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Under the Red Star – NKVD/MVD Caps

Caps of the Soviet NKVD/MVD

Included here are caps worn by officers and men of the Soviet NKVD and MVD. The uniformed NKVD were also known as “blue caps” – for obvious reasons. They were the personnel which rounded up accused dissidents for the GULAG. They also formed “blocking detachments” and conducted anti-guerrilla operations in re-conquered Soviet territories in WWII. The NKVD was renamed the MVD in 1946, although the old caps continued to be worn until about 1954. Most of the other MVD caps on this site represent the MVD-VV – the Internal Army troops. A thumbnail image accompanies each cap description. Clicking on that thumbnail will bring up a larger, higher resolution image.

NKVD/MVD Service

1946-1954

One of the famous “blue caps” of Gulag fame! This cap was worn by NKVD personnel in the 1930’s and 40’s and by MVD personnel after March 1946 when the organization was renamed. I have been unable to confirm exactly when these caps were replaced by normal MVD khaki & rust-brown caps, but based on manufacturer markings and style elements, that probably took place in 1954-1955. Personnel wearing these hats were notorious for their midnight seizures of dissidents and for lining the march route near Red Square during military parades and funerals. They also served in blocking units in WWII and on anti-partisan operations following the war. As its nickname suggests, the primary color of the cap is blue – used on the teller shaped crown. The band and piping are rust brown – traditional colors of State Security. The visor is square as normal for this time period. The cap badge is the single piece brass and enamel star used by most enlisted personnel (officers favored a pre-war two piece version until they became impossible to find). The chinstrap is black oilcloth and the buttons are normal Army type. Rare

NKVD/MVD Service

1946-1954

This cap is very similar to the previous one. It too, is either an NKVD/MVD officer’s or enlistedman’s cap from the late 40’s or early 1950’s. The crown is blue and the band and piping are rust brown. The red star emblem, chinstrap and buttons are the same as for the previous cap. However, whereas the previous cap had a squared-off visor, this one has a rounded one. As previously mentioned, this does not necessarily mean this one postdates the square version. A small percentage of caps from the 1930’s and 40’s were always manufactured with rounded visors. However, in all probability, it does reflect a later model. My estimate is that it dates from the early 1950’s, no later than 1954-55. Rare

NKVD/MVD Officer Service

1946-1954

Whereas the other NKVD/MVD caps could have been worn by either officers or enlisted, the first model brass M1955 oval cockade marks this one as definitely an officer’s model. With that exception, it is virtually identical to the other caps discussed. A blue crown, rust band and piping, oilcloth chinstrap, fiberboard visor and Army buttons complete the makeup. The visor is the rounded type. Cap historians should be aware that the M1955 officer’s cockade pinned to the band was probably never worn on these “blue tops” on service (since these caps were almost certainly phased out just prior to this date). This fact, coupled with the pristine condition of the cap leads me to believe this cap came from a museum where it was “updated” with the newer emblem. Rare

MVD Convoy Officer Parade

1955-1958

The MVD also followed the 1955 uniform regulation changes and adopted a medium gray (steel) parade uniform. Matching caps had gray crowns and gold cords while new emblems were added in the form of the M55 parade cockade and metal visor leaves. Cap band color was rust brown (or maroon), while medium blue was used as piping to delineate the convoy/signal branches from the rest of the MVD. Both these colors were traditional security forces’ colors, dating back to the OGPU in the 1920’s and carried through all the reorganizations of these forces – NKVD to MVD. Note: the blue piping makes this cap very rare, with rust brown piping found on most MVD caps. Meaning of the blue piping is still debated, but probably indicates MVD Convoy or Signal troops. Rare-Very Rare

MVD Convoy Officer Service

1955-1969

The service counterpart to the above parade cap. This 1965-dated cap has a cotton khaki crown and black oilcloth strap; a M55 officer’s cap badge is pinned to the rust brown band. As above, its medium blue piping probably signified convoy/signal branch. Note: the blue piping makes this cap very rare, with rust brown piping found on most MVD caps. Rare-Very Rare

MVD VV Officer Service

1960-1970’s

Just as MVD parade uniforms mirrored those of the Army, so too did MVD service uniforms. As in the Army, the basic uniform and cap crown color were khaki. The primary difference was the MVD’s use of rust brown for both its band and piping color (VV = Internal Security Forces). This particular cap has a “teller” form crown, indicating its manufacture in the 1960’s. However, it also has gold cords instead of the black chinstrap of that period indicating that it was later modernized to 1975 uniform standards (or by some previous owner who added the cords to “spice up” the cap to sell!). Scarce (teller form), Available (saddle form)

MVD VV Officer Parade

1970-1991

Along with the Army, the MVD adopted a new wave green officer parade uniform in 1970. Most aspects of this uniform mirrored that of the Army, with band and piping color being the major difference. The traditional color of Internal Security forces – rust brown (also called maroon) – was used for both cap band and piping. All other elements of this cap were the same as for the Army; black fiberboard or plastic visor, gold cords, parade cockade, and standard brass Army buttons. Available

MVD VV General Parade

1970-1991

Similar to Army generals’ parade caps except for its rust brown banding and piping, this cap has appropriate parade-style gilt wire leaves embroidered on the band surrounding a general’s all gilt cockade, a patent leather visor with wire embroidery, natural color leather chinstrap with gold wire embroidery, and general officer buttons. Inside, it has a leather sweatband and silk lining. This particular cap has a smaller crown, indicating manufacture in the early 1970’s. One of the “triumvirate” of sought-after security service generals’ caps (KGB and Border Guard being the others), the MVD general’s parade cap is the rarest of the three, since it apparently was not considered as “collectable” by Russian/Ukrainian wholesale uniform buyers or post-Soviet uniform shops. Rare (teller version – Scarce (saddle version)