Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, March 27, 2020

The U.S. Navy's Razzle Dazzle Exhibition

All the Slides Can Be Enlarged for Better Viewing
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During the WWI Centennial an  exhibition on razzle dazzle camouflage was created by the National Museum of the United States Navy and the Great Lakes Naval Museum to commemorate the navy's effort during the conflict. Here are some of the graphics used for the program.

The Theory

A Large Variety of Schemes

In Practice

A WWII Example


  1. Fascinating! One of my favorite related quotes: One merchant ship captain who objected to the “vivid painting of his vessel” received the following response from a camouflage officer:
    "Dear Sir,-- The object of camouflage is not, as you suggest, to turn your ship into an imitation of a West African parrot, a rainbow in a naval pantomime, or a gay woman. The object of camouflage is rather to give the impression that your head is where your stern is." (more at )

  2. Great fun for aficionados of Art Deco, but did dazzle painting really work? "... in 1931, when German evidence had been sifted, the verdict was that it was doubtful whether any submarine commander had misjudged his target's course and speed through dazzle-painting alone." But it was, even by the sceptics (and they were many), regarded as good for morale among sailors in general. (Quote from Hartcup, "Camouflage", 1979, citing Gibson & Prendergast 1931.)