Not much information is freely available on the clothing and equipment of the British Army in Kuwait and Iraq in the Gulf War of 1990-1. It is still generally regarded as surplus, but given the size of the campaign and the time that has passed, it is likely to become collected eventually. Britain was unprepared for a desert war, and the hurried, improvised nature of much of the kit is evident, though by and large it did its job well enough. This thread aims to gather in one place the information necessary to identify it. There will be things I've overlooked, didn't know, or just don't have, but I think it will be of use to collectors present and future. I will be looking at shirts, trousers, hats, helmets and covers, boots, body armour and covers, NBC kit, webbing, and miscellaneous clothing and equipment. Additions will take place as and when I have the time and inclination to take photos and write the text, which might be at extended intervals!!
First, some observations on the British contract system. Most British combat clothing ceased to be dated after about 1970. Some clothing and equipment can be identified by pattern alone, but not all. Fortunately, the contract numbering system follows a fairly consistent chronological sequence, and a basic understanding of the contract numbering system allows most items to be pinned down within a year or two. This window is even narrower for the Gulf War, given the speed and urgency with which contracts were placed and the rapid stockpiling of equipment for a ground war expected to last months, but which was over in less than a week.
All standard issue British Army clothing and equipment used in the Gulf War seems to have fallen within the SL contracts range. The relevant contract series are SL31a and b, SL32a and b, SL33a and b, and SL34b. All DC, OC, ST, ESL, ST1, CT1, CT32 and CT34 contracts are later (but note that CT2 and CT4 are early to mid-80s). The SL31, 32, 33 and 34 series all overlapped at various times, and SL32 and SL34 - but not, apparently, SL31 or SL33 - ran on into the post Gulf War period. SL32b seems to have been used for the very earliest clothing production, when it apparently stopped and was superseded by the SL34b series. The SL32a series, however, continued until about 1994. The latest confidently-dateable wartime SL32a contract is SL32a/4661, on a bergen – but SL32a/4616 appears on a 1991 dated bivouac bag, so caution is needed here.
The highest wartime SL34b contract number appears to be SL34b/0126. The next highest dateable one I've been able to find is 0246, which dates to June 1992.
So Gulf War contract numbering can be summarized more or less as follows:
SL31 – up to GW1
SL32a – approx mid-4000s up to GW1, higher numbers later
SL32b – up to GW1
SL33 – up to GW1
SL34 – approx 0126 up to GW1, higher numbers later.