While the US Army has been researching, analysing and continuing to not announce a decision about a new camouflage pattern for its combat / utility uniforms and equipment, other countries have been changing their patterns at a pretty steady pace.
Last year many people were very surprised when the Danes announced that they were going to abandon their long-standing, and highly recognizable, M/84 pattern camouflage in favor of MultiCam. And unlike the British or Australians, the Danes weren’t even going to get the MultiCam pattern altered in anyway to reflect any heritage connection with the old M/84 pattern.
Danish troops have now deployed to Afghanistan wearing the new M/11 Combat Uniform in MultiCam pattern camouflage – see the photos below.
Now that we’ve taken a quick look at the new camo / uniform combination, let’s take a last nostalgic look back at the Danish M/84 “Pletsløring” camouflage pattern and its variants.
The M/84 Pletsløring (“spot camouflage”) pattern is a derivative of the “Flecktarn B” pattern produced by the German firm Marquardt & Schulz. Using the same shapes and pattern, the Danes changed the number of colours from 5 to 3 – choosing olive green, light green and black to better match the colouration of the Danish woodland environment.
Officially adopted in 1984, the Kampuniform M/84 (Combat Uniform Model 1984) consists of a hoodless field/combat jacket and combat trousers. The jacket and trousers are made from medium-weight 67% cotton / 33% polyester twill and the jacket is also lined with lightweight cotton.
When it was decided in the beginning of the 1990’s to send Danish troops to the Balkans it quickly became clear that a lighter weight hot weather uniform was also needed. After testing in 1999-2000, the “Let Kampuniform M/01” (Light Combat Uniform M/01) was introduced in 2001 as a supplement to the M/84. The lightweight uniform is made from 90% cotton / 10% Polyamide rip-stop material, has flapped pockets on the chest instead of the diagonal zipped pockets of the M/84 and also has padded elbows and knees.
Shortly after the Let Kampuniform M/01 was issued, a desert combat uniform was introduced. The outer uniform is made of the same material as the light combat uniform, but the colours have been changed to desert camouflage. The desert uniform became official in 2001 as the ?rken Kampuniform M/01, and has seen extensive use with Danish special operations forces in Afghanistan.
But as is often the case, standard issue gear isn’t always “up to the job” for the requirements of special forces. So it’s no surprise that the units of the small, but highly-trained and professional, Danish special forces also turned to private companies for purpose-built smocks and trousers in M/84 camouflage.
The British firm Arktis in particular has had a long and successful history of producing top notch special smocks and trousers in various configurations for UK and European commando and special forces. Besides their famous SAS-style smocks, they’ve also provided uniquely-designed combat trousers and “Hot Climate” combat shirts in mil-spec poly-cotton rip-stop material printed in the M/84 pattern. Arktis have also provided a wide range of individual load-carrying equipment, chest rigs and combat vests made from hard-wearing Cordura nylon in the Danish camo pattern.
The German firm Tac-Gear also won a contract to provide the Danish Armed Forces with multi-pocket smocks and trousers (in KSK-style), hats, helmet covers, shelter halves, rucksacks, individual load-carrying equipment and chest rigs. Tac-Gear has also produced an Under-Armour Shirt and a lightweight summer Combat Shirt.
Tac-Gear also sell a “snow camo” version of the pattern commercially – it is assumed that this pattern has also seen use with Danish forces.
Meanwhile, the Danish government treated surplus M/84 uniforms as a restricted item for many years. They also did not allow the camouflage pattern to be used or reproduced by anyone outside of the authorised military supply chain.
Because of this, there was a substantial level of demand for uniforms in this pattern by collectors, enthusiasts and airsofters. To address this demand with a legal and inexpensive option, the German firms MBB and Mil-Tec produced poly-cotton replica BDUs printed with a facsimile of the Danish M/84 pattern. Of these, the MBB type is closest to the real pattern – but different enough to avoid copyright infringement. The Mil-Tec type on the other hand uses a much simplified pattern variation that repeats itself every 20-30cm or so.
A far more authentic option is offered by German tactical clothing and gear company BE-X. They appear to have procured actual lightweight poly-cotton ripstop and textured nylon M/84 fabric – with which they have produced a wide range of tactical clothing and equipment.
In recent years, the Danish government relaxed the very strict controls they used to maintain on the availability of surplus M/84 uniforms. These days it is not uncommon to find complete sets in new condition available on eBay or at army surplus stores.
And of course, now that M/84 camo is no longer the official camouflage pattern of the Danish Armed Forces its probably safe to assume that a lot more of it will begin appearing on the surplus market – including the hitherto hard-to-get hot weather and desert pattern uniforms.
A couple of interesting footnotes about the M/84 pattern bear looking at before we close…. At one point, some photos and info appeared concerning an “urban” version of M/84 – however, it appears to have been a purely commercial venture, and its not clear what ever became of this project.
Secondly, recent research and analysis into camouflage technology suggests that the algorithms developed by a Danish company that enabled the development of the CADPAT digital pattern might well have been based on the M/84 pattern. There is certainly some similarity…
On a final note, its also interesting so see that the Russian airborne forces have also been issued with combat uniforms in a pattern (often referred to as “Flectar-D”) that bears a strong resemblance to the Danish M/84 pattern – the pattern is also sold commercially by several Russian tactical gear companies..
So it appears that the legacy of the M/84 pattern will live on long past its retirement from service with the Danish Armed Forces.
——–Special thanks to Henrik Clausen. Henrik has an excellent side-by-side comparison of German Flecktarn and Danish Pletsløring on his website (http://henrikc.dk/camouflage).Thanks also to “PhatPete” on militaryphotos.net for the photos of the M/01 Light Combat Uniform.