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Chapter 15 - Camouflage:
The Visibility of Airplanes. In the Great War the airplane made its debut in warfare and in a short time made a wonderful record, but when the war was over, aerial camouflage was not yet based on science. No nation had developed this general aspect of camouflage systematically or to an extent comparable with the developments on land and sea. One of the chief difficulties was that scientific data which were applicable were lacking. During the author's activities as Chairman of the Committee on Camouflage of the National Research Council he completed an extensive investigation [The Visibility of Airplanes, M. Luckiesh, Jour. Frank. Inst. March and April, 1919; also Aerial Photometry, Astrophys. Jour. 1919, 49, p. 108.] of the fundamentals upon which the attainment of low visibility for airplanes must be based. Solutions of the problems encountered in rendering airplanes of low visibility resulted and various recommendations were made, but the experiences and data will be drawn upon here only in a general way. In this general review details would consume too much space, for the intention has been to present a broad view of the subject of camouflage.
The visibility of airplanes presents some of the most interesting problems to be found in the development of the scientific basis for camouflage. The general problem may be subdivided according to the type of airplane, its field of operation, and its activity. For example, patrol craft which fly low over our own lines would primarily be camouflaged for low visibility as viewed by enemies above. (See Fig. 99.) High-flying craft would be rendered of low visibility as viewed primarily by the enemy below. Airplanes for night use present other problems and the visibility of seaplanes is a distinct problem, owing to the fact that the important background is the water, because seaplanes are not ordinarily high-flying craft. In all these considerations it will be noted that the activity of the airplanes is of primary importance, because it determines the lines of procedure in rendering the craft of low visibility. This aspect is too complicated to discuss thoroughly in a brief resume.
|Fig. 99. - Representative earth backgrounds for an
airplane (uncamouflaged) as viewed from above.
The same fundamentals of light, color, and vision apply in this field as in other fields of camouflage, but different data are required. When viewing aircraft from above, the earth is the background of most importance. Cumulus clouds on sunny days are generally at altitudes of 4000 to 7000 feet. Clouds are not always present and besides they are of such a different order of brightness from that of the earth that they cannot be considered in camouflage designed for low visibility from above. In other words, the compromise in this case is to accept the earth as a background and to work on this basis. We are confronted with seasonal changes of landscape, but inasmuch as the summer landscape was of greatest importance generally, it was the dominating factor in considering low visibility from above.
On looking down upon the earth one is impressed with the definite types of areas such as cultivated fields, woods, barren ground and water. Different landscapes contain these areas in various proportions, which fact must be considered. Many thousand determinations of reflection-factor and of approximate hue were made for these types of areas, and upon the mean values camouflage for low visibility as viewed from above was developed. A few values are given in the accompanying table, but a more comprehensive presentation will be found elsewhere. [The Visibility of Airplanes, M. Luckiesh, Jour. Frank. Inst. March and April, 1919; also Aerial Photometry, Astrophys. Jour. 1919, 49, p. 108.]
Chapter 15 - Camouflage:
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Chapter 15 - Camouflage:|
The Visibility of Airplanes, Mean Reflection-Factors
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