Lizard (camouflage)

The lizard pattern (TAP47 pattern[1] or Leopard pattern for the French) is a family of many related designs of military camouflage pattern, first used by the French Army on uniforms from 1947 to the late 1980s. It was based on the British paratroopers' Denison smock.[2][3] The use of the pattern is widespread in Africa, despite its association with France, because armed factions and militaries tend to obtain them from whichever source has it available.[4]

Lizard pattern
French lizard pattern camo.jpg
French Lizard pattern fabric.
TypeMilitary camouflage pattern
Place of originFrance
Service history
In service1947-1980s (French service)
Used bySee Users
WarsFirst Indochina War
Algerian War
Congo Crisis
Nigerian Civil War
South African Border War
Six Day War
Uganda–Tanzania War
Chadian Civil War
Chadian–Libyan conflict
Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Laotian Civil War
Portuguese Colonial War
Angolan Civil War
Mozambican Civil War
Sudanese Civil War
Western Sahara conflict
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Lebanese Civil War
Iran-Iraq War
Gulf War
Syrian Civil War
Production history
Produced1947-1980 (French production only)

There are two major types of lizard pattern, horizontal like the original French design, and vertical like the early variant developed by Portugal. In addition, the Vietnam War tigerstripe pattern is descended from Lizard.[2]

Evolution of lizard patternsEdit

Lizard camo BDU and pants.

Lizard patterns have two overlapping prints, generally green and brown, printed with gaps so that a third dyed color, such as a lighter green or khaki, makes up a large part of the pattern. In this, it is printed like earlier British patterns used on that country's Paratroopers Denison smocks. Lizard patterns have narrower printed areas than the British patterns, and the original form had a strong horizontal orientation, disrupting the vertical form of the soldier's body.[2]

Horizontal lizard patternsEdit

Two Foreign Legion paratroopers in Kolwezi in 1978.

Horizontal lizard patterns in different colour forms were made by the French. A copy of the French pattern, made in Asia, was adopted by some African countries such as Chad, Gabon, Rwanda, and Sudan. In around 1970 Cuba designed a gray variety, used by Cuba and by the FAPLA of Angola. Greece has used a range of horizontal lizard patterns from the 1960s. Russian Spetsnaz and interior ministry troops wear horizontal lizard patterns.[2] The Israel Defence Force used actual French lizard uniforms (donated by France) until 1968, alongside plain (unpatterned) battledress.[5] French lizard was among the patterns used in Congo in 1978.[6] After the Algerian War the "Troupes Aéroportée" (Airborne Troops) "Tenue Leopard"/"tenues de saut" was officially withdrawn from French service in January 1963 as it was felt to be a reminder of the Paratroops mutiny. It was initially replaced with the olive green M1947 "trellis/tenue de compagne" and later the newer green "trellis Satin M1964" in 1971 which became the "tenue F-1", the forest camouflage CCE was introduced in 1991.[7]

However, the "tenue camouflee toutes armes" variant was worn by the entire Foreign Legion throughout the 1960s [7] and by Foreign Legion paratroops into the early 1980s until finally replaced by the “tenue F1”.[8]

Vertical lizard patternsEdit

Vertical lizard patterns in different colorways were apparently developed in Portugal from the original French horizontal patterns. The lizard pattern had been in use in Portugal since 1956 with the Air Force's Paratroopers, being extended to the Army's Special Rifles units in 1960. With the Portuguese Military engaged in the Overseas Wars mainly fought in the African jungles, the camouflaged uniform was issued throughout the whole Army and some units of the Navy and Air Force. In 1963, a vertical lizard pattern was developed, this replacing the French horizontal pattern. Paradoxically, the Portuguese vertical lizard pattern become popular amongst some of the guerrillas that opposed Portugal in the Overseas Wars and was later adopted by the armed forces of some of the former Portuguese African colonies after their independence.[9]

The Portuguese vertical lizard pattern was adopted by Brazil, which developed a range of colorways for each of its armed services. Egypt, Greece, India, Lebanese Palestinians and Syria have all used variants of the vertical lizard pattern.[2] SWAPO guerrillas in Namibia wore a wide variety of camouflage, including Portuguese lizard.[10]

Other descendantsEdit

The Vietnam War tigerstripe is descended from Lizard. It began as a French experimental pattern during the Indochina war. It was based on the TAP47 lizard pattern, and was adopted by the South Vietnamese Marines. Tigerstripe differed from lizard in having its printed areas interlocked rather than overlapped; it also used smaller areas of dyed background color.[2]




Non-State ActorsEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lizard". Camopedia. Retrieved 25 March 2016.[better source needed]
  3. ^ "Epochs Field Guide to Camouflage: Lizard". Epochs. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  4. ^ Dougherty (2017), p. 67.
  5. ^ a b Katz, Sam; Katz, Samuel M. (23 June 1988). Israeli Elite Units Since 1948. Osprey Publishing. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-0-85045-837-4.
  6. ^ Abbott, Peter; Ruggeri, Raffaele (2014). Modern African Wars (4): The Congo 1960-2002. Osprey Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-78200-078-5.
  7. ^ a b French Foreign Legion Infantry and Cavalry since 1945 Osprey Men-at-Arms 300, Martin Windrow, Copyright 1996, ISBN 1-85532-621-3[page needed]
  8. ^ French Foreign Legion Paratroops Osprey Elite 6, Martin Windrow & Wayne Braby, Copyright 1985, ISBN 0-85045-629-0[page needed]
  9. ^ "smock, camouflage (Portuguese, 'Lizard 'Pattern)". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  10. ^ Wolverton, Martin (20 December 2012). Bush Wars: Africa 1960–2010. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-84908-770-4.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c Riehl, F.; Chief, Editor in (2009-08-26). "EOTAC Brings Back Lizard Pattern Camo". Retrieved 2021-10-05.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c Dougherty 2017, p. 66.
  16. ^ Israeli Soldier vs Syrian Soldier: Golan Heights 1967–73 by David Campbell, Page 20.
  17. ^ a b c Bush Wars: Africa 1960–2010 by Ambush Alley Games, p. 134.
  18. ^ Riehl, F.; Chief, Editor in (2009-08-26). "EOTAC Brings Back Lizard Pattern Camo". Retrieved 2020-09-24.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ "Epochs Field Guide to Camouflage".
  20. ^ Jowett 2016, p. 9.
  21. ^ Galeotti 2015, p. 16.
  22. ^


  • Dougherty, Martin (2017). Camouflage at War: An Illustrated Guide from 1914 to the Present Day. Amber Books. ISBN 978-1782744986.
  • Galeotti, Mark (2015). Spetsnaz: Russia's Special Forces. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1472807229.
  • Jowett, Philip (2016). Modern African Wars (5): The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967–70. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1472816092.