73 Pattern RAF Tropical Shirt

In the early 1970s the RAF went through a major review of its uniforms and a number of new pieces of clothing were introduced taking advantage of new materials such as man-made fabrics and new forms of fastening such as Velcro. The cut of these garments was also radically changed to present a more modern (for the 70s) appearance that brought the uniforms closer to what was considered fashionable for the day. As well as the blue grey uniforms worn in the United Kingdom, the designers were also let loose on tropical clothing and tonight we are looking at the results of this, the 1973 pattern RAF tropical jacket introduced at the same time as the 1972 pattern No 2 uniform back in Britain:imageThis garment is made in the tradition khaki shade used by tropical clothing since the Boer War, however instead of being made form cotton it is made of a polyester blend. In form it is quite reminiscent of the wartime battledress, with a high waist and fixed collar. It does however come with short sleeves to suit it for wear in warmer environments. The front of the jacket and the waist secure with large pieces of Velcro:imageFurther Velcro is used for the adjustment straps on either hip:imageAnd to secure the top flap of the interior pocket:imageA pair of shoulder straps are fitted, again secured with Velcro, and on this jacket they came with rank insignia already attached:imageThis design clearly remained in use for some time as the label on this example has metric sizing:imageMetric sizing did not come into widespread use until the late 1970s and it seems this jacket is dated 1979. Opinions on the 72/73 pattern series of RAF clothing do not seem to be very complementary with most who wore them regarding the garments as looking too ‘un-military’ and a design which by trying to match contemporary fashions dated very quickly. I would also question how comfortable this garment would have been in hot climates, man-made fibres of this period being notoriously uncomfortable in warm weather as they did not ‘breathe’ in the same way cotton, aertex or more modern breathable fabrics can.

One comment

  1. this jacket was for ground crew working on the line, it was not intended for general issue and was worn as a substitute for coveralls in technical trades.
    The velcro fastenings were to reduce the risk of Foreign Object Damage to aircraft if they came astray.
    As you surmise hot as Hades to wear.

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