Destroyer Escort Camouflage Tests 1944

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.” Six camouflage schemes were used in the tests: USN Measure 12, USN Measure 22, USN Measure 32/3D(ex), USN Measure 33/3D(ex), Admiralty Type “A” described as a “General Purpose Design for all Fleet Units. Object – to reduce visibility at dawn and dusk, and at night; to confuse inclination” and Admiralty Type “D” which was “For Anti-Submarine Escort Vessels only. Object – to delay sighting by surfaced submarines in darkness.”Each destroyer escort carried two schemes one on port and another on starboard.

The Ships

The three ships eventually used in the tests were WGT type destroyer escorts USS Doyle C. Barnes (DE-353) USS Kenneth M. Willet (DE-354) and USS Jaccard (DE-355) all from the John C. Butler class. All three were newly constructed and just out of shakedown and training and so were readily available. Drawings for the camouflages to be used in the tests had been prepared earlier in August and September. Doyle C. Barnes used USN Measures 12 and 22, Kenneth M. Willet used Admiralty Types “A” and “D” and Jaccard used Measures 32 and 33 Design 3D (ex).

Test Procedure

“Continuous trials were held at sea in the Chesapeake Bay Area on the 2nd and 3rd of October 1944. Representatives of the British Admiralty and the U.S. Navy witnessed the exercises aboard the Edward H. Allen (DE-531) and from the observation plane. Motion pictures and still photographs were made from the ship on both days and from the plane on the first day only.

“The three camouflaged destroyer escorts operated in company according to previously planned maneuvers. During the trials, both the observing and observed ships kept detailed logs of course, relative bearing, range, visibility and weather conditions.” *

*From Report of Trials of British Admiralty and U.S. Navy Camouflage Measures, October 1944 page 6.


Five major conclusions as a result of the tests were listed:

  1. The British Admiralty Camouflage Measures reduced the surface visibility of the ship under the conditions for which they were planned – at dawn, dusk and in overcast.
  2. Illuminated by strong sun or moon light, the Admiralty Measures were more conspicuous than the USN Camouflage Measures – seen both from the surface and the air.
  3. Compared with the USN Camouflage Measures, the Admiralty (A) Type Camouflage, had neither the range deception of Measures 12 or 22, nor the target angle deception of Measures 32 or 33. Care must be taken, however, in comparing Camouflage Systems essentially different in purpose and function.
  4. It cannot be assumed that the findings of these trials, based on a limited range of conditions, would be valid for the visibility and operational conditions prevailing in other theatres of war.
  5. It is believed that the test results warrant no modification of the U.S. Navy’s existing camouflage directives.*

*From Report of Trials of British Admiralty and U.S. Navy Camouflage Measures, October 1944 page 7.


The final report on the tests identified four reccommendations:

  1. It is recommended that further controlled trials be held at sea in critical areas or in latitudes where corresponding visibility conditions prevail.
  2. Whenever possible, observations should be made of ships in training, convoy, and combat areas to determine the camouflage effectiveness under a wide variety of conditions.
  3. It is considered imperative that seagoing camouflage be designed to meet the operational requirements of a vessel as to time, place and mission.
  4. It is recommended that definite arrangements be made for collaboration with the British Admiralty on matters of camouflage policy concerning such Theatres where both Navies might operate together.*

*From Report of Trials of British Admiralty and U.S. Navy Camouflage Measures, October 1944 page 8.

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