United States Navy
Ships - 2

Supplement to second revision of Ships-2
March 1943


Description of New Measures


The principal objectives of the new camouflage measures are:

  1. To shorten the range at which vessels can first be seen.
  2. To delay recognition.
  3. To reduce the chance of enemy hits after the presence of the vessel has been detected by radar or any other means.

The first is accomplished by low visibility patterns which resolve to uniform shades that match the backgrounds of sky and sea.

The second is achieved by deceptive patterns which falsify the appearance of structure.

The third is done through target angle deception by painting false perspective and confusing mass structures.  The right measure may accomplish all three objectives.


The hardest ships to see and recognize from submarine and other low angle observations are painted light pattern Measures 16 and 33.  The hardest ships to recognize and hit are painted Measure 32.

The best all-around antisubmarine measures is Measure 32.

The best one-color measures is Measure 23.


The hardest ships to see from high, steep angles are painted Measure 31.

The best of the one-color measures is Measure 21.


If it is reasonably certain that your ships will first be detected by sound or radar, then Measure 32 should be given first consideration because ships painted with the designs of this measure are most difficult to recognize, and when sighted from certain angles give the illusion of being on one course when actually on another.  This false target angle illusion varies from 10 degrees to 180 degrees.

There may be other conditions when it is considered most important to deceive the enemy as to your type of vessel and confuse him in range finding and focusing.  Then again, Measure 32 is the best measure.  In other words, when it is more important to make a vessel hard to hit, than to shorten the range at which it can first be seen, deception painting is better than low visibility painting.

Again, when it cannot be predetermined where vessels will operate or what conditions of light and weather will be, Measure 32 is the best selection.  The chief exception to selecting Measure 32 as an antisubmarine measure is where it is known that vessels will be operating so much of the time in the half light of cloudy weather, fog, predawn, or night, that good visibility conditions and searchlight may be disregarded.  In this event ships may escape detection altogether by being painted Measure 16 or even White.  Only in half light or bad weather conditions do large ships have much chance of remaining invisible without being hull-down.


When it is reasonably certain that the first detection of the presence of your ship, will be by eye or binoculars, then the first consideration is to select a measure which will shorten the range at which the ship will first be seen.  It is then most important to know whether the greatest threat of disclosure will be from a low, flat angle or from a high, steep angle.

It is obvious that submarine and surface raiders are included in the low, flat angle group, but not quite so obvious but equally true, that much aircraft observation is also included.  Aircraft flying at low altitude and aircraft flying at a medium or even a high altitude when "visibility is unlimited", sight ships at distances of 35 miles or more at a low angle.

Nine times out of ten ships first sighted from low, flat angles appear as dark spots against the sky background.  The best safe low visibility measure, i.e. to shorten the visible range, is Measure 33.


Not all aircraft are flying at medium or high altitudes relatively close aboard do they see ships at high, steep angles, and then generally first detect ships by their wakes.  However, when proceeding at less than 12 knots the ships are generally seen before the wake, and Measure 31 is the best hope of concealment.


The best all-around antisubmarine measure is Measure 32.  The best one-color antisubmarine measure is Measure 23.  The best all-around antiaircraft measure is Measure 31.  The best one-color antiaircraft measure is Measure 21.

Table of Contents ] Next Page ]