MERDC Camouflage

Product Spotlight: MERDC

Hobby Master’s 1:72 scale US M60A1 Patton Medium Tank with Reliability Improved Selected Equipment (RISE) IR/White Light Spotlight – Snow, Temperate Open Terrain MERDC Camouflage, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, Gelnhausen, Germany, 1977 (1:72 Scale)

In 1972, the US Army started trials at the Mobility Equipment Research and Development Center to improve the camouflage of vehicles, soldiers and equipment. Until these trials, most vehicles deployed by the army were painted in monotone olive drab.

The goal of the trials was to produce a fairly simple vehicle camouflage that could be applied easily down to sub-unit level, would make battlefield detection of the vehicle more difficult for an enemy using the ‘Mk.1 eyeball’, and would also hopefully reduce the effectiveness of more technologically advanced methods of detection.

At the conclusion of the trials it was found that two of the three goals were met, but the paint available at the time wasn’t particularly more effective against methods like IR than the existing colour scheme. With the naked eye, though, the scheme was found to be very difficult to detect at distances beyond 800 meters.

By 1975, the trials were complete, and the familiar four-colur scheme had been selected. Technical manual 5-200 “Camouflage Pattern Painting” was released. This document contained the templates for color placement on all of the vehicles then in service as well as codifying regulations for how the pattern was supposed to be applied.

Boiled down, the templates should be followed as closely as practically possible with a difference of no more than two inches.

The templates set the colours to cover specific proportions of each vehicle so that the first two colors would each cover 45% of a surface with the remaining colors covering 5% each.

There were 8 colour combinations set to cover a wide range of climatic conditions: 

  • Winter Verdant: Forest Green, Field Drab, Sand and Black
  • Summer Verdant: Forest Green, Light Green, Sand and Black.
  • Tropical: Forest Green, Dark Green, Light Green and Black
  • Snow, Temperate Open Terrain: White, Field Drab, Sand and Black
  • Snow, Temperate with Trees: Forest Green, White, Sand and Black
  • Arctic: White
  • Grey Desert: Sand, Field Drab, Earth Yellow and Black
  • Red Desert: Earth Red, Earth Yellow, Sand and Black
Eight different camouflage patterns were chosen as the basis for masking armor during the height of the Cold War

Hobby Master plans to offer two M60A1 Patton tanks that make use of this camouflage scheme (HG5604 and HG5605), one set in the late 70s with the US Army and the other set in the 80s with the US Marine Corps. (Text courtesy of

Hobby Master’s 1:72 scale USMC M60A1 Patton Medium Tank with Reliability Improved Selected Equipment (RISE) IR/White Light Spotlight – Snow with Trees MERDC Camouflage, 1980s (1:72 Scale)
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