Loyd A. Jones - Camouflage Research

Camouflage Research

When the U.S. became involved in World War I, George Eastman offered to the U.S. Navy the expertise of Jones (who served in the U.S. Naval Reserves) and others for the purpose of researching naval camouflage in relation to optics and physics (Ackerman 1930, p. 310). Other people at the time argued that visual artists would be better equipped than scientists to develop camouflage. A compromise solution was reached, and on March 25, 1918, architect Harold Van Buskirk was placed in charge of a U.S. Navy camouflage unit, consisting of two major sections: A design section made up of artists, located in Washington D.C., headed by artist Everett L. Warner; and a research section made up largely of scientists, located at the Eastman laboratories in Rochester, New York, under the supervision of Jones (Van Buskirk 1919; Warner 1919).

In connection with his research of naval camouflage, Jones and his staff developed in the laboratory an “experimental ocean,” which used an observation tank, artificial sun, movable sky, and other components that simulated outdoor viewing conditions, as miniature camouflaged ships were observed through a submarine periscope. He also developed an outdoor observation stage on the shore of Lake Ontario. Painted cut-out silhouettes of camouflaged ships were suspended from a framework, at a height that made the ships appear to be floating on the water (Jones 1919; Skerrett 1919; Scientific American 1919).

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