[Sticky] Naval Infantry Kit Guide
The term naval infantry can cover a variety of different types of troops depending upon their role and the nature of their creation. This would often determine the way in which they looked in the field. Many naval infantry brigades were raised as infantry from the start to operate as marines in amphibious operations. These men were largely equipped as regular infantry with only a few items such as their insignia distinguish them as navy personnel. They were proud of their naval background however so would often keep as much navy kit as possible in order to retain their identity as members of the RKKF.
Other brigades were raised in emergencies, often during sieges, from personnel who were stranded in port due to the loss of their ship. These men usually wore the navy uniforms they had already and equipped themselves with whatever could be found. This could be equipment of any origin giving them a ragtag look. These are sometime known as naval rifle brigades.
This is a guide to the kit that was unique to naval personnel and could be commonly seen when fighting on land. That is not to say that you cannot mix and match these items with army uniforms to suit your needs/budget as this was frequently done.
The ideal is a wartime pattern Bezkozyrka black naval cap (Donald Duck). These feature a smaller brim than the more modern (post 1960s) version normally seen for sale. The cap badge is of the same styled star as the pilotka and peaked cap but is a unique size measuring between the two.
On a budget later post war caps are acceptable for wartime once they are modified. The brim of the cap tends to be much larger post war so any padding and wire reinforcement needs to be removed and the brim flattened. The cap badge also requires replacing as the wreathed star is incorrect. A pilotka star is the easiest and cheapest option for this. White caps are also acceptable as although they were intended for summer dress they were seen in combat, particularly during sieges like Sevastopol where supplies were limited.
The cap tally around the rim of the cap only denoted the fleet to which the man belonged. In Sevastopol the 8th Naval Brigade formed part of the Black Seas Fleet (Ð§ÐµÑ€Ð½Ð¾Ð¼Ð¾Ñ€ÑÐºÐ¸Ð¹ Ð¤Ð»Ð¾Ñ‚) and this is the tally required. Unlike other fleets the name has not changed since wartime so it is easy to obtain.
Naval infantry frequently wore other headgear including helmets when fighting ashore. These were the standard unmodified infantry helmets of the Ssh36, Ssh39 and more commonly the Ssh40. They could also be seen wearing Ushankas during winter, both khaki infantry and black naval ones.
Repro wartime cap
Late postwar Cap
Northern Fleet Tally
The standard undershirt of naval troops was the classic telnyashka stripped shirt. The stripes should be navy blue in colour and of the woven type not printed. Avoid other colours as these did not exist until post war. These are widely available as they are still worn today.
Over this was worn the middy shirt with square rigged collar scarf. These were normally blue, but black as well as white summer versions can also be worn. In combat the collar was normally removed as they served no practical purpose. The design of these has changed little so they can be easily found at low prices.
Avoid other nationalities shirts as these are usually of a different cut to the Russian model.
Black woollen bell bottomed trousers were the standard for the Red Fleet. They were side buttoning and unique in style to naval trousers. The same style was still being worn throughout the Soviet era so they are still readily available. Like the shirt and cap white summer dress trousers could also be worn in combat when times were hard.
Other black trousers of the same style, including those of other nationâ€™s navies would be acceptable substitutes for Soviet trousers.
Peacoats or Bushlats were the standard winter wear for all naval personnel in the Russian navy up until very recently. RKKF war time peacoats are double breasted with two parallel rows of brass buttons and straight cut pockets. They are of a unique style that was replaced in the 1960â€™s making them very difficult to find.
Later Soviet bushlats are of a different cut with the buttons and flap angling outwards running up the jacket. These are acceptable as substitutes on a budget as they are but are much better once modified. By removing the buttons and re-sewing them so that the flap and buttons run parallel like the war time bushlat they are quite passable when worn. Note this does reduce the waist size so be sure to check if it will still fit before doing this. You may wish to replace the buttons with more suitable 2 piece metal ones as later jackets often have moulded plastic ones. These bushlats can still be found quite easily but often mislabelled as WWII and so overpriced. Around Â£50 or less would be an acceptable price for one of these.
Other pea coats are not acceptable as they are usually of a very different cut and often blue rather than black.
Repro wartime Pea coat
Like the bushlat naval shinels were black in colour but the enlisted menâ€™s version only featured a single row of buttons running down the front. They were cut in the same style as the army version other than the buttons and being black. These coats can still be found fairly easily as the same style was used well in to cold war era.
Other models of coat, including later models with two rows of buttons should be avoided as these are not suitable for wartime.
Much of the webbing used by naval infantry was the same as that used by the army. Some canvas items could be dyed blue rather than the usual khaki and often leather items were black rather than the usual brown. This was not universal however and army issue equipment was commonly used.
The one item unique to naval personnel was the belt. It was a plain black leather belt with brass anchor buckle. The wartime buckle differed from the later model more commonly available of often seen for sale. The most obvious difference is that the wartime model is flatter with angled corners. Wartime buckles are hard to find so early post war substitutes are acceptable. Bulgarian ones are the closest that are readily available.
The other webbing item naval infantry were famous for wearing were maxim machine gun belts. In siege situations where equipment was short naval personnel were forced to use whatever was available which included old ammo belts to carry loose ammunition. They quickly became synonymous with naval infantry and many continued to wear them even when the supply situation improved. These can still be found relatively easily but can be quite expensive.
Naval personnel were normally issued with deck boots for normal wear on board ship. These were simple lace up leather low boots which were often worn with the trousers tucked into rolled up socks. Puttees were not commonly worn by naval personnel. Other types of boots were also worn when fighting on land; the most common of these were army Sapogi which are still easily found.
When fighting in their black kit the insignia of naval personnel was usually quite limited. Other than that found on the cap it usually consisted of a small red star on the cuffs of the shirt, bushlat and shinel and sometimes a trade patch on the left arm. Rank was denoted with yellow bars under the cuff starspre 43 or on the shoulders post 43. It is not uncommon for non to be worn in combat however.
When wearing the M35 uniform insignia was the same as the regular infantry with the addition of a fouled anchor patch to denote naval infantry on the left arm. After 1943 shoulderboards for each fleet were introduced to be worn with the M43 uniform. However the old style of army insignia with anchor patch can still be seen in use.
Wartime style of sleeve patch. The patch itself should be oval in shape (I guess you just cut this to shape before sewing)
A good collection of reference pictures:
Thanks for the guide...