The Art of Disappearing

By Tim Newark

This book is a capsule history of camouflage used by the military. The derivation of the word camouflage is from the French camouflet used to describe a puff of smoke blown into the face of someone to confuse or blind them. I may also come from camoufler, a term used to denote stage make-up.

The origins of camouflage dates back to the Plains Indians who donned wolf skins to approach Buffalo when hunting. In the early 18th century the British formed rifle regiments for the purpose of skirmishing, they dressed these units in green uniforms to allow them concealment during these operations. The Austrian Army fielded Jager units dressed in gray for the same purpose. In the later stages of the 18th century the British Army in India adopted a Khaki colored uniform for day-to-day service, allowing them to blend in with their dusty surroundings. This khaki uniform was finally adopted in the British Army in 1902.

At the outset of the First World War, the British were dressed in khaki, the Germans dressed in gray, while the French went to war in their Blue coats and red trousers.

Camouflage during the rest of the war was left to the naval forces with their dazzle paintjobs on ships, with he exception of the French adopting the Horizon Blue uniform after suffering horrendous casualties.

Further exploration of the development of camouflage textiles was conducted by the Germans during the early ‘30’s. Their patterns were copied from the forest in color and shading. Their initial efforts were produced in the form of a shelter half/poncho for use by the Waffen SS troops. These camouflage ponchos were barred from use by the regular Army by law.

Most camouflage textiles were produced during he period of World War II by Nazi Germany. The United States produced a “frog spot” pattern for use by the Marine Corps in the Pacific. The Army declined to use them in Europe for fear of them being confused with the German patterns and subject to “friendly fire”.

After WWII, camouflage was shelved by most of the armies of the world, until the Viet Nam War, when camouflage uniforms used by the South Vietnamese Army found favor.

Since that time, most of the armies of the world have adopted camouflage uniforms for their troops. This small book if filled with illustrations of the camouflage patterns generated by various countries. These illustration will serve as guides to modelers who wish to dress their miniatures in correctly patterned camo uniforms.

I recommend this book not only to modelers, for the above reason, but to the uniform buff who wants to understand the origin of the complicated generation of camouflage and its role in military history.

This book is available from Osprey Publications.

This book is available in three different formats and they are;

Paperback Book


ePub eBook


PDF eBook