Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dazzle Ship Camouflage Continued in WWII

USS Vestal (1944)
Above Nearly everywhere on the internet, whether in online articles or blog discussions, it is claimed over and over again (as if that would make it true) that the use of dazzle designs for ship camouflage was discontinued after World War I. But that's not the case at all. While the styles of camouflage evolved (as happened in WWI as well)—and while the term for such patterns was changed from "dazzle" (in part because that term was British) to "disruptive" or "pattern" camouflage"—the use of high difference camouflage schemes continued on both sides of the conflict until the end of WWII. In the US, this was no doubt partly due to the fact that the same American Impressionist artist (Everett Longley Warner) oversaw the production of dazzle designs in both World Wars. 

The photograph above, for example, is not from WWI. It's a camouflaged American ship (the USS Vestal), photographed on September 8, 1944, near the end of WWII. True, this particular design is not typical of US ship camouflage at the time—not because it's disruptively patterned but rather because it's so "squiggly" and non-geometric. In fact, in the overwhelming density of its disruption, it seems more reminiscent of certain German camouflage for minesweepers from the same time period.

The USS Vestal was used in both World Wars (in fact it was one of the ships that was damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor). As a result, we have the opportunity to compare this ship's WWII camouflage (above) with its earlier camouflage scheme from WWI (below).

USS Vestal (1918)

Postscript As of 10Aug2016, we have received this information from Aryeh Wetherhorn—

The WWII pattern was called Measure LC. It was a random pattern of Black, Brown, and 3 shades of Green. It was used primarily for amphibious ships, but also for support ships that might be viewed against a jungle island background.