"American Dazzle" camouflage cutouts
By an unknown artist, ca. 1917-18
Watercolor on board
6" x 29 1/4"
National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau of
Dazzle Patterns, Ship Camouflage During World War I, German submarine attacks on
shipping threatened to cut supply lines to Allied forces in Europe. One
method of protecting ships was to paint them with a variety of camouflage.
These designs aimed to confuse an enemy submarine captain about his target's
course and speed. Most Allied ships used strong geometric patterns in
greens, grays, and blues, but American artists also experimented with
"dazzle" patterns where ships were painted in, according to a government
report, an "apparently grotesque and bizarre manner."