The Art of Camouflage

woodlands camouflagedesert camouflagemarines digital camouflage

Here are a few examples of camouflage currently in use today. I have always been fascinated with the art of camouflage and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the patterns used in World War I and II.
Camouflage is said to have originated around 1914 during the first World War.

Fokker DVII This German built 1918 Fokker DVII (there were around 1700 manufactured) used a pattern called “lozenge camouflage.” It was used in an effort to make the aircraft appear to blend into the background with an added bonus of reducing aircraft weight by eliminating the use of many colored dopes. The theory is that when small points of colors are viewed from afar they tend to merge together. The amazing part of this optical illusion is that the dominant color of the background visually enhances a similar color in the scheme and fools the mind into seeing the two as the same.
There are several standard lozenge patterns. Most common are the 4- and 5-color swatches as seen on this aircraft. Lozenge fabrics were usually printed in two distinct shades, one for upper surfaces and one for lower surfaces. Upper lozenge patterns were rich and bright, while lower surfaces recieved muted colors. As for lozenge fabric itself, the distinctive geometric pattern was pre-printed and shipped as bolts of standard dimension. This fabric would then be applied as any other aircraft fabric covering would be (rib stitched, taped, and doped).
corsairDuring World War II we begin to see camouflage evolving into patterns that are more familiar to us today. This F4U Corsair is painted in the standard USN Tricolor Scheme, Non-Specular Sea Blue (ANA 607), Non-Specular Intermediate Blue (ANA 608) and the lower surfaces would be Non-Specular Insignia White (ANA 601) commonly found on combat aircraft during the period. The insignia on the side of the aircraft is surrounded by a red border which was in use from June thru September 1943.
uss-hornetFor some striking and really interesting camouflage paint schemes take a look at the U.S. Navy “dazzle” paint styles. This is the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) showing her colors (camouflage measure 33-3a) of 1943.
Dazzle paint consisted of a complex pattern of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other. The purpose of the design was not intended to conceal the ship but to make it difficult for the enemy to estimate its speed and heading. Of course as radar and sonar became more accurate, dazzle paint became obsolete.
PT Boat One last look at a dazzle paint scheme known as “Adapter or Zebra Stripe” it can be seen on this Pacific theater PT Boat of World War II. It was used in 1942 and the idea was to confuse the enemy of the boat’s heading and speed but additionally it was also thought to obscure the boat when seen from afar by blending it into a non-descript gray color. The colors used in this scheme were black, white (or yellow-green), countershade gray, and the decks were painted “deck blue-20B”. It was a very hard paint scheme to maintain, as you can imagine, and was eventually discontinued. Only two Motor Torpedo Squadrons used this type of camouflage (one Pacific and one Mediterranean based). It is interesting to note that dazzle paint was also used on aircraft but not to the degree that it was in naval ships.
Ready for a challenge? See if you can identify which country each of the following aircraft belonged to. (Answers are below the series of pictures.)
spitfireYak-3
StorchFiat-g55-Centauro
Ki43 OscarRV-8
Answers: (Starting with upper left) 1) Russia, Yak 3U. 2) Great Britain, Supermarine Spitfire.
3) Germany, Fieseler Fi 156 Storch. 4) Italy, Fiat G55 Centauro.
5) Trick photo- It is my friend’s homebuilt RV-8 located in the U.S.
6) Japan, Ki43 Type 1 Hayabusa Peregrine Falcon “Oscar”.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed this brief look at camouflage markings. There are many more varieties that we haven’t even touched on but perhaps that will be another story,,,,,