If you can see this text here you should update to a newer web browser

Normal | Highlight & Comment Highlighted Text will be in Yellow, but there are none yet

BB60/A16-3 0218 U.S.S. ALABAMA 14-re
CONFIDENTIAL 6 November 1943

From: The Commanding Officer.
To  : The Commander Battleships, Division Nine.
Subject: Battleship Camouflage Schemes - effectiveness of.
Reference: (a) C.T.G. 53.2 dispatch 022340 of November 1943.

      1.         In accordance with reference (a), the following comments representing the concensus of opinion among Spot I, Spot II, Spot III, and the three senior gun control officers relative to the effectiveness of different camouflage schemes represented by battleships of this task group is submitted:


      (1) Day - At long ranges (25,000 yards and above) type of camouflage had no particular effect upon identification of type of ship since only silhouette could be seen and this was not appreciably effected by differences in color scheme.

      (2) Night - Long range identification of types is impossible at night unless aided by star-shell or moonlight illumination behind target.  In these cases silhouette only can be seen and type of camouflage is immaterial.  At shorter ranges (5-10,000 yards) the darker camouflage of SOUTH DAKOTA and TENNESSEE was most effective on dark nights with partial cloud cover; on moonlight nights, particularly when down moon from observing ship, lighter camouflage of WASHINGTON and MASSACHUSETTS was most effective.  INDIANA stood out best in both cases.


      (1) Day - With good visibility conditions camouflage had very little effect upon maximum range of detection, darker ships being perhaps visible at slightly greater ranges.

      (2) Night - Light colored ships such as WASHINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS and INDIANA were more easily seen on dark nights, maximum range of detection 4-5,000 yards with 7X50 binoculors.  On moonlight nights darker ships as SOUTH DAKOTA and also INDIANA were most easily seen, being visible up to 10,000 yards.


      (1) Day - Type of camouflage had no effect on estimation of target angle and speed at long ranges.  At intermediate and short ranges opinion divided.  Air Defense Officer and Spot III found dazzle painting of INDIANA most effective in concealing target angle and speed.  Fire Control Assistant believed these best obscured by light paint of MASSACHUSETTS and WASHINGTON. Spot I


BB60/A16-3 0218 U.S.S. ALABAMA 14-re
CONFIDENTIAL 6 November 1943
Subject: Battleship Camouflage Schemes - effectiveness of.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

found that flat, dark paint of SOUTH DAKOTA best concealed features on which target angle estimate is based.  It was generally agreed that dazzle type camouflage should be most effective in concealing target angle and speed, but that design of INDIANA was too regular to accomplish this.

      (2) Night - Estimation of target angle and speed is most difficult at night and is uneffected by camouflage.

      2.         General Comment - Dark solid color camouflage such as employed on SOUTH DAKOTA, ALABAMA and TENNESSEE is believed to be in stronger contrast to all usual color conditions of water and sky than are camouflage jobs containing light and varied shades of blue.  It is further believed that for the majority of visibility conditions in Central and South Pacific areas, the extremity of non specular camouflage to which we have gone, operates to increase visibility than reverse.  In these areas of brilliant sea and sky, a blue base paint of medium shade with moderate gloss would blend far better into surrounding sea and sky.

      3.        Dazzle painting of INDIANA is promising, but it would be improved if more attempt were made to "camouflage out" specific structures such as after turret, extremity of bow, one or another superstructure platform.  It is believed this can be accomplished by a judicious mixture of dazzle and solid color painting.  This type of camouflage is most effective in concealing target angle and speed.  One general fault found with all samples of dazzle painting represented in this task force is its symmetry and a general reluctance to go all out as has been done on several British ships.

      4.         It is believed that battleships will be detected from the surface too far out for camouflage to be effective.  Further development of camouflage to hinder detection and obscure identification from the air should be carried out.  Since radar ranges and bearings enable solution of target angle and speed at ranges where these cannot be determined optically with any certainty, camouflage of battleships should be primarily directed to obscuring type.



National Archives & Records Administration, Archives I, Washington DC
Record Group 311, United States Fleet Battle Force Commander Battleships General Administrative Files

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

Ship Camouflage Home | Ships Home | Researcher@Large Home