Why ships used this camouflage in World War I

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, February 27, 2018
  • Dazzle camouflage was fantastically weird. It was also surprisingly smart.

    WWII saw another kind of strange history unfold: a meme (yes, really). Watch our video on it here: http://bit.ly/2Co9DEu

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    Dazzle camouflage was a surprisingly effective defense against torpedoes. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explains why.


    World War I ships faced a unique problem. The u-boat was a new threat at the time, and its torpedoes were deadly. That led artist Norman Wilkinson to come up with dazzle camouflage (sometimes called “razzle dazzle camouflage”). The idea was to confuse u-boats about a ship’s course, rather than try to conceal its presence. In doing so, dazzle camouflage could keep torpedoes from hitting the boat — and that and other strategies proved a boon in World War I.


    This camouflage is unusual, but its striking appearance influenced the culture, inspired cubist painters’ riffs, and even entered into the world of fashion. Though dazzle camouflage lost its utility once radar and other detection techniques took over from u-boat periscopes, for a brief period in time it was an effective and unusual way to help ships stay safe.

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Comment

  • Vox  (Feb 27, 2018)

    WWII saw another kind of strange history unfold: Kilroy – a meme (yes, really) – traveled the globe with servicemembers. He even makes an appearance in this video: http://bit.ly/2Co9DEu

  • MRGamers CJX  (Nov 30, 2018)

    Interesting ship don't use camouflage because the ship is too big will still able to see it from far away but is for submarines to confuse them. Smart idea.

  • Máté Rudas  (Nov 12, 2018)

    What is tge name of the piece that starts at 3:05

  • Rivdogg  (Feb 27, 2018)

    If the titanic had dazzle paint the iceberg wouldn’t see it tho

  • Snake_XIX  (3 days ago)

    The iceberg was a paid actor hired by Russia through Trump

  • Staitz  (Jan 30, 2019)

    Harry Baker r/wooooooosh

  • Alicia Mn  (Feb 27, 2018)

    Vox teaching me more history than my school does

  • kalvin john  (Jan 30, 2019)

    Nirbhay Thacker that's offenseive

  • Jock Lucas  (Feb 27, 2018)

    This video said it was about ships yet I didn't see a single one the whole time?? Another Vox rip off...

  • Joseph Delahunty  (Jan 27, 2019)

    It’s a camouflage joke fools

  • Kucing Menangos  (Jan 8, 2019)

    Lmao camo

  • mneonew87  (Feb 27, 2018)

    Dazzle camouflage is actively used on car prototypes driving around in the wild, to make it harder for rivaling car producers to copy prototypes.

  • McC Alexander  (Jan 5, 2019)

    +Abid M in addition to what mmmakee said the customer could decide to look elsewhere now that they're waiting and lose the sale altogether.

  • antsolja  (Oct 20, 2018)

    idk why they do that cos it doesnt work lol

  • Stunallypp Stars  (Feb 27, 2018)

    *_What ship? I don’t see any._*

  • Zaki Hibatulwafi R  (Dec 2, 2018)

    IT'S A CAMO JOKE GODDAMMIT PEOPLE

  • Nicolas Sousa  (Jul 12, 2018)

    I just see weird lines wtf

  • BanditRants  (Feb 27, 2018)

    As a video editor, I love the edits here on Vox.

  • Gappie Al Kebabi  (Dec 6, 2018)

    no one cares about your self-claimed career..

  • Matt  (Mar 2, 2018)

    How they know what color to paint the boat if they could only see black and white back then

  • Elitist Neet  (Nov 30, 2018)

    +Alex Zhang one of you whooshers need to capitalize your r one day so I can get the big meme

  • oriana garrido  (Feb 27, 2018)

    Imagine you are just there being a cubist painter and then suddenly a man comes at the door yelling"I NEED YOU TO PAINT A SHIP!!"

  • •TheKaisTzar •  (Jan 29, 2019)

    “THE BRITISH EMPIRE CALLS, MY MAN!”

  • Jsid Is Gucci  (Feb 27, 2018)

    Dazzle schools so shooters won’t know where to shoot

  • america has more gun deaths because we have more people, the [percent] of deaths by gun is WORSE in other countries because all it takes is one guy with a gun to kill hundreds, and with guns banned only criminals will have them... you know the guys shooting people.