Ships of the U.S. Navy in WWII “Dazzle” Camouflage

Research and Website by C. Lee Johnson

What is "Dazzle"?

The United States Navy “Dazzle” camouflage schemes were used primarily in WWII beginning in the fall of 1943 through 1944 and into early 1945. The purpose of this site is to provide modelers, naval enthusiasts and even possibly historians, with accurate information regarding those camouflages that were used by U.S. Navy Ships during those months of World War II.

Comments Received So Far

  • "Simply Dazzling!"
  • "Superb!"
  • "I enjoyed your examination of the stern camouflage interpretations - well done!"
  • "Nice little site."
  • "The new design is top notch..."

Ships in Dazzle Camouflage

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Oilers & Gasoline Tankers


Auxiliaries I


Auxiliaries II


Auxiliaries III



Written by C. Lee Johnson

A Short History of US Navy WWII Camouflage

The origin of U.S. Naval dazzle camouflage had been in the First World War. This history is focused on the "Dazzle" camouflages of Measures 31-32-33 of WWII and some of the camouflages that preceded their adoption. For a much more in-depth history see Alan Raven's article which you can link to by the selection below.

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Camouflage from a Different Angle

Many interested in ship camouflage are familiar with the drawings that the U.S. Navy produced and distributed during World War II to show how to paint the camouflage for a particular ship or class of ships. This article explores the different ways to interpret the camouflage drawings.
Written in 2013.

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Camouflage Experiments Using Destroyer Escorts

In October 1944, joint tests were conducted using three U.S. Navy destroyer escorts wearing British Admiralty and U.S. Navy camouflage designs "to evaluate the relative effectiveness of British and American Camouflage Measures under varied lighting and atmospheric conditions at sea."

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Are the Camouflage Drawings "Tablets of Stone"?

One must first understand the fact that the sheets that have been "saved" and found in the National Archives represent only a sample of the camouflage drawings that were generated by the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) for the Camouflage section.

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DD & DE Stern Variations

Many camouflage drawings allowed more than one interpretation for how to apply the pattern. This was especially evident concerning the stern views. This article shows examples of two and sometimes three different interpretations.

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Measure 16 Patterns Reused

The Thayer System (Measure 16) was introduced in the June 1942 revision to SHIPS-2. This article identifies patterns for use by Measure 16 and how they were reused.

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Camouflage Design Evolution

View how several designs changed over time, starting from the earliest drawings and continuing through the various modifications and changes that were made to adapt each design to other types and classes of ships.

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An Interesting Letter from A Fighting Ship

The following is a letter written to The Bureau of Ships by the commanding officer of USS Heermann (DD-532) that had been in the thick of battle.

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The Development of Naval Camouflage

by Alan Raven
A six article series from Ship Modeler Magazine

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In memory of C. Lee Johnson, this website is still maintained by his daughter.

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Site last updated: July 4, 2024
Copyright © C. Lee Johnson 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019