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"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hiding in plain sight


"Camouflage is a form of deception. The word camouflage comes from the French word camoufler meaning "to disguise'"
Lately I've been obsessed with my old ama mater, the USN. Don't tell me I misused "alma mater" I don't care.
Brought about by a side effect of my reference to one of my favorite books, "The Sand Pebbles". Good customer read same on my recomendation and enjoyed it. I love it when that happens (Hi Andrew. Tell Carlos to e-mail me, damnit).
Anyway, it brought about heavy nostalgia for "The Old Navy", the one I never experienced. Hell, I only went on one ship the entire four years I was in, and that was as a visitor. I was a shore sailor. But the whole romance of the "Gray and Underway" has always captivated me.
To this end, I'm going to bore you with lots and lots of pics of "Dazzle Camouflage".
The first impression, when looking at these is: "But, They're not hidden. I can see them". The problem is that one can't "camouflage" in the ocean. The light and atmospheric conditions change constantly, so the scheme that worked in the morning will have you looking like a turd in a punchbowl by noon.
But, in the first war the real danger was from U-boats so the gentleman pictured first, British Naval Officer and Artist, Norman Wilkinson, came up with the scheme of "Razzle-Dazzle".
The problem with being a U-boat captain wasn't seeing the ships. They were hard to miss. It was plotting their speed and heading and making all the complex calculations necessary so that the torpedo, essentially a seagoing bomb, would be at the same place as the target at the approriate moment. Sort of like getting all of Thanksgiving dinner on the table at the same time.
What the dazzle scheme did was to make it unclear, especially through a periscope at perhaps a mile distant, what was the bow of the ship and what direction the ship was heading. Check the French cruiser next up to see this in its purest form. Where is the pointy end of this boat?
The first pics are WW1 where they were more fanciful. The later WW2 dazzle was adopted after the Japanese had lost air capability and were pretty much a sub navy.
Kind of boring - black and gray, but in the spirit.

One of those old four-stacker tin cans. Oh yeah.....




We'll get the boring WW2 stuff now, but we'll start with one of the old wood-decked, bird-farms that docked at Subic Bay, Republic of the Phillippines during my tenure (1973-4).


On this battlewagon they're slipping into woodland camo...losing the vision.


I'm going to wrap this up with a non-camo shot: Everyone's seen all the pictures of the USS Arizona as Tourist Attraction/Mass Grave. How about one of her at her ass-kicking best - even though her only fight was the one that sunk her.

2 comments:

Kevin said...

Very interesting entry! And great pics, the WWI being of course the best. Waiting for your next one!

Anonymous said...

In the first world war, the Germans made field-expedient camouflage of a similar design They painted on a series on contrasting colors and lines as such:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Brow-armor.jpg

We have a captured on of these in our Senior Ranks Mess that reminded me of razzle-dazzle camouflage.

Chris

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