From the wonderful Retronaut – these fantastic geometric paint schemes used during World War I were not designed to hide the ships as to make range-finding difficult and make it more difficult for enemy gunners to find their target.
Read about dazzle-painted warships here. Google finds a many examples here.
My thanks to Malcolm Woods for spotting this one!
PS – Inspired by his discoveries, Malcolm went on to find more examples of dazzle in art and elsewhere, including this painting of the Olympic, paintings by John Everett, and examples of a very demure 1919 fashion for dazzle swimsuits published by the weblog Camoupedia.
There are still more here, including an article headed ‘Camouflage Sylphs on Coney Island an Optical Illusion: Stripes of Bathing Costumes Used by Plump Persons to Conceal Full Extent of Their Plumpness’ – this concludes thus:
‘Following the service yesterday of fourteen summons upon persons who appeared in the streets in uncovered bathing suits the suggestion was made that camouflage might be perfected to the point where it would hide offenders from the eagle-eyed Coney Island police.’
Elsewhere, a fashion writer puts it this way:
‘If you see coming toward you a woman who in some unaccountable way seems to melt into a sort of rainbow mass above the shoulders, don’t be alarmed; try to find her hat.’
Gosh. Swimming costumes are a bit of a departure for this weblog. If you need more images of dazzle-painted ships to return things to their usual calm order, there are many more examples on the Google Image search.