Razzle Dazzle – Dazzle Painting


This website, posted on BoingBoing today, is new to me, but the cubist involvement in the development of camouflage is not. I was lucky enough to stumble upon (literally, in this case) an exhibit of Andr Mare‘s WWI paintings while in Paris a few years ago. Unfortunately, there is no Wikipedia entry for him; his paintings and journal entries were excellent.

A British artist and naval officer, Norman Wilkinson, promoted a new camouflage scheme that was derived from the artistic fashions of the time, particularly cubism. Instead of trying to conceal the ship, it simply broke up its lines and made it more difficult for the U-boat captain to determine the ship’s course. The British called this camouflage scheme “Dazzle Painting.” The Americans called it “Razzle Dazzle.”

U-boats did not aim their torpedos directly at a ship to sink it. Because the target was moving, it was necessary to aim ahead of its path in order for the torpedo to arrive in the correct spot at the same time as the ship. If the torpedo is too early or too late, it will miss. The primary goal of dazzle painting was to confuse the U-boat commander who was trying to observe the course and speed of his target.

This entry was posted in Military and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.