Zebras have stripes for a reason.

Well, actually, that’s still up for debate.

I mean, scientists assume that there’s at least one reason, but they haven’t yet settled on a definitive answer to why zebras have stripes.

The main theories are temperature regulation, keeping insects away, identifying one-another, and camouflage. But there’s not really a consensus. I suppose it could be a combination of…

“Wait! Wait… Did you say ‘camouflage?!’

The African plains look nothing like zebras!”

True. But it isn’t about blending in, so much as it’s about judging speed, size, and distance.

At least, that’s what the British and American naval powers were thinking during WWI:

Photo Credit: did you know?

Sources: 1, 2

You can see in this concept drawing from 1922 that the dazzle does seem it does seem to make it rather difficult to tell which way the ship is heading:

Here’s a shot from 1918 of the dazzle in real life on a ship facing a similar direction:

It really does make the heading difficult to figure out.

They hoped that making hard to see the true heading might lead the new and deadly German U-Boats to set themselves up at bad angles for torpedo fire:

Here’s a suggested pattern diagram from 1918 that was produced for the US Navy by none other than famous painter Thomas Hart Benton:

Here’s an aircraft carrier:

Photo Credit: US Navy/Public Domain

This converted ocean liner, re-dubbed the HMS Argus, was the prototype for all aircraft carriers that came after.

So it’s only fitting that it sported a prototype paint job.

But by the late 1920s, the Argus wasn’t sporting the dazzle anymore:

The practice did continue, to some extent, through WWII and beyond, but Dazzle Camo never really caught on because it was impossible to accurately tell how effective it was.

 

That’s why most people have never heard of it.

But it does live on in photos and even paintings from the era:

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