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Australian Special Air Service recruiting poster camouflage data

Uncover your potential', indeed! Once you stop ogling the girl, though, you might notice that this Australian Special Air Service (SAS) recruiting poster shows Australian Disruptive Pattern Camouflage to very good effect. [Image courtesy Brad Turner collection.]

Italian three-colour camouflage (2nd pattern)
Kingdom of Italy

Italian three-colour camouflage can claim two significant distinctions. Firstly, its introduction in 1929 means that it was the first military camouflage ever to be widely issued. Secondly, its continuous use by Italian armed forces from 1929 until 1992 means that it is the longest-used military camouflage pattern in the world.

Although wartime German camouflage patterns have been extensively documented, wartime Italian camouflage patterns remain largely overlooked. It is frequently claimed that only one camouflage pattern — usually designated M29 telo mimetico ('camouflage cloth') — was used by Italy during World War 2. Nonetheless, the evidence to hand suggests that at least three quite different camouflage patterns were used by Italian forces during the Second World War.

Some authors have noted at least six distinct colour variations for wartime telo mimetico, and the moderate yellowish brown, greyish olive and moderate brown colouration shown here seems to be one of them, although this particular garment is of post-war manufacture. It is an example of second pattern camouflage, which appears to be an anisotropically-scaled (87% horizontally, 75% vertically) variation of the first pattern. Presumably the dimensions were changed to accommodate smaller printing rollers.

Apart from the manufacture of jump smocks for Italian parachutists after 1937, the Italian Royal Army (Italian: Regio Esercito) principally used telo mimetico for the production of camouflaged shelter-halves. After 23 September 1943, though, Italian three-colour camouflage was used by military formations of the Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI) for a much wider variety of garments.

The widespread use of Italian three-colour camouflage by soldiers of the German Reich coincided with the 1943 disarmament of the Italian forces. Both 1.SS-Panzer-Division „Leibstandarte SS Adolph Hitler” and 12.SS-Panzer-Division „Hitler Jugend” participated in the process, and it is perhaps no surprise that members of these two divisions were — to judge by wartime photos — the most conspicuous users of Italian camouflage fabric. It was also used by 29.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS („Italienische Nr.1”), Wehrmacht units operating in Italy and the Balkans, and some of Germany's allies.

After World War Two, Italian three-colour camouflage continued in service with the armed forces of the Repubblica Italiana until 1992. At that time the Italian Army adopted a woodland pattern camouflage, and the Battalion San Marco adopted yet another pattern, which is specific to the formation. is grateful to Lorenzo Russo, for his invaluable contributions to this article.

camouflage data

1cm grid

Italian three-colour camouflage (2nd pattern)

Specimen of Italian three-colour camouflage (2nd pattern)

Specimen kindly supplied by Brad Turner

Actual size: 21.47×28.21cm

also known as:
  • Italienisches-Tarnmuster
  • Telo Mimetico ('camouflage cloth')
country of origin:

Regno d'Italia

National flag: Kingdom of Italy

Kingdom of Italy

used by:
  • Italian army.
  • Italian paratroopers.
also used by:

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