Saturday, March 3, 2018

Why the USS Yorktown had that unusual 'dazzle' camouflage in the 1940s

How do you hide a ship in plain sight?

Posted by Sam Spence on Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 7:31 AM

click to enlarge The USS Yorktown photographed in 1944 in Puget Sound, Washington - PUBLIC DOMAIN
  • Public Domain
  • The USS Yorktown photographed in 1944 in Puget Sound, Washington
We're all familiar with the old gray lady as she sits on the shore of the Cooper River in Mt. Pleasant. The Yorktown aircraft carrier is a landmark for this area, drawing more than 10 million visitors since it opened in 1976. For the 30-some years it was in active use, the 872-foot Essex-class carrier was used in various capacities both at home and overseas.

Like many other ships in the U.S. fleet into WWII, the Yorktown was given a radical, but strategic, new geometric paint job using what's called 'dazzle' camouflage. In the days before complex scanning equipment, the new paint was not intended to hide the ship from sight completely, just obscure its position and movements. The random angles of the dazzle paint made it hard for would-be attackers to take the visual measurements needed to launch torpedoes that menaced ships at sea. Photos show the Yorktown carrying the dazzle pattern for a couple years between 1943—1945.

This week, Vox explained the origins of the unusual camouflage:

Location Details USS Yorktown
Charleston Harbor off Patriots Point
Mt. Pleasant
Charleston, South Carolina
General Location

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