World War II Almost Saw The Allies Employ 'Cloaking Devices' On Navy Ships
They could have been invisible, if it worked
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January 1, 2020 - by Sebastien Roblin for nationalinterest.org
Today, research into active-camouflage and visual or infrared-cloaking technology continues apace, periodically resulting in press releases on infrared-cloaked tanks and invisible drones.
Cloaking devices are a staple of science fiction. But while a Klingon Bird-of-Prey materializing out of thin air makes for fun special effects, real-world stealth technology has mostly focused on lowering observability to radar and infrared sensors that can see further than the human eye.
However, camouflage is the original cloaking technology. During and after World War I, navies experimented with elaborate camouflage schemes intended to conceal ships on a distant horizon. Artists called "camofleurs," including French impressionist and cubist painters, developed wildly striped dazzle camouflage. Such passive camouflage schemes delivered only mixed results, however—but during World War II a new approach suggested itself.
On a winter evening in December 1940, Professor Edmund Burr of McGill University in Montreal, Canada was observing an aircraft making a night landing through binoculars when it abruptly seemed to disappear.
Burr had been assigned to study how to spot airplanes and had noted that even a black-painted plane with its running lights off could be distinguished due to its darker silhouette than the surrounding night sky. White aircraft against a white, daylight sky proved equally perceptible.
Burr realized what was happening:...
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