Achy breaky art (Breaking up is hard to do, part two)

March 20, 2008

Thinking more about camouflage for vehicles (and to a lesser extent, soldiers) I did a little internet browsing my favourite way – using internet directories.

I quickly got to Lone Sentry, a website that offers “Photographs, Documents, and Research on World War II” – especially the full text of some articles from the Intelligence Bulletin. “Printed by the Military Intelligence Service throughout WWII, the Intelligence Bulletin was designed to inform officers and enlisted men of the latest enemy tactics and weapons. For the historian and collector, the bulletins offer a rare view into the Allied knowledge of the Axis forces”.

It also offers the full text to publications from the time, especially this one:

WAR DEPARTMENT FIELD MANUAL FM 5-20B
CORPS OF ENGINEERS
CAMOUFLAGE OF VEHICLES
APRIL 1944

In the section titled Vehicle Painting, it states:

“The enemy will usually see vehicles at an angle. At least two adjoining surfaces will be visible to him at once. For example, from close-range ground observation he might see a side and the front; from the air, or on an aerial photograph, he might see the top, a side, and the front. For this reason, vehicle patterns are designed to disrupt the cube shape of vehicles from all angles, to disrupt shadows cast by tarpaulin bows, to tie in with the shadow at the rear of a vehicle when it is faced into the sun, to tie in with the large dark shadow areas of windows, mudguards, wheels, and undercarriage, and to be bold enough to be effective at a distance.

Patterns are composed of a light color and a dark color. Black or olive drab have proved satisfactory dark colors in several theaters of operations. The light color is selected to match a light color typical of and predominant in the terrain in which the vehicle operates. White or light gray paint is applied to the undersurfaces of vehicles to cause them to reflect light, thus lightening the dark shadows of the undercarriage. This is called countershading.

Camouflage painting is not a cure-all. Alone, it cannot be relied on to do more than render a vehicle obscure, making it hard for an enemy gunner to locate the vehicle and confusing him as to the location of vulnerable areas. Nor can it conceal a moving vehicle, because other sight factors, such as dust, reflections, and motion itself, will betray its presence. However, camouflage painting is a valuable supplement to other camouflage measures. Added to good siting, dispersion, camouflage discipline, and the use of nets and drapes, it increases the benefits to be derived from these measures. Together, and intelligently used, they will provide a high degree of concealment for any vehicle”.

It then goes on with colour illustrations of various US patterns on various vehicles (self-propelled gun, truck etc.)

It neatly summarises what I’m trying to do – and what soldiers still try to do today.

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2 Responses to “Achy breaky art (Breaking up is hard to do, part two)”

  1. […] 25, 2009 Over a year ago I discussed general principles of camouflage on vehicles in this post. This post also introduced some of you to the wonderful Lone Sentry website, a great place for […]

  2. […] blog and it’s time to discuss it again. My most important blog entry to date on the topic is Achy breaky art (Breaking up is hard to do, part two) which went online on 20th March three years ago. On it is a link to the incredibly important […]

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