Friday, October 21, 2011

The History of Camo Part II... The Attack of The U.S Camo

Rothco's Woodland Camo on display
Who said sequels where never as good as the original???
When we last left off Camouflage has just made its way to all the major countries entrenched in warfare. By the early 1900's countries from France to the U.S had set up departments solely for the study and development of camo.  These new camouflage departments consisted of artists, designers and architectures all working to design better camouflage patterns. And by 1917 the word camouflage was added to the English language. It's hard to believe that the word "camouflage" has only been around for less than 100 years.

"There must be something intriguing about the word camouflage" an officer told Time Magazine in 1942
How the Leopard Got His Spots
And how true he was... With camouflage patterns becoming mass produced you began to see the variations of patterns become more prevalent during World War II. At first the patterning was uncommon, and a sign of an elite unit. But by 1942 General Douglas MacArthur actually demanded 150,000 jungle camouflage uniforms for his units. And by 1944 U.S troops were spotted on the shores of Normandy it what was known as "frog skin"/"leopard spot" patterns.  But this pattern didn't last long, due to similarities to German Waffen SS troops, which lead to confusion and friendly fire. Remnants of the leopard pattern where later adapted by the USMC special units (which later evolve into the Navy SEALS). These spotted uniforms where even used by Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. 

As the U.S entered in to the Vietnam War, U.S troops began to adopt the pattern know as "Tigerstripe" this pattern was also known as the "John Wayne pattern" because it was featured in one of his movies during the time. The crazy thing about this pattern is that while troops were wearing it, the Tigerstrip patter was never an officially government issued pattern. And now 40 years later we are seeing a resurgence in this classic pattern - most recently featured by Converse in their new Chuck Taylor's or Rothco's Vintage Tigerstripe Fatigue Pants

M81 Woodland
By the '80's the U.S had reached the next stage in the camo evolution or as I would like to call it  "camolution" by developing what is known as M81 Woodland pattern, born out of an Enlarged version of the ERDL Leaf camouflage pattern. The enlargement of the design represented a shift in military tactics from the closed range combat of Vietnam to more distant fighting. Of all the patterns I would have to say this one is my fav! A true classic, whose design elements can be seen from the theater of war to the fashion runways of Milan and Paris.

Yummy Desert Digital!
It's very clear to see how the location of the war effects the development of the Uniform. During the Gulf war, America move toward desert camouflage patterns. First was, what was known as the "chocolate chip" pattern. And I can say that after starring at this pattern for a while it does give me a strange craving for some cookie dough ice cream! Then staying on the food track was the next design now as the DCU [Desert Camouflage Uniform] or otherwise known as the "coffee stain" pattern. Not sure what's up with all the food references but I am pretty sure the last thing I want to be thinking about while engaged in battle is how hungry my uniform makes me.
ACU Digital Rothco T

Digital...Digital...Digital... I think we can leave this one for another time.

Till next time ~ Kristy Dineen