Hey, who’d have guessed this?
Yes, WW1-vintage ‘dazzle’ camouflage is back in the Royal Navy, just in time for war with the Traditional Enemy.
Dazzle dates from when artists were enlisted to assist with camouflage of big targets – starting with naval vessels but extending to many strategic onshore facilities in WW”, including factories and airfield runways. The Navy is currently crediting Norman Wilkinson, but there were several more individuals involved, most particularly the Futurist painters Nevinson and Wadsworth, whom some credit with the original ideas. And not just here: the Italians were quite big on it, too. Amusingly, the Italian Futurist movement made a cult of it, issuing one of their “Manifestos” entitled Plastic Illusionism of War (FFS!) I can bore for England on this stuff.
Not only did artists design the camouflage schemes, they painted them as well – illustration-wise, that is. Here’s a couple from the IWM’s fine and extensive collection, you can see many more there. The first is of a young lady experimenting with a model aircraft carrier in a water tank at the Directorate of Camouflage, painted by James Junge-Bateman. (© IWM Art.IWM ART LD 2759)
And here’s a power station cooling tower, artist Colin William Moss. (© IWM Art.IWM ART LD 3025)
Hint to Admiralty from an old pongo: dazzle paint won’t do anything to keep those modern aircraft carriers afloat in the South China Sea …
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