Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Disruptive camouflage patterns applied to vehicles

In the last years of World War I, it was common practice in the US to paint disruptive patterns on vehicles, both military and civilian, but for different purposes.

The government photograph below shows a disruptive pattern being applied to military equipment, for the purposes of camouflage. On the right, the boundaries of the areas to be colored are being marked out with chalk and labeled with the first letter of the color. On the left, the color is actually being applied. There were sometimes disagreements about the wisdom of clearly separating the colored areas with dark boundary lines, as shown here. 

In the top photograph, a bus has been painted with disruptive patterns for the purpose of attracting crowds at a wartime fundraising rally, as was also frequently done at recruiting events. In this case, soldiers recovering from injuries are seated on top of the bus. This pattern was most likely painted by the Women's Reserve Camouflage Corps. As Bessie Rowland James explained in For God, For Country, For Home (NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920)—

Tanks, ambulances, and trucks were camouflaged at the request of different branches of the government to encourage recruiting, for wherever the camoufleurs went in their uniforms, spreading their bright paints, a crowd was sure to gather.

US Government photographs (1918), with hypothetical coloring added.