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Under the Red Star – Air Force Caps

Caps of the Soviet Air Force

Included here are caps worn by the Soviet Air Force (VVS) and Airborne Forces during the Cold War.
A thumbnail image accompanies each cap description. Clicking on that thumbnail will bring up a larger, higher resolution image.

Air Force Enlisted Parade

1945-1969

Although dated 1967, this style cap was worn by Air Force soldiers and sergeants from the end of the War until major cap design and cockade changes occurred in 1970. It has the early “teller” shape with a small black fiberboard visor and black oilcloth strap. Unusually, the buttons holding the strap in place are black anodized (not painted), rather than the authorized brass. The significance of this is unknown to me. An early (and sought-after) WWII-style brass red star is pinned to the azure band, possibly reflecting wear by a extended service sergeant. Such an extended service sergeant could have worn this cap with his daily/service uniform as well as the parade. As is regulation for enlisted rank Air Force caps – no wings are pinned to the crown. Available-Scarce

Air Force Officer Parade

1955-1958

A 1956-dated Air Force example of the “Zhukov” uniforms briefly authorized for parade wear from 1955 until replaced by simplified uniforms in 1959. The cap has a dark blue crown to match the corresponding uniform jacket, with standard azure band and piping. As with the Army versions of this cap – this one has a two piece parade cockade introduced in 1955 pinned to the band and gold colored metal leaves pinned through the visor. Gold parade cords are held in place by standard “Army” buttons. What may strike certain observers as odd is the lack of wings displayed on the crown. This lack actually identifies this cap as belonging to a non-flying Air Force officer – an engineer or technical officer most likely. Prior to 1957, only flight officers were authorized wings on their caps. Scarce

Air Force General Service

1955-1969

An everyday “teller” form service cap worn by Air Force generals between 1955 and 1969 before larger crowned versions became standard. Like all everyday air force caps of this period, the crown was made from khaki cotton with azure (light blue) piping and band. The visor was black lacquered fiberboard, which became increasing rare on generals’ caps in the 1ate 1960’s and 70’s (replaced by leather). Cockade and emblems are general-officer versions of standard items. The cockade is the all-gilt metal model introduced in 1955, while both the wreath surrounding it and the wings on the crown are embroidered from gold wire. These emblems were first sewn on colored backings that were then attached to the cap. The wings are larger than normal and reflect a manufacturing variation. Gold cords and general-model buttons round out the cap’s decorations. Scarce

Air Force Officer Service

1958-1969

Appearing little changed from Air Force service caps worn since WWII and popularized in the West by Cosmonaut Gagarin; this cap retains the traditional light blue band and piping on a khaki crown. It is outfitted with the later one-piece metal Air Force style cockade (early versions were two-piece) and has the Air Force wings sewn to the crown (rather than pinned). Prior to 1957, these wings were only authorized for wear by flying personnel, but were worn by all Air Force officers after that date. This cap has the black chinstrap used by officers during this period and the smaller “teller” crown. An identical cap was worn by airborne officers. Available

Air Force Officer Parade

1970-1991

When Army officers received wave green parade uniforms in 1970, Air Force officers received dark blue ones. Cut the same as the Army’s, this uniform cap had a dark blue crown with a light blue band and piping. The traditional Air Force “wings” were retained on the crown while the same new parade cockade introduced for the Army was worn on the band. Airborne officers also wore this cap on parade. Common

Air Force Officer Service

1970-1991

The next in a line of uniform caps little changed from Air Force service caps worn since WWII, this cap retains the traditional light blue band and piping on a khaki crown. Equipped as usual with the Air Force style cockade and wings, this cap also carries gold cords that replaced the officers’ black chinstrap in 1975. The identical cap was worn by airborne officers. The crown is the larger “saddle” form used during this period. Common

Air Force Honor Guard Enlisted Parade

1975-1991

Introduced at the same time as the Army Honor Guard uniform, this cap was issued to enlisted personnel of the Air Force platoon of the Moscow Honor Guard Company. Honor guards at other sites wore their normal parade uniforms. The cap was a normal dark blue officer parade cap (contrast this to the Army’s use of the normal enlisted khaki), but with the enlisted star & wreath cockade. An elastic cord was often attached to the cord buttons to help secure the cap on the head. Common-Rare (Although original AF Honor Guard caps are rare; substitution of the cockade on a common officers’ parade cap with an enlisted star & wreath emblem would result in an identical cap at a fraction of the cost!)

Air Force General Parade-Walking Out

1970-1980

Air Force generals were authorized a special light gray parade walking-out summer uniform in 1954. A matching gray cap was worn with this uniform until 1980, when the dark-blue parade cap replaced it. This particular example is a later version cap different only in color to the post-1980 Air Force general’s service cap. The crown is in light gray fabric, while both band and piping are light blue. Other elements include a gilt cockade with surrounding air force-style embroidered wire leaves, gold embroidered wings, a patent leather visor, gold cords, and general officer buttons. Inside, it has a leather sweatband and silk lining. Nearly as common as the Army version of this cap. Common-Available

Air Force General Parade

1970-1991

Another in the series of extravagant Soviet parade caps. When the foam (or wave) green parade uniform was introduced for the Army in 1970, a dark blue parade uniform was reintroduced for the Air Force (they used this same color from 1955-1958 and before WWII). This matching cap has a dark blue crown with light blue band and piping. A wide expanse of gilt wire leaves is embroidered on the band surrounding a general’s all gilt cockade, on the patent leather visor, and on the natural colored leather chinstrap. Gold wire Air Force wings are also embroidered on the crown. General officer buttons, leather sweatband and silk lining round out the cap’s features. Scarce

Airborne General Field

1970-1989

The piped Airborne general’s version of the field visor cap was introduced in 1970, alongside the Army general’s (seen under that section). Airborne generals’ field caps differed from Army generals’ only in that light blue piping was used instead of red on the crown and band. Crown, band, plasticized chinstrap, fiberboard visor, and general’s model chinstrap buttons were all khaki. The cockade is a normal officer’s cockade painted khaki or made of khaki-colored metal. Unlike other air force/airborne caps, no wings were worn on the crown. As of 1989, wear of this cap was no longer authorized. Available

Air Force General Parade-Walking Out

1980s-1991

This cap is a bit of an inigma. As previously discussed, the light gray cap was no longer worn with the generals’ walking out uniform after 1980. Generals were thereafter to wear their normal wave-green (army) or dark blue (air force) parade caps with this uniform. However, this cap appears to be a combination of the two. It is identical to the Air Force generals’ parade cap with the exception of the reduced embroidery around the cockade on the band. This embroidery matched that on the earlier gray cap. Since I have never seen this cap before – I don’t know whether it was a prototype or a “limited standard” variation worn by some generals white the rest worn the normal parade caps. To the best of my knowledge, an Army version of this cap did not exist. Instead, Army generals always wore a wave-green parade cap with their gray walking out uniforms after 1980. Rare