A while back I decided that with the previous ‘family’ of Aussie camo patterns on their way out I should hunt down at least a couple of items to accompany my AMCU gear, given that this stuff will only get rarer now that it’s out of production. Factor in as well of course that it was somewhat uncommon to begin with since the Australian forces are relatively small, don’t surplus much at all (most is destroyed to my knowledge like with the Republic of Ireland) and then almost none of that surplus makes its’ way out of Australia.
Unfortunately the look of DPDU, the desert variant, has been ruined for me by GMRaboos and if you don’t know what sort of people they are then congrats, don’t look in to it. DPDU saw a good bit of use with Aussie blokes in the middle east alongside 3 Color and DDPM during those earlier years of Afghan/Iraq, but this DPCU shirt was the main home nation/on base camo for the Aussie army for many years, making it more equivalent to US Woodland or DPM. The difference being of course that Australian landscape is generally pretty different to both the USA and UK, so the colouration is not in line with typical greens and browns of North American and European patterns of the 80s-2000s (CCE, Fleck, M98 etc).
This shirt is what I would presume to be amongst some of the last batches of military contract DPCU to be manufactured since it is dated Feb 2017 and I had already seen AMCU in theatre in 2016. It is also a somewhat modern cut which I would imagine to be the end of the line in terms of features for the DP camo family, landing somewhere inbetween the likes of BDU/CS95 and ACU/PCS. I am not an expert on all the variants by any means, so you’d probably need a dedicated Aussie focus site or book if you’re interested the iterations of uniforms in this particular pattern going back through older styles of the 90s and early 2000s.
For those who have perhaps never really taken the time to really look at it, DPCU is a dark tan base with pretty unique shapes layered on top, often colloquially referred to as bunny ears, amongst other names. They appear in black, a reddish brown, light green and what is to my eyes a rusty orange; quite the unusual palette but it’s what works best in the less-arid areas of Australia according to those who designed it. The actual geometry is quite unusual when compared to the brush strokes of almost all ubiquitous western patterns of the 20th century, to me it has a bit more in common with some of the Russian and Nazi-era camouflages in concept, but obviously the shapes are quite unique to the aussie family of patterns.
Rather than act like I know more than I do, you can read some more on the camouflage here:
For pockets on this particular we have a pair on the upper chest and a pair on the upper arms using a mixture of zips and buttons as shown above. Note the button hole grommet in the bottom corner of the chest pocket. Both are external but only the arms feature any expansion features. There are relatively small rectangular loop fields on the pocket lids in keeping with the size of ADF issued unit patches.
The NATO standard central epaulette closes with hook and loop and the main frontal closure of the shirt uses the same buttons as on the arm pockets, which are also covered. As with most other military issued shirts, the buttons run right up to the neck but the top button is essentially never used and a V neck would be ironed in to the collar for daily wear. For some reason there are also huge areas of double fabric layering across the elbows and forearms, far larger than the usual double later of fabric for elbow reinforcement. Cuffs are adjusted via typical velcro tabs.
Sadly the buttons are 4-hole which I am somewhat surprised at as I was expecting nice taped ones from a ‘western’ military which is relatively small and tends to issue pretty good kit to it’s personnel as standard, all things considered. That of course is often the case when a 1st world nation has a smaller force and is more easily able to pivot and update equipment with increased frequency and without being burdened by huge production quantities.
While 50/50 NYCO and PYCO in the region of a 60/40 mix is of course more common in the US and Europe, this shirt is mostly cotton being 75% made of cotton threads with just 25% polyester. Normally we say ‘cotton is rotten’ within the context of temperate environments where staying dry is vital, but Australia is the driest inhabited continent with the outback deserts making up the majority of the land mass. It has temperate areas and even jungles, but as mentioned they are the minority.
Overall, a very light, airy and comfortable shirt with the features you might need and no features that you won’t. Most of the sewing looks good though the buttons are something of a let down. Definitely a piece to be reserved for the summer time here in the UK. I was pretty fortunate to be able to pick up one of these tail-end examples still new with the tag.