Re: Lozenge

Bill Shatzer (
Wed, 16 Nov 1994 01:21:52 -0500

I've not seen any comprehensive article on the development of the lozenge
fabric so the following is an amalgamation of several sources and some personal

The basic initial thrust for camouflage dope was not concealment but rather
sunlight protection. It was discovered that prolonged exposure to sunlight
caused the original clear dope covered fabric to deteriorate. A dark colored
dope furnished a measure of protection against sunlight and thus was adopted,
more or less universally by the major belligerents by 1916 or so. And, as
long as you've got to put dark dope for sunlight protection, you might as well
use a color that provides a measure of camouflage. Ergo, the wide spread
adoption of greens and browns (*but*, check out the British red (PC10,
I think) and the German mauve for obvious exceptions - although these weren't
necessarily *anti-camouflage* colors for reasons too lengthly to cover here.)

Now dark colored dope is all well and good but it has one great disadvantage -
it's a *lot* heavier than clear dope and with aircraft weighing less than
1,000 lbs, even 10 or 15 lbs of additional dope weight has an adverse effect
on a/c performance. Thus the Germans came up with the bright idea of dying
the fabric itself for sunlight protection which would allow the lighter
clear dope to be used while still providing adequate sunlight protection.

The problem the Germans faced was selecting a proper color to dye the fabric
when they couldn't know, in advance, what sort of terrain the a/c would
be operating over. Some places green would be appropriate, other places
brown, or mauve, or ochre would be better. The solution they adopted was
to use *all* the colors on the theory that at least one of the colors
would be right and, in any case, at a distance the multi-colored fabric
would kind of blend into a "neutral" color which would be an acceptable
camouflage color over almost any terrain.

The lozenge was *not* an attempt to match terrain features like fields, etc.
Witness the use of similar fabric (in blues and grays) by naval aircraft
operating mainly over water and by Austro-Hungarian aircraft operating largely
over the Alps and in the east.

I could expand on this if anyone is interested but this is too long already.
If you want more, e-mail me - I can expound forever! <g)

Cheers, Bill


"Just another road kill on the information superhighway."

Bill Shatzer - - aw177@Freenet.carleton.CA