Product Spotlight: IJN Deck Camouflage

The Imperial Japanese Navy took great pains to camouflage some of their capital ships to protect them against aerial attack.

While doing research on a few Eaglemoss warships, I thought it particularly interesting to share some insights we came across as to how the Imperial Japanese Navy attempted to camouflage its aircraft carriers against aerial attack.

Dazzle camouflage was developed late in the nineteenth century to protect surface ships against submarine attack. Later on, it was not only used to a greater degree to deceive surface ship gunners and submarine captains but also from scout and strike aircraft. WWII US carriers wore Measure 1, Measure 11, and Measure 21 schemes, and were designed as periscope disruptive schemes. They painted their decks, first with Dark Gray 5-D, then stained their decks with Deck Blue 20-B and Deck Blue Stain 21.

Japanese carriers, such as the Zuiho, Unryu and Chitose, typically the primary targets for Allied bombers and strike aircraft, adopted alternative top deck paint schemes in an effort to mistake them for another type of vessel (merchant ship superstructure, stacks and hatches) when observed from the air. They also tried swirl and strong geometric patterns to break up the flatness of their decks. The carrier Zuiho did not have a superstructure so it had a clean ‘canvas’ deck to represent a skewed ship with strong turret and gun shadow shapes. Nevertheless, it was still sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.

You can see this type of deck camouflage first-hand with the Eaglemoss IJN Zuiho (EMGC29) and the IJN Chitose (EMGC74) aircraft carriers.


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