Monday, December 25, 2017

Dazzle Camouflage | A Crazy Quilt of Autumn Leaves

View of camouflaged destroyer (c1919)
Above Dazzle camouflage pattern on a US destroyer, viewed from the deck of the USS Maui, as reproduced in Being the Log of the USS Maui in the World War. New York: Brooklyn Eagle Press, c1919, p. 35. The Maui had also been dazzle-painted, as described on p. 34: The usual loading of supplies and cargo went on while camouflage artists completely obliterated the modest impression of a coat of battleship gray which bespoke the vividness of a cube artist's nightmare.


G.A. Martin, Roundabout Town. CAMOUFLAGED SHIP AT CLOSE RANGE LOOKS LIKE HOUSE AFIRE. El Paso Herald. December 13, 1918, p. 6—

Camouflage is a science. If it were not, nobody would ever camouflage a ship they way they do. To a landsman a camouflaged ship looks as if it would be about the easiest thing in the world to see on the water, but those who have gone down to sea say it isn't and they ought to know. Now that the war is over and secrets don't have to be kept, it is permissible to write of such things.

The docks at Houston, Beaumont and Galveston are full of these ships these days, still in their camouflage coats until peace is really here by signatory treaties, and they are very interesting to the ordinary inland resident. Instead of being some dark color as one would imagine, they are painted in the most fantastic designs and a crazy quilt is a model of accuracy compared to the streaks and stripes of a camouflaged ship. They start at the prow with a black streak, perhaps, that may resemble the figure 7 or something else as grotesque and follow this all the way back with alternate streaks and stripes of white, yellow, pale blue and other colors.

The completed whole very much resembles a futurist or cubist painting and a close view reminds you of looking at a zebra after a session of several hours with a few quarts of champagne, if you can imagine how a zebra would look under such circumstances.


SHIP HAS DELIRIUM TREMENS. Washington Times. October 14, 1917, p. 19—

New York, Oct. 14—An American passenger ship has arrived at an Atlantic port looking like a serious case of "marine delirium tremens," for she was camouflaged in many colors, among which pinks, pale greens, horizon blues and grays predominated. No two of the color patches were of the same size or shape, and they looked much like a rug of autumn leaves tossed indiscriminately over hull, decks, cabins and masts. The ship is said to present the most effective camouflage yet devised, for at a short distance she is practically invisible.


CAMOUFLAGE SCHOOL. A Valuable War Service. Australian Brains at Work. Sydney Morning Herald (New South Wales). August 19, 1941, p. 6—

…There is a story of one naval officer who, when the painting of the decks of his ships was proposed, turned indignantly on the camoufleur, saying: "What, foul the teak of my decks! Only a seagul has the right to do that, sir."

USS Maui in dazzle camouflage (1919)

Above The USS Maui in process of loading the wounded at Bordeaux, France, January 1919. Portions of her camouflage coat can be seen on the stack and the life boats. US Signal Corps photograph, National Museum of Health and Medicine.