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"Japanese Camouflage" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following brief U.S. intelligence report on Japanese camouflage methods in WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 16, Jan. 14, 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.]


Many of the reports coming back from the various theaters of operation have stressed the excellence of Japanese camouflage (see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, p. 16). It appears that they adapt the type of camouflage employed to suit the country in which they are operating, rather than relying upon any set principles or stereotyped pattern. As it is evident that much importance is attached to this subject, a selection of topics in these reports is given below.

*        *        *

a. A British officer's report states that the Japanese are excellent at camouflage, and use the chameleon principle. Whatever type of country was being traversed, their style was altered, in that different colored vines or branches, to correspond with local vegetation, were fastened to their persons. Thus, lying along branches or standing against bushes, they were absorbed into the landscape.

b. A dead sniper who was examined carried the following camouflage equipment: a green net for his helmet; a pair of long green gloves; a bottle of green liquid with which his face and rifle were smeared; and a small hypodermic syringe. This syringe was empty when examined, and there was no indication of its contents.

c. According to another report, Japanese snipers have packs in which a number of differently colored gymshirts are carried. They change these shirts according to the color of the cover from which they are operating. They also have face nets, which are of various colors, and like the gymshirts, are changed according to the nature of the cover.

The report also states that camouflaged elephants had been seen. Their hides had been painted with large patches of different shades of green to tone in with their surroundings.


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