How to camouflage a tank

In the dark days following the evacuation of Dunkirk the British Army was on its knees. It had left a considerable amount of equipment, and personnel behind in France. As the Nazi’s prepared to invade the only thing that stood against them was the Royal Air Force but there was also another phony war being fought. To convince the German Wehrmacht that there was more hardware than there actually was, cardboard boxes were arranged with funnels to look like scores of tanks ready to repel any subsequent land invasion. Whilst these were fake tanks is it possible to camouflage a real tank? If so how?

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It’s in the best interests of military personnel and equipment to stay hidden. The less chance you have of being seen then the less chance of you being hit. Conversely, if the enemy can’t see you to hit you, they won’t see where the shell heading towards them is coming from.  This was not always the case.  Up to the Boer war and First World War armies would take to the fields in brightly coloured uniforms so as to distinguish who was who. For example, the bright blue coats and white tunics of  Napoleon’s old guard contrasting with the bright Redcoats of the British. As conflicts and the nature of war changed away from mass single battles to wider conflicts across many fronts the need to disguise oneself from the enemy and blend in with the surrounds became more important.

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Any advantage that can be gleaned should be exploited. While it isn’t that hard to spot a tank, or hear it, the use of camouflage is still appropriate. The main form used on a tank is the painting of local environmental colours to mimic the environment. This usually mean green and brown for woodland areas, white and grey for snow and winter then brown and khaki for the desert. The modern forms of camouflage being currently applied to tanks are the Russian Nakidka system that disguises the tanks signature on radar and thermal scans plus the development of the Stealth Tank similar to those applied to aircraft. Other more cutting-edge technology being developed is a digital skin pattern that adapts to the environment providing a different pixilated view each time.

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