DPM Tank Suit

Tank and AFV crew have different uniform needs to standard sodldiers, with a need to have a uniform with minimal edges to catch on things, that is comfrotable when seated and protects from oil, muck and perhaps most importantly of all fire. Fire is a difficult one to resolve however, as the treatments that make clothing fireproof do not survive regular washing well. For tank and AFV crews then, the army issues one piece coveralls, today in MTP, but until recently in the older DPM fabric:

Whilst initially appearing to be a simple set of overalls, closer inspection reveals that the AFV coveralls are actually very complex pieces of uniform. One major difficulty is getting injured crewman out of an armoured vehicle. To assist this, the AFV coverall has a system of reinforced straps inside it that support the wearer under the arm pits if they become a casualty:

These are heavily stitched and pass out to the exterior at the shoulder to provide two useful grab handles that will support the weight of the wearer:

Turning to the outside of the uniform, a rank slide tab is sewn centrally on the chest:

Note also the two zip pockets either side of this, and the two velcroed pen pockets sewn onto the front of these two. Small pieces of velcro are fitted to allow equipment to be attached.

Below this is the waist that is pulled in by a drawstring:

Note also the zips for the hip pockets. These access large pockets integral to the coveralls, whilst another set of zips allow the wearer to access pockets on any garments beneath the coverall. The thighs of each leg have further pockets, with complicated openings to allow maps to be worn on the leg and viewed if needed, much like those used by air crew:

Finally a further two pockets are sewn near the ankle, one on each leg:

A heavy duty piece of reinforcement is sewn into the crotch, suggesting that this has been recognised as a common area for wear:

Finally on the rear is a large, diagonal opening across the buttocks to allow men to answer the call of nature, without having to remove the coverall:

A label is sewn into the neck with the sizing, stock number etc. on it and above this in white are the intriguing words ‘For Training Only’:

Whilst I have no proof, I suspect that this is here because the coverall lacks the fire retardant treatment that combat uniforms would receive as it will be subject to much more sustained laundering- if anyone can confirm my hypothesis or give the actual reason for this marking, please leave a comment below.

One comment

  1. Fire-Resistance is a big topic. Whilst polycotton and nyco can achieve a measure and scrape by some tests with organophosphorus treatments, the best results are with polyaramids (NOMEX). But in addition to being very expensive, polyaramids are hard to dye, at least in a way that preserves their fibre-swell-when-heated that protects the wearer. DPM would be even harder to produce, and I suspect is also why most flight suits remain mono-colour. Training in ground vehicles should have much reduced risk of fire without external explosions to loosen internal hydraulic fittings.

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