Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SS Durham Dazzle Camouflage c1919

Above Port side (top) and starboard side of the SS Durham, an American cargo ship, painted in a dazzle camouflage scheme. The designs on the two sides of the ship are purposely different from one another, in the hope of increasing the enemy gunner's confusion, when observed through a U-boat periscope. The original photographs, made c1919 by Allan C. Green, are in the collection of the Victoria State Library AU.


Anon, from LITERARY NOTES in the Evening Post (Wellington NZ), Saturday, May 31, 1919, p. 16—

People who cannot imagine what practical advantage could be derived from camouflaging ships should read Sir Henry Newbolt's description, in Submarine and Anti-Submarine, of the extraordinarily confusing effect it has when seen through the periscope of a submerged submarine. "You look long and hard at this dazzle ship. She doesn't give you any sensation of being dazzled; but she is, in some queer way, all wrong—her proportions are wrong, she is somehow not herself, not what she ought to be. If you fix your attention on one end of her, she seems to point one way—if you look away at her other end, she is doing something different. You can't see the height of her funnels clearly, or their relative positions. But, with care, you decide she is coming about southeast, and will therefore be your bird in two minutes' time…The bird ends by getting well away to the northeast. Your error covered ninety degrees, and the camouflage had beaten you completely…But this ship is nothing of a dazzle, the commander tells you—he can show you one whose cut-water seems always to be moving at a right angle to her stern!"

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