US Camouflage patterns of the Mid-Late 20th Century

The art of concealment - Personal camouflage has come a long way since World War 2. Throughout a number of overseas conflicts, across eight decades, the United States Military has produced a number of unique patterns to suit the ‘modern’ war-fighter in whichever environment he is sent to fight in. This is every major camouflage pattern officially adopted by the US Military between The Vietnam War to the War in the Persian Gulf.

ERDL ‘Leaf’ - 1948-1981

Although originally designed in 1948, this pattern didn’t see widespread use until the Vietnam War in the 1960s. During its 3 decade-long lifespan, the original pattern had been altered three times in order to accommodate for different climates and conditions. During the war in Vietnam, two patterns were issued, both of which have various nomenclature but are quite easily remembered as ‘green dominant and ‘brown dominant. The later brown-dominant version was used as a base for its successor known to collectors as RDF ERDL, and later, the very well known ‘M-81’ Woodland which has exactly the same pattern and shapes as RDF, but is scaled up by 60 per cent.

Woodland - 1981-Present

The best-known camo pattern in the world. The King of camo. Used by the US Military for an astonishing four decades and counting; this is the widest-spread pattern in history. It has been copied countless times by countless nations and has seamlessly integrated itself into the fashion world with numerous top brands incorporating iterations of it into their clothing lines… As is always the case, however, nothing ever comes close to the original - so here are a few examples available now on the Rokit Website.

6-colour desert (DBDU) - 1976-1995

Quite affectionately known as ‘Choc-Chip’, this was the US Military’s first attempt at a camouflage pattern for arid environments. Amid growing tensions in the Middle East during the late 1980s, the United Stated began trials for a new camouflage pattern to prepare for a potential conflict in the area. Tested in the rocky arid regions of the US, the pattern fared well during trials, however, the dense and contrasting shapes and colours didn’t hold up as well in the flat, open desert environment of Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm and was mostly replaced within a year.

3-colour desert (DCU) - 1991-2012

Enter ‘DCU’. Known to troops as ‘Coffee Stain Camo’, this pattern entered service in 1991 to replace the quickly outdated DBDU. Used throughout all major US conflicts until 2012, this pattern saw widespread use by all branches of the US Military.

Desert night - Early 1990s

One of the most intuitive patterns on this list. Known as ‘Desert Night’ camouflage, this pattern might not work quite how you would expect. Rather than attempting to blend into the environment as does traditional camouflage, the Desert Night pattern was designed to distort the imaging captured by enemy night vision devices. Though in practice, not particularly effective, it works by attempting to match the pixelated resolution of soviet NVDs, thus breaking up the silhouette of the wearer which blends them in with the environment.

Stay tuned for part two - US camouflage patterns of the 21st Century… Coming soon…

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