Category Archives: Camouflage

RAF Desert DPM Shirt

I am a great fan of badged camouflage shirts, they are cheap, easily available and there are many different variations out there to collect, they also seem to have more character and more of a history to them than a mint unissued item. I suspect that in years to come these shirts will become increasingly collectible, but for now they remain cheap on the secondary market. We have looked at a number of these on the blog over the years and tonight it is the turn of an RAF badged desert DPM shirt dating from the War on Terror:imageThe shirt is an absolutely standard CS-95 type example, but has a large ‘Royal Air Force’ title sewn above one breast pocket:imageAnd a three coloured tactical recognition flash on the sleeve:imageThe RAF deployed large numbers of men and women to both Iraq and Afghanistan, not only as pilots and aircrew but also as ground staff, medical personnel and as part of the RAF regiment defending air bases. All these personnel wore the standard DDPM clothing of the period, with RAF and RAF regiment specific insignia sewn onto the uniforms. The scale of the RAF’s contribution in Iraq was commented upon in the Daily Mail in 2003:

Around 100 RAF warplanes will soon be in the Gulf in the biggest deployment of British offensive aerial firepower in modern times.

The announcement came yesterday, giving the strongest signal yet that an Anglo-American attack against Iraq is close.

The massive RAF contribution which also encompasses 8,000 personnel, now totals one-third of the service’s front line strength… today’s RAF is barely half the size of the 1991 force- so proportionately, yesterday’s orders represent the biggest operational commitment in decades.

Military experts said it is the largest possible strike force the RAF can muster, and will place a huge strain on the already hard-pressed service.

The deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan were to keep the RAF busy for the next decade and even today men and women of the RAF are in these countries in a limited role supporting the local militaries.

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Stick of Brown Camouflage Cream

There seems to have been a myriad of different types of camouflage cream issued and used by the British Army over the last few decades. I have now collected up three of four different variations of camo cream and tonight we are looking at a tube of brown camo cream from the 1990s. The tube is made of metal and contains just brown coloured camo cream:imageFrom the NSN number we can easily see that this tube was manufactured for the British, the -99- country code being the giveaway. The tube has a metal base plate on the bottom that is not attached to the rest of the tin, allowing a finger to be used to push up the stick of camo cream as it is used:imageA rubber cap is fitted to seal the top of the tube when not in use, this stops the brown camouflage from getting over everything and prevents it from drying out:imageThis particular stick of camouflage cream was manufactured in 1997 by BCB International Ltd:imageThis company has been around for over 160 years and is still in business supplying military and survival equipment to various countries including the UK. Their website outline the company’s history:

For over 160 years, BCB International have been designing, manufacturing and supplying personal Survival and protective equipment used by Soldiers, seafarers and adventures worldwide!

It started with a cough…

In 1854, a Dr Brown came up with a cough medicine and shipped some off to British troops suffering in the trenches in the Crimean war.

60 years later, Dr Brown’s Cough Bottle gave the initials for a registered company, BCB.

Taken over by a local Cardiff chemist Deryck Howell in 1949,

BCB remains a Howell family run firm to this day.

Wave of Fortune

A lucky encounter in the 1950s with British Defence Officials resulted in BCB designing for the world’s first life raft survival kit.

It cemented the company’s driving force CANEI: Continuous and Never Ending Innovation and sparked an impressive array of novel products including: shark repellent, ballistic protective underwear dubbed ‘Blast Boxers’ and an all-weather rations heating and barbecue cooking fuel called ‘FireDragon’.

Cold Weather MTP Cap

I always like a bargain and so whenever I see a hint of camouflage in a pile of jumble I get a little excited. A few weeks back I spotted the distinctive colours of a piece of MTP poking out of a huge pile of clothes on my second hand market. Pulling said MTP out revealed it was a very nice MTP Moisture Vapour Permeable Cold Weather cap and the price was a very welcome 50p! The cap is designed for use in cold weather and so features a large pair of ear flaps that come down either side of the face to secure under the chin:imageThese can also be lifted up and fastened to the top of the hat, much like a deerstalker:imageVelcro is fitted to the two flaps to allow either position to be adopted:imageThe cap has a peak on the front of it, with a piece of wire fitted all along the brim:imageThis wire allows the peak to be adjusted to suit the wearer’s preference and it will stay in that position. This is especially useful in the winter where winds are strong and the soldier’s hands are probably full with equipment and can’t be used to adjust the peak constantly.

At the back of the hat is a Velcro tab and simple plastic buckle that allows a degree of size adjustment:imageA piece of elastic is also included inside that helps keep the hat secure to the wearer’s head:imageAn elasticated chin strap is fitted as well. Even just trying this on the strap was annoying so I would not be surprised if this elastic was frequently taken out in service:imageA standard label is sewn into the hat, here showing that this example is a ‘large’:imageNote also the colour of the fleece lining to the cap, here is a pale coyote brown. Earlier examples came with a black lining and at some point they swapped the colours over. Presumably this was because if worn with the flaps up, the black would show up like a sore thumb in the snow. These caps are very well made and like much modern British Army Goretex equipment they are very popular with hikers as a cheaper way of getting top quality wind and waterproof clothing. At the price this was a very nice addition to my collection.Royal Marine Reserves in Norway During Winter Training

DPM Arctic Parka

Over the last couple of years we have covered a number of the padded liners issued to troops for service in extreme cold weather, including the parka liner here. This liner was designed to be fitted into the arctic parka used by British troops in extreme cold weather. Happily I have been able to add an example of one of these parkas to my collection and we are able to take a closer look at this garment tonight. The parka is a distinct garment, different from the more usual smocks. It is longer and baggier than the traditional windproof or parachutist’s smock and has a permanently attached hood:imageThe hood itself is padded with a quilted liner and has wire around the front to allow it to be shaped to suit the wearer’s preferences:imageLarge baggy patch pockets are sewn to the front of the parka, secured with green plastic buttons:imageA heavy duty zip with a Velcro fly is fitted to the front of the parka:imageAnd two buttons are sewn to the lower front skirt of the garment:imageThese are to allow a tail flap to be passed between the legs, much like the parachutist’s smock and fastened to the front. However where the parachutists smock used press studs, this example uses large buttons. When the flap is not needed it buttons into the inside rear of the parka:imageThe same buttons go through two button holes to also act as the fastening for the large soft kit pocket that runs all across the back of the parka:imageThe parka is designed to be worn with a liner, so large patches of Velcro are sewn into the inside of the garment:imageThese are the loop half and the corresponding hook part of the Velcro is on the outside of the liner to allow the two pieces to be attached together.

The sleeves of the parka are also distinctive with large double thickness elbow sections to add extra protection and comfort when shooting:imageThe cuffs are unusual in having a tab with Velcro to secure them:imageThis design allows the wearer to tighten the cuffs, even when wearing heavy arctic mittens.

It should be noted that there also exists an arctic windproof smock that was issued at the same time as this parka. It has been suggested that the smock was for infantrymen, whilst the parka was for more static troops such as those maintaining vehicles or in non-combat roles that required them to stand still in the cold for longer. I have been unable to confirm if this is indeed the case, but it seems a plausible theory. These parkas are extremely well made and I was lucky enough to find this one in a vintage clothes shop for a very reasonable price. Strangely this is only the second parka in my collection, the other being an earlier olive green example I picked up several years ago.

MTP MVP Heavyweight Jacket

A few weeks back we looked at the MTP MVP lightweight jacket and in that post I highlighted some of the criticisms that design received in the press at the time of issue. The army was quick to recognise these shortcomings and quickly designated the lightweight MVP jacket as being for use in desert conditions, whilst issuing a heavier version better suited to operations in the UK and Northern hemisphere:imageThe first and most obvious feature is that the length of this garment has been increased so instead of finishing above the bum, it now goes down to mid-thigh. The material used is also a far heavier grade of fabric that is both tougher and stiffer than that used on the lightweight version. Perhaps most importantly when the previous complaints were taken into consideration, is the inclusion of a hood:imageThis can be rolled into the collar when not required but does at least give the wearer the option of some rain protection during an exercise. The jacket is designed to protect against heavy rain, so the front is secured with a zip, covered by a Velcro fly:imageA zipped opening is fitted to the centre of the chest to allow the wearer to access items in clothing underneath the MVP jacket:imageTwo large patch pockets are sewn onto the breast of the jacket, the top flap of each secured with Velcro:imageA single rank slide is fitted to the centre of the chest as is typical with most modern British military clothing:imageWhilst these garments are very good at keeping out the rain, they do need to be secured at the openings to prevent water entering that way, so a Velcro tightening strap is fitted to each sleeve:imageAnd an elasticated drawstring at the waist:imageAs ever a label is sewn into the inside of the jacket:image15 different sizes are offered for this jacket, each with their own NSN number:Capture1It is interesting to note the price per unit the MOD was charged when these jackets were new! My thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping sort me out with this jacket, it is another variation in the collection and adds to my slowly building collection of MTP.

Late Pattern DPM Smock Parachutist

I have been looking around for one of the iconic DPM parachutists smocks to add to my collection for a while and thanks to my friend and fellow collector Michael Fletcher, I am now the happy owner of a particularly nice example that we will be taking a closer look at tonight:imageThe smock parachutist in DPM was introduced in the mid-1970s and borrowed heavily from the iconic Denison smock. Paratroopers have always had specialist clothing due to the nature of their role: jumping out of an aircraft requires special modifications to a jacket to ensure it doesn’t fill with air and blow up around the face of the wearer! From the front the smock looks fairly standard, however if one turns to the rear it is obviously a different story:imageHooked up at the back is a large tail flap, undoing the poppers allows it to be folded down:imageIn service this passes between the wearer’s legs and attaches to a set of press studs on the front inside of the jacket:imageThis is designed to hold the smock down and prevent it from riding up. It is adjustable for comfort so a total of three pairs of studs are fitted, the heads of these female press studs being a distinctive feature of the front of the smock:imageThe smock is also fitted with knitted cuffs to provide a closer seal between the wearer’s arm and the jacket, again to reduce the amount of air that can be forced inside the garment:imageFour voluminous external pockets are provided and all are secured with press studs:imageOther pockets, such as the first field dressing pocket on the arms secure with buttons in the usual manner:imageThe earliest releases of the DPM Smock Parachutist did not have this pocket, it was a later addition to the design sometime in the 1980s. The shoulder straps use the same green buttons:imageAnd three buttons are positioned around the back of the neck to allow a hood to be attached, although this seems to have been rarely ever used by the Paras:imageThe smock is secured up the front by a long, exposed zip:imageWhilst a large pocket runs across the lower rear of the skirt to allow soft kit to be carried here:imageThis example dates form the mid-1990s as can be seen from the label where there is no manufacturer’s name, just a contract number:imageAs ever ARRRSE has an interesting take on the Smock Parachutists:

Introduced in the mid-1970s, the voluminous smock is a throwback to the early Denison Smocks, which were meant to be worn over Battle Dress. It has four bellows-style pockets and a small FFD pouch – all fastened with press studs; woollen cuffs and a curious (externally stowed) crotch flap that has little if any use.

The jacket rates very highly on the ally scale for obvious reasons and at one time they were very hard to come by unless one had passed P Company and done the jumps. Nowadays, they’re easy to source and are affordable.

As a practical field jacket they’re not very good. They don’t dry out quickly and the woolly cuffs make one’s wrists sweat like a chunkie in a maths test in hot weather. They are, however, hard-wearing and surprisingly load bearing – the pockets can be stuffed with staggering quantities of essentials.

If shelling out, one would be better off spending one’s beer tokens on a decent windproof. That said, CS95 is perfectly adequate for field use.

The smock can be worn in two distinct styles:

  • Bloused – Tucked up around the waist. Typically worn in this style with Lightweights. This is ‘old school’ and is rarely seen these days.
  • Unbloused – Hanging below the knees. Worn with brightly-coloured tropical kecks, this style was started by the Pathfinders of 5 Airborne Brigade and has been emulated by many since.

 

WARNING. WEARING THIS SMOCK DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN AIRBORNE GOD.

The wearing of this item of clothing without any valid reason could result in the wearer being torn a fresh arsehole by The Badge.

Since the introduction of MTP however, the smock has regained its previous rarity, possibly due to the new PCS smocks being a lot better, or because the smocks are actually only issued to airborne qualified personnel again.Whittaker

First Pattern Yorkshire Regiment MTP Smock

Earlier this year I covered the later pattern of MTP windproof smock here. Since then I have been lucky to pick up not only an example of the earlier pattern, but one with some lovely in service modifications to it and a set of insignia for my local regiment:imageAlthough very similar at first glance to the later pattern, a close inspection reveals a large number of differences. Externally the biggest change is that all the pockets on this smock have visible buttons. These have been modified on this example to remove the tape fastening and traditional stitched examples are used instead:imageThe biggest changes however are on the inside. This earlier pattern does not use the mesh of the later design, instead just being open fabric:imageNor are the pockets fleece lined, instead they are of more conventional fabric construction:imageThe smock borrows from earlier designs in having a long pocket for soft kit all along the rear bottom quarter of the inside:imageA label is sewn inside with sizing and NSN number:imageNote how ‘multi’ has been miss-spelt! One of the most interesting features of this smock though is the insignia sewn to the sleeves. The left hand sleeve has the tactical recognition flash of the Yorkshire Regiment consisting of a white rose on a green, black and red striped background:imageThe opposite sleeve has the badge of the 12th Brigade consisting of the number 12 on a black ace of spades design:imageOriginally the 12th Mechanised Brigade, this unit is now the 12th Armoured infantry Brigade and is based at Bulford. It consists of:

The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own) (Formation Reconnaissance)

The King’s Royal Hussars (Armoured)

1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot) (Armoured Infantry)

1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Armoured Infantry)

1st Battalion, Scots Guards (Heavy Protective Mobility) (Note: This Heavy Protected Mobility Infantry Unit rotates amongst the five Guards Division Battalions)

Although this pattern of smock has now been superseded, the regiment still wear MTP on operations and still proudly display the white rose of Yorkshire as their TRF:CaptureAccording to some irreverent wags, this earlier pattern of smock is particularly popular with squaddies as it subtly implies the wearer is an ‘old sweat’ and consequently some try and swap the more modern smock with concealed buttons for this design, particularly if they can get one that looks suitably faded!