Flecktarn (German pronunciation: [ˈflɛktaʁn]; "mottled camouflage"; also known as Flecktarnmuster or Fleckentarn) is a 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-color disruptive camouflage pattern, 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 in much the same way the squares in the newest digital camouflage patterns do. The pattern is designed for use in temperate woodland terrain. It has been adapted as desert camouflage by varying the colors.
The German Army started experimenting with camouflage patterns before World War II, and some army units used "splinter" pattern camouflage. 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 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 ("44 dot"; 1944–1945): Originally meant to replace all other SS camouflage patterns
- Leibermuster (1945)
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: one was called "Dots" or "Points"; another was called "Ragged Leaf" or "Saw Tooth Edge"; another was based on pine needles in winter.
Of the patterns tested, the one that has become known as Flecktarn was selected for adoption. The word 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.
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". 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.
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. A variation of the Flecktarn camouflage is also used by the Russian Army and is called Sever (Russian for "north"), sometimes also referred as Flectar-d. Other variations include Japan's Type II Camouflage; Type 03 Plateau camouflage, used by the Chinese military in Tibet; and an urban variation used by some police units in Poland.
- Albania- 5-color German flecktarn used only during participation of IFOR in Bosnia in 1996.
- Armenia-3-color Bundeswehr Wüstentarn worn while serving in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
- Belgium-5-color flecktarn used by the Belgium Air Force only.
- India-A three-color variant of Bundeswehr Wüstentarn worn only by the Border Security Force (BSF.)
- China-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.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo-surplus 5-color supplied by Belgium
- Denmark—A three-color variant with dark green replacing tan for woodland environments. A brown-dominant variant of Bundeswehr Wüstentarn for desert environments.
- France-the commercially produced 3-color "Schneetarn" (Snow Camo) variant used by 13e Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes (13th RDP) of the French Army.
- Japan—A four-color variant with black, earth brown, and medium green on a tan background.
- Georgia-ex-Germany 5-color flecktarn only during the UN mission to Kosovo in 2005.
- Kosovo-5-color flecktarn worn by members of Kosovo Liberation Army 1998-1999.
- Kyrgyzstan-A commercial variant of 5-color flecktarn made in China, with 3 of the 5 screen colors reversed. This version is otherwise marketed for the Airsoft/Paintball community.
- Poland-Urban variant used by special units of the National Police and the Police Internal Security Agency.
- Russia-5-color flecktarn used by FSB, Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) and Spetsnaz. Variant of 3-color Danish flecktarn, called Flectar-D used by VDV and MVD.
- Ukraine-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)
- Newark, Tim (2007). Camouflage. Thames and Hudson, with Imperial War Museum. ISBN 978-0-500-51347-7. Page 157.
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