“Dazzle camouflage, also known as Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle painting, was a camouflage paint scheme extensively used on ships during World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II. Credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, it consisted of a complex pattern of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other.
At first glance it seems unlikely camouflage, drawing attention to the ship rather than hiding it. But this technique was developed after the Allied Navy’s failure to develop effective means to disguise ships in all weather. Dazzle did not conceal the ship but made it difficult for the enemy to estimate its speed and heading. The idea was to disrupt the visual rangefinders used for naval artillery. Its purpose was confusion rather than concealment.
Dazzle’s effectiveness is not certain. The British Admirality concluded it had no effect on submarine attacks, but proved to be a morale boost for crews. It also increased the morale of people not involved in fighting; hundreds of wonderfully colored ships in dock was nothing ever seen before or since.”
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