Soviet General & Field Rank Officer Uniforms: 1955 to 1991 (land, air, border & intelligence services)
By Adrian Streather
Published by Veloce Publishing (www.veloce.co.uk / www.battlecry-books.com)
There is currently a lack of literature on the post World War 2 uniforms of the USSR and this publication seeks to overcome this deficiency. The book covers the period 1955 to 1991 and it is organised in a very easy to use manner. It is ideal for referencing the various style uniforms worn during this period.
The structure of the USSR Government was complex and the author specifies those Government departments whose uniforms he considers. He also notes which departments are outside of the scope of the book. He covers the Ministry of Defence (all land forces, the “air force” but not the Soviet Navy or military academies), the Ministry of the Interior (Border Guards but not the Naval Border Guards), the MVD Internal Army (but not the political prisoner escort or railway security forces, MVD internal affairs, MVD paramilitary fire service or the MVD Militia and the VOKhR prison and factory security officers). Therefore one can see from this that the scope of the book is quite broad but it is not entirely comprehensive with regards to all military / paramilitary uniforms of the era. This should not however detract from the author’s excellent work in compiling the reference data he has done.
The author initially identifies the datum points (approximately 14 of them) for the uniforms worn in this era. These points serve as a guide so that the reader can see what was worn when and how the uniforms were superseded. This guide states which uniform components could be worn together and the applicable eras. It helps the reader to calculate if it is the correct peaked hat for the other components (tunics, trousers etc) etc.
The author has translated the rank structure of the USSR to a British equivalent. However it is not possible to have a perfect translation as some officer ranks are not comparable. There are descriptions about rank insignia of the officer grades and there are superb descriptions of the uniform combinations that were worn by the formations mentioned above.
He gives an excellent description as to how the collector can avoid acquiring “fantasy” or reproduction uniform components. Given that the USSR ceased to exist in 1991 it is very surprising to realise that there are so many historically inaccurate or “fakes” being offered for sale. There are excellent notes (covering all the uniform components) as to how to discover the “fakes” compared to the Soviet era originals.
If you have an interest in the uniforms of the USSR then this is a “must have”. I have not come across such a good book on this topic before and the publication is highly commended. Those collectors of USSR uniforms will find that this book is a necessity and it could help them avoid being sold inaccurate uniform combinations.