Thursday, October 4, 2012

Loyd A. Jones and Ship Camouflage Models

Above These three designs for World War I ship camouflage are in the collection of the National Archives and Records Administration, in the Records of the Bureau of Ships. Described as "American dazzle camouflage cutouts by an unknown artist, ca. 1917-18," they were made with watercolor on board, each measuring 6" high by 29.25" wide. They are on the Designs for Democracy website here.

No one seems to know who designed these particular ship silhouettes, but most likely they were made for the purpose of testing their visibility in a viewing apparatus (referred to as a "model rack") that was set up outdoors on the shore of Lake Ontario, near Rochester NY, by a civilian team of camoufleurs, headed by Eastman Kodak physicist Loyd A. Jones. In testing them, each cutout was suspended in the viewing frame with eye hooks and piano wire (as shown below), at a height that made it seem to be resting on the water.

A detailed account of the science behind this approach to ship camouflage (illustrated by photographs and diagrams, including this one) was published in Lindell T. Bates and Loyd A. Jones, The Science of Low Visibility and Deception. New York: Submarine Defense Association, 1918. More>>