Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More About William Andrew Mackay

Ship camouflage proposals by William Andrew Mackay

Since starting this blog, we have featured a number of posts either about William Andrew Mackay, an American muralist and World War I ship camouflage artist, or about various artists who worked with him as wartime camoufleurs in New York (see links below to previous posts). More recently, we've discovered full-color reproductions of at least two of his ship camouflage designs (shown above) in Lindell T. Bates, The Science of Low Visibility and Deception (New York: Submarine Defense Association, 1918).

These are cut-out ship silhouettes that were used for testing two different but related proposals by Mackay. Both of these are attempts to achieve low visibility by using small splotches of color (not unlike a Pointilist painting) which, at a great distance, would be seen as a nondescript ambient gray, less discernible than a simple, one-color "battleship gray." In the model at the top, Mackay has combined these low visibility splotches with large, disruptive patterns that (at somewhat closer distances) were intended to make it harder to see the ship as a single, continuous shape.

Mackay's drawing for US Patent No. 1,305,296 (1919)

In 1919, Mackay obtained a patent for a similar proposal. His patent drawing (above) and a full text account are online here.

There are surviving photographs of camouflaged ships using Mackay's methods. Shown below for example are WWI-era photographs of (top to bottom) of USS DeKalb, and USS Isabel (full view, followed by a deck detail).

USS DeKalb

USS Isabel (port side)

USS Isabel (close-up of camouflage pattern)

Other posts on this blog that pertain to William Andrew Mackay. For additional info, see brief biographical article in Camoupedia, and (especially) "Camouflage Science Explained" by Raymond Francis Yates (1919) in Ship Shape.

additional information