Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

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    Edward53
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    Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 11:58 am

    Respectfully dedicated to those men and women who took part in Operation Granby, the British component of Operation Desert Storm.

    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.

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:18 pm

    THE TROPICAL SHIRT

    The first troops arrived in tropical kit, and some were still wearing it at the start of the ground war, though virtually all frontline troops were by then equipped with desert dpm. The tropical shirt had a zip and button closure, two buttoned breast pockets, an open pen pocket on the left arm and a small, buttoned field dressing pocket on the right arm. The zip on this example is by YKK. Note the SL31b contract number which dates this shirt to around 1987. (Why one picture is sideways on I have no idea - just one of the mysteries of servimg.)








    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:25 pm

    THE DESERT DPM SHIRT

    The desert dpm shirt was a direct copy of the existing tropical pattern. The label, as for the tropical shirt, is inside the lower right skirt and is a silky, gold material . Zips are mostly by Opti. The cut of the jacket seems to have remained the same throughout. The material is cotton drill – the “teabag” material is later. The First Field Dressing pocket is secured by a flap that may be square or pointed. Neither this, nor cloth and button colour variation, appear to be significant as regards production date.

    Shirts were made by Cookson and Clegg, J Compton Son and Webb, Supercraft Garments, and the Spanish company Induyco. The latter's labels are printed on stiff white material and their zips are by YKK. Presumably this contract was placed in a final rush to equip the troops when British capacity was saturated.

    Typical desert dpm shirt and FFD pocket flaps:








    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:34 pm

    Three desert dpm prints were in use up to and during the Gulf War. I'll call them Print One, Print Two, and Sparse Print. Print One seems to have been used for the very first clothing, but Print Two was evidently not far behind and both prints appear concurrently. It is not clear why the different prints were used. The scarce Sparse Print appears to be an early variant that was soon dropped from clothing, though it is not uncommon on body armour covers. All three prints were in use during hostilities.

    Prints One and Two are identifiable from easily-seen patterns common to both prints but with slight differences. In print one, the “jumping fox” shape in the centre of the picture has one front and one hind leg. In print two, it has two hind legs. In print one, an anvil-like pattern is visible above the fox, but this is blotted out in in print two.





    Also, in print one, the “tipped pillar” to the right of the “wings” is a long, distinct curve separate from the adjacent block. In print two, the “pillar” is only a short stub off this block. To the left of the wings, there are two “islands” in print one, but three in print two.





    The easily recognisable sparse print consists of larger, less subtle dark shapes on the sand background:





    Once again, some pictures have been rotated by Servimg but I hope the general idea is clear.

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:47 pm

    The first identifiable contract, and apparently the only one in the SL32b series, is SL32b/5466, Supercraft Garments. Three more contracts follow, all in the SL34b series: 0029 - Cookson and Clegg; 0030 - J Compton Sons and Webb, and 0031 - Supercraft Garments. Contract 0030 was the subject of various amendments, whilst 0029 and 0031 apparently were not, though some Supercraft labels are marked 1 or 2 after the maker's name:













    More contracts were awarded to Comptons – 0070, and Supercraft – 0075, though not apparently to Cooksons:





    Finally, presumably when British capacity was saturated, contract 0126 was awarded to SA Induyco, a Madrid-based contractor to the Spanish Armed Forces. Note the unusual stiff paper label of the Induyco contract:


    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:52 pm

    Most desert dpm shirts have zips by Opti, with tape pulls.



    Unusually, the Supercraft 0075 shirt has a YKK zip.



    The shirts by Induyco SA  have zips of an unknown brand, with no pull:

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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Camo_fiend on Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:07 pm

    This is very useful information. Thank you for taking the time to compile this.
    Now I can use this to help date some of my GW1 DDPM pieces.


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    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:08 am

    Thanks Ben, I'm glad you find this helpful. There seem to be some very rare exceptions to the small buttons / square flaps rule, which I hope to be able to deal with later.

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:39 am

    THE DESERT DPM TROUSERS

    Like the shirt, trousers were produced in all three prints. There are several cuts of this garment. The earliest, going by the only available contract number which dates them to around 1989, are the Lightweights. Strictly speaking these are probably not Gulf War, as they are obviously designed as smart desert wear, presumably with shirt and/or jersey, perhaps for wear when visiting Saudi, UAE and the like. In the rush to equip the troops, it seems reasonable to assume that some of these would have made it to the theatre of war, as they appear to be made of the same durable fabric as the regular desert clothing. Note the four-colour offcut inside these trousers. Zip by Opti.






    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:42 am

    The earliest desert combat trousers, like the shirt, were a direct copy of the tropical pattern. They featured a rear pocket and a zip-and-button fly. This cumbersome arrangement may have worked with the tropical trousers, but it is very awkward with the heavier material used in the desert combats. These trousers are by Supercraft, from the SL32b/5466 contract. Zip by Opti.








    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:46 am

    The zip-and-button fly and the rear pocket were soon dropped, probably for speed of production. The sparse trousers shown below, with these simplifications, are from the Comptons SL34b/0030 contract. The zip is by YKK. Sparse trousers were also produced by Supercraft as part of the SL32b/5466 contract.





    (Once again, for reasons best known to itself, Servimg has decided to present the images awkwardly)


    Last edited by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:50 am; edited 1 time in total

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:49 am

    These Comptons trousers from the 0030 contract, with all the simplifications, represent the typical desert combat trouser. Zip by Opti. The early Supercraft and Comptons contracts included three pattern variants and three different prints, in the same contract number. Presumably Cookson and Clegg also made the trousers, but I've yet to see a pair.






    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:52 am

    Another variant. This 0030 contract pair by Comptons – possibly the work of a subcontractor - lacks the waist adjustment tabs. Zip by Opti.


    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:54 am

    The trousers evidently continued in production with the same contract amendments and new contracts as the shirts, for Comptons at least.




    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:56 am

    Induyco SA Madrid also produced trousers under the same contract 0126 as the shirt. These trousers, like the earlier Comptons pair, lack waist adjustment tabs. Same unbranded zip as the shirt.




    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:07 am

    Incidentally, while I'm here I should point out that this thread would have been a whole lot harder to write without the benefit of previous posts by members of this forum. I would like in particular to say thank you for the contributions of Easy Gee, Gulf91, Bravo-Two-Zero and Duncan McClain in this respect, and sorry if I've missed anyone out! Smile  Wink

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:38 am

    HATS

    Desert hats were produced by Hobsons, Comptons, Vero and Everitt, and at least one other maker. Gulf War hats have no neck curtain flap – this was a later innovation – and can have either eyelets or grilles for ventilation. A typical interior is shown below.



    All contracts for hats seem to have been part of the SL33b series. The lowest-numbered contract I've identified is SL33b/4901, to Comptons. This hat has ventilation eyelets. It's not clear in the photo, but in fact this hat is made from three different shades of ddpm.





    Hats from the next Comptons contract, SL33b/5428, all seem to have ventilation grilles.



    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:42 am

    Hobson and Sons Ltd also had at least two contracts, both made with ventilation grommets. 5023 has all the information printed on one label.







    Hobsons 5091, for some reason, has a label for the washing instructions but a red ink stamp for the contract information. It seems strange that this obviously inferior arrangement should appear on their second contract, unless it was farmed out to a subcontractor.






    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:45 am

    Vero and Everitt Ltd were awarded contract SL33b/4945. This hat of theirs has ink-stamped contract information and a separate washtag.






    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:07 am

    HELMETS AND COVERS

    The Mk6 helmet seems to have been used universally, including by AFV crews (I'm ready to stand corrected on this). Most people reading this will know what a Mk6 helmet looks like, but here they are anyway for completeness. Early production had a smooth finish:





    The interior consists of soft buffers fore and aft with extending straps linked by green cloth tape to form a cradle, and a polystyrene cushion for the top of the head:



    An uneven exterior finish was later adopted, possibly to grip the helmet cover better:




    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:12 am

    At first desert dpm was in very short supply and most troops arrived with regular dpm covers, some rear echelon troops retaining them throughout.



    Dpm covers in typical colouring:



    Supercraft Garments, Remploy and Jeltek Weatherguard all made dpm covers. These are in chronological order:






    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:22 am

    The frontline troops eventually received desert covers:



    Jeltek seems to have made the earliest desert covers, under contract SL32b/5469:



    Dashmore Clothing and Jeltek were both subsequently awarded contracts in the SL34b series, 0069 and 0094 respectively:









    It can be seen that these early covers are outwardly no different from later ones, in fact they are impossible to tell apart without sight of the label. Supercraft and Remploy do not seem to have made desert covers. Dashmore went on to be awarded a further contract, SL34b/0504, but despite the near-identical label to their contract 0069, these 0504 covers are undoubtedly post Gulf War, probably c. 1993.

    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:29 am

    Lastly, this cover is a bit of an oddity in having been made with no outer elastic and, apparently, no label. Something similar was worn later in Afghanistan, but this came on the helmet shown here, with a pair of driver's goggles by Scott, in a batch of other Gulf War items. The green drawstring, as used with dpm fabrics, seems to indicate manufacture before sand-coloured tape became available.




    Edward53
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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:40 am

    COMBAT BODY ARMOUR AND COVERS

    These are less scarce in Sparse Print than shirts and trousers. All the early production examples I've encountered are in Sparse Print, with colour “ghosting” evident on the light background. Note the single ballistic plate pocket and utility pocket on the front, the absence of a rank tab, and the snap clip suspended at the back.










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    Re: Identification Guide To Gulf War One Militaria

    Post by Edward53 on Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:43 am

    Fairly early on, the Sparse Print is dropped in favour of regular desert dpm (Print One):










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