Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World Wars camouflage technique could have benefits in modern warfare

Date:
June 2, 2011
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Painting army vehicles with high contrast geometric patterns -- "dazzle camouflage" -- affects the perception of their speed and thus could make them less susceptible to rocket propelled grenade attacks, according to new research from the UK.

Examples of dazzle camouflage used in the First and Second World Wars. From top left: HMS Argus, SS Empress of Russia, Mauretania (World War One); USS Inaugural, HMAS Yarra (World War Two).
Credit: Images from Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia article on Dazzle camouflage, all in the public domain except SS Empress, which is Copyright: National Museums Liverpool (Stewart Bale Collection, Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Painting army vehicles with high contrast geometric patterns -- 'dazzle camouflage' -- affects the perception of their speed and thus could make them less susceptible to rocket propelled grenade attacks, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Warships in both the First and Second World Wars were painted with dazzle camouflage: startling geometric patterns aimed at confusing the enemy rather than concealing the vessel [view examples here]. It was thought that such patterning would disrupt the enemy's perception of a ship's range, heading, size, shape and speed, thus reducing losses from torpedo attacks by submarines. While there were good reasons to believe that these perceptual distortions occurred, the effectiveness of dazzle camouflage was never scientifically proven.

The Bristol study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE by an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Schools of Experimental Psychology and Biological Sciences, led by Dr Nick Scott-Samuel, is the first to find evidence that dazzle camouflage can affect perception of speed -- but only if the camouflaged object is moving quickly.

These findings suggest that, while it would probably not have successfully distorted ships' speeds in the two World Wars, dazzle camouflage could play a role in today's battlefields where fast-moving army vehicles frequently come under attack from shoulder-launched, rocket-propelled grenades.

Our perception of speed is affected by many disparate factors: for example larger objects appear to move more slowly than smaller objects, changes in contrast alter perceived speed, and differently oriented textures can be seen as moving at different speeds. Any of these effects could be elicited by dazzle patterning.

Dr Scott-Samuel and colleagues showed their experimental participants two moving patterns on a computer screen, and asked them to report which one moved faster. One pattern was always plain and the other was selected from a typical range of textures used in dazzle camouflage: stripes, zigzags and checks. The stimuli moved either slowly or quickly, and could be either low or high contrast.

When moving quickly, two of the high contrast patterns caused a significant reduction in perceived speed of around 7 per cent. These patterns -- zigzags and checks -- were two-dimensional, in contrast to the other, one-dimensional, patterns tested. Patterns which were less visible (low contrast) or slow moving had no effect on perceived speed; the former finding indicates that the effect is not simply due to texture per se, and implies that straightforward background-matching camouflage (which is generally lower contrast) would not produce a speed distortion. High contrast texture, as used for dazzle camouflage, is necessary.

Dr Scott-Samuel said: "The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or on modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles. In the latter case, we show that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed would be sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or otherwise for the occupants of the vehicle."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas E. Scott-Samuel, Roland Baddeley, Chloe E. Palmer, Innes C. Cuthill. Dazzle Camouflage Affects Speed Perception. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (6): e20233 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020233

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "World Wars camouflage technique could have benefits in modern warfare." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601171617.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2011, June 2). World Wars camouflage technique could have benefits in modern warfare. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601171617.htm
University of Bristol. "World Wars camouflage technique could have benefits in modern warfare." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601171617.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins