The word Flecktarn comes from the German words Fleck (spot) and Tarnung (camouflage). The term was coined by German designers in the 1970s during the Bundeswehr Truppenversuch 76, or German Army Uniform Trials of 1976. Several patterns were tested during the trials, but the one ultimately selected for general issue to the German Armed Forces was Flecktarnmuster (spot camouflage pattern), finally confirmed in 1989. Some evidence suggests that the original Flecktarn camouflage was developed by Marquardt and Schultz in cooperation with the French company Texunion.
Flecktarn is often misspelled Flectarn or Flecktar in some circles, and some of the derivatives are simply called "dots" pattern. Flecktarn-like camouflage designs have been adopted by a number of other countries beside Germany.
The original German Flecktarn is a five-color pattern incorporating black, reddish-brown, dark olive and medium olive green spots on a moss green background. A desert version (referred to initially as Tropentarn but later as Wüstentarn) originally introduced in 1993 incorporates sparse dark olive & reddish-brown spots on yellow-tan background.
Colour distribution in the standard Flecktarn and the desert Flecktarn:
- Denmark was the first nation to test its own version (the T/78 pattern) in 1978, and later introduced a finalized version (the M/84) in 1984. The number of colours in the Danish pattern was reduced from five to three. A desert variation was introduced in 2000.
Comparision of the German and Danish versions of the Flecktarn pattern
Comparison of the Danish desert pattern and the German Wüstentarn (desert pattern) to the right
- Belgium issued a variation of the original Flecktarn design with slightly modified colouration around 1990 for the Air Force Commandos (airfield protection units).
China has issued two different Flecktarn-type patterns. The first, worn primarily as a summer training uniform and by some Border Security units, seems to be a direct copy of the original German design. The second, also a five color pattern, features black, dark brown, russet and olive green dot pattern on a sandy background, and is worn primarily by PLA units in Tibet and the Beijing Military Region.
Poland has also issued a series of three different flecktarn-inspired camouflage patterns. These have been worn by special units of the National Police and the Police Internal Security Agency.