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Modern German Flecktarn introduced 1990
Type Military camouflage
Place of origin  Germany
Service history
In service 1990–present
Used by See below
Wars Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Afghanistan War (2001-present)
Iraq War (2003-present)
Production history
Designed 1976
Variants See below
German flecktarn, 2002

Flecktarn (German pronunciation: [ˈflɛktaʁn]; "mottled camouflage"; also known as Flecktarnmuster or Fleckentarn) is a family of 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-color disruptive camouflage patterns, the most common being the five-color pattern, consisting of dark green, light green, black, red brown and green brown or tan depending on the manufacturer. The use of spots creates a "dithering" effect, which eliminates hard boundaries between the different colors. The original German 5-color pattern is designed for use in the European temperate woodland terrain. A 3-color variation called Bundeswehr Wüstentarn is used for arid and desert conditions and is in use by the German Bundeswehr in Afghanistan.

Original German 5-color flecktarn has been adopted, copied and modified by many countries for their own camouflage patterns. For example, the first-ever digital camouflage pattern created, CADPAT, which launched the digital camouflage trend throughout the 2000s, is ultimately derived from German flecktarn and functionally based on the same principles.


The German Army started experimenting with camouflage patterns before World War II, and some army units used Splittermuster ("splinter pattern") camouflage, first issued in 1931.[1] Waffen-SS combat units used various patterns from 1935 onwards. Many SS camouflages were designed by Prof. Johann Georg Otto Schick.

  • Platanenmuster ("Plane tree pattern"; 1937–1942): spring/summer and autumn/winter variations
  • Rauchtarnmuster ("smoke pattern"; 1939–1944): spring/summer and autumn/winter variations
  • Palmenmuster ("palm tree pattern"; circa 1941–?): spring/autumn variations
  • Beringtes Eichenlaubmuster ("oak leaf B"; 1942–1945)
  • Eichenlaubmuster ("oak leaf A"; 1943–1945): spring/summer and autumn/winter variations
  • Erbsenmuster ("pea dot"; 1944–1945): Originally meant to replace all other SS camouflage patterns
  • Leibermuster (1945)

Modern Flecktarn[edit]

Desert colors

In 1976, the Bundeswehr in Germany developed a number of prototype camouflage patterns, to be trialled as replacements for the solid olive-grey "moleskin" combat uniform. At least four distinct camouflage patterns were tested during Bundeswehr Truppenversuch 76 ("Bundeswehr Troop Trial 76"). These were based on patterns in nature:[1] one was called "Dots" or "Points"; another was called "Ragged Leaf" or "Saw Tooth Edge"; another was based on pine needles in winter.[1]

Designed by German company Marquardt & Schulz, several patterns were developed and tested by the German military with the pattern named "Flecktarn B" chosen as the final pattern for use. The word flecktarn is a composite formed from the German words Fleck (spot, blot, patch or pattern) and Tarnung (camouflage). The Bundeswehr kept its green combat dress throughout the 1980s, however. Flecktarn was only widely introduced in 1990 in a newly reunited Germany, after trials in the 1980s.[1]

In Germany, the Flecktarn camouflage pattern is used by all Bundeswehr service branches, the Heer (army), the Luftwaffe (air force), some Marine (navy) units and even the Sanitätsdienst (medical service). It is also used by snipers of the Österreichisches Bundesheer (Federal Army of Austria) and Belgian Air Force ground personnel and airborne infantry. France tested Flecktarn for use, but rejected it; the Dutch army also tested and rejected it, allegedly because it was "too aggressive".[1] Flecktarn was seen as controversial because of its resemblance to the Waffen-SS "peas" and "oak leaves" patterns, which also used dots in various colors.[1]

Flecktarn is the basis for Bundeswehr Wüstentarn (desert camouflage), Danish T/78 camouflage and Danish M/84 camouflage, including a desert variation of the Danish pattern. Several variations of the Flecktarn camouflage are also used by the Russian military, one is called Sever (Russian for "north"), sometimes also referred as Flectar-d. Another variant is called Tochka-4. Other country variations include Japan's Type II Camouflage; Type 03 Plateau camouflage, used by the Chinese military in Tibet (and some Russian Special Forces); and an urban variation used by some police units in Poland.

In 2013, German Company Mil-Tec® introduced a new version of Flecktarn, called the Arid Flecktarn. It retains the 5-color pattern but with the colourscheme resembling that of MultiCam.[2] It remains a commercial variant and is not in use by any world military.


Flecktarn variant of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, 2010

Flecktarn has been adopted by the armed forces of many countries. Albania used a 5-color German flecktarn while participating in IFOR in Bosnia in 1996.[3] India has a three-color variant of Bundeswehr Wüstentarn worn by its Border Security Force.[4] China has a 5-color flecktarn worn by PLA trainees. A recolored copy of 5-color flecktarn using only browns and grey, often called "Tibetarn" worn by PLA units operating in Tibet and the Beijing Military Region until it was replaced by a digital version in 2007.[5] Denmark uses a three-color variant with dark green replacing tan for woodland environments.[6] A brown-dominant variant of Bundeswehr Wüstentarn for desert environments. France has a commercially produced 3-color "Schneetarn" variant used by 13e Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes (13th RDP) of the French Army.[7] Japan uses four-color variant with black, earth brown, and medium green on a tan background.[citation needed] Kyrgyzstan uses a commercial variant of 5-color flecktarn made in China, with 3 of the 5 screen colors reversed[8] This version is otherwise marketed for the Airsoft/Paintball community.[9] Russia has a 5-color flecktarn used by FSB, Russian Airborne Troops and Spetsnaz. It is a variant of 3-color Danish flecktarn, called Flectar-D.[10] used by VDV and MVD. Ukraine has a 5-color flecktarn used by Ukraine Air Force and Special Forces. Flectar-D used by some Special Forces. 5-color flecktarn worn by the new Ukraine Interior Ministry (2015)[11]


External links[edit]