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An American peacekeeper in Bosnia, 1999 camouflage data

An American peacekeeper in Bosnia, 1999. He wears the famous four-colour woodland pattern camouflage — which is, basically, an enlargement of the original ERDL pattern that was developed in 1948. [Image: Office U.S. Army Chief of Public Affairs.]

U.S. woodland pattern camouflage
United States of America

In February 1967, a new camouflage uniform, based on the pattern devised in 1948 by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) was issued to special units of the U.S. Army in Vietnam. The uniform was so successful that it was also issued to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) after 1968. Two versions of the ERDL camouflage pattern were eventually produced: a predominantly green 'lowlands' version (also known as 'Lime' ERDL) and a predominantly brown 'highlands' version (also known as 'Brown' ERDL).

Also known as 'leaf pattern', examples of both 'lowlands' and 'highlands' ERDL camouflage were shipped to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where they inspired the where they inspired the three-colour camouflage uniform (трёхцветная камуфлированная одежда, trans. tryokhtsvetnaya kamuflirovannaya odezhda, TTsKO) family of camouflage patterns.

In the United States, too, the original ERDL pattern continued to evolve. Its most recent evolution was the U.S. woodland camouflage pattern, which was introduced, in 1981, with the new Battle Dress Uniforms (abbrev. BDU).

In fact, the U.S. woodland camouflage pattern is little more than an enlarged version of the original ERDL design. It is a four-colour pattern, comprising large brown and medium green swathes, and smaller black 'branches', on a light khaki background.

The U.S. woodland camouflage pattern is, arguably, the most widely-recognised camouflage pattern in the world. It has been adopted by the armed forces of many American allies, and has even inspired a number of 'knock-off' patterns, such as the Russian «NATO» camouflage pattern.

The four-colour M81 BDU is authorised by wear by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces — Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. In 2002, however, the USMC issued its own Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform Pattern (also known as MARPAT™), which is scheduled to replace completely the BDU by 2006.

camouflage data

1cm grid

U.S. woodland pattern camouflage

Specimen of U.S. woodland pattern camouflage

Specimen kindly supplied by Piet Kramer collection

Actual size: 21.01×29.7cm

also known as:
  • battle dress uniform (abbrev. BDU) camouflage
  • M81 woodland camouflage pattern
country of origin:

United States of America

National flag: United States of America

United States of America

used by:
  • U.S. Air Force
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. police Special Weapons and Tactics (abbrev. SWAT) teams
also used by:

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