Monday, January 27, 2014

WW1 Norwegian Ship Camouflage

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Above Dazzle-camouflaged Norwegian tanker SS Ranella as photographed by Allan C. Green (c1918). Digitally adjusted. Original in collection of Victoria State Library AU.


J.M. Daiger, CAMOUFLAGE MAKES WARSHIP INTO "TUB;" ENEMY IS DECEIVED: Painters So Disguise Craft That Brand New Torpedo Boat Looks Like Old Tub or Leaves Landscape Vacant; OLDER NAVAL OFFICERS LIKE NAVY GRAY THE BEST in Ludington Daily News (Ludington MI), December 17, 1917—

NORFOLK, Va., Dec 17—…naval camouflage—the painting of ships to look at a short distance like what they are not and at a long distance like nothing at all.

Impossible as it might seem to make super dreadnoughts appear anything but the monsters they are, there are nevertheless processes of camouflage for them. It is obvious that details as to what designs are being used on various types of ships are not for publication, especially in view of the fact that experimental schemes for having ships sail in false colors—not under them—are constantly being tried out.


I saw one of the largest of the naval colliers, which has several times crossed the Atlantic since America's entry into the war, that had a very simple scheme of camouflage in which only grays were used. Simple in conception and execution apparently, but it had an amazing effect on the appearance of the ship a short distance at sea, and from what happened at that short distance I have no doubt the collier was lost to the eye when it got much farther away.

The older naval officers incline to the opinion that the regulation navy gray by itself is better than any camouflage that the artists have invented, and they are frankly skeptical about these riots of color and freak designs that the scientific application of one of the fine arts is smearing over their ships.

The camouflage used by a great many merchantmen is familiar to every one who has observed the shipping in the harbors along the Atlantic coast. These vessels close by look like scrambled rainbows or like the palette of an artist in his cups. The weather has much to do with the power of these gay colors to create optical illusions.