43. Razzle Dazzle Navy

03 Mar

FACT: Military Vessels around the world are grey. Or black, or white, regardless the problem is that they are boring and plain, but it was not always this way. As the image shows the seas used to be better, brighter. Navy vessels were covered in these bright and contrasting series of shapes and interrupting lines, like seafaring cubism artworks. This was called ‘Dazzle camouflage’ by the British and the much more impressive title of ‘Razzle Dazzle‘ by the American. But now there is a question, why were ships painted so brightly?

The answer is oddly enough – camouflage. However counter-intuitive, this bright covering of lines was camouflage used in World War I by every naval vessel in the British, French and American Navies. The reason was that no camouflage was effective at hiding ships in all weathers so U-boats and submarines kept sinking ships. However they depended on people in the U-boats looking through telescopes and periscopes and guessing how far away and quickly traveling the ships were, so the bright lines on ships distracted their eyes making them miss the ships.

The British concluded that the camouflage was ineffective as their ships kept being sunk, however they kept the paint because it boosted the morale of the naval officers on board and it boosted the morale of everyone who saw the ships together, as the sight of hundreds of brightly coloured floating hulls of art was a sight that had never been seen before. Also, unfortunately, due to advances in range-finding technology after World War I, it was a sight that was never seen again. Slowly ships were sunk or repainted in their drab grey skins again and voyages became monochromatic excursions of tedium. The sea used to be so much better and brighter, but this is consigned to the past now.

The only place you can see the Razzle Dazzle now is on Austrian speed traps, which are painted so distractingly that motorists cannot tell how far away they are, meaning that they slow down much earlier. Clever Austrians.


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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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