Splittertarnmuster or simply Splittertarn (splinter-pattern) was a four-colour military camouflage pattern developed by Germany in the late 1920s, and was first issued to the Reichswehr in 1931. It was first printed on the newly designed and issued triangular tent/poncho called the dreieckszeltbahn ("3-corner tent"). Known in German as Buntfarbenaufdruck 31 ("colourful print 31"), for its year of introduction, splittertarn was later issued on a very wide basis to practically all regular military (Wehrmacht) units. The pattern consists of a disruptive, zig-zag pattern of hard-edged wood-brown and medium green polygons printed on a light field-grey or tan background. A random pattern of green dashes, called "raindrops", was applied in places to improve the camouflage effect.
Proposed in 1931 and introduced in 1932, the four-colour camouflage patterns incorporated "splinters" on top of the 1918 colour pattern. This pattern included ochre, rust, and brown overlaid on a green foundation, with sharp corners between coloured patches. This new pattern was printed on zeltbahn (triangular tent) material, and could also be used as a camouflage rain poncho in the field. Both sides of the material showed the same pattern, but the printing was brighter on one side.
A subdued grey-beige tint replaced the yellow-ochre colour. On top of this background, green and brown irregular patterns were screen-printed. A final innovation applied to this camouflage colour printing were the "splinters" irregularly printed on the fabric. Directional, dark-green dashed lines ("grass") were printed in selected areas to help break up the silhouette. During the war, cost-saving measures required textiles to be printed with changed colours. In addition, many of the lower-cost two-colour options were abandoned. These cost-saving measures caused significant deviations from the original colour patterns.
Equipment in the stained colour printing units were issued to the following: Heeres-Splittertarnmuster 31, and Luftwaffen-Splittertarnmuster 41.
The zeltbahn was the only official Army camouflage until 1942, when they added the Tarnhemd (smock) and Tarnhelmüberzug (helmet cover), both of a lightweight herringbone twill linen. Only one side of each was printed in splittermuster, while the other side was left white for snow camouflage.
In April 1942 a Wintertarnanzug suit consisted of a padded jacket, trousers, separate hood and mittens. These were also printed only on one side and were left white on the other side. However, only a small amount of these were produced, a similar set made in mouse grey or field grey were more common.
Many unofficial garments and helmet covers were produced as field expedients or were tailor-made, mostly from zeltbahn material. These included versions of the service dress uniform, parachute-jump smocks, field jackets, rucksacks and panzer jackets. Later materials included rayon.
Luftwaffen-Splittermuster 41 (also: Buntfarbenaufdruck) is a Luftwaffe version with a smaller splinter and a more-complicated pattern, from probably not earlier than 1941. The Luftwaffe's variant of splittermuster 31 is known in the literature as "splinter camouflage B". The main difference to the 1931 splinter camouflage is that the smaller factions spots. The complexity of these spots is obvious. The pattern was used for the Fallschirmjäger's parachute Knochensack jump smock and Luftwaffe Field Division field jacket to be manufactured. Other material produced with this equipment included camouflage helmet covers, ammunition bandoliers, grenade bags, and helmet covers. The production of the splinter camouflage B ended in 1944.
During World War II, Bulgarian paratroopers were equipped with Luftwaffe-Splittermuster 41. Its typical square look with the dashed lines has been the national camouflage of Bulgaria and has continually evolved. It was worn as a one piece boilersuit and as a two piece suit for paratroops, border troops, and mountain troops. The mountain troops' version had large patches of reinforcing materials located on the knees, elbows, wrists, and shoulders, and black patches under the arms, around the collar, and in the crotch. A Soviet style large beret, pulled down to the left, was worn.
For the paratroopers in 1953, a three-color pattern was introduced, which had been derived directly from the bright colors printed in 1941 for the German paratroopers. The dashed lines here were not aligned uniformly in one direction, but could vary within a limited framework. The colors were based on the model, but used other tones. The Bulgarian splinter 53 was later issued to special forces and worn until 1991.
The Bulgarian Splittertarnmuster was developed in the 1960s and 1970s, with varied shapes and colors. In 1979, the army released another version of the Bulgarian paratroopers colored imprint of 1941 with wavy dotted lines, which was again closer to the German model. In 1991 the production of the pattern was started. In 1997, the current three-color printing for bright colors was launched for the entire Bulgarian army, with the dashed lines appearing again in a spidery waveform.
Since 1990, the Swedish armed forces carried a four-color M90 Splittertarnmuster, which is close to the bright colors printed 31 through the resumption of sharp linear triangular patches. The differences are in the schematic, because the spots are not distributed freely, but directly abut and are not crossed by the dashed lines. Black, grey and light green patches are distributed on a dark green background.
This camouflage pattern was exported to Latvia for wear as part of SFOR forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945, Brockhampton Press (January 1, 2000), SBN-10: 1860198694 ISBN 978-1-86019-869-4
- "Uniforms and Insignia of the Luftwaffe: 1940-1945", Arms & Armour (April 1999), ISBN 1-85409-498-X, ISBN 978-1854094988.
- Richardson, Francis. (1945). Camouflage Fabrics both Plain and Printed for Military Use by the German SS and German Army. Reprinted in: Borsarello, J.F. (Ed.). (1990?). SS & Wehrmacht Camouflage, ISO Publications; London.
- Daniel Peterson. (1995), Wehrmacht Camouflage Uniforms & Post-War Derivatives. Printed in the UK by The Crowood Press Ltd: Wiltshire
- Warsaw Pact Ground Forces, Grodon L Rottman, Osprey Publishing Elite 10, 1987
- Soviet bloc Elite Forces, Osprey J Zaloga and James Loop, Osprey Publishing Elite 5 1985
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