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Why WWI ships had that weird camouflage

Old images or paintings of WWI ships reveal weird paint patterns––lots of blocky lines or bright colors, sometimes wave patterns that appear almost psychedelic. As weird as it seems, those bright patterns that seem to stand out so much were actually a form of camouflage. The idea was this. U-boats looking at a ship through a periscope were going to be able to see the ship no matter what, because the color of the sea and the sky were always changing thereby effectively negating any blending camouflage. Dazzle camouflage wasn’t designed to blend into the sea or the sky. Instead, it was meant to make gauging distance and movement difficult.

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