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Under the Red Star – Army Caps

Caps of the Soviet Army

Due to the large number of caps in this category, I have subdivided the Army cap section into the five uniform periods described on my Uniform Periods page to the left. All caps shown on this page were authorized for wear under the 1989 Uniform Regulations. However, as you can see from the dates for each cap, all of them were first introducted under the 1970 uniform regulations. These were then “re-authorized” under the 1989 regulations. A thumbnail image accompanies each cap description. Clicking on that thumbnail will bring up a larger, higher resolution image.

1989-1991: M89 “End of Empire” uniforms

Tank/Artillery Officer Parade

1970-1991

Identical in all respects to its Motorized Rifle counterpart except for the band, this style cap remained unchanged from 1970 through 1991. It has the traditional black velvet band with red piping used by Soviet armor and artillery officers. As part of the 1970 regulations’ simplification of branch colors, this cap was also prescribed for officers of Special Troops (velvet was not “officially” authorized for Special Troops’ black bands until 1989, but it appears this was largely ignored). A new one-piece cockade similar to but somewhat different from the M55 parade cockade was pinned to the front of the band. This cap has a “saddle” form crown and fiberboard visor, indicative of 1970’s production. Common

Motorized Rifle Officer Parade

1970-1991

Described in the 1970 regulations, this cap was part of the wave green (sea-wave) parade uniform introduced for all officers (previously, only generals wore this color). The earlier crimson band and piping of the infantry were replaced by the motorized rifle’s red. A new one-piece cockade similar to but somewhat different from the M55 parade cockade was introduced for wear on this cap. This particular cap has a “saddle” form crown and plastic visor, indicating late-80’s/early 90’s production. Common

Motorized Rifle Officer Service

1970-1991

Manufactured in 1988, this “everyday” cap had a red band and piping on a khaki crown. Cut and style were the same as the parade cap of this period. Originally standardized with a black chinstrap, officers’ models received gold cords in 1975, with warrant officers retaining the black strap until 1991. Rare

Tank/Artillery Officer Service

1970-1991

Identical in style and purpose to that of its Motorized Rifle counterpart, this 1989 cap instead has a black velvet band. As in the case of the parade version of this cap, black velvet was originally intended for armor officers only, but over the years was authorized for artillery and technical branch officers, and even for enlisted personnel of these same branches. Originally standardized with a black chinstrap, officers’ models received gold cords in 1975, with warrant officers retaining the black strap until 1991. Common

Motorized Rifle Enlisted Parade

1970-1991

Introduced by the 1970 uniform regulations, this cap served double duty as both parade and service cap for enlisted personnel through 1991 (although the visorless pilotka was the more usual service wear). Since the wave-green parade uniform was reserved for officers, the M70 enlisted parade uniform was in khaki; and indeed, was merely a “badged-up” M70 service uniform. The cap was identical to officers’ service caps, except for the use of a black chinstrap and the star & wreath cockade also introduced in 1970. Common

Cavalry Officer Parade

1970-1991

As previously discussed, the 1970 regulations introduced a new wave green parade uniform for all officers. One of the rarest variants of this uniform was that of the cavalry. Although cavalry units had been phased out of operational forces (except for Border Guard) in the late 1940’s, in 1962 an independent cavalry battalion was formed near Moscow for ceremonial and publicity purposes. Later this unit was redesigned a regiment. Traditional cavalry colors were retained on caps of this formation – a dark blue band with black piping. All other aspects of the cap mirrored its more common Army counterparts. This cap has a “saddle” form crown and plastic visor, indicating late-80’s/early 90’s production. Very Rare

Suvorov Academy Cadet Winter Service

1970-1991

The Suvorov Academies were military primary schools. Students were often children of serving officers who planned on attending military commissioning schools prior to their own careers in the military. Uniforms of Suvorov cadets changed little in the years following WWII. Winter uniforms remained black, piped in red and white, until after 1991. This cap is part of that uniform, which was used for both classroom (service) and parade wear. The saddle shaped black crown is piped in white, as is the red band. A post 1969 star & wreath cockade is worn with a black plastic chinstrap and regular Army buttons. The visor is plastic. A white summer version of this cap also exists, identical in all respects except that the crown is white with no piping. I found this cap irritatingly difficult to acquire, despite its logical availability. Available

Suvorov Academy Cadet Summer Service

1970-1991

A 1986-dated summer version of the above Suvorov cadet cap. What sets this apart from its winter counterpart is the crown that has a removable white cotton cover without colored piping. The rest of the cap design remains the same – red cloth band, black plastic visor, black plastic chinstrap held in place by gold “Army” buttons. The standard enlisted parade cap badge is pinned to the band. Collectors should note that this cap is identical in all respects to the summer Militia (police) cap except for the badge and the strap/cords. As a result – these are easily created from disparate pieces. Most original Suvorov caps should be small (this is size 55). Sizes 58 or larger are probably Police caps.

Available

Army Honor Guard Enlisted Parade

1971-1991

Introduced in 1971 as an addendum to the 1970 uniform regulations, this cap was issued to ground force (Army) enlisted personnel of Honor Guard companies formed in “hero” cities and at Groups of Forces’ staff headquarters. Honor guards at other sites wore normal parade uniforms. The cap was a normal enlisted parade cap but with officers’ gold cords in place of the black chinstrap and with the special honor guard “sunburst” pinned to the crown. An elastic cord was often attached to the cord buttons to help secure the cap on the head. All these caps have red bands and piping – I have seen no photographic evidence of black-banded versions. Rare

Army Honor Guard Officer Parade

1971-1991

Introduced in 1971 along with the enlisted version above as an addendum to the 1970 uniform regulations, this cap was worn by ground force officers of Honor Guard companies formed in “hero” cities and at Groups of Forces staff headquarters. Honor guards at other sites wore normal parade uniforms. The cap was a normal officer wave-green parade cap, but with the special honor guard “sunburst” pinned or sewn to the crown and metal leaves pinned onto the visor. Versions exist with either a combination embroidered/metal (as here) or all metal sunburst. An elastic cord was often attached to the cord buttons to help secure the cap on the head. All these caps have red bands and piping – I have seen no photographic evidence of black-banded versions. Of note, I have seen an honor guard sunburst embroidered on the same light gray fabric used for Generals’ summer dress uniforms, but have never seen gray uniforms worn by honor guards. Rare

Army General Service

1980-1991

This style service cap was worn by Motorized Rifle generals after 1980 and by all Army generals after 1989. The crown is khaki, while both band and piping are red. The cap has the gilt wire leaves introduced for service caps in 1980 embroidered on the band surrounding a general’s all gilt cockade. It also has a patent leather visor, gold cords, and general officer buttons. Inside, it has a leather sweatband and silk lining. Available

VOSO Commandant

1980’s-1990’s

Closely allied with Railroad troops, Military Communications troops, or VOSO, were responsible for the flow of military goods within the USSR. VOSO uniforms in most cases mirrored those of the Railroad troops, with service caps having black bands and light blue piping. “Winged wheels” also appeared on the crowns of these caps during certain uniform periods. Even more unique caps, however, identified VOSO commandants – those individuals in charge of stations/offices within the transportation network. These caps had red crowns – similar to railroad station masters found elsewhere in Europe. Earlier versions of these caps apparently had green or blue piping, with or without the “winged wheel”. This particular cap is a late model, probably manufactured in the 1980’s. The crown is made of bright red wool without piping. The band is black velvet, which was often used in the USSR to denote special personnel status. The rest of the cap is unremarkable: officer’s oval cockade, plastic visor, gold cords, and Army-style buttons. Rare

Motorized Rifle Officer Tan Service

1985-1991

Designed to complement the tan hot-weather uniform developed in the mid 1980’s, this cap first came to Western attention during MSU Akhromeyev’s visit to the U.S. in 1988. During that visit, all Soviet Army and Air Force personnel wore versions of this cap. Air Force caps were banded and piped in light blue, while Army personnel wore red banded caps. In the last few years of the Soviet Union, these caps were occasionally seen during military visits and postings to Africa, Cuba and the Middle East. The only difference between this cap and the normal Army service cap is the color and fabric used for the crown – a light tan, cotton material. Rare

Russian Army Officer Service

1992-1994

I have included this cap as an end-point to my display. Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Soviet Army lost little time in considering uniform changes to reflect the now Russian nature of the force. This process has been long and torturous; still not complete 10 years later (certain officers for example, continue to wear Soviet-era cockades on their caps, especially in the Navy). One of the first elements of the conversion was adoption of a new, more “western” looking uniform that would be used for both service and parade (with minor accessory changes). The uniform chosen was actually one being considered for adoption by the Army prior to the Communist fall. To a Soviet uniform collector, this was a very sad change of affairs! In my opinion, one of the nicest uniformed militaries in the world lost its Russian soul, even as it tried to celebrate its formation. In any case, this cap represents the first model cap accompanying this uniform. I acquired it in Moscow in June 1992, before its general issue to the Army (it was the first one my Russian escort officer had actually seen as well). The Soviet connection had still not been totally cut, as evidenced by the normal Soviet officer’s cockade and gold cord buttons. Cut and style remained Soviet as well. However, colored bands were eliminated, with both crown and band now a greenish-khaki matching the uniform. The band had a gray-green ribbon cover similar in concept to that found on the naval cap, but with a distinct “checkerboard” pattern (this ribbon band was dropped on later Russian caps). Piping was standardized as red for all Army officers. Similar caps remain in Russian Army service today but these are now adorned with a Russian cockade, eagle and buttons. Scarce