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Spanish Camouflage Patterns
Introduced into service between 1959 and 1960, the m59 camouflage pattern (some sources call this rocoso or "rocky" pattern) saw considerable use until the middle of the 1980s when its use began to decline. Spanish sources indicate, however, that limited use continued with some units until the middle of the 1990s. The pattern consists of black and transluscent red & olive green amoeba shapes on a tan background with overprinted flecks of off-white, and probably saw the widest number of items in production over the course of its career. This pattern was worn by Army paratroops, special operations companies (COE), and the Spanish Legion. It is known by many collectors as the Spanish "brown amoeba" pattern.
A color variation of the above, the m60 boscosos (woodland) camouflage pattern saw use between 1960 and the 1970s. Using essentially the same drawings as the m59, this print version consists of black and transluscent red & green amoeba shapes on a pale green background with overprinted flecks of off-white. The pattern was also utilized primarily by Army special operations companies (COE) and paratroops (paracaidistas). Collectors have often referred to this pattern as Spanish "green amoeba." A variation exists that was issued to the Spanish Marines as a reversible poncho/shelter and helmet cover.
Circa 1962, two camouflage patterns were introduced for use by airborne and special operations troops. The green or "spring" version features large "splatter" groupings of reddish-brown & moss green on a light grey background, whilst the yellow or "autumn" version has groupings of reddish-brown & ochre on a light green background. The Traje de Lanzamiento Camuflado or "camouflage jumpsuit" was specially tailored for airborne operations and featured a removable hood, helmet cover, and neck scarf. Uniform variations of the patterns have been documented in use by the Army Special Operations Companies (COE), the Spanish Air Force Paratroops (Zapadores) or EZAPAC, and possibly the Army Mountain Troops. Both the uniform and pattern are often incorrectly referred to as M61 by many collectors.
Two variations of the rocosos camouflage pattern are seen here, dating to the 1970s. The first was printed on the M1969 model Infantry & Legion uniforms, whilst the second comes from a neckscarf worn as a cravat.
A variation of the rocosos pattern introduced by 1970 featured dark red, dark green and olive green amoeba shapes on a pinkish-tan background with overprinted flecks of off-white. This was also issued only as a reversible poncho/shelter and helmet cover.
The Spanish Army also issued a special field tent in 1970, printed in a unique green spot or "frogskin" camouflage design. These saw service into the 1990s. The pattern has large olive green & tan spots on a sandy background. Variations of this pattern emerged in the 1980s printed on a reversible poncho/shelter, helmet cover, field equipment, and some articles of clothing. These variants have dark olive green & ochre spots or reddish-brown on a light OG background.
A third version of the oft-nicknamed "amoeba" pattern emerged for use in the Spanish Sahara between 1974 and 1975. This árido or desert camouflage consists of russet, lime green & ochre amoeba shapes on a sandy background with overprint of pale yellow flecks. The pattern was worn primarily by the Spanish Legion in North Africa, but evidence shows it was also worn by some Spanish Army commando companies (COE 103) and possibly some paratrooper companies as well. Following Spanish military presence in the Sahara, the pattern was also worn by units stationed on the Canary Islands.
In 1982, Spain introduced a camouflage pattern heavily influenced by the US m1948 ERDL design. The pattern, black, brown & forest green shapes on a khaki-green background, was initially tested by the Army's special operations companies, but ultimately became the standard issue uniform of the Spanish Armed Forces in 1985 or 1986. Often referred to as the Spanish "leaf" or "ERDL" pattern, shown below is the original COE uniform pattern as well as the standardized version adopted in the late 1980s.
Circa 1985 or 1986 the boscoso pattern was revived and given a new colorway for use by the Spanish Legion. This variant incorporates black, dark green & olive green or dark ochre amoeba shapes on a pale green background, and was produced in at least four uniform styles as well as printed on field equipment. The choice of colors is likely to have been reflected in Spain's recent admission to NATO and the fact that several other countries in that alliance had embraced similar color schemes for their camouflage uniforms. Some sources refer to this as Boscoso Legion pattern, as it appears to have been limited in service to units of the Spanish Foreign Legion. Interestingly enough, although units of production were small and were issued for only a short period of time, surviving examples continued to be worn by Legion units into the middle of the 2000s.
In 1990 the Spanish Army determined it needed a desert camouflage pattern in which to outfit military personnel serving primarily with the United Nations missions abroad. The design chosen was the original US six-color pattern of black & white "chips" over medium brown, light brown & tan shapes on a sandy background, but reduced by approximately 20%. This pattern is in general service with the Army and Spanish Legion. Most recent versions of the pattern are printed on a poly-cotton ripstop blend fabric.
Ever the slightly independent branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, in the late 1990s the Marines of the Spanish Navy discarded the standard leaf pattern uniform in favor of one based on the USA m81 woodland drawings. This remains the standard camouflage pattern of this service.
In 2002 the basic design of the standard Armed Forces "leaf" pattern changed to a slightly darker and more olive colorway. This was adopted by the entire Armed Forces as the standard pattern and remains thus, except for the Spanish Marines.
A variation of the Armed Forces leaf camouflage design is worn by the Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO) of the National Police Corps (Cuerpo Nacional de Policía). The design uses the same drawings as that of the Armed Forces, but the colorway is more brown/tan dominant.
The Marines of the Spanish Navy adopted their own desert camouflage pattern in 2003. The design is a four-color pattern of russet, beige, and sand-colored shapes on a tan background. It has since also been adopted by paratroops of the Spanish Air Force (EZPAC).
In December 2009 the Army revealed a series of two new pixelated patterns intended to replace the previous leaf pattern. The M09 Ejercito pixelado boscoso (woodland) pattern seems to be directly copied from Crye Industries' Multicam pattern (with re-coloration) and features black, olive green, reddish-brown and small khaki patches on a moss green background.
The árido/urbano (desert/urban) version of the M09 Ejercito pixelado has medium brown & sand patches on a tan background and is worn by personnel deployed to desert regions.
The Spanish Corps of National Police (Cuerpo Nacional de Policía) maintains a special operations unit, the Grupo Especial de Operaciones (Special Operations Group), tasked with counter-terrorism, diplomatic protection, hostage crisis, and counter-organized crime duties. Typically clothed in operational black fatigues, members of the unit occasionally wear a leaf camouflage pattern incorporating black, brown and pale green shapes on a blue-green background.
Experimental and Unconfirmed Spanish Camouflage Patterns
Showing remarkable similarities to the EZAPAC camouflage design of the Air Force Paratroops, the camouflage pattern seen here is believed to have been an experimental design also intended for the EZAPAC at one point. Surviving examples of uniforms in this pattern are very few, but of extremely high quality and do not suggest commercial origins. Nevertheless, without additional documentation, we are left to speculate as to the precise origins of this design.
Another camouflage design with very strong similarities to the M62 EZPAC pattern is seen here. This design, however, varies not only in the colors employed but in the actual shapes incorporated into the design. Although one or two photographs have emerged that appear to show the pattern in use, there is little evidence to suggest this design saw widespread usage; rather, it seems most probable this was simply an experimental design.
The four-color design seen below is believed to be an early poncho/shelter pattern, possibly issued only to the COE. The irregular shapes actually resemble some of the original shapes in the US ERDL pattern, although the connection is probably quite remote and may even be coincidental. Thus far no photographs of the shelters being used have emerged, leading us to conclude this may have been only an experimental design.
Two additional variations of the "amoeba" desert pattern have been documented, reversing from a pattern with the same green and yellow elements as the above to one without them. Extant samples of this uniform are poorly made and not up to the standards of quality typical to the Spanish armed forces. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this reversible design was produced for general issue, which leaves the probability that it was simply an experiment, or at best a trial design.
There is some speculation that, during the 1970s, a flecktarn-like camouflage design was briefly introduced for use by the Spanish Airborne Brigade (BRIPAC), and possibly other specialized units. The design features black, dark green & dark olive green spots on a yellow-tan background. Unfortunately, virtually no photographic documentation has been found of this pattern in use by any unit, so we must conclude it is more likely to have been either an experimental pattern, or simply a commercial design. Below left you see a larger section of the pattern in faded condition, and to its right a much smaller section with original colors.
The camouflage pattern seen here was marketed as a design worn by the Spanish Armed Forces operating in the Sahara; however, it does not appear to have any connection at all to Spain, nor is it likely to have been military issue at any time. Rather, the design seems to have been influenced by WW2 German patterns and produced strictly for the collector or commercial market. Uniforms sold in this pattern were clearly commercial in nature and marked "Made in West Germany."
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