The camouflage unit

Australia’s Camouflage Research Unit was based in Canberra during the Second World War. Headed by zoologist Professor William Dakin, the unit employed a number of architects and artists, including Frank Hinder and R. Emerson Curtis. Dakin was concerned to bring the principles of design, science and art to the traditionally military skill of camouflage, an aspect of homeland defence which he felt was being neglected.

The unit carried out extensive research on camouflage techniques. Members of the Camouflage Unit were regularly seconded to military units interstate and overseas to assist and advise on camouflaging experiments.

Don’t be an ostrich!

Don’t be an ostrich! Don’t be an ostrich! ARTV02603

The Camouflage Unit found it difficult to convince the military of the benefits of using camouflage techniques. Humour was a common technique employed to encourage the use of camouflage in the armed forces.

Frank Hinder used cut-out silhouettes of corvettes to determine the most effective method of naval camouflage. He used the pond behind the Hotel Canberra to carry out this research. Frank Hinder used cut-out silhouettes of corvettes to determine the most effective method of naval camouflage. He used the pond behind the Hotel Canberra to carry out this research. PR88/133.003

This technical photograph was taken by Frank Hinder during his research into different types of camouflage netting for tin helmets. This technical photograph was taken by Frank Hinder during his research into different types of camouflage netting for tin helmets. P06133.001

Technical photograph taken by Frank Hinder of a clustered group of rusted cans during his research into creating imitation shadows. Technical photograph taken by Frank Hinder of a clustered group of rusted cans during his research into creating imitation shadows. P06133.003