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Abandoned Project

What is camouflage?

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Just a random thought. What if camouflage was never invented? I know that it is highly unlikely in any universe it wouldn't be invented, but what if?........

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Interesting thought; possibly if you are not trying to hide something then identifiers would have become more important... perhaps national colours would be more prominent, as in the Confederate Gray and Union Blue in the American Civil war or the British Red and French Blue in the Napoleonic wars...

 

Alternatively perhaps things would either be left unpainted or just painted with primer, or any paint that happened to be available irrespective of what colour it was...

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

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@Stew Dapple,

On your first point l would say that that is plausible as heraldic/regimental/national colours have always been considered important.

On the second point I wonder if things would go in the same direction as the commercial vehicle world where white is the default colour? Manufacturers do like to keep costs down to a minimum.

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54 minutes ago, Abandoned Project said:

 

On the second point I wonder if things would go in the same direction as the commercial vehicle world where white is the default colour? Manufacturers do like to keep costs down to a minimum.

Tanks and soldiers running around with commercial sponsorship plastered all over them like taxis??!!!!  I only hope some bright you thing in the Ministry of Defence does not read this and think what a great money making idea. Mods feel free to delete in the interests of national security

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2 hours ago, Abandoned Project said:

Just a random thought. What if camouflage was never invented? I know that it is highly unlikely in any universe it wouldn't be invented, but what if?........

Or a suggestion from a parallel universe with an alternative physics of light and colour, their concept of camouflage could look completely different to our eyes.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, JohnT said:

Tanks and soldiers running around with commercial sponsorship plastered all over them like taxis??!!!!

Not quite plastered all over but HMS Kellington had a Kellog's K on the bridge screen. Other Ton's had "sponsorship deals" but that's the one that immediately springs to mind.

Roger.

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6 minutes ago, Roger Newsome said:

Not quite plastered all over but HMS Kellington had a Kellog's K on the bridge screen. Other Ton's had "sponsorship deals" but that's the one that immediately springs to mind.

Roger.

I might have known :doh:

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2 hours ago, JohnT said:

Tanks and soldiers running around with commercial sponsorship plastered all over them like taxis??!!!!

I was thinking about the overall colour scheme, not commercial advertising but it would be a good way to pay for the military and save the poor taxpayers pocket.

Would Boeing tell governments that they can save money and time if their military planes go through the same paint shop as Boeing's civilian planes?

Would Health & Safety demand everything be painted in Hi-Vis colours due to the dangerous nature of the vehicles?

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24 minutes ago, Abandoned Project said:

Would Health & Safety demand everything be painted in Hi-Vis colours due to the dangerous nature of the vehicles?

Off topic - aren't the fire extinguishers carried by UK military vehicles now painted red in order to comply with the appropriate regulations ?

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To find a way to eliminate camouflage from Military History, you just have to consider the main reason why camouflage was introduced in large scale: as a measure to hide soldiers from sight of the enemy beyond a certain distance. Distance that increased thanks to advancements in weapon technology.

Remove these advancements and the need for camouflage is reduced if not eliminated. With black powder muskets the distance at which battles used to take place was so short that it was more important to wear clearly distinctive uniforms to allow the commanders to understand where their units were, hence all kind of bright colours. And of course, the absence of radio communications meant that control had to be visual. Of course the difficult part is now trying to imagine a world where other weapons like tanks and aircraft populate a battlefield where black powder muskets are the main weapon... afterall even black powder smoothbore cannons had a range that would have made some sort of camo useful for a tank... and even more important, without rapid firing weapons there would have been little use for a tank. A powered carriage or a shield for the troops would have been more suitable.

In such a scenario we'd probably see bright colours used for the same reason as they were used in the XIX Century, maybe red "tanks" with dark blue or yellow markings.

 

Another possibility is a world where humans can't see colours but only certain wavelengths. If we had IR vision for example, the whole concept of camouflage would be very different.. as shown by the various paints used to counter IR sighting devices. At the same time though it would still be a kind of camouflage.

Something similar actually happened in air combat, as with the advent of radars and guided weapons many believed that there was no use for camouflage, afterall if I can hit a target beyond visual range, it does not matter if this is camouflaged or not and by eliminating camouflage it's possible to save weight and most important maintenance time.

At some point in the '50s the RAF and some European and Middle Eastern air forces were the only ones using camouflaged aircraft while most others had bare metal or aluminum painted machines. Camouflage came back in fashion during the Vietnam War, when air combat involved visual contact again. With the current improvements in guided weapons we may well lose the need for proper "optical" camouflage, although the need for camouflage against radars and similar devices would still be needed, be it stealth designs and or radar absorbant materials.

 

Now one of the questions asked was if vehicles would all become white... depends ! White is used because makes sense for a lot of reasons, not necessarily because of cost... afterall red paint is not more expensive than white today. In military aviation the answer is already out there: grey is the colour ! Grey is a great compromise for many reasons, some of which of course involve camouflage.

White makes sense if solar heating is an issue, something that may be true in some applications but not in others. And of course white is great if some kind of logo has to be applied (one of the main reasons why white vans are white... it's easy to apply any company marking).

Another "colour" that makes sense in many situations is silver or aluminum: non camouflaged aircraft types with fabric surfaces were in silver all over the world as the aluminum powder in the paints was great at preserving the fabric from the effects of UV radiation. Silver/aluminum paints were used by many users and are still widely used in aviation.

If identification is important, then other colours would be preferable: red, orange, even black ! Afterall RAF tests have shown how a gloss black scheme works very well to avoid collisions in the air.

For different reasons bare metal could also be an option but while this was used in the past, it's a finish with a big drawback: corrosion. Painted surfaces are more resistant, so I'd expect that paint would still be widely used in a world where camouflage does not exist.

 

 

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On 9/15/2019 at 12:57 PM, Abandoned Project said:

I was thinking about the overall colour scheme, not commercial advertising

It's not a bad idea,who'd notice a tank in the middle of the night covered in adverts/neon signs in the middle of Trafalgar Square....

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Vince1159 said:

It's not a bad idea,who'd notice a tank in the middle of the night covered in adverts/neon signs in the middle of Trafalgar Square....

That would count as camouflage though. Although I could see armoured vehicles going into battle painted in regimental colours but that's probably just my Warhammer 40K past giving me a biased opinion. Given the H&S mad world we live in now, I could also see the UN stepping in and mandating that all types of military equipment be colour coded to an internationally recognised scheme with tanks a certain colour different to APCs and fighter jets different to bombers. That way you would know what you are shooting at.

Edited by Abandoned Project

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Following a mid air collision between two of its gliders the Air Cadets covered large areas of their glider fleet's wings in Dayglo Fire Orange.

Oddly, whilst making the aircraft stand out at close range, at longer ranges, ie those at which you'd want to see the other aircraft so that you could avoid it, the Dayglo broke up the outline and made it harder to see! The Air Cadets had invented Dayglo camouflage.

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49 minutes ago, Aeronut said:

Following a mid air collision between two of its gliders the Air Cadets covered large areas of their glider fleet's wings in Dayglo Fire Orange.

Oddly, whilst making the aircraft stand out at close range, at longer ranges, ie those at which you'd want to see the other aircraft so that you could avoid it, the Dayglo broke up the outline and made it harder to see! The Air Cadets had invented Dayglo camouflage.

Dayglo camouflage! Sounds like an oxymoron. Did it happen in the 1980s? That was the era of dayglo. 

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But is not camo natural and evolutionary? How many different lifeforms on this planet have natural camouflage that has evolved with them, over millions of years?

Humans didn't invent camouflage. It's always been there, no matter the environment or location, be it on the highest mountain or in the deepest sea and in differing lighting conditions. I just don't see how it could not have been " invented " when it has always been there. You just didn't see it!

 

 

 

Chris

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Posted (edited)

The animal kingdom is full of amazing animals using camouflage. Humans are not in any way in harmony with their surroundings, they impose on the world. As has been pointed out already, armies around the world use camouflage to avoid dieing, which is very understandable. But what if the mindset that existed for centuries about being seen and being proud in the middle of the battlefield of who you are still existed? Or would H&S take over? Or would armies be covered in corporate sponsorship?

Edited by Abandoned Project
Typo

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Abandoned Project said:

The animal kingdom is full of amazing animals using camouflage. Humans are not in any way in harmony with their surroundings, they impose on the world. As has been pointed out already, armies around the world use camouflage to avoid dyeing, which is very understandable. But what if the mindset that existed for centuries about being seen and being proud in the middle of the battlefield of who you are still existed? Or would H&S take over? Or would armies be covered in corporate sponsorship?

 

The problem is that that "mindset that existed for centuries" didn't really exist !

Or better, the urge to show themselves visible in the battlefield was simply a consequence of the way battles were fought and was mainly a way to improve the chances of success in war.

The search for high visibility on the battlefield first started when war was mainly a matter of duels between "champions", a way to wage war typical of the early history of humans. In this case being more visible was a way to impress the enemy and as in duels the psychological effect can be as important as the skills of the fighters, it was a way to try and achieve victory.

With the introduction of military units, this aspect remained as warfare still mainly consisted in close contact fight with bladed weapons. The more imposing a unit looked, the more they could hope to scare the enemy before fighting. Things didn't change much even with the introduction of firearms, at least not until the advent of rifled muskets

With organised units in the field, it also became important to clearly mark the location of the commanders and other important personnel. Knowing the location of the chain of command meant being able to better maintain cohesion of the units while knowing the location of certain prearranged points meant quicker regrouping. Officers didn't wear elaborate clothing to show their strength but to be better identified by their men, so to guarantee they were followed in the right place. The ethos of the dashing commander in his shiny attire was a way to "romanticise" what was a very practical need in the days when no radio was available.

This is something that lasted well into the XIX Century and beyond. The Red Baron for example wanted his aircraft to be clearly recognisable as he wanted his wingmen to always know his position in a fight. Again, in an era where communication was difficult, making the leader visible was the best way to show everyone where he was.

So we shouldn't think that soldiers of the past wanted to be seen because they had more courage than today, they needed to be seen for very practical reasons and then the idea of the hero well visible in battle was invented to glorify such practical requirements.

With the advent of a different type of war, being visible became a hindrance, hence the advent of more and more elaborate forms of camouflage. Officers learnt the hard way that looking similar to a soldier is the best way to survive and since the survival of the chain of command is imperative in war, a officer who wanted to be immediately visible today would be putting the success of a mission at risk. Popular culture then followed creating different heros, so much that today we have plenty of books glorifying the ethos of the special forces operative that reaches his target silently defeating whole armies... a different type of hero for a different kind of war

Edited by Giorgio N

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They wpold probably look like WWI biplanes, Red Baron anyone?---John

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If camouflage hadn't been invented, then the only reasons for painting things would be to increase their resistance to corrosion, to aid recognition or for special functional purposes (e.g. anti-magnetic paint).

 

As with most things the paint finish chosen would usually be the cheapest to get the job done.

 

 

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