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"Camouflage" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on British camouflage practices was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 25, May 20, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A recent British publication gives some excellent pointers on camouflage, including some principles of general application.

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a. If an effective camouflage idea interferes with an administrative lay-out, change the administrative lay-out.

b. If a camouflage idea prevents the effective tactical use of a weapon or a position, modify the camouflage idea.

c. Remember that camouflage is something to be done before and not after. It should be preventive medicine and not plastic surgery.

d. Therefore, an advance party is worth its weight in gold in planning measures for concealment. In preparing to take up a position, here is the ideal order of events:

(1) Reconnoiter the site and decide how best you may use any existing pattern to assist concealment.

(2) Plan the paths by which you will reach those positions without leaving "pointers" for the enemy to follow.

(3) Plan how to reduce to a minimum the mess due to digging, building, etc., and how to hide whatever part is inevitable.

(4) Hide or disguise the shadows. Cover the shiny surfaces. Make color match the surroundings as well as you can; but remember that it is more important to have the correct texture than the correct color.

(5) See that your camouflage plan is understood and followed by all in the unit.

(6) Remember that unless you keep strict traffic control and maintain your camouflage properly, your position will soon become conspicuous again.

e. Remember that the lower the object, the smaller the shadow cast.

f. Remember that even if you are halted for only a very short time, it is worth while taking all possible measures for concealment. Once spotted by the enemy, even if you are not attacked, your game has been given away.

Even if it is only a matter of parking vehicles for a few hours, it is well worth while sending someone ahead who has studied the principles of concealment to view the ground you intend to use and to make a plan of how to use it to the best advantage.

If you can follow the principles outlined above, the positions you occupy will look less like ground taken over by the army. They will therefore look less important to the enemy, less worth while to photograph, or attack. Finally, remember that concealment is not hiding for the sake of hiding. It is hiding in order to attack the enemy with more deadly effect. That is the beginning and end of camouflage of armies in the field.


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