Written by: Aiya Madarang
Camouflaging techniques have been applied to military uniforms and equipment throughout history and in various ways, though all with the objective of making the subject as invisible as possible to increase chances of survival and combat effectiveness. Over the years, the US military has developed several different camo patterns in order to adapt to the many exotic locations and landscapes that combatants have faced, from the leafy jungles of Vietnam to the vast deserts of Afghanistan.
Frog skin camo is one of the earliest iterations of the military camo prints that we know today. Developed and tested in 1940 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, it features five colors and represents the first attempt at “disruptive coloration”, a type of camouflage that uses strongly contrasting shapes and patterns to break up the outlines of the wearer or vehicle. Frog skin also goes by the name M1942, which refers to the year that it was first issued. Marines in the Solomon Islands during WWII wore uniforms with the five-color frog skin pattern on one side and a three-color “beach” pattern on the other. It was also sold to France during the First Indochina War and to the Cuban exiles brigade for the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Frog skin was largely discontinued for American use after WWII, though it was also worn during guerilla warfare operations in Vietnam. By then, the military had developed other camo designs, including tiger stripe, a more jungle-like pattern that featured prominently throughout the Vietnam War, and the heavily-researched ERDL “leaf” pattern, which had first been developed in 1948.
Though frog skin camo saw limited use on the battlefield, its appearance in military surplus stores after WWII led to its popular use by hunters, which inspired imitations and revisions in hunting apparel designs. Frog skin was thus born into a second life as “duck hunter” camo, which is used to create many hunting uniforms today.
Alpha Industries has also incorporated this pattern into our signature jacket designs as a way of paying homage to its history. This season’s G.I. Field Coat (W) comes in the traditional M-65 olive and in a tan frog skin camo, both versions garment washed and the shell constructed from a lightweight, vintage cotton.
Our L-2B Blood Chit Battlewash Flight Jacket belongs to our special battlewash collection, which features garments that have undergone a unique distressing process to produce a worn-in, vintage look. It comes in tan frog skin camo and can be reversed to reveal distressed blood chit artwork on the back.
Also new to this season is the P-42 Mod Field Shirt, which offers a unique take on the camo pattern by incorporating two different shades of the camo for a striking trim effect.