Parachute troops camouflage model 47
French officer from the Marine COmmandos with his local radio operator
After WWII, the french army is caried by the valor of its soldiers but stretched thin on the gear side, kept alive by anglo-saxon countries.
Equipments given to the troops is a wild mix of guns and gear coming from different sources and a recovering french production that is good in quality but still sparse.
Captain Tourret, commanding the 8th Choc in Tonkin, 1953. Uniforms seen here are a mix of french Lizard and US Duck Hunter produced for the Pacific theatre
Indochina war is fought with what is available at the time and US BAR rifles, 30. cal MGs, british Brens and older french 24/29 LMGs are used along, sometimes even MG34/42 that were conquered at the price of blood a few years back.
And we are not even talking about personnal weapons, let alone the sheer variety in uniforms.
French Lt-Col LANGLAIS, commander of the GAP 2, one of the parachute groups in the battle of Dien Bien Phu.
French artillery soldiers from 35th RALP using a 75mm recoiless rifle during operation Castor
Picture from amicale-35rap
If Asia witnessed the birth of the TAP47, it's during another conflict that it became famous.
Mark of the professional soldiers, wore by commandos and paratroopers, it gains their nickname of "lizards" for itself.
Terror of the Djebel, the TAP47 is printed in every mind on the 13th of may, 1958 in Alger.
Hunting Commandos in pursuit of Fellaghas in the mountain
A unit embarking in a Sikorski H34 during operation Etincelles in 1959
Général Massu on the left side will take the lead in its paratrooper lizard uniform and red beret, printing the camouflage in the history books
Copied all over the world, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the Lizard camouflage -or Leopard as it was names at the beginning- will saw combat on a very wide variety of theaters.
Even after Lizard was forbidden inside of France, it is still used by some units, especially the Foreign Legion, on deployment as during the 1978 Kolwezi siege and Bonite operation designed to free belgian hostages taken in the city.
Observation and firing position of the 2 REP on the outskirts of Kolwezi
US soldiers in the 60s, here 3 different camo patterns are visible
Very efficient, the TAP47 is still well regarded and continues to be worn in a number of theaters, from Asia to Africa.
Rarely seen in the jungles of Vietnam, it is coveted by european mercenaries and their local counterparts in every african conflict.
A great number of variants exists, and it's been adopted by many countries.
It's far from feasible to show every and all of them, but it includes variations in Brazil, Portugal, China, Russia, Greece, Croatia, Irak, Syria, Egypt, India and more.
Georges Serren-Rosso, french NCO in 1st RPIMA then 1st Choc, mercenary in 5th Company in Katanga
Portuguese paratroopers in Mozambique with a vertical stripe variant
Executive Outcomes mercenaries during the Sierra-Leone civil war sporting a variety of camos
Picture from reddit
The looming spectre of the putschs and the end of the french lizard
Following an increase in malcontent in the town of Alger, on tuesday the 13th of may 1958, takes place an event that will change the future of french Algeria forever. Facing an angry mob, the paratroopers refused to shoot fellow french and declared a commity, effectively taking control of the city; it's known as the Alger putsch.
After De Gaulle is reinstated on june 1st by president René Coty, the insurrection is stopped in the hope that the Général will have a strong answer to the recent casualties on french side that started the riots.
However, the politics lead by De Gaulle is disappointing to the military, as they feel that their borthers in arms died for nothing while french Algeria is abandonned for political reasons.
During the night between the 21st and the 22nd of april 1961, paratroopers units following orders from four generals, Salan, Challe, Zeller and Jouhaud, captured strategic points accross Alger and took control of the city.
Again, the Lizard camo is on the front pages of the press.
Loathed, more than 200 officers are relieved from command, 114 will be judged. Moreover, more than a thousand officiers that agreed with the generals leave the military, a lot that stayed went clandestine in the OAS, the secret armed organisation.
the 1st Foreign Paratrooper Regiment, the 14th and 18th Hunters Parachute Regiments and the Parachute Commando Group are disbanded, others are rebuild under new command.
It's the end of the french lizard, symbol of a politic failure it will be abandonned in favour of a solid green.
Front page of "La Dépêche" on the 25th of june, featuring some lizard camouflage in the spotlights
image from the archives manifpn2012
Paratroopers from an instructors detachment in Chad, 1980s. Note from front to back an FRF1 marksman rifle, an LRAC89 F1 rocket launcher, a MAS 49/56 carbine and an early FAMAS
Picture from the forum iacmc
US Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol in training in West Germany in the 1960s
Mercenaries from Jean Schramme's 10 Commando during the Katanga failed coup