Dazzle camouflage, also known as Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle painting, was a camouflage paint scheme used on ships,  extensively during World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II. The scheme was credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, it consisted of a complex pattern of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other.


The concept of dazzle painting was used as a way to confuse the enemy about the speed and dimensions of a ship.

 Wilkinson, then a Lieutenant Commander on Royal Navy patrol duty, implemented the precursor of "dazzle" on RFA Industry; and HMS Alsatian became the first Navy ship in August 1917.

Images of all RFAs which were dazzle painted are hard to find. As and when additional images are obtained they will be displayed below. Drawings and images of models, where found, will also be displayed



RFA Industry (1)


Below are two images of the planned dazzle painting design for RFA Industry showing, it is claimed,  the ships port and starboard sides - it will be noted the drawings are both for the starboard side of the vessel. The orginal of these drawings are held in the Imperial War Museum in London.








RFA Limol






RFA Celerol


(ships model)


 (the ship)

 RFA Celerol Dazzle painted



RFA Rapidol






RFA Olcades

(two views)






RFA Maine (3)

H.M. Ambulance Transport Panama by W Jeneway

later to become RFA Maine (3)



H.M. Ambulance Transport Panama by W Jeneway later to become RFA Maine (3)

Image courtesy of the British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection



RFA Black Ranger




RFA Black Ranger at Scapa Flow in 1942 when part of the Fleet Refueling Service. 

Note the dazzel paint, her guns and the dummy funnel by the foremast

© Imperial War Museum



RFA Pearleaf (1)



Pearleaf Copenhagen 1918-4 

RFA Pearleaf (1) reportedly at Copenhagen
towards the end of World War 1
RFA Argo
Before RFA service as RFA Argo  the 'Q' Ship Lothbury sailed in dazzle paint

Other RFA's are known to have been dazzle painted. If images of these ships in their camouflage are found they will be displayed here.


Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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