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220px-Jungle Combat Vietnam

Tigerstripe uniform (foreground) and ERDL pattern (background) in use by US forces in Vietnam c. 1969.

Tigerstripe is the name of a group of camouflage patterns developed for close-range use in dense jungle warfare by the South Vietnames Armed Forces/US Forces.  It derives its name from its resemblance to a tiger's stripes.  It features narrow stripes that look like brush strokes of green and brown, and broader brush strokes of black printed over a lighter shade of olive or khaki.  The brush-stroks interlock rather than overlap, as in French Lizard pattern (TAP47) form which it apparently derives.  There are many variations: R.D. Johnson counted at least 19 different versions in early drafts of Tiger Patterns, his definitive work on the subject, although it is unclear if these are all different print patterns, or if they include color variations of a few different print patterns.

HistoryEdit

220px-ARVN and US Special Forces

ARVN and US Special Forces

It is unclear who developed the first tigerstripe pattern, consisting of 64 stripes.  The French used a similar pattern in their war in Vietnam, while simultaneously, the British used a similar pattern in Burma.  After the French left Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps continued using the pattern, a variant of which was later adopted by the Vietnamese Rangers and Special Forces.  When the US began sending advisors to South Vietnam, USMAAG advisors attached to the ARVN were autorized to wear their Vietnamese unit's combat uniform with US insignia.  Soon, many American special operations forces in the Vietnamese theater of operations wore the pattern, despite not always being attached to ARVN units: it became the visible trademark of Green Berets, LRRPs, SEALs and other elite forces.
FA18D Bengals

F/A-18 Hornet of VMFA9AW)-224 in tigerstripe livery for decoration rather than camouflage.

Tigerstripe was never an official US-issue item.  Personnel permitted to wear it at first had their camo fatigues custom-made by local tailors, ARVN uniforms being too small for most Americans; for this reason there were many variations of the basic tigerstripe pattern.  From 1969 5th Special Forces Group contracted with Vietnamese producers to make fatigues and other items such as boonie hats using ARVN fabric.  During the latter stages of the war, tigerstripe was gradually replaced by the then-new ERDL pattern, a predecessor of the woodland BDU pattern.

Besides American and ARVN forces, Australian and New Zealand military personnel used tigerstripe uniforms while on advisory duty with the ARVN units.  Personnel from the Special Air Service of Australia and New Zealand were the principal wearers of tigerstripe uniforms (and ERDL uniforms) in theater, while regular Australian and New Zealand wore the standard-issue olive drab green uniforms.

Current useEdit

US Navy 040730-N-7720S-045 Members assigned to the Philippine Naval Special Warfare Group (SWAG) Nine One crouch low and move together on the deck aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43)

Members of the Philippine Naval Special Warfare Group wearing tigerstripe camouflage while on exercise.

The Tamil Tigers used a tigerstripe camouflage pattern in their uniforms, but it is graphically very different from the family of patterns famous as Tigerstripes from the Vietnam War.  The Tamil Tigers' pattern lacks black, and is small and overwhelmingly horizontal.

Tiger Stripe Products, a professional camouflage designer, licenses variations to manufacturers for military use and for the civilian market.  With input from Tiger Stripe Products, the US Air Forces developed a digital tigerstripe like pattern using various greens, greys, and blues for use with its new Airman Battle Uniform.

USAF Airman Battle Uniform

US Air Force ABU uniform, which presents modern version of tigerstripe camouflage.

Digital MARPAT pattern used by the US Marine Corps was also influenced by tigerstripe.  Of the two pattern shown here both are from the Vietnam Era, the first one being a Tiger Stripe Pattern version of an early to mid Vietnam War pattern referred to a "John Wayne Dense" from its appearance in The Green Berets.  The other version pictured is a product from the latter part of the war which is darker than most other patterns of Vietnam War tigerstripe.

US Special Operations Forces such as the US Navy SEALs and the Green Berets are still using tigerstripe camouflage in operations in Afghanistan, and it has proved itself to be very effective for this type of environment.

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