Czechoslovakia

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Czechoslovakia (CSSR)

There is significant evidence to suggest that machinery for printing camouflage fabric had been moved to Czechoslovakia during the later stages of the Second World War, where it continued to produce material for the German war effort. These machines appear to have produced some of the earliest camouflage patterns worn by the new Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia. In the 1950s, however, Czech innovators began breaking away from the German and Italian designs and introduced some very colorful camouflage patterns seemingly designed for use in specific terrain or perhaps even during certain seasons. Then in 1963, the Czech Army can be said to have fallen victim to the drab trends of the Warsaw Pact, adopting a "rain" pattern design barely distinguishable at a distance as anything but a solid color. A plain khaki uniform was also introduced in 1975, but by the mid-1980s experiments with new camouflage designs began anew, producing a "leaf" pattern based on the US M1948 ERDL, and a two-color desert pattern. Never officially adopted for the Czechoslovak Army, on January 1st, 1993 the country was peacefully divided into two states, Slovakia and Czech Republic, and both of these nations later went on to adopt the new camouflage designs for their standard combat uniform.

Czechoslovakian Camouflage Patterns

  • Seen below are samples of the earliest known camouflage fabric to have been produced in postwar Czechoslovakia. Based on the German Wehrmacht Sumpfmuster ("marsh") pattern, the Czech design has been printed in reverse of the German model and using modified shapes based on the originals. There remains some speculation as to whether the earliest Czech versions were printed using original German equipment that was moved there during the war.

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  • Another early camouflage design to emerge from post-war Czechoslovakia was a four colour pattern also loosely-based on the German Sumpfmuster ("marsh") pattern. Introduced in 1948, past evidence has suggested this version may have been printed on original German WW2 era rollers, although this is proving increasingly less likely. There are several known versions of this pattern, which was used primarily for shelter quarters but also saw very limited use as a British Denison-style parachutist smock.

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  • Several new patterns emerged in the 1950s, including the mrácky ("clouds") reversible pattern. Official designated Letní maskovací odev se skvrnami ("summer camouflage design with dapple pattern"), the design features dark and light olive "cloud" shapes on a pale or lichen green background on one side, with brown & light olive green "cloud" shapes on a tan or grey-tan background on the opposite side. Many collectors believe the green side was intended for wear in the Spring, and the grey side in the Autumn; hence, you may find references to "spring clouds" and "autumn clouds" by some collectors. The lightweight reversible uniforms printed with this pattern were used by the Czechoslovak 22nd Airborne Brigade and reconnaissance elements of the Army from the 1950s into the 1970s (although officially production stopped in 1962).

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  • Another colorful design to emerge from this time period is the duby ("oaks") reversible pattern. One side has a pattern that is often mistaken for the German Leibermuster pattern - although in fact they are quite different aside from a similar use of color. Incorporating black, olive green & transparent red amoeba shapes on a khaki background, and reversing to a pattern with dark green & grass green "cloud" shapes on a tan background, the design was also printed on lightweight two-piece sniper/reconnaissance uniforms used by the Czechoslovak 22nd Airborne Brigade and reconnaissance elements of the Army from the 1950s into the 1970s.

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  • The Vz 60 mlok (salamander) pattern was introduced in 1960 for issue to the 22nd Airborne Brigade. The unique design consists of black, olive green and tan disruptive shapes on a pale yellow background. Surplus uniforms later found their way to the Yemen (Democratic Republic) and military forces in Palestine (PLO). Many collectors have nicknamed this "clown pattern," due to the bright color scheme.

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  • The jehlicí (needles) or oblaky (clouds) pattern, was introduced into general service with the Czechoslovak Army in 1963 and saw service into the 1980s. The Czech pattern was apparently copied directly from the Polish wz58 Deszczyk design, having brown rain straits on a greyish-blue background, but with a subtle water-stain underprint beneath. Tint variations are documented, ranging from very light to very dark grey. Czech sources have indicated that the earlier productions of this pattern had much more pronounced appearance of the water-stain underprint; by later production this feature had almost disappeared. As can been seen on the examples below, the "clouds" feature can be quite subtle to the observer. A virtually unknown feature of the oblaky pattern is that it appears quite different when viewed through infared passive viewing system equipment, with the underprint coming out clearly and the pattern appearing as a completely different camouflage design. Seen below on the far right, is an image of the pattern through such PVS equipment in which the design changes dramatically, showing the "comb teeth" design as found in early leibermuster camouflage.

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  • A variation of the splinter camouflage pattern originated in Nazi Germany was produced in the 1980s and reputedly worn by the Lidové milice (People's Militia) of the Czech Communist Party. Sources also suggest the pattern was later worn by national Fire Brigades. Interestingly, the pattern is quite similar to the Polish splinter camouflage pattern introduced in the 1950s, but utilizing a different color scheme.

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  • A five-colour desert pattern was developed in Czechoslovakia around 1990 but never officially adopted. It may or may not have been intended for use by the Czechoslovak Armed Forces. This is a "splatter" pattern of reddish-brown, pale orange, light pink and pale green on a sandy background. Official photos do show a soldier wearing the desert pattern adopted by the Czech Republic with boots in this pattern. There is also a colour version with more green etc. - probably developed for use in an European environment.

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Other Camouflage Patterns Worn by Czechoslovakia

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  • The very first Czechoslovakian airborne unit, raised in 1948, wore British Denison-style paratrooper smocks made from Italian M1929 telo mimetico pattern fabric. The smocks were either constructed from surplus fabric leftover from the Second World War, or from fabric produced locally from war-era Italian machines that had been moved into Czechoslovakia towards the end of the war.

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Camouflage Patterns of non-Military Organizations

  • The Svaz pro spolupráci s armádou (Union for Cooperation with the Army) or SVAZARM was a paramilitary youth organization estabslished in 1951 and offering a wide range of pre-military type training and activities for young men; in this respect it had many similarities with the Soviet DOSAAF. The SVAZARM was issued its own unique camouflage pattern and uniforms, the design obviously based on the WW2 German splittertarn pattern.

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