Welcome to Historical RFA
Dazzle camouflage, also known as Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle painting, was a camouflage paint scheme used on ships, extensively during World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II. The scheme was credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, it consisted of a complex pattern of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other.
The concept of dazzle painting was used as a way to confuse the enemy about the speed and dimensions of a ship.
Wilkinson, then a Lieutenant Commander on Royal Navy patrol duty, implemented the precursor of "dazzle" on RFA Industry; and HMS Alsatian became the first Navy ship in August 1917.
Images of all RFAs which were dazzle painted are hard to find. As and when additional images are obtained they will be displayed below. Drawings and images of models, where found, will also be displayed
RFA Industry (1)
Below are two images of the planned dazzle painting design for RFA Industry showing, it is claimed, the ships port and starboard sides - it will be noted the drawings are both for the starboard side of the vessel. The orginal of these drawings are held in the Imperial War Museum in London.
RFA Maine (3)
H.M. Ambulance Transport Panama by W Jeneway
later to become RFA Maine (3)
Image courtesy of the British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection
RFA Black Ranger
RFA Black Ranger at Scapa Flow in 1942 when part of the Fleet Refueling Service.
Note the dazzel paint, her guns and the dummy funnel by the foremast
© Imperial War Museum
RFA Pearleaf (1)
Other RFA's are know to have been dazzle painted. If images of these ships in their camouflage are found they will be displayed here.
In Hong Kong’s Marine Court on the 28 October 1921, the Magistrate, Lieutenant Conway Hake RNR gave his judgement in the case in which John Walter Edward Drake, Junior Engineer Officer of RFA Pearleaf was charged at the instance of the Master, Alfred S Leech RFA with absenting himself without leave from his duty in the engine room or stokehold at 1am on 16 October 1921 under the Transport Discipline Regulations
At 03:00hrs 6 June 1956 an RAF Sunderland flying boat with a surgical team lead by Squadron Leader Agnes R D Bartels M.B., B.S., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., RAF on board left Singapore in answer to an emergency call for urgent medical assistance from RFA Fort Charlotte.
This article is the result of an in-depth research programme which has been undertaken concerning Masters in the RFA.
With the start of the RFA the ships deck officers for many years had served their Apprenticeships on sailing ships and Captain John Hurst was one such officer.
John Hurst was born in London on 20 January 1887 and after his usual schooling he entered the training ship HMS Worcester, the Thames Nautical Training College at Greenhithe, as a Cadet serving on board her for just one year. He came ashore on 14 April 1904
Written by Lt Cmdr Chris Howat, Royal Navy (Retd) and Commodore Barry Rutterford, RFA (Retd)
Most people will probably never heard of Rockall, so what and where is it? Rockall is a small, uninhabited granite islet in the North Atlantic around 300 miles west of the island of St Kilda, Scotland. The size of the islet is surprising at 102 feet long by 83 feet wide and about 70 feet high. Rockall has an interesting history considering its isolation, but over the years it has been claimed by Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and of course the United Kingdom.
The Allied naval bombardment of the Dardanelles forts in February 1915 had disclosed the fact that the Turks had concealed their batteries on the peninsula very cleverly, and that airplanes and seaplanes had their limitations as directors of gunfire. Apart from troubles with their engines, there was always the self-evident axiom that an observer moving rapidly through the air cannot spot as accurately as an observer sitting in the basket of a stationary balloon. The Naval Commanders at the Dardanelles sent out an urgent signal for observation balloons, urging that they should be dispatched from England at once, so as to arrive in time for the landing on the Gallipoli peninsula.