Experiments in ship camouflage during World War I were necessitated by the inordinate success of German submarines (called “U-boats”) in destroying Allied ships. Because it is impossible to make a ship invisible at sea, Norman Wilkinson, Everett L. Warner and other artists devised methods of course distortion in which high-contrast, unrelated shapes were painted on a ship's surface, thereby confusing the periscope view of the submarine gunner.

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