camouflage (kămˈəfläzh) [key], in warfare, the disguising of objects with artificial aids, especially for the purpose of making them blend into their surroundings or of deceiving the observer as to the location of strategic points. The principle, of course, is observed in the world of nature (see protective coloration) and has long been used by humans. Scientific camouflage was greatly developed in World War I, when the French, in particular, used elaborate devices to conceal military objectives and industrial plants. False landscapes were created, using wire screens as a foundation for foliage, and ships were dazzle-painted to conceal their course by distortion of perspective. In World War II camouflage was further developed and was used on a large scale by all belligerents. With the development of radar and aerial photography (see aerial and satellite photography) during that war, camouflage diminished greatly in utility; however, camouflage again became important, particularly in the guerrilla campaigns of the Vietnam War.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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