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Under the Red Star – Other Non-Military

Other Soviet Non-Military Uniform Caps

Included here are caps worn by uniformed personnel of non-military departments of the Soviet Government not covered under their own page. Admittedly, somewhat of a catch-all, although I have and will further subdivide my pages as my collection expands. I have identified and described these caps to the best of my ability, and am reasonably confident in their accuracy. However, these caps are very poorly described in Soviet literature, and many questions remain. Any help would be greatly appreciated. A thumbnail image accompanies each cap description. Clicking on that thumbnail will bring up a larger, higher resolution image.

Communications Service Worker Service

1956-1960’s

A rather understated cap representing the very-poorly known Communications Service of the USSR, an element of the KGB and its predecessors. This service dates back to at least the 1930’s, and, along with 2-3 other sections of the KGB, served as the counterpart to the U.S.’s National Security Agency. It was responsible for both internal and external signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations. As a result, its personnel have also been referred to as “signal troops” – but these should not be confused with Army signal troops or with the troops of the Military Communications (VOSO). The cap of this service follows typical military styling. The crown is black with medium green piping, the band is matching green velvet. Gold cords are worn, even though this cap reflects a “worker” of this service. Of interest, the Service has its own button design (rather than using the normal Soviet Army style) – brass with crossed hammer and sickel and lightning bolt. The emblem is unique to the Communications Service and indicates a worker in an operational-technical section. Rare – Very Rare

Communications Service Officer

1970’s-1991

Another Communications Service cap from a later period. Very little is known concerning the uniform (or indeed the activities) of the Communications Service of the USSR. What is known is that it was subordinated to the KGB and, along with 2-3 other sections of that organization, served as the counterpart to the U.S.’s National Security Agency. It was responsible for both internal and external signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations. As a result, its personnel have also been referred to as “signal troops” – but these should not be confused with Army signal troops or with the troops of the Military Communications (VOSO). The crown of the cap is made from black cotton while the band is black wool (not velvet – which is a coal ministry combination). Both band and crown are piped in medium blue. Gold cords are held against the band with the same style buttons used on the cap above – embossed with a crossed hammer and sickel and lightning bolt. Both cap emblems are unique to this Service and period, winged lightning bolts on the crown and a wreathed cockade on the band. This replacement cockade is a rather poor quality late-issue example. Scarce – Rare

Diplomatic Service Official

1943-1991

Although poorly known in the West, the USSR maintained a uniformed Diplomatic Service from 1943 to 1954. All diplomats and attaches had their own uniforms, with appropriate ranks and insignia. Black uniforms were most commonly seen but white “summer” versions also existed. In 1954, uniform wear was officially terminated, although special ceremonial uniforms were preserved for diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I have examined a 1977 dated black version of this cap and have a photograph of an official wearing the black diplomatic uniform at a parade in East Germany in 1989. This white uniform cap is undated, but is probably from the 1980’s. Both band and crown are made of white cloth with yellow piping. Of note: yellow piping is, to my knowledge, only found on Diplomatic officials caps. The quality of manufacture equates to that of a general’s cap: silk lining, leather sweatband, visor buttons with embossed Great Seal of the USSR and patent leather visor. Normal officer gold cords are worn and the special, last model diplomat emblem (crossed quill pens with star) is pinned to the band. Scarce

Customs General Service

1990’s

Although little described outside its borders, the USSR maintained a uniformed customs service throughout the Cold War period. As one would expect, these personnel primarily operated at international transportation departure and arrival areas – airports, ports, train and highway stations. Custom officials usually wore a blue-gray uniform with green accents (although a lighter gray summer uniform apparently existed for a time). As part of this uniform, this cap has a blue-gray crown with a bright green band and piping. Although this band is plain wool, green velvet versions also exist (I don’t know the significance of the difference). As a general’s cap, this one has a patent leather visor, gold wire embroidery around a gilt national cockade, general officer buttons, and the normal upgraded interior with leather sweatband and silk lining. Take note of the exaggerated height of the crown on this cap. This “German” style started becoming popular around 1990, first appearing in naval admirals’ caps. It since expanded to other services and uniformed ministries, and continues to be popular to this day within the Russian military. In fact, it is now often seen on junior officer caps as well as those of generals’. Rare

Customs Officials Service

1975-1987

A 1985 dated example of the “standard” Customs’ official cap, apparently worn by all personnel except for general-equivalent officers. These personnel were responsible for checking all travelers and cargo going into and out of Soviet Union “ports of departure” and crossing points – working closely with the Border Guard. However, as anyone who ever visited the USSR can testify to, one seldom, if ever, saw them with their caps on! Nevertheless, they ware part of the official uniform. The cap’s color scheme is unique to Customs: medium blue-gray crown, medium green velvet band, with medium (grass) green piping. A dark blue-topped version of this cap may also have existed – supposedly for winter wear – but I have never seen one. Gold cords are held in place by buttons embossed with crossed “snake & staff” Customs’ symbols. The black fiberboard visor is a bit unusual for this late date of manufacture. The standard period Customs cap badge in gold metal, green, red and gray enamels is pinned to the band. Scarce

Prosecutor Service Mid-grade official

1964-1991

Another seldom-seen cap, this 1990-dated example was worn by a probable mid-grade official of the Soviet Prosecutor Service. As the name implies, these personnel were responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes in government courts, working closely with the Militia. (Note: the military services had their own prosecutor staff, which wore military uniforms) The Prosecutor Service also served as the state’s “inspector-general” to ensure Soviet governmental organs operated in accordance with the laws of the USSR. Only the senior leadership and the Communist Party apparatus were outside the Prosecutor Service’s bounds. The cap is an interesting mixture of elements and colors. Not surprisingly, the crown is dark blue (the most common cap color outside the military). The band is black velvet – a “mark of honor” reflecting the importance of the service, while the piping is green. The visor is black plastic and the gold woven cords are of the standard “officer” model, held in place with two brass buttons embossed with the Great Seal of the Soviet Union. Although these type buttons typically signified “general” rank, in this case they were probably worn by all mid to senior officials, much like the ones on diplomatic caps. The cap emblem consists of the later two-piece “shield and swords” cockade (a standard symbol of Soviet lawyers/prosecutors) surrounded by a gold-wire embroidered wreath. Both symbols were fixed to a dark blue fabric backing that was in turn sewn to the velvet band.

Scarce-Rare

Forestry Warden

1969-1991

This cap belonged to a mid-grade Forest Warden. Although its shape and design are representative of other Soviet caps of the 1970’s, many of its elements are unique to the Department of Forestry. The one-piece cockade consists of a round center edged in green emblazoned with the hammer and sickle surrounded by oak leaves and surmounted with a gilt star. The cap crown is made from blue-green cotton with grass (or medium) green piping. The band is grass green velvet. The early saddle-form crown and small fiberboard visor date it from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. Gold cords and gold buttons embossed with the crossed oak sprigs and hammer & sickle of the Forestry Department round out the cap’s features. Rare

Forestry Warden/Chief of Section

1969-1991

A newer variant of a Forestry Warden’s (or its equivalent in the technical services) cap. This cap has the same basic elements of the one described above, but reflects it later manufacture. The visor is plastic vice fiberboard, the buttons are one-piece moldings and the crown is a somewhat larger “saddle” shape. Most obviously, however, is the different crown color; this one being blue instead of the expected green (as on the cap above). Since this service is so poorly described, I don’t know the significance of this color difference – although it may be for the “engineering” or “militarized protection” branches. The piping remains green, as does the green velvet band. The Forestry manager’s emblem is pinned to the band and buttons displaying the crossed oak leaves of the service hold the gold cords. Rare

Forestry Forester/Master Forester

1980-1991

A junior official’s counterpart to the caps above. This cap combination was reportedly worn by Foresters and Master Foresters who, along with Huntsmen (who may or may not have worn this cap – jury is still out), made up the lower ranks of Soviet Forestry. Again, color variations between these Forestry caps may indicate separate “branches” – or, less likely, may vary by rank or position. The cap is a relatively late model, as evidenced by its plastic visor, cast buttons and saddle-shaped crown – probably from the 1980’s. Fabric color is black – crown and band, with bright “grass” green piping. The black oilcloth chinstrap is held with two plastic buttons cast with the crossed oak leaves of Forestry. The cap badge uses the same design: two crossed sprigs of oak leaves with a surmounting hammer and sickle. This badge is the primary clue for the humble rank of the cap’s owner. Higher officials wore the cockade shown on the caps above. The last noteworthy feature of this cap is that it was produced (and marked thereby) at a clothing factory dedicated to the Forestry Ministry – not as a sideline of a military clothier as many of these non-military caps were

Scarce-Rare

Aeroflot Junior Officer

1965-1991

Aeroflot was the national airline of the USSR. This cap was an element of a junior flying crew officer’s service uniform (I do not know of any special parade uniform for Aeroflot). Aeroflot always had a close relationship to the Soviet Air Force (VVS) – flying many missions in direct support of the Air Force and with many former Air Force personnel on staff. This close relationship is reflected in the insignia and color of Aeroflot’s uniforms. Variants of the winged propeller and hammer and sickle badges have been used since Aeroflot’s earliest days in the 1920’s. The final version of these badges are shown here. The cap is overall medium blue with light blue piping (same color piping used by the VVS). Gold officer cords were attached using buttons embossed with the Aeroflot winged propeller. Senior officers and aircraft captains would wear metal leaves pinned through the black visor. The highest officers would have embroidered emblems and additional decoration on the visor and band. Available

Coal Mining Industry Technical Engineer

1977-1990’s

Like most other Soviet state-run civilian enterprises, coal industry personnel were partially uniformed, represented in this case by a cap belonging to a technical-engineering worker. I’m not sure, but this category likely included all miners, not just trained engineers. The cap was constructed in accordance to standard military visor cap patterns, with different cloth colors and emblems. The crown is black cloth while the band is black velvet (similar to the Communications Service visor above – but that cap had a plain black cloth band). All piping is in a bright medium blue (KGB color). The one-piece coal mining cockade with crossed hammers is pinned to the band while gold buttons embossed with the same crossed hammers hold gold cords of a junior supervisor in place. The visor is unusual, closely resembling that of US military visors or some merchant marine visors. It is a “sandwich” of simulated leather and plastic, stronger and much thicker than those usually seen on Soviet caps. Inside, the cap is tagged with a maker’s label indicating its manufacture by a coal mining clothing firm.Scarce

Ministry of Transport Automobile Service

1980’s-1990’s

I have only a single documentary source concerning this cap and it provided no information as to what the specific role of this service was. It apparently included drivers, mechanics and dispatchers – perhaps supporting the transportation needs of other government ministries, but that is a guess. The cap itself closely resembles that of Aeroflot – being predominately blue with light blue piping. However, the blue of the crown and band is a lighter shade than the dark blue of Aeroflot. The primary recognition features of this cap are the emblems. The cockade is a one piece stamping with a golden “winged A” on a light blue enamel disk surrounded by a golden wreath. As is normal for transportation-related caps, a second emblem is pinned to the crown – in this case a winged stylized steering wheel superimposed on a blue enamel disk. These two types of emblems (winged A and the steering wheel) were apparently somewhat interchangeable – with cockades and wings existing in both forms. I would have thought the owner of this cap would have used matching emblems, but perhaps they were not available. A woven yellow cord (not gold) was held in place above the fiberboard visor by two “winged A” cast buttons. These yellow cords were sometimes seen on civilian caps, but were usually replaced by the “sexier” military gold ones. Although a relatively plebian cap, this one is remarkably difficult to find with all emblems. Scarce

Ministry of Transport Driver/Mechanic

1970-1985

Perhaps an earlier version of the blue Ministry of Transport Automotive Service cap shown above, this 1977 dated cap was reportedly used by drivers and mechanics assigned to the Ministry of Transport but working with Army and Naval Auxiliary forces. As previously mentioned, this service is virtually unknown in the West, so I have little else to add. This particular cap was purchased from a former Soviet soldier who saw these personnel working on his unit’s equipment while he was in the service. The cap is made from a very unusual dark brown cotton material with no piping. The visor is plastic as is the black chinstrap. The gold-colored buttons are cast with a “steering-wheel” symbol matching the center of the badge worn on the crown. Only the gold-colored winged steering wing has ever been attached to the cap – with no evidence of any emblem worn on the band. Scarce-Rare

Fire Protection (non-MVD) Fireman

1960’s?

As is well known, Soviet state-level fire departments were part of the MVD and most of their personnel wore variants of the unified MVD uniform (with the rust brown band/piping). However, other city and local fire fighting organizations also existed which apparently wore a mixture of uniforms – much like the different VOKhR security organizations. This cap appears to be from one of these local organizations. The cap is black in color with red piping around the teller-shaped crown. Unusually for a non-naval cap, it also has a black ribbon encircling the band, through which is pinned one of many versions of fire department badge. I have two versions of this same cap – differing only in size. The smaller one shown here came pinned to the cap. The top of the badge has been altered with the addition of a junior officer rank star painted red. Since both of my badges have been so-altered, I cannot determine exactly what the original looked like (anyone know?). The rest of the cap is characteristic of the 1960’s or earlier – napped wool teller-shaped crown, black fiberboard visor, black oilcloth chinstrap of a junior commander or private and brass Army-type buttons. No markings remain to tell more of its origins

Scarce

VOKhR Worker

1969-1982

The VOKhR – Militarized Guards – were actually a series of organizations tracing their history back to the Russian Revolution. As the name implies, they performed guard service at a wide variety of institutions and facilities. Some of these groups were completely uniformed, while others wore civilian clothes with uniform caps. The uniformed groups typically fell under NKVD, KGB or MVD control. Some of the better known VOKhR included Militarized Guards of Corrective Labor Camps (GULAG), Mil. Guards of Places of Detention (prisons), Mil. Guards of the Means of Communication (primarily railroads), and Mil. Guards of industrial installations (night watchmen and the like). This seems to be the prototypical VOKhR uniform cap, reflecting this service’s fondness for black and green color combinations. This cap has a black crown with a green band and (unusually) no piping of any color. It has an early saddle form crown, plastic visor and gold cords instead of black chinstrap. The cords may have been a later “add-on”, since it appears workers/rank and file members ususally wore black chinstraps, with only managers wearing gold cords. Chinstrap buttons are standard brass Soviet Army buttons. The cockade is the standard one-piece stamping used by the rank and file during this period. Unfortunately, the uniforms of this service are not well described and the meaning, if any, of color variations in these caps is unknown. Scarce

VOKhR Worker

1982-1991

This VOKhR cap is dated 1986, which puts it near the end of the Soviet era. The color scheme remains black and green as in the cap described above, but with dark blue piping along the crown and at the top of the band. As with other VOKhR variations, the significance (if any) of these is unknown to me and probably anyone else outside a small group of people in the former USSR. In spite of its later manufacture, other elements of this cap are a bit old-fashioned, i.e. the black fiberboard visor and the black oilcloth chinstrap. This probably reflects “using up old stocks” on uniforms less important than others. Also of interest is that this cap has retained the old-fashioned “teller” shape for its crown. The badge is new-style, however, consisting of a fluted gold circle with an attached star and crossed rifles emblem. This cockade was introduced around 1982 and remained in use until the collapse in 1991. Available

VOKhR Worker

1982-1991

This rather worn cap differs significantly from the previous two, in that both band and crown are black with red piping vice green. Again, it retains old-style features, with a “teller” form crown, black oilcloth chinstrap and a fiberboard visor. Chinstrap buttons are standard brass Soviet Army buttons. The badge is a variant of the one just above, with a silver fluted circle backing vice the gold one. Again, the significance of this badge variant or of the band and piping color are not available. Scarce