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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Dazzle Painting Ships


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  • 2 months later...


Attached are 2 photographs of WW1 Kil Class Gunboats with very nice Dazzle-Painting camouflage.

In the two photographs of the Kil Class Gunboats, the lower, HMS Kildangan, both ends of the a single-funneled gunboat are made to look alike and a dummy bridge was constructed aft, making a plot of its course most difficult for an attacking U-Boat. Dazzle-painting added to the confusion.

As you probably know, from the beginning of WW1 schemes had been submitted to the Admiralty for camouflaging ships so that that they would appear invisible to their enemies at sea. From the bridge or lookout of another ship the camouflage seemed effective. But the U-Boat commander, scanning the sea for a victim, was not deceived. Through his periscope a ship stood out clearly, silhouetted against the sky. In any case the hydrophone nullified any attempt by the surface vessel to remain unseen and undetected. It was an artist, Norman Wilkinson, who turned the idea on its head by proposing that ships should be made conspicuous to the point of confusion. Wilkinson suggested that ships could be painted in such a way as to produce an optical illusion and mislead an ememy submarine as to the course, speed and size of its quarry and as to the correct position to take up for the attack. The new system of ship camouflage became known as dazzle-painting.




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I know little about ships, what typically is a RFA type vessel, presumably Royal Fleet Auxilary, and I shall gladly keep my eye open for examples.


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