurricane Stencil tees. These designs feature clear messages in a practical font.

Designed for pure functionality, pennant numbers are still in use today, despite advances in technology. And it's with good reason - they have become iconic.


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