1972 Pattern RAF No 1 Dress Tunic

1972 was to see major updates to the RAF airman’s uniform. The old woollen serge battledress was to be replaced with the new 72 Pattern zipped jacket and the service dress was updated to make use of new manmade fibres to give a more comfortable and easy to maintain uniform for the parade ground. This pattern of No 1 Dress uniform was to remain in use through until the end of the century when it was updated to a new pattern introduced in 1996. Today we are looking at an early example of this pattern of uniform from the 1970s. In form it is an open necked tunic in the traditional blue-grey:

It would originally have been worn with a cloth waist belt with a staybrite buckle, however this is missing from this example. The buttons are staybrite rather than the more traditional brass and the breast pockets are pleated with scalloped pocket flaps:

The medal ribbons here indicate a very long serving member of the service as the first is the 1939-45 War Medal ribbon, followed by the General Service Medal, the Silver Jubilee Medal and the RAF Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

The skirt pockets have flaps, but are otherwise plain and the bag of the pocket is within the jacket rather than applied to the exterior:

The original owner of this tunic was a corporal and so his rank insignia is applied to the sleeve in the RAF’s blue and grey pattern of insignia:

The back of the jacket is plain, with a simple central seam up the back:

The label inside the jacket has pre-metric sizing, indicating it dates form the 1970s or early 1980s:

With the Silver Jubilee medal this would suggest to me that this tunic probably dates from between 1977 and 1985 and with the War Medal I would tend to steer to the earlier end of that date range. As well as being used as a parade uniform, RAF Other Airmen could use their Number 1 dress for semi-formal occasions in place of the mess dress as No 4 dress. In this instance the blue shirt was replaced with a white shirt and the black neck tie with a bowtie, medal ribbons were worn, but not the medals themselves.  

One comment

  1. Our OR’s ‘mess dress’ was similar, the dress uniform with a white shirt (pleated or plain front) and black bowtie satin or plain, all available for purchase at Canex of course.
    At one mess dinner, a young Cpl showed up with a frilled white shirt and a large velvet bowtie.
    He was ‘one of mine’ so I ended up talking to the SWO about it, first time I’d ever discussed disciplinary options with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other 😉
    The ‘conversation’ abruptly ended when the Officers came in…
    The CO’s bowtie lit up and the SAMEO’s (Sqn Maintenance Officer, a Major) spun…
    I could see the SWO considering retirement options as he watched 🙂
    Another time as a Mess dinner during cocktails before the meal, a large firecracker went off…all heads simultaneously turned in my direction…again I had a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other talking to several others, including a Senior Officer who could confirm I hadn’t lit or thrown one…timers can be tricky but they usually work 😉

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