RCAF Senior Officer’s Cap

The Royal Canadian Air Force took much of the influence for its uniform and operation from the RAF and so much of their uniform looks similar, with only slight detail differences. Today we are looking at an example of a peaked officer’s cap that at first glance looks identical to its RAF counterpart but has some unique, if very subtle, Canadian features:

The main difference between this and an RAF cap comes from the buttons to secure the chin strap which are marked RCAF:

This cap probably dates to the 1960s or 1970s, as these caps have now been dropped in favour of the side cap. The shade of blue on the cap also looks a little brighter to my eyes that the RAF versions, but I am unsure if it actually is or not.

In other respects this cap conforms to RAF practice for senior officers and has the ‘scrambled egg’ across the peak for officers of Group Captain rank:

The cap itself is typical of designs of the cold war period in having a highly raised crown at the front which falls off to the sides in a distinctive saddle shape which was very popular amongst NATO officers of the time:

The cap is not a tailor made piece, but issued from stores like any other piece of uniform, but the quality is excellent and the interior has a high quality leather sweatband:

The label is printed and stuck inside the back of the cap and has the NSN code, including the country code of 21 for Canada:

Interestingly, the cap size is still in inches rather than metric at the time this was produced.

I still need to find the cap badge and mohair band, together with a chin strap to finish this cap off, but its an interesting and unusual addition to my post war Canadian collection.

2 comments

  1. When we were issued our ‘new’ Blue DEU’s in the late 80’s to replace the ‘gawdawful greens’ we’d been saddled with since some idiot decided everyone should dress the same whether they were Army, Navy, Airforce or ‘other’, they came with a blue forage cap for all ranks similar to the above one, and a new blue wedge cap to replace the non-issued but pretty much mandatory for wear green one you bought at CANEX along with a pretty nice parka you could wear instead of the service greatcoat, although I preferred that. Sadly, the new issue didn’t include a greatcoat but rather a ‘gabardine’ with a zip in lining, not nearly as warm and it didn’t look half as good, but at least it was blue, although you could still wear the ‘CANEX parka’, even if it was green.

    The blue forage cap was dumped in short order for wedges on parade for Other Ranks and ankle boots instead of oxfords, while officers wore forage caps and shoes.

    I still have mine in it’s original issue box, worn maybe twice, the next time it comes out will be when it sits on my casket along with other hats I’ve worn in different uniformed services along with my sword.

    There was also a blue flight jacket which was also pretty much mandatory for non-aircrew to ‘acquire’ one way or another even if it wasn’t issued to everyone.
    They served as a record of your career with Sqn patches and many other badges you’d earned the right to unofficially wear covering it in various places.

    As usual, recalling that reminds me of a story…

    I was serving in a ‘Tech Admin’ billet as a MCpl at the time, in the main offices of the BAMEO (Base Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Officer) organization which supplied second line maintenance and most admin services to the four Sqn’s on Base.
    I hadn’t ‘acquired’ a blue flight jacket yet since they’d just come out and there were barely enough for aircrew let alone ‘scrounge’ so I wore my green one as did most others and since the work dress hadn’t come out yet wore my brand new dress blues on a daily basis, swapping for the flight jacket when I got to my office, as did most others with office jobs.
    The canteen was on the next floor down beside the Admin section (clerks and pay staff) and one female Sgt clerk took great delight in telling me repeatedly that I was ‘out of uniform’ which I ignored completely since we were from ‘different worlds’ and I only went past hers to get coffee (donuts actually, we had a coffee maker in the section 😉 )
    One day I went down for a ‘supply run’ and heard the usual irate ” XXXXX !! ‘my last name’ get that green jacket OFF !!!” with quite a little bit more ire to the tone than usual.
    I turned around only to see than the Major in charge of my section who had the same uncommon last name as me (probably since we were distant cousins) who was also wearing a green flight jacket and blue dress pants and whom she’d assumed was me, turn around and beckon quietly towards her to follow him and I never heard another word about uniform colours or the mixing thereof 😉

  2. The forage cap shown would likely not have been from the 70’s.
    The Canadian Army, Royal Canadian navy and Royal Canadian Air Force ceased to exist as seperate entities on 01Feb1968, along with their respective uniforms to be replaced by the ‘one size fits none’ ‘rifle green’ unibags that everyone wore, differing only in hat and ‘command’ badges, although an Airforce tradition was to wear an old RCAF button on the left breast pocket, hidden under medals, if worn. Most people in the 70’s-90’s only had one medal, the CD for 12+ years ‘undetected crime’ and if Army, probably a UN medal since the gov’t of the day sent troops on every UN mission they could talk their way into.
    The ‘work uniform’ was quite possibly one of the least military looking and most disliked ‘uniforms’ ever worn and was universally known as the ‘bus driver’s uniform’.
    It’s hard even to find pictures online, it was so bad 😉

    DEU’s were issued starting in 1986 so the hat wouldn’t have been worn from 1968 on and since it doesn’t have RCAF buttons on it but rather the DEU button, I’d guess it’s post-86.
    It should also have a plastic ring in the top to keep it flat, the ’50 mission’ look was frowned upon, even for pilots 😉
    Also, to my knowledge, hat sizes are still issued in inches here.
    My last military issue was in ’94 and it was all in inches (I checked) as were the uniforms I wore in another gov’t department last issued in 2019.
    We did go metric around 1972 thanks to the same gov’t that gave us the nameless branches of the military all dressed the same but even today meat is sold by the pound and blue jeans by the inch:)

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