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Book Review
Tactical Camouflage Techniques
World War II Tactical Camouflage Techniques
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

Originally published on:


** By World War II, the range and sophistication of weapons systems had made troops’ camouflage and concealment a matter of life and death. But a soldier’s training was cursory; it was only when he had a chance to observe and practice the tricks that had to become second nature for him to stay effective and alive. The armies varied in the degree to which they provided the means for camouflage or left the soldier to improvise, and opinion varied over the effectiveness of, for instance, the painted camouflage patterns applied to tanks. Illustrated with wartime photos and detailed color artwork, this concisely detailed study covers the essentials of US, British, German and Soviet practice, at the levels of the individual soldier, his fighting positions, artillery emplacements, and armored vehicles. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released World War II Tactical Camouflage Techniques as Number 192 in their Elite series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations, informational charts, author’s notes and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-274-0. As the title of the book states, the book details World War II tactical camouflage techniques.


  • Introduction
  • Principles Of Camouflage
  • Definitions
  • Cover, and concealment – sight, sound and smell
  • Natural concealment – woodlands
  • Enemy observation capabilities
  • Camouflage Materials
  • Paint – ordnance, vehicles, fixed installations
  • Camouflage nets
  • Camouflage screens
  • Natural camouflage materials
  • Expedient camouflage
  • Individual Camouflage
  • Standard-issue and camouflage uniforms
  • “Over-white” snow camouflage clothing
  • Steel helmets
  • Individual equipment
  • Small arms
  • Face camouflage
  • Individual concealment
  • Light discipline
  • Vehicle Camouflage
  • Siting
  • Early German use of camouflage and concealment
  • Reducing vehicle signature
  • Vehicle painting
  • Snow camouflage
  • Camouflage painting mistakes
  • Camouflaging Gun Positions
  • Miscellanea
  • Observation posts
  • Obstacles
  • Decoys
  • Further reading
  • Index


The books’ text is well written and extremely detailed. Gordon L. Rottman covers the various camouflage techniques of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and the Soviet Union very well. He discusses the various types of camouflage, the various materials that were used for various camouflage purposes. This ranges from camouflaging individual soldiers and their gear, to their vehicles, armor and fixed fighting and gun positions. Rottman also discusses using decoys to hide actual vehicles, positions and movement. That was an area that I personally did not think of as being camouflage but when it is explained it makes perfect sense as to why it would be considered a camouflage technique.

Another area that Gordon L. Rottman discusses is the mistakes made in camouflage to where it actually does the opposite of the intended purpose and draws attention to the item as opposed to hiding it. An area I found particularly interesting was where Rottman discussed how to make false positions look real and lived in by using various deceptive techniques. As I read through the text I realized that several of the techniques are still functional and in use as of today. This is a well written history that will be of great use and interest to the well-seasoned and knowledgeable World War Two camouflage technique historian or the individual that is new to this subject and wants to learn about it.

Given the times we live in and the frame of mind of a percentage of the people, at least here in the United States, I feel that this volume would also be a benefit to the “Prepper” or “Doomsday Prepper” type of individual or individuals due to its discussion of how to hide ones equipment and one’s self. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on World War II tactical camouflage techniques to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.

There are a total of 46 black and white photographs included in this volume. There are no color photographs featured in this publication. They range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs to images that were obviously staged for the photographer. I appreciate the fact that many of the featured photographs are new to me as opposed to the same old over used photographs that tend to turn up. That fact alone makes this volume even more exciting for me to sit down and read and I am sure that others will share the same thoughts as me on this. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are some that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time. With that said the quality of the photographs is no fault of the author and takes away nothing from the book. Gordon L. Rottman has stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to World War II camouflage techniques, European, and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. There are several excellent photographs that will help out the armor, soft skinned vehicle, weapons, diorama and figure modeler. The majority of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information due to the details they contain.

The photographs contain subjects such as:

  • Ghillie suits
  • An RAF aerial photograph of a German camouflaged position and artillery and prime movers
  • Various camouflaged vehicles and armor
  • Camouflaged bunker made to look like a cottage
  • Camouflaged fuel supply dump
  • Desert scenes, woodland scenes, winter scenes
  • Various uniform types
  • Various small arms
  • Artillery positions

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

There are 8 color plates and illustrations by illustrator Peter Dennis featured in this volume. The illustrations will be a valuable asset to the military modeler and World War II historian as they show the color versions of techniques described. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

  • Plate A - US Artillery Position With Flat-Top Camouflage Net (see attached scan)
  • Plate B – Camouflage Nets and Patterns (see attached scan)
  • Plate C – Camouflage Uniforms: Prisoner Collection Point, Normandy, 1944
  • Plate D - German Snow Camouflage
  • Plate E – Helmet Camouflage (shows US, British and German techniques and patterns)
  • Plate F – Camouflage Contrasts (shows a US M4 Sherman tank and a German Panther tank)
  • Plate G – Typical Camouflage-Painting Mistakes
  • Plate H - Artillery Battery Position (German)

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

There are 4 informational charts provided which provide information on:

  • US camouflage drape net garnishing color percentages
  • US Army Specification 3-1, vehicle camouflage colors
  • British Standard vehicle colors B.S. designation
  • German standard vehicle colors

There are 4 author’s notes included in this volume and they are of:

  • Imperial War Museum Collections
  • Acknowledgements
  • Artist’s Note
  • Linear measurements

The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and color illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photographs and illustrations. The captions go into very specific detail in regards to the various camouflage patterns, colors, techniques (points out both the good and the bad) and other such pertinent information. I was pleased with Gordon L. Rottman’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail. As with the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.


This is an excellent reference book that contains many subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the tactical camouflage techniques used by the United States, Great Britain, Russia and Germany during World War II very well. This volume will be of particular interest and beneficial to anyone interested in World War II and tactical camouflage techniques as well as the military armor, soft skinned vehicle, weapons, diorama and figure modeler. I also feel that it would be of a benefit to the “Doomsday Prepper’ or “Prepper” type of individual or individuals. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.

World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia
Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013
Published in 1977
Martin Windrow with color illustrations by Gerry Embleton

G.I. – The Illustrated History Of The American Soldier, His Uniform And His Equipment
The War in Europe
From Kasserine Pass to Berlin 1942-1945
John P. Langellier
Greenhill Books

The Second World War In Color
General editor, Philippe Masson
Longmeadow Press

Armour Camouflage and Markings, 1939-1940
Steven J. Zaloga
Arms And Armour Press

Imperial War Museums web site Live links

Osprey web site Live links

Osprey Publishing also has World War II Tactical Camouflage Techniques available as a:
- PDF ebook
- ePub eBook

Amazon web site Live links

Kindle Edition Live links
Highs: Well written and detailed text and captions Excellent photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book of World War II tactical camouflage techniques that is well researched and written.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-78096-274-0
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £11.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 10, 2013

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


Interesting title. I'll have to get a copy. During WW II, the entire Lockheed-Vega plant, in California, was completely camouflaged with a giant burlap tarp, complete with shrubs, houses, etc.: Howsaboudat for some fancy-schmancy concealment?
APR 10, 2013 - 11:44 AM
That is really cool!! That would have been quite the project to undertake!! Thank you for sharing Joseph. Randy
APR 15, 2013 - 02:30 PM

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