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CONFIDENTIAL   Register No. 150









Handbook on Ship Camouflage

(Yes, they actually did run that all together like that)









Navy Department

Bureau of Construction and Repair







Handbook on Ship Camouflage

       Navy Department,
Bureau of Construction & Repair
       Washington, D.C.
       15 September, 1937.


       1.    CandR-4 is a confidential registered publication which has been prepared for information and guidance in connection with the preparation of camouflage designs for surface vessels.

       2.    Attention is invited to RPS-4, Article 219(d).


       3.    CandR-4 shall be handled, and it shall be accounted for direct to the Chief of Naval Operations (Registered Publication Section), in accordance with the instructions contained in the Registered Publication Manual and the Navy Regulations.

       4.    The methods of transportation authorized for CandR-4 are contained in Navy Regulations and the Registered Publication Manual.

       5.    It is not intended that this publication be carried in aircraft for use therein.

       6.    When not in actual use CandR-4 shall be stowed in a Class B stowage as defined in the Registered Publication.Manual.


       W. G. DuBOSE,
Rear Admiral (CC), U.S. Navy,
     Chief of Bureau.







Definition of ship camouflage.
Scope of the handbook.


Details of camouflage painting.
Camouflage colors.
Recording color.

Day camouflage, clear weather.
     (1) Ocean Gray system.
     (2) Graded system.
Day camouflage, cloudy, foggy weather.
     Present Navy Gray system.
Night camouflage.
Discussion of low visibility camouflage.

Patterns to break up vertical lines.
Discussion of patterns.
Saw teeth on stacks and masts.

Definition of dazzle camouflage.
Principles of World War dazzle designs.
American dazzle designs of 1918.
World War opinion of the value of dazzle camouflage.
British opinion.
American opinion.

General principles of course distortion designs.
Obtrusive course distortion designs.
Unobtrusive course distortion designs.

Examples of structural design.
World War comment.








Painted bow wave and raised water line.
False identification.
Black and white stacks.
Painting the silhouette of a destroyer on the side of a ship.
Low visibility by counter shading.
Low visibility by artificial illumination.
Low visibility at night by luminous paint.
Low visibility by small pattern.
Pattern of moderate boldness.


PLATE 1.     Camouflage colors.
PLATE 2. Ocean gray system.
PLATE 3. Graded system.  Old type destroyer.
PLATE 4. Graded system.  New type destroyer.
PLATE 5. Pattern to break up vertical lines.
PLATE 6. American dazzle design of 1918 and painted model.
PLATE 7. American dazzle design of 1918 and painted model.
PLATE 8. American dazzle design of 1918 and painted model.
PLATE 9. American dazzle design of 1918 and painted model.
PLATE 10. American dazzle design of 1918 and painted model.
PLATE 11. Obtrusive course distortion designs. Merchant vessel.
PLATE 12. Obtrusive course distortion designs. Merchant vessel.
PLATE 13. Obtrustive course distortion designs. Passenger vessel.









PLATE 14.    Obtrusive course distortion designs.  Cruiser
PLATE 15. Obtrusive course distortion designs.  Cruiser
PLATE 16. Bow and broadside views.
PLATE 17. Details of course distortion design.
PLATE 18. Details of course distortion design.
PLATE 19. Details of course distortion design.
PLATE 20. Details of course distortion design.
PLATE 21. Unobtrusive course distortion design, vessel.
PLATE 22. Unobtrusive course distortion design.
PLATE 23. Structural camouflage designs.
PLATE 24. Painted bow wave and raised water line.
PLATE 25. False identification painting.
PLATE 26. Black and white stacks.
PLATE 27. Painted silhouette of a destroyer.
PLATE 28. Small pattern design.
PLATE 29. Modern pattern design.













     Definition of ship camouflage.  Ship "camouflage" refers to modifying the appearance of a ship by paint, structural changes, artificial lighting and other expedients for the purpose of producing effects of low visibility, deception or confusion. There is no precise definition of the term; it has been extended to cover a wide variety of topics.

     Scope of the handbook.  The following pages present a summary of available information of ship camouflage and where possible give detailed instructions for applying the camouflage. Methods, more or less successful, are described, and, in order to diminish repetition of discarded schemes, mention is made of unsuccessful methods or proposals.

     Specific types of camouflage described are:

(a) Low visibility camouflage by means of paint. A ship is painted to reduce its visibility to surface and aerial observers.

(b) Painted camouflage to break up vertical linos- A ship is painted with colors and patterns to break up vertical lines in order to render ranging difficult with horizontal coincidence range finder.








(c) Dazzle camouflage by means of paint. A ship is painted with colors and patterns to produce effects of confusion or deception as to its course in order to disturb estimation of target angles by an enemy.

(d) Camouflage bv structural design. Superstructure details are designed, or changed in design, in order to disturb estimation of target angles.

(e) Miscellaneous camouflage includes: painted water line and bow wave, painting a ship to look like another ship, use of luminous paint, artificial lighting, small pattern, counter-shading, etc.

     Aspects of camouflage not discussed in the handbook are low visibility painting of submarines, reduction of visibility of the periscope feather, secret painted identification insignia and smoke screens.













     References. The handbook is based on the following sources of information, which are believed to include all available data:

(a) "The Development of Marine Camouflage and Tests Relating Thereto," by Harold Van Buskirk, Lieut. (CC) U.S.N.R.F., May 1, 1919.  BuC&R file 14258-A14, enclosure (A) with Vol. 4.

(b) Ibid., enclosure (B) with Vol. 4.

(c) Ibid., enclosure (C) with Vol. 4.

(d) "Marine Camouflage," May 10, 1920, BuC&R file 14258-A14, enclosure (A) with Vol. 5.

(e) A large number of World War dazzle camouflage designs stored at the Naval Torpedo Station, Alexandria, Virginia.

(f) Naval Research Laboratory Report No. H-1196, "Preliminary Report on Low Visibility Camouflage of Ships," September 18, 1935.
Note - a PDF copy of this document is available offsite here

(g) Naval Research Laboratory Report No. H-1239, "Camouflage of Naval Ships, Tests at Sea of November and December, 1935," February 21, 1936.











(h) Naval Research Laboratory Report No. H-1302, "Preliminary Report on Dazzle Camouflage of Ships." August 26, 1936.

     Reference (g) describes a comprehensive series of camouflage experiments; they are the only experiments on surface ships at sea which have been carried out since the World War.

     History. Investigation of low visibility camouflage and of dazzle camouflage was carried on by the Bureau of Construction and Repair during the World War, the results being described in references (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). Tests at sea led to the adoption of the present Standard Navy Gray as the best color for low visibility in overcast, hazy or foggy weather. Dazzle experiments led to the development of a large number of course confusion designs.

     The reopening of camouflage investigation in 1935 resulted in the preparation of three reports, references (f), (g) and (h), by the Naval Research Laboratory, the first two dealing mostly with low visibility camouflage and the third with dazzle camouflage. Reference (f) summarized the earlier literature of references (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e), and presented measurements and analysis of conditions of light and color at sea from the point of view of the surface and aerial observer. It was concluded that in all types of weather for low visibility to aerial observers, horizontal






*NOTE* The below are inks printer on paper and should not be used as an authoritative source for color matching of paint.












surfaces should be a very dark gray or nearly black, and vertical surfaces considerably darker than Standard Navy Gray; that for low visibility to surface observers in clear weather, vertical surfaces should be considerably darker than Standard Navy Gray, and in overcast, hazy or foggy weather, should be Standard Navy Gray. Specific experiments were recommended which were carried out in November and December, 1935, by Destroyer Divisions in the San Diego area. The experiments and results, reported in reference (g), sub-stantiated in the main the conclusions of reference (f).

     In the case of dazzle camouflage, a survey was made in 1936 of the earlier literature of the first five references. New dazzle designs were worked out and tested on small models of ships in the laboratory, but none was tested on ships at sea. The investigation was described in reference (h).











     Details of camouflage painting.  The camouflage painting need not be exact or carried into corners. Small gear, wires, rigging and areas permanently in shadow, as under boats, etc., need not be painted with the camouflage colors. There is, however, no objection to exact or careful painting which may be desired for the sake of good appearance at close range. All bright and shiny objects, as searchlights, glass, guns, etc., must be painted or put under dark covers.

     Camouflage colors.  All paint must be mat, that is, dull or lusterless. Three shades of gray are used in ship camouflage, designated herein as (a), (b) and (c) as shown in Plate 1. Shade (a) is the present standard Navy Gray; it matches approximately the sky background near the horizon in hazy weather. Shade (b) is Ocean Gray; it is approximately the color of the breezy sea within 5 of the horizon in bright weather. Shade (c) is dark gray; it is approximately the color of the breezy sea as viewed by an aviator looking down at angles less than about 60 to the vertical.










The formulae for the respective colors are:

Quantities for 10 gallons.

Color (a), Navy Gray
Zinc oxide, in oil 35.3 pounds 
Titanium pigment, in oil 50.0   "
* Lampblack, in oil. 1.2   "
* Ultramarine blue, in oil .8   "
Raw linseed oil 40.6   "
Paint drier 10.4   "

Color (b), Ocean Gray
Titanium dioxide, dry 10.0    "
Titanium Barium pigment, dry 45.0    "
Damar varnish 41.0    "
Spar varnish 16.0    "
* Drop black, dry 8.00
* Ultramarine blue, dry 3½     "
Coal tar naphtha 9.0    "

Color (c), Dark Gray
Titanium dioxide, dry 2.0    "
Titanium Barium pigment, dry 9.0    "
Damar varnish 42.0    "
Spar varnish 15.0   "
Drop black, dry 20.0   "
Ultramarine blue, dry 14.0   "
Coal tar naphtha 10.0   "

     Although these camouflage colors have been specified with exactness the question arises whether exact reproduction of the colors is necessary or of any consequence. There are no clear cut experimental data on which to base an answer to the question. However, it may be supposed that slight departures from the specified shades would be of negligible importance, since camouflage has to meet so many different and uncontrollable conditions that it is not an exact science, and since any shades of color no matter how carefully

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* Quantities will vary with color strength of pigments.
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selected initially will inevitably change in service due to the actions of light, air, sea water, dirt and wear.

     Recording color.  In addition to recording the camouflage colors in terms of their formulae the colors are specified on Plate 1 in the notation of the Munsell Book of Color.* The specification that a certain paint is "Munsell PB 5/2" means that under daylight illumination the paint matches in color and brightness the colored rectangle in the Munsell Book of Color on page "Purple Blue," row 5, column 2.

     This specification of color is an attempt to insure a record of the color in terms of a permanent and reproducible standard in order that at any time in the future the color may be reproduced with exactness. The spectra-photometric curves of all the colors of the Munsell Book have been determined by the United States National Bureau of Standards. It would be possible to reproduce the colors from the spectra-photometric curves, although the task would be great.

     The colors given in various plates of this handbook must not be used as standards from which to mix paint. No attempt has been made to prepare the plates in exact colors, and the printed colors are certain to fade or otherwise change with time. The plates have been colored merely for illustrative purposes in order to give the reader an approximately correct idea of the proper color.


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* Abridged Edition, 1929, Munsell Color Company, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland. The Munsell color charts provide the best working standard available at present in this country.
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     The following instructions for low visibility camouflage of ships are based on experiments made in 1917 and 1918, and on experiments in 1935 made by Destroyer Divisions in the San Diego area in conjunction with the Naval Research Laboratory, reference (g).

Low visibility in daytime during clear weather against surface and aerial observers:

(1) Ocean Gray System.  Paint all horizontal surfaces as decks, tops of deckhouses,, etc., dark gray (c), Plate 1. Paint all vertical surfaces, as sides of hull, sides of superstructure, stacks, masts, etc., ocean gray (b), Plate 1. In cases of doubt, as on sloping surfaces, it probably makes little difference which color is used, particularly if the doubtful areas are small compared to the total area of the ship. The system is illustrated in Plate 2.

(2) Graded System.  Paint all horizontal surfaces as decks, tops of deckhouses, etc., dark gray (c), Plate 1. Paint all vertical surfaces above the deck edge, as sides of deckhouses, superstructure, stacks, masts, etc., Navy gray (a), Plate 1. Paint the sides of the hull with three bands, the upper of color (a), the middle of color (b), and the lower (nearest the waterline) of color (c), Plate 1.




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This system is shown in Plate 3. In case the ship has an excessively great sheer, or has a forecastle, the bands should be of approximately equal width at the bow, retaining the widths of the lower bands and diminishing the widths of the upper bands from forward aft. Plate 4 illustrates this principle, in which the upper band ends at the break of the forecastle.

The bands of the graded system need not be distinct. It probably makes little difference in visibility whether the colors are graded into each other or are applied in well-defined stripes.

Low visibility in daytime during cloudy, foggy or hazy weather against surface and aerial observers.

Standard Naw Gray System. Paint all horizontal surfaces, as decks, tops of deckhouses, etc., dark gray (c), Plate 1. Paint all vertical surfaces, as sides of hull, sides of deckhouses, sides of superstructure, stacks, masts, etc., Navy gray (a), Plate 1.

Low visibility at night under searchlight illumination.

     Paint entire ship black or dark gray (c), Plate 1.

Discussion of low visibility camouflage.   All camouflage is ineffective when the ship is in silhouette against the sun.

     In general, no single system of low visibility camouflage by means of paint can be said to be the best under all conditions of weather and illumination.




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     Camouflage experiments by Destroyer Divisions Five and Eighteen in the San Diego area during November and December, 1935, reference (g), led to the following conclusions:

(1) In clear weather in the day the Ocean Gray and the Graded systems were less visible than the standard Navy Gray system; no comparisons of the Ocean Gray and the Graded systems were made, and their relative effectiveness is not known,

(2) In cloudy weather, haze and fog in the day the standard Navy Gray system was the least visible of the three systems,

(3) At night under natural illumination there was little difference between the three systems,

(4) At night under searchlight illumination black was of lower visibility than any of the three systems.

     In general, each of the conclusions was based on a single experiment which consisted in painting one destroyer in a prescribed manner and in observing the effect from several ships and airplanes over a period not longer than a few days. The conclusions, although clear and definite, therefore require substantiation by further experiments with several ships of various types over extended periods of time, wide areas of sea and various conditions of weather.






     It is to be noted that the conclusions were mainly qualitative; few quantitative data were presented concerning the visible ranges of the three systems under various conditions of light and weather.















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     The following information on patterns for breaking up straight vertical lines by means of paint in order to interfere with horizontal coincidence range finder observations is based on experiments in 1935 by Destroyer Divisions in the San Diego area in conjunction with the Naval Research Laboratory, reference (g).

     Patterns to break up vertical lines. The general principle of the patterns is to wrap diagonal bands of color around vertical corners or projections and to continue the bands over the vertical surfaces of the sides and superstructure. Two patterns are given in (a) and (b), Plate 5, painted with colors (a) and (c), Plate 1.

     Discussion of patterns. All camouflage effects of the patterns of course disappear when the ship is in silhouette against the sun. The patterns are ineffective against the stereoscopic range finder.

The bolder the pattern the greater is the disturbing effect on coincidence range finder observation, and the greater is the visibility of the ship. Pattern (a), Plate 5t which was bolder than pattern (b), was more difficult to range on; but the ship with pattern (a) was more visible than the one with" pattern (b) o These are the only patterns which were tested. A large variety of similar patterns could






probably be devised. No effective camouflage of the pole masts and stacks of a destroyer was discovered; as long as they remained visible they were suitable for ranging on, no matter with what patterns of spots or stripes they were painted. Pole masts and stacks are so narrow that there is no room for an effective disturbing pattern.

     Saw teeth on stacks and masts. In reference (b), page 210, is described the attachment of sheet metal triangles about 3 feet on a side to stacks and cage masts. These gave a saw tooth edge to the mast or stack and interrupted the straight edge. Preliminary tests indicated that the triangles were not very effective in interfering with coincidence range finder observations. The suggestion was made that the system might be improved by the judicious use of larger triangles supplemented by pattern painting of the stacks and triangles. A later opinion (reference (a), page 186) stated: "As a whole the rigging on masts and smoke stacks is not of sufficient value to warrant its use."









Definition of dazzle camouflage.  "Dazzle camouflage" refers to painting a ship in such a way as to produce confusion or deception. Deception may be effected in various ways and for various purposes. Examples are: painting a ship so that its course appears to be different from its true course, painting a ship so that it looks like some other ship, and painting a large irregular pattern to give a confusing effect.

Principles of World War dazzle designs.  The primary aim of the American dazzle designs was to confuse estimation of target angles. Rather than to lead the observer to an estimate of the course of the ship definitely at variance with the true course, the design endeavored to interfere with any exact course estimation.

In order to bring out the principles of the designs the following paragraphs are quoted from reference (b), pages 155 - 156, which present an excellent summary of the development of dazzle designs by the Bureau of Construction and Repair during the World War.

"Successful designs may be divided broadly into two groups, those which so completely conceal every structural feature of a vessel as to render it difficult to sake any estimate whatever about the course of a ship, and those






which depend upon an ingenious use of pattern to give the impression of a course quite at variance with the true, course. All good designs of the latter group rely upon a distortion of perspective or an apparent alteration of form to achieve the desired result.

"All distortion as to course is lost when the design is viewed from above* This was one of the reasons why dazzle camouflage was not applied to the battleships* Its chief value is as a defense against submarine attack where the enemy point of view is low.

"In the first American designs the aim was to give the maximum course distortion possible, and to create the il-lusion that the vessel was steering as much as 90 off her true course, but the later tendency was to strive for a more modest distortion, and one which would be effective during a longer period of time.if Designs of the first type were apt to be weak when the vessel was seen very nearly bow on, and when seen three or four points off the bow the change in the apparent size of the vessel would in a short time possibly give the lie to the deception caused by the design.

"The best designs were those which were capable of a double interpretation, and would leave the observer in doubt as to whether the approaching vessel would pass on his starboard side or would be well over to port.






"When the British abandoned the large patterned camou-lage altogether and went over to the use of stripes entirely, one of the other countries followed the example. Our first striped design, Type 3, Design C, was produced in April, 1918, and was issued to the Shipping Board on May 13, before the British had gone over to the 1 zebra' type of design* With many variations we utilized this same stripe motive in a large number of subsequent designs, but it was never deemed advisable to abandon all other types of design in its favor. It is perhaps worthy of note that Lieutenant-Commander Wilkinson particularly commended our Type 5, Design C, and spoke of it as the best of our designs* (William Andrew Mackay's report to the United States Shipping Board* London, November 14, 1918*)

"We reached conclusions different from the British in regard to the use of verticals in dazzle designs* The fear of vertical lines has been one of the current superstitions prevailing throughout all of the brief history of marine camouflage* In the early stages it was customary to claim that this or that type of design 'destroyed vertical lines and thereby rendered range finding more difficult.1 Design schemes involving the use of vertical lines were instantly rejected by persons who might have been supposed to be in possession of accurate information. And yet all the time camouflage was being considered primarily as an anti-submarine device, and there was no reason to suppose




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that the Germans had found any way of equipping a periscope with a horizontal-base coincidence range finder.

"At first we followed the conventional British practice in the treatment of corners and wrapped bands of color around them in diagonal fashion. The British at that time, and apparently up to the very last considered it a vital defect for an area of color to be allowed to stop on the vertical line formed by the sharp corner of a cabin, for example. Experiment convinced us, however, that there was no more effective way of concealing the exact position of a corner than by a series of vertical bands and patches of light and dark. There commonly exists a marked difference in the illumination on either side of the corner, and covering the corner with an area of color may diminish this difference but rarely obliterates it entirely. If on the other hand the color stops sharply on the corner the observer is often left in doubt as to whether the sharp line created does indeed indicate a corner or whether it is merely the edge of a vertical band of paint. In our very latest designs the commonest method of treating the superstructure was by a scheme of vertical lines and patches."

American dazzle designs of 1918. The approved designs produced during 1918 in the subsection of Design of the Camouflage Section of the Bureau of Construction and Repair reached a total of 495 at the close of active work of this





nature, and of this number 193 had been made for Navy-vessels and 308 for the United States Shipping Board vessels.

     In the Naval Torpedo Station at Alexandria, Virginia, are collected a large number of dazzle designs, reference (e). It is believed, but is not known with certainty, that these are some or all of the 495 mentioned above. The designs employ black, grey, gray white, greenish gray, blue and yellow colors. Each design was apparently prepared for a particular ship as designated on the drawing.

In order to examine the effect of the designs, five were selected at random, and were painted on a 14-inch model with approximately the specified colors. Black and white reproductions of the five designs and photographs of the model painted with the designs are shown in Plates 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. When the model was viewed in the Laboratory theatre it was seen that the designs in general produced no marked course distortion but gave the effect of course confusions or uncertainty. They appeared to be very successful designs from this standpoint.

It is not known how these designs were arrived at, nor is there any statement in the references to indicate the experimental method used by the subsection of Design in developing and testing the designs. True, an elaborate theatre was built for the purpose of testing the designs on small ship models, as described in reference (c), but it was





probably never used, for the statement is made that the equipment had not been entirely perfected when the work was discontinued, although several trial runs had been made.

     To examine the designs collected at the Naval Torpedo Station, Alexandria, it would be necessary to paint each design on a model of the ship and observe the model in the laboratory theatre. This has not been done at present. Not until it is done, however, can the value of the designs be said to be clearly known.

World War opinion of the value of dazzle camouflage.

British opinion. An analysis of ships camouflaged which were attacked or sunk by submarines led the British Admiralty to the following conclusions:

  "It Is considered that dazzle painting cannot possibly assist the submarine and it is almost certain to increase the difficulties of attack by making it difficult to tell a ship's course provided the masts and funnels do not give all the information desired. (Reference (b), page 508).

  "Dazzle painting is of little value to ships in the line, and under certain circumstances may be a positive disadvantage. (Reference (b), page 306).

  "It must be remembered that the sole object of dazzle painting is to cause confusion as to the course and speed of a vessel, and that it is not designed to reduce visibility. In our opinion, from





a careful examination of the whole of the evidence, no definite case on material grounds can be made out for any benefit in this respect from this form of camouflage.

  "At the same time the statistics do not prove that it is disadvantageous, and in view of the undoubted increase in the confidence and morale of officers and crews of the mercantile marine resulting from this painting which is a highly important consideration, together with the small extra cost per ship, it may be found advisable to continue the system, though probably not under the present wholesale conditions." (Reference (b), page 305.)

     The British position at the end of the war may thus be summarized as being against dazzle camouflage of ships of the line, and not averse to dazzle camouflage of other ships as evidence indicated that such camouflage was not harmful, and might at least have intangible benefit in aiding morale.

American Opinion Regarding American opinion of dazzle camouflage the following is quoted from reference (d), page 165:

  "It is considered beyond doubt, however, that camouflage painting was of distinct value, particularly in the case of large and fast vessels, which might be saved from disaster by the momentary confusion of





the attacking submarine commanders."

  "In the case of vessels of the fleet it was established that dazzle painting would he objectlonalbe for vessels in the line."












     Introduction  In the renewed consideration of dazzle camouflage in 1935, reference (h), the view was taken that little could be added to the 1918 patterns with their rather vague and successful characteristic of confusion, although the number of such designs could perhaps be increased almost indefinitely. It seemed, however, that there were possibilities of development of new course distortion designs and a laboratory investigation was instituted to this end. Small models about 14 inches long of various types of ships were used. These were painted with the designs and viewed in a simple but effective theatre arranged in one of the laboratory rooms. The theatre consisted of a platform to represent the sea on which the model was placed, with a painted sky background. Varied illumination was provided from suitably disposed adjustable lights. Observations were made with various types of small telescopes, one of which was the optical equivalent of a periscope.

The following conclusions are the result of laboratory experiment and require substantiation by experiments at sea before their validity is accepted.

General principles of course distortion designs. Course distortion designs may be described as "obtrusive" and






"unobtrusive" designs. The obtrusive design endeavors to produce the deception by a bold and distinct pattern. The observer therefore perceives immediately that the ship is painted in an unusual way and may be expected to infer that the painting is for the purpose of delusion. The unobtrusive design aims to produce the deception by a pattern which is not noticeably unusual. In this case, if the design is successful, the observer is deceived as to the course of the camouflaged ship and is ignorant of the fact that he is deceived.

     No evidence could be discovered that colors add to the effectiveness of the designs, and therefore all the new designs presented here employ only the three shades of gray which are shown on Plate 1. The shades used in the designs of Plates 11 to 22 are evident from an inspection of the plates* White would be a useful color but is avoided, perhaps unnecessarily, because of the increase in visibility which it might occasion at times.

     The following general remarks may be made regarding course distortion design:

(a) All course distortion designs depend on painting a pattern of distorted perspective on the sides of the ship.

(b) The distortion of perspective must neither be too slight nor too extreme.






(c) Distortion of perspective such as to make the stern appear nearer and the how farther than is actually the case is more successful than that which pushes the stern away and brings the bow nearer. In other words, perspective distortion which twists the course of the ship away from the observer is more effective than distortion which twists the ship toward the observer. This is particularly true for ships with pronounced sheer.

(d) The superstructure may be painted either with bold pattern to give a confusing effect or with a purposefully chosen pattern to supplement the distortion design on the hull.

(e) Course distortion may be achieved by treating only the hull and leaving the superstructure untouched, or by treating only the superstructure and leaving the hull untouched; but when both are treated the combined effect is much more convincing than the sum of the two effects taken separately.

(f) Although in general any design is applicable to any type of ship, advantage may be taken of structural characteristics to improve the details of the design. It is best therefore to consider each type of ship separately and






to work out the design best suited to it.

(g) The effectiveness of painted designs is dependent on the position of the sun and on visibility. For example, against the sun the visible surfaces of a ship are in shadow and camouflage effects are inappreciable.

     Obtrusive course distortion designs.  These designs are shown in Plates 11 to 15. They are all similar in that they twist the ship away from the observer. In general any of the designs may be used on any type of ship. Both sides of a ship may be painted with the same, or with different, designs.

     When viewed nearly bow-on, or stern-to, the designs of Plates 11 to 15 produce a confusing effect rather than a definite course distortion effect. In this respect they have the characteristic of the American World War designs of Plates 6 to 10. In Plate 16 are shown views nearly bow-on of the designs of Plate 11a and Plate 12a. The confusing effect is due primarily to superstructure painting and to a lesser degree to hull painting.

     A close view of the bow and superstructure details of the design of Plate 14b is shown in Plate 17. Plate 17a is the uncamouflaged cruiser at an angle of 45°, and Plate 17b the camouflaged cruiser at the same angle. The general purpose of the superstructure camouflage was to produce confusion.





     An effective course distortion design for the superstructure is given in Plate 18d. The method of obtaining the design consisted in observing the prominent shadows in the superstructure when the ship is heading away from the observer and painting these shadows on the superstructure when the ship is heading more or less toward the observer. The various steps are illustrated in the pictures of Plates 18a, b and c, which refer to the observer looking North. Plate 18a is the unpainted ship pointing northwest and lighted by a western sun to give shadows. Plate 18b is the unpainted ship pointing southwest. Plate 18c is the camouflaged ship pointing southwest. Plate 18d is a broadside view of Plate 18c. In the case of a real ship underway at sea the false painted rudder, seen clearly in Plate 18d, may rarely be visible and therefore of little importance.

     The design of Plate 18 is open to an interesting criticism. Suppose that the situation of Plate 18c occurred, that is, that the observer was looking north at the ship actually heading southwest. Due to the painted shadows, however, he would be deceived into thinking that the ship is heading roughly northwest. Assume now that the sun was to the east; the ship would be well illuminated to produce the desired deception. A moment's reflection on the part of the observer would convince him, however, that an easterly






sun could not possibly produce such shadows on a ship which he supposed was moving in a northwesterly direction. He might therefore conclude that the shadows must be fictitious, that the ship was camouflaged and that his impression of a northwest course of the ship was erroneous.

     The superstructure design of Plate 18 may be used in whole or in part with any of the hull designs of Plates 11 to 15 which are of such a nature that they do not interfere vith the superstructure design; it is in fact used on the designs of Plate l1b and Plate 12b. The design of Plate 18 consists of dark painting on a light background. The converse design of light painting on a dark background is equally effective; such a design is shown in the pictures of Plates 19a and b, which again refer to the observer looking north. The superstructure design of Plate 18 is most effective on types of ships with prominent and simple superstructures. It was less successful on a model of a destroyer, because the destroyer superstructure had no large unencumbered areas of shadow. The various steps in putting the design on the destroyer model are illustrated in Plate 20.

     An illustration of an unsuccessful course distortion sign is given in Plate 19c. The bow design is too extreme and too complex; it is inconsistent with the stern design. When the model was heading toward the observer the design produced confusion and from this standpoint was successful.






     Unobtrusive course distortion designs.  These designs are shown in Plates 21 and 28. Just as in the case of the obtrusive designs, the unobtrusive designs are all similar in that they twist the ship away from the observer. The aim has been to originate designs of such a nature and boldness as to produce course deception and yet not so bold that the observer realizes their presence. Due to its essential inconspicuousness such a design can not be effective for as long a space of time or under as wide a variety of conditions of lighting, range and visibility as a bolder design. This consideration may reduce the value of an unobtrusive design to the vanishing point. The choice between an "obtrusive" and an "unobtrusive" design, which are relative terms, is the choice between a design which may be moderately effective over a wide range of conditions and a design which may be exceedingly effective over a very narrow range of conditions. The choice can be decided by experiments with ships at sea and not with models in a laboratory.









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     Introduction. A ship may be designed, or modified in design, in order to increase the difficulty of estimating its course. Little or no thought or experiment has been given to the subject since the World War, and the few examples mentioned below typify the activity carried on at that time.

     Examples of structural design.  The USS CHAUMONT and ARGONNE are examples of ships whose design was influenced by considerations of camouflage. These ships have fore and aft symmetry above the waterline, the bow and stem being identical. There is a single stack amidships and two symmetrically placed vertical masts of the same height. Another example is a British Admiralty design, shown in Plate 23a, in which a single mast is placed close to a single stack, (reference (b), page 285). A third example, involving the extension of rear stacks, slinging of boats in a slant line and inclining signal yards, is shown in Plate 23b (reference (b), page 285).

     World War comment.  Some World War comments on structural design and camouflage (reference (a), Chapter D, page 81), are:

" ‘Constructive Changes’ here and in Great Britain include various attempts to affect the apparent direction of the ship's course. British ships have





been built with two bridges, bows, etc., in fact, they are 'double-enders*, the same forward and aft. When in motion these ships disclose their course by the bow wave, smoke, flags, etc. Others have been ‘trimmed’ to the last degree by the reduction of members; masts and funnels are telescopic or cut down, though the minimum required for wireless is considerable. False stacks to deceive variously have been applied. The most advantageous structural characteristics desired by the dazzle painter and supplied in great part are indefinite corners - rounded to make the Judging of perspective difficult, and the substitution of one mast near the stack - giving no perspective lead to the observer, in place of the usual two, the single mast taking care of the wireless by connection with the stack. These characteristics tend to avoid tell-tale perspective indications. They do not develop a false or apparent perspective.

  "The stacks and masts when offset create the principle of developing a false perspective effect. At certain angles they will be more effective than at others, for instance, if the observer is sighting along an alignment of masts and stacks and the ship appears ridiculously wide the ruse will fail. Also, the general use of precisely equal height masts which is necessary for the success of this perspective trickery abeam, has not





held during the war. The enemy is as likely to think the masts of different height as to think them in perspective, especially when he finds the rest of the ship not conforming.

  "If the superstructure were in accord with the masts and stack the false perspective would perhaps give the masts their desired effect.

  "Changes in the superstructure to change the apparent direction of a ship have been suggested since the beginning of the war. To date the work in this regard has been meagre and superficial."









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     In this chapter are described various miscellaneous tests and suggestions concerning camouflage, most of which are of little value. They are mentioned merely to diminish future repetition of unsuccessful, impractical or discarded proposals. Several of the items are taken from reference (a), Chapter D, which gives a number of suggestions for achieving low visibility received during the World War. These include the use of mirrors, artificial spray or mist, projected pictures from a stereopticbn, rigging of canvas screens painted to make the ship look like a cloud, a wreck, an island or what not. Any one having such ideas, no matter how fantastic, would do well to consult Chapter D to see whether his notions have not already been tried.

     Painted bow wave and raised water line. The side of a destroyer was painted with a bow and stern wave to falsify speed and a raised waterline to falsify range, reference (g), page 12. Photographs of the destroyer are shown in Plate 24. Observers concluded that speed and range deception was experienced to a limited extent, the bow wave being particular effective in giving an impression of greater than actual speed. The raised waterline had a slight tendency to cause over-estimation of range. Disturbance of water astern of ships at less than horizon distance could be used to estimate






high speeds (neglecting the ship itself) so that a painted stern ware was ineffective in giving a false impression of speed.

False identification. An old type destroyer was painted to look like a new type destroyer, reference (g), page 11. Photographs of a new type destroyer and of the painted older type destroyer are shown in Plate 25. Observers concluded that a minor success was attained. False identification was not noticed at low ranges or when the sides of the painted ship were in shadow. At 6000 to 11,000 yard ranges the painted ship looked slightly like a new type destroyer. Obviously much more complete identification falsification can be achieved by canvas screening or false superstructure than by paint alone.

Black and white stacks. The two forward stacks of a destroyer were painted solid black and the two after stacks solid white, as shown in Plate 26. The effect of the painting varied with the light. When the sky became overcast, the white stacks faded out and the black stacks became prominent. In sunshine the white stacks were dazzling to such an extent that the ship identification was difficult. Whenever either or both pairs of stacks were visible, they were more prominent than the rest of the ship, which was Navy Gray, and increased visibility at the same time that they concealed identity.(Reference (g), page 12.)





Probably the experiment merely illustrated the general circumstance that any type of bold or vivid pattern may under suitable conditions of range and lighting produce a confusing effect and conceal identity to some extent.

Painting the silhouette of a destroyer on the side of a ship. In Plate 27 is shown a photograph of a silhouette of a destroyer painted in black on the side of a gray ship. No information is available concerning the usefulness of the illusion. (Reference (a), Chapter B.)

Low visibility by countershading. By "countershading" is meant painting white all visible areas of the superstructure of a ship which were in shadow, such as corners, areas under torpedo tubes, boats, etc. The idea was entertained that brightening the shadows would reduce the visibility of the ship. Tests with a Navy Gray destroyer (reference (g), page 7) painted in this way indicated that there was no appreciable deception at any range, target angle or weather condition and that the method was ineffective.

Low visibility by artificial illumination. In the case that a ship in daylight is darker than the background artificial illumination of the dark areas by floodlights has been proposed as a means of lessening visibility. However, such an illumination would require an elaborate lighting installation and power upward of 1 kilowatt for each 20 square feet of illuminated area. The proposal has newer been





seriously considered or submitted to experimental test.

     Low visibility at night bv the use of luminous paint. On the assumption that at night a ship appears darker than the sky background, it was proposed (reference (a). Chapter D, page 71), to lessen the visibility by painting with calcium sulphide luminous paint, a paint which glows in the dark with a faint bluish white,light after being exposed for a few minutes to a strong illumination such as daylight. Tests with the paint on areas on a destroyer (reference (g), page 18) demonstrated that the method offered little promise of success, because of the rapid deterioration of the luminosity of the calcium sulphide paint. Three hours after sunset the luminosity was practically zero and the paint produced no perceptible effect.

     Low visibility by smalll pattern. Instead of painting with solid color to achieve low visibility the suggestion has been made many times that better effects would result from a small pattern of variegated colors so selected that when the pattern fused at a distance the overall brightness and color be the same as that of the desired solid color. Illustrations of small pattern painting are given in Plate 28; the colors used were pale blues, lavenders and greens. (Reference (a), Chapter 6, page 112.)

     It must be emphasized that the suggestion is erroneous in theory and has been disproved by many experiments; the





suggestion is, however, almost certain to crop up again in the future. The original idea appears to have arisen from vague notions of color "scintillation" or color "vibration." Actually, a ship which is painted, for example, with a small pattern of pale lavenders, greens, blues, etc., and which at a distance sufficient to fuse the pattern looks like a Navy Gray ship, is no different from a Navy Gray ship and produces effects on the observer in every respect identical to those produced by a solid color Navy Gray ship.

     As a result of experiments with models and with the USS GEM the conclusion was stated (reference (a), Chapter C, page 150): "Broken color systems employing units so small as to be invisible as such at the distances considered are neither advantageous nor detrimental. The visibility in such cases depends entirely upon the mean effective reflection factor, hue and saturation of the surface, resulting from the blending of the units of the design into an apparent uniformity at the distances considered."

     Pattern of moderate boldness. In previous chapters two types of camouflage painting have been brought out which represent two extremes. At one extreme is the low visibility type of painting with uniform drab colors and at the other extreme is the deceptive type of large, bold pattern of contrasting colors, which achieves deception at the cost of increased visibility. Between the two extremes occur types





of camouflage painting employing patterns of moderate boldness with colors of moderate contrast, which aim to produce deception at close ranges and to preserve low visibility at long ranges. The three types are of course not sharply differentiated, but merge imperceptibly into each other. An illustration of the moderate pattern type of camouflage is given in Plate 29, which used white, light gray and pale blue (reference (a), Chapter C, page 54).

     In general no strong case can be made out in favor of the moderate pattern camouflage; there is no convincing experimental evidence which demonstrates its usefulness. Opinion which formed gradually during the World War appeared to lean toward giving up low visibility when deception was desired, with the restriction that white be avoided because of its great visibility under certain conditions. It is difficult to say to what extent the opinion was influenced by direct experiment and to what extent by intuition.






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National Archives & Records Administration, College Park
Record Group 38, Chief of Naval Operations Command Files 1940-45

Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.

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