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Phillosoph

Blanket-Coat

Often I come across something I want to place on the blog but don’t get around to it until much later. I seem to have two speeds: immediate and much, much later.
This is something I came across when I was discussing ponchos or cloaks, I think. It has some relevance to the recent post about simple ways to create a smock.
As you can see, construction is very simple:
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Phillosoph

More On Camouflage Ponchos.

Today’s post is a follow-up to my blog on camouflage capes.
Shortly after writing that post I acquired a length of camouflage cloth and set about creating a camouflage cape. Since cloth comes in 1.5 metre widths and I am quite a big lad, I brought two metres, with the intention that it should be about a metre at the front and 1.5 at the back, so could drape over a pack if necessary. Making a cape is a relatively easy sewing task, run a hem an inch or more from the edge to arrest any fraying. Cut the cloth on the outside of this into tassels. Doesn’t matter if these fray, it adds to the disruptive effect. Similarly,your sewing does not need to be particularly neat. Irregular and non-uniform is good for real camouflage.
Good camouflage is three-dimensional, so the most time consuming phase of production was attaching the textilage. I suspect this process could be speeded up with a staple gun, but have yet to try this.
Once I finished, I realized there was a bit of a problem! I cannot really photograph this to show you. You cannot really judge personal camouflage unless it is on a human form. Lying it on the ground or over a chair does not really tell you anything, and I do not have a mannequin or taylor’s dummy. Use the girlfriend? She is petite and shapely, while I am big and ugly, so showing you something made for me on her is not accurate. And we get little chance to be together these days, so Ive not been able to get her and myself in the same place as cape and camera.
I can, however, pass on some of the lessons learnt while constructing this. The first is that it may be a little long. I could have made it a little shorter without much loss of performance. Secondly, underestimated the effects of the textilage so the base cloth could have been a lighter shade. I could have probably used a monocolour of beige or similar since the textilage adds quiet a lot of shape disruption.

Next time I would not opt for a cape design. Regular readers will recall the “Endor poncho”. Recently two other sci-fi sources have reminded me of this. One is the series “Krypton”. Sagitari on the moon Wegthor wear a brown poncho. While it is not intended as camouflage it does make the wearer appear less of a conventional humanoid shape. The second is season six of The 100. The “Children of Gabriel” wear camouflage that uses textilage. Octavia and Diyoza wear examples too. and in their scenes it can be seem the basis is a poncho/ apron overhead garment.

One could easily construct an over-garment that combined the features of a short-poncho and a smock. The poncho part should be of a width to reach the elbows. Cut the edges into tassels. Don’t bother with a hood since the brush can catch such things. A properly camouflaged helmet or boonie hat camouflages your head. You can add a rectangle of cloth to make a collar for the neck opening if you wish. This can be used to show rank-insignia.
Adding sleeves to your ponchoette is simple. You just need two tubes of camouflage cloth. These need a generous width since they will have to fit over other garments. Trouser legs from old combat trousers can be used, or you can make simple tubes from any suitable cloth. If doing the latter put the hems on the outside, like the Langdon-Davies smock design and tassel them. Anchor the sleeves to the inner side of your poncho. The bottom parts of the poncho can be sewn together or you can apply other fastenings such as poppers. Leave generous side vents for freedom of movement and so you can access pocket or equipment on your trouser belt. As can be seen, the basic garment is formed from three or four rectangles

Your poncho/smock will need textilage. Some of this will be from the cloth you have left over. Use any other scraps of camouflage or suitable materials too. Apply to the sleeves and shoulder parts. The chest area does not need so much if you wear webbing or a chest rig. Apply the textilage to this instead.
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Phillosoph

Camouflage and Surface.

One of my readers/sponsors has reminded me that it has been a while since I wrote about camouflage. As it turns out, I have a few thoughts to share.
A mnemonic often taught is the “Five S’s of Camouflage”. These are usually Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette and Spacing. There are variations on this, some schemes adding extra factors. These may include Smell, Speed, Sound, Skyline and Smoking. Some even fly in the face of alliteration and suggest “Movement” and “Aircraft”!
Skyline can be considered an element of Silhouette. Smell is something that is sometimes neglected. A human’s sense of smell may be inferior to that of many animals but can still prove useful if the brain interprets to significance of a familiar or out of place odor. Sound is not just obvious things like talking or gunfire. One of the reasons for the ninja covering his face was to muffle the sound of his breathing if he had exerted himself. The noise of chewing gum or tobacco may tip off an attentive enemy or prey. Give up both habits. Smoking is another habit to drop. As well as being an aiming point and location signal at night the smell of the smoke and on your clothes may give you away. Many smokers are litterbugs and a discarded cigarette butt can tell a competent tracker many things.
Shade/Shadow is something I found myself considering the other night while watching a movie . A cowboy rides ahead of a posse to scout a valley. He really should not ride straight down the middle like that, I thought. He could have easily swung into the big patch of shadow cast by the cliff on one side. Shadows in your environment can be very useful. If you have to cross a forest road follow the shadow cast by a tree. You may be under aerial observation. If you are attempting to conceal something the shadows cast may negate your efforts. Remember that the angle and direction of light will vary with time.
Another factor to consider is texture, or in keeping with the theme “Surface”. This is an element that seems to be often neglected these days. You can paint your vehicle in different colours but it will still be an object with many flat, smooth surfaces, most of them vertical or horizontal. Back when camouflage was taken more seriously I can recall Land Rovers covered in nets and hessian, sometimes looking like mobile blocks of heather. They still looked a bit boxy but viewed from the air they could easily be overlooked if they were static and positioned irregularly. You can still see similar examples, although oddly this seems more common on soft-skins than on actual fighting vehicles. Stowing gear under the nets can make the vehicle shape less regular. This is a variation of the old idea of placing balls of grass under a helmet net.

Surface is also the problem with most modern camouflage clothing. As has been discussed elsewhere, many current patterns lack the element size and contrast to disrupt body shape. Even when this is not the case the garments conform to the easily recognized shape of the human body. Smooth surfaces are not that common in nature. A good camouflage pattern is only the foundation upon which personal camouflage is built. Let me provide some illustrations:
These US troops are fairly typical. A patterned cloth cover does not camouflage a helmet, it remains a distinctive shape. No attempt has been made to paint or cover the distinctive black NVG brackets. These could at least be made in brown. Breaking up the shape of the helmet is perhaps moot when you have an uncamouflaged rosy-pink face beneath it. Note that none of these individuals have scarves they could use to veil their faces or make the head and neck area less distinctive. Other clothing has no attempts at shape disruption. If it was looser it would be more comfortable, better ventilated and more irregular in shape. Troops need a smock that fits over body armour and trousers that fit over knee-pads. Also note that there are not even temporary measures to conceal the distinctive shape of their weapons.

Next are two photos of British troops. These guys have camouflaged their helmets. One pair has used natural materials from their surroundings, the other appear to have used artificial materials (“textilage”). But they have stopped there. No materials added to the webbing, packs or pouches to break up their regular shape. No textilage added to the upper arms and shoulders to break up the shape. This would have also broken up the smooth appearance of their clothing, which takes us back to Surface.

Even if you are in a desert or urban environment with very little apparent vegetation adding some texture to your helmet, clothing and gear can make you harder to see, and harder to target. Personal camouflage is an important defence against snipers and observation. Conventional forces assume they will always enjoy air superiority, but modern technologies such as drones may negate this on a local level.