Ship Camouflage - Early Modern Camouflage

Early Modern Camouflage

In the Age of Sail, deception was often used by ships, and paint was applied ad hoc by ships' captains for temporary tactical advantage. A ship might be painted to look like another, it might have its cannon ports hidden by painted canvas to look harmless, or it might have additional cannon ports painted on to appear more powerful. As one example among many, for one of his battles during 1778–1782, American privateer Jonathan Haraden hid the guns of his ship the General Pickering, to appear as if it were a slow merchant ship. Haraden allowed his ship to be approached at close range by a much faster British privateer, then he quickly pulled the painted canvas away and delivered a full broadside, capturing the enemy.

In the American Civil War, camouflage paint was applied by both sides during the Union blockade of 1861–1865. Blockade runners aiding the Confederates sometimes painted their ships all in mist-gray, to hide themselves in coastal fog. One Union blockade crew may have painted their rowboat white, and its oars, and wore white clothing for a night reconnaissance patrol up an enemy-held river.

In the 1890s, German and French fighting ships were being painted gray. American interest in ship camouflage was given official funding in 1898 during the Spanish–American War when white, light gray, and medium gray paint schemes were evaluated for their ability to hide a ship as seen against the distant sky on the horizon. Artist Abbott Handerson Thayer investigated countershading color schemes to "paint out" natural shadows.

Read more about this topic:  Ship Camouflage

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