The Federal Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil) is the largest nation in South America, and the only country in all the Americas where Portuguese is the official language. The region was claimed by Portuguese explorers in 1500, and colonists began arriving between 1532 and 1534. Although some indigenous tribes were assimilated, many were enslaved or subdued by military force. An agricultural economy based on sugar exportation was in full swing by the mid-16th century, supported largely by the importation of slaves from Africa.
As Portuguese power weakened in the early 19th century, Brazil became the temporary seat of the Portuguese Empire. When the king returned to Europe in 1821, Brazil refused to return to colonial status and in Septemer 1822 declared itself an independent monarchy. A series of skirmishes between native Brazilian troops and Portuguese garrisons lasted until November 1823. The monarchy was overthrown in 1889 and a republican government adopted in 1894.
The early part of the 20th century was marked by political dissention, however, with several rebellions led by military officers finally ending in a coup d'etat and ascent to power of Getúlio Vargas. By 1937, Vargas would rule the country as a full dicatorship, with widespread repression of political opponents. His regime ended in 1954 with his suicide.
Following a short period of democratically elected national leaders, the legitimate president was deposed in 1964 and a military regime established. The nation would be ruled as a military dictatorship until 1985.
The Brazilian Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Brasileiras) is the largest in South America with over 370,000 active duty personnel. The three primary branches of service are the Army (Exército), Navy (Marinha), and the Air Force (Forças Aérea). Since 1994 the branches of service have been heavily active with United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Polícia Militar (PM) or Military Police are a national gendarmerie of independent agencies responsible for maintaining order within the individual states. Conventional law enforcement such as criminal investigations, etc is handled by the Civil Police.
Camouflage of the Brazilian Armed Forces
The first camouflage pattern designed for use by the Brazillian Army was introduced in 1967 and consists of brown and lime green blotches on a pale green background.
Based around the US m1942 spot pattern of the Second World War, the Brazilian Army's camuflagem bolinhas (little balls camouflage) pattern was probably introduced in the 1960s (possibly even earlier) and worn well into the 1980s by Airborne and Commando troops of the the Brazilian Army as well as some Police COE units. Uniforms were reversible, with a green dominant pattern printed on one side, and a tan pattern on the opposite site, and some variety documented among production runs. The earliest version (below, top two) actually had very little green elements, being instead a sparse brown pattern reversing to a more densely patterned brown, as seen below.
Brazil apparently produced some camouflage fabric for Chile during the late 1970s. The rana (frog) pattern, as the Chileans came to call it, was also issued in limited numbers to Brazilian troops on ponchos, helmet covers, backpacks and canteen covers.
A very early version of the lizard camouflage design for the Brazilian Army (Exército) dates to the 1960s, and features brown and forest green vertical stripes on a tan background.
Another very early pattern is seen here, probably intended for the Brazilian Navy (Marinha). This design is interesting, in that the distinction between the green stripes is less apparent than on other examples from this time period. The coloration resembles that of the Portuguese Air Force, but with much brighter greens.
The pattern seen below is an early one developed specifically for the Brazilian Army Montanha (Mountain) units in the 1980s. The design incorporates black, red and moss green vertical stripes on a tan background. This design is apparently still in limited use with some mountain units.
Another early lizard design is attributed to the Caatinga units during the 1980s, and incorporates reddish-brown and mint green vertical stripes on a pale green background. The Brazilian Army Caatinga units have traditionally operated in the arid regions of northeast Brazil.
An early lizard camouflage design issued to the Brazilian Army (Exército) seems to have been based on original Portuguese "red lizard" camouflage issued from the early 1970s and worn primarily by units serving in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. The combination of russet and foliage green on a pale green background was similar to the version issued to Caatinga units but there are several differences, including using different types of fabric.
The lizard pattern currently used by Brazilian Army (Exército) is characterized by dark green and purplish-brown vertical stripes on light or pale green background. This pattern has been worn from the 1980s into the present, and printed on a variety of fabrics, so sevral variations exist.
Early versions of the lizard pattern camouflage worn by the Brazilian Navy (Marinha) are seen below. To the left is one of the earliest issue Marine patterns, obviously influenced by the original Portuguese design. To the right is the "jungle" pattern, with significant reddish component.
The contemporary lizard pattern used by Brazilian Navy (Marinha) is characterized by dark green and olive green vertical stripes on light green background. This pattern has been worn from the 1980s into the present, and printed on a variety of fabrics, so sevral variations exist.
The lizard pattern used by Brazilian Air Force (Forças Aérea) is characterized by dark green, russet & blue vertical stripes on khaki background. This pattern has been worn from the 1980s into the present, and printed on a variety of fabrics, so several variations exist.
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