Hungary

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Republic of Hungary

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Hungary has the distinction of being one of very few nations to develop its own camouflage pattern during the Second World War. Introduced in 1938, the design was utilized for painting vehicles, artillery pieces, technical equipment and for individual shelter-half/poncho combinations. There is some speculation that the pattern itself was based on the Italian M1929 model. [1] Camouflage continued to be used by Hungarian military personnel during the Second World War, during which the nation was a member of the Axis powers.

During the Communist period (1947-1989) substantial camouflage developments took place. Although wartime camouflage continued to be used and to influence the design of more contemporary patterns (even as late as the 1980s), still other designs based on leaf and jagged blotch shapes were introduced in the 1950s and continued to be worn well into the late 20th century.

A standardized camouflage uniform (influenced by an earlier pattern developed in 1949) was adopted for issue to the Hungarian Armed Forces in 1990. Now a member of NATO and the European Union, Hungary has also participated in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan (OEF) and with the United Nations, for which desert camouflage has been adopted.

Hungarian Camouflage Patterns

  • The first camouflage pattern developed by Hungary was the 1938 M háromszínü sátorlap-esögallér, known more commonly as the M1938. A three-color design consisting of dark reddish-brown and olive green shapes on a khaki background, it is apparent the pattern was probably based on the Italian M1929 telo mimetico. Produced officially only as a combination poncho & shelter half, during the Second World War it is known that privately tailored German-style helmet covers, smocks, airborne jump smocks and hooded jackets were also produced. Use of the M38 pattern gradually declined after 1949.

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  • A variation of the M38 pattern having "soft" edges around the shapes has also been documented during WW2, printed on military vehicle and possibly in limited usage on shelter pieces. Known by historians as the M1944 pattern, it is believed use of this design disappeared once the war ended.

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  • The only other camouflage worn by Hungarian personnel during WW2 was solid white, issued as long smocks, hooded jackets, two piece suits and coveralls to troops fighting on the Eastern Front. [2] (not illustrated)
  • The longest-lived Hungarian camouflage design to date was introduced in 1949, during the early years of the Communist period. Known officially as the 1949 M háromszínü sátorlap-esögallér or M1949, the pattern consists of reddish brown and olive green shapes with blurred or "soft" edges on a pinkish-tan base. Although initially only produced as a poncho & shelter half combination, the pattern also emerged on one-piece coveralls issued to Border Troops, a rain poncho for cyclists, and an experimental backpack for paratroopers. This pattern re-emerged in 1982 and continued in use as the national pattern of Hungary until the late 1990s.

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  • A new camouflage pattern with two distinctive colorways (plus a solid white version for snow operations) was introduced in 1951 and printed on a one-piece hooded coverall issued to reconnaissance troops and artillery observers. The green variant of the M1951 pattern features ochre and reddish-brown shapes on a bright or dull green background, and was intended for use in lowlands or open terrain. Although only produced between 1951 and 1953, the uniforms continued to be worn into the latter part of the 20th century. [3] At least two variations of the pattern have been documented, although it is unlikely these were intentional. Rather the color variations are likely to reflect the quality control standards of the time, or availability of dyes used in the production of the fabric. This version is also referred to in some documents (and historically by collectors) as "spring" pattern.

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  • The brown variant of the M1951 pattern features ochre and reddish-brown shapes on an olive green background, and was intended for use in forested areas. Uniforms in this pattern saw the same period of production and issue. This version is also referred to in some documents (and historically by collectors) as "autumn" pattern.

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  • Developed around 1953, but not fully-implemented until the 1970s, were a series of camouflage patterns known as only as "leaf" patterns. It is theorized the design was probably intended for general issue to the Hungarian Army, but was never adopted. Instead, several variations of the pattern emerged over time, ending up in use by Border Guards, printed on NBC gear, or worn by the Worker's Militia. The oldest of these variations is a "brown leaf" pattern which we may refer to as "Leaf I, brown pattern." [4] The design consists of ragged blotches of dark brown, olive green and ochre on a light olive green field. It was printed on a combination poncho & shelter half, and utilized by the Border Guards during the 1970s and 1980s.

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  • A green variant of the same design (which we may refer to as "Leaf I, green pattern") was also issued only to the Border Guards, but printed on a one-piece coverall. The design consists of ragged blotches of reddish-brown, grass green & khaki on a light green field.

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  • Also dating to the 1970s is another "leaf" pattern based on different shapes or screens entirely. The green version, incorporating ragged blotches of reddish-brown, grass green & khaki on a light green field was printed on a smock and trousers issued to the Worker's Militia of the Ministry of Interior and worn into the 1980s. This design may be referred to as "Leaf II, green pattern." A variation ("Leaf II, brown pattern") was produced having ragged blotches of dark brown, olive green and ochre on a light olive green field, and printed on a combination poncho & shelter half.

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  • A third "leaf" pattern, also dating to the 1970s, saw very limited use on an experimental paratrooper uniform. The same pattern, printed on different types of material (thus having a different appearance), was also used on M1964 NBC clothing and on vehicle tarpaulins.

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  • Three additional variations of the "leaf" camouflage design have been unearthed, but their precise intended purpose or history has yet to be determined. The materials are heavy, rubberized fabrics, and thus it is speculated these may have been intended for use with NBC clothing or tarpaulins. It is also possible they were experimental only.

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  • The old M1949 camouflage pattern was given a new life in 1982, slightly modified and issued as the M1949/82. This new version incorporated reddish brown and olive green shapes with blurred or "soft" edges on a pinkish-tan base, with some variation depending on the type of material it was printed on. Between 1982 and 2000, the pattern was worn variously by the Hungarian Army, Border Guards, Air Force ground crew and the Police Counter-Terrorist Unit, and printed on a wide variety of uniform items and some pieces of field equipment. Often called "tricolor" or "swirl" pattern, this is generally considered the Hungarian "national" pattern even though it is no longer worn.

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  • Another variation of the M49 tricolor was introduced a few years later with a different colorway and intended for wear by Hungarian personnel operating in tropical or hot weather environments. Nicknamed Hurrikán (hurricane) pattern, it is the standard M49 "soft" edge design, with reddish-brown and light olive shapes on an olive green field. This lightweight tropical uniform was worn until approximately 2000 by Hungarian troops serving in peacekeeping deployments or as part of the MFO.

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  • A desert camouflage pattern designed in Pakistan was adopted by Hungary for a short period beginning in 1993. Nicknamed Pakisztáni (Pakistani) it is a a tricolor pattern of green and brown shapes on a sandy background and based on a pattern used by Pakistan itself. Uniforms in this design were produced in Hungary from imported fabric and first worn by a Hungarian medical contingent assigned to Iraq & Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. Use of the pattern discontinued around 1999.

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  • In 1994, the Hungarian Armed Forces adopted a new camouflage pattern, the M1990 four-color. Incorporating black, dark brown & olive green shapes on a tan background, the coloration is similar to woodland designs being worn by France, Italy, the USA and others at this time, and was probably adopted to encourage its membership in NATO. A very wide variety of uniforms and sundry field equipment has been produced in this pattern, which continues to serve as the standard camouflage of the Hungarian Armed Forces.

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  • Circa 2001, the MVB (County Defense Committee), a civil defense organization primarily tasked with providing aid in times of natural disaster, was provided with unique "amoeba" type camouflage uniforms. The uniforms were produced by Szegedi Ruhagyár, the same supplier of uniforms for the armed forces. It is unknown what the origins of the pattern are, and why it was chosen specifically for this organization, but the number of units was strictly limited.

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  • A four-color desert pattern of Hungarian design was officially adopted in 2004. The design features reddish brown, beige and tan shapes on a sandy background, and is based on the M1990 drawings. This has since been worn by Hungarian personnel operating in Afghanistan and on deployments to other desert regions.

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  • Scheduled for official adoption by the Hungarian Defense Force starting in 2016, a national variation of Multicam will gradually replace the M1990 four-color pattern over the coming next few years. A six-color design, incorporating reddish-brown, light tan, olive green, moss green, light brown, and sand-colors, the specific shapes appear to be a unique design and unrelated to any other commercial or military design. Some circles are referring to this design as "HunCam" but it is likely this is only a nickname.

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Other Camouflage Patterns Worn by Hungary

  • For a short period of time in 2003, Hungary produced its own camouflage uniforms using imported USA tricolor desert pattern camouflage fabric. The M2003 desert uniform was worn by a Hungarian contingent to Iraq in 2003, but the pattern was abandoned shortly thereafter in favor of an indigenous design. Recently, it appears old stocks of original uniforms are being recycled amongst Hungarian troops deploying to arid regions.

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  • The Terrorelhárítási Központ (TEK) or Counter-Terrorism Center is a specialized law enforcement agency of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior. Their missions include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and negotiation, response to crimes committed with firearms or destructive devices, the capture of dangerous criminals, VIP protection, and operations against organized crime. A solid black uniform is the standard operational uniform of this unit, but in some duties the TEK has also worn camouflage, including commercial versions of the UCP, Multicam, and an urban pixelated camouflage design produced by Propper.

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Experimental Camouflage Patterns

  • During the 1970s, it appears the Hungarian Army experimented with printing the three-color camouflage pattern on the same fabric used for the M1970 model enlisted man's walking out dress uniform. We can only hypothesize as to the reasoning behind this, but in any event the fabric was never adopted for general distribution.

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  • An early version of the Hurrikán pattern (possibly dating to 1987) can be seen here. This version was never adopted.

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  • What is believed to be an early or experimental version of the M90 camouflage pattern is seen here, similar in appearance to the old three-color pattern but utilizing the newer color scheme. The pattern was never adopted in any official capacity.

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  • At some point in the 1990s the Hungarian MOD experimented with two types of camouflage that were heavily influenced by the German flecktarn patterns. Although based on the German concept, it does appear the drawings for the printing screens are unique and were not copied from the flecktarn design. Seen below in a temperate and desert variation, these designs was never adopted in any official capacity.

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  • A three-color pattern utilizing indigenous drawings was tested for consideration by the HDF in 2003, but never adopted.

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  • Produced locally in 2007, the woodland camouflage pattern seen here is not a direct copy of the US m81, although it is heavily influenced by that design. Unfortunately the information as to its specific purpose may have been lost; it may have been a special project or experimental design.

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Civilian and Commercial Camouflage Patterns

  • Illustrated below are several examples of the "Leaf II" pattern camouflage, printed using a variety of alternative color schemes for the civilian market. Although possibly produced using original screens and machinery, none of these patterns have been worn by military units in Hungary.

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  • Seen here is the "Fenox" camouflage design worn by some civilian security guards in the late 1990s.

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  • Other civilian security guards have been observed wearing this "chip" camouflage pattern during the 1990s, of undetermined origin.

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  • The example seen below is a foreign-made copy of the old three-color printed, possibly of Serbian origin.

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  • A derivative of the M90 four-color camouflage pattern seen here has been worn by some civilian security guards in the present era (2000s).

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  • Seen below is a commercial/re-enactor's copy of the WW2 era M38 camouflage pattern, hand-printed, dating from around 2005.

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Acknowledgements

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Major Tamas Baczoni for his generous assistance in helping create page.


Notes

  1. Tamás Baczoni: "History and Evolution of Hungarian Camouflage Patterns" (academic paper) p. 2
  2. Tamás Baczoni: "History and Evolution of Hungarian Camouflage Patterns" (academic paper) p. 3
  3. Tamás Baczoni: "History and Evolution of Hungarian Camouflage Patterns" (academic paper) p. 4
  4. Tamás Baczoni: "History and Evolution of Hungarian Camouflage Patterns" (academic paper) p. 7