Rhodesian Brushstroke Pattern History

Rhodesian Brushstroke Arid: An example of a bolt of the original "Rhodesian Brushstroke, 1st Pattern (Arid)" as produced by David Whitehead Textiles in 1965.

Hover your mouse over the the images for a description of the variations of Rhodesian Brushstroke we used to reference our reproductions!

The history of the legendary Rhodesian Brushstroke pattern is something that Fireforce Ventures is proud to be a small part of with our various product offerings. We are particularly proud of our Rhodesian Brushstroke Battle Dress Uniforms, which were designed with original bolts of fabric from the Rhodesian Security Services being used as a reference. 

The only camoflauge patterns utilized in Rhodesia prior to the Unilaterial Declaration of Independence were the "brushstroke" patterns on the British Army Denison and "Windproof pattern" smocks that had been issued to members of "C" Squadron, Rhodesian Special Air Service. The "brushstroke" patterns were soon developed locally in Rhodesia, and later guided the development of an arid variant of Rhodesian Brushstroke which was fielded for testing between 1965-1969.

The arid variation never exactly caught on, and by 1970 a less arid, greener pattern, designated as "Rhodesian Brushstroke, 2nd Pattern" had been developed by Diana "Di" Cameron, a print designer with David Whitehead Textiles. The pattern she created was quickly adopted, and fielded throughout the Rhodesian Bush Wars. It became the standard pattern of the Army, Air Force and Rhodesian British South Africa Police (BSAP). It was an exceptionally effective pattern that outlived the Republic of Rhodesia, finding use in the South African Defence Force with various special forces units. 

Top Left: Original bolt of "Rhodesian Brushstroke, 2nd Pattern" designed by Di Cameron of David Whitehead Textiles Ltd. in Salisbury, Rhodesia.

Top Right: Fireforce Ventures' very own Rhodesian Brushstroke Reproduction in a finished BDU Shirt, manufactured on a 1:1 scale

Bottom Left: Original bolt of Zimbabwe National Army produced Rhodesian Brushstroke. Notice the prominence of the light greens overlapping the browns.

Bottom Right: Civilian manufactured ADRO produced Rhodesian Brushstroke reproductions, manufactured shortly after the Rhodesian Bush War in South Africa. Notice the thicker "brushstrokes".

The Zimbabwean National Army maintained stocks of the original Rhodesian Army Brushstroke stocks until 1984, when it sought to come up with their own distinct pattern to remove any affiliation to the former Rhodesian Security Forces. It was a colossal effort, made more complex by the gradual withdrawal of foreign military advisors and internal strife. By late 1990s, with a weakening economy and large internal protests against Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU party, they had completely gave up the complex search for new pattern, and went back to the original Rhodesian Brushstroke pattern for simplicity sake.

Further developments on the pattern have been halted since 2011 when David Whitehead Textiles which operated in a post-independence Zimbabwe collapsed due to continued economic decline in the country. The pattern continued to be used, and was observed as recently as the December 2017 Coup d'etat by Zimbabwe National Army soldiers who brought an end to Robert Mugabe's 42 year rule. This brought about reinvestment from the Zimbabwean government in David Whitehead Textiles in 2018, but this is still unlikely to create any new evolution of the original pattern any time soon. 

There is evidence that Rhodesian Army veterans brought their old Rhodesian issue uniforms around the world, after Zimbabwean Independence in 1981. This is based off photographic evidence of the uniforms being utilized by private military contractors in West Africa and South America. In addition, there were numerous reproductions, first in South Africa through companies such as ADRO reproducing copies similar to the original bolts. There was something about the pattern, that people around the world could not get enough of.

In 2000, as the United States Marine Corps was testing for a new camouflage pattern, Rhodesian Brushstroke scored as one of the top three patterns available, alongside tigerstripe and CADPAT. This is no surprise, given the natural look of the "brushstrokes" themselves in the pattern blending well in any natural environment. Additionally, the green-brown-tan colour scheme of the pattern makes it versatile in any environment. Whether you're hunting white-tail, or hunting terrorists, this pattern will do the job.

You too can own the legendary pattern now, as Fireforce Ventures carries a wide selection of Rhodesian Brushstroke cammies!

Sources:

  1. Joseph Columbus Smith - US/Rhodesian Army Veteran and Journalist (retrieved April 2018): http://www.josephcolumbussmith.com/rhodesian-cammo/
  2. Delta Gear Inc. - Camouflage Facts (retrieved April 2018): http://www.deltagearinc.com/library/camouflage-facts.php
  3. Daily News Zimbabwe - David Whitehead to reopen after $2M government injection (retrieved 2018): https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2018/01/16/david-whitehead-to-re-open-after-2m-govt-injection
  4. BBC News - Zimbabwe crisis, army takes over, says Mugabe is safe (retrieved 2018): http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41992351  
  5. Camopedia - Rhodesia (retrieved April 2018): http://camopedia.org/index.php?title=Rhodesia
  6. Camopedia - Zimbabwe (retrieved April 2018): http://camopedia.org/index.php?title=Zimbabwe