Page last updated 19th December 2016

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Class C Uniform for a male officer


The cut of the summer/tropical tunic was largely similar to the Class A item. However, it was made from a lightweight khaki woollen worsted material and was very comfortable to wear in warm weather. Other differences were that it was unbelted and therefore had four embossed brass buttons, rather than the three brass plus one flat plastic button on the Class A jacket.

I have come across numerous WW2-vintage examples of these tunics at Forties events trade stalls and, aside from the usual size issues, they have virtually all been badly stained or otherwise damaged beyond redemption. As far as I know, the only supplier that stocks reproductions of this jacket is What Price Glory. Do bear in mind my previous comments about WPG's sizing and fit as the same applies here. Also, the jacket cuffs will requiring finishing and the included beige cuff braiding will need to be correctly affixed.



The same applies with the trousers as to the jacket. Made of woollen worsted material and very cool and comfortable to wear. I don't believe I've ever come across an original pair of the summer/tropical trousers. Again, the only game in town appears to be What Price Glory. Other than any necessary adjustment of leg-length, WPG's trousers come ready to wear. I found the fit of the trousers to be far better than the matching jacket, but this might say as much about my shape as it does about WPG's sizing!




The same lightweight cotton/poplin shirt from What Price Glory that I recommended for wear with the Class A uniform in warmer weather will work perfectly with the summer/tropical uniform.



For general advice about choosing a cap, please refer to the Class A uniform page.

The summer/tropical Service Cap from What Price Glory is made from the same woollen worsted fabric as their matching tunic and trousers. However, I had to perform fairly major surgery on my example with a heavy-duty hat-stretcher to render it even wearable, let alone barely acceptable as a convincing 'crusher'. It also suffers from the same over-tall hat-band as their Class A service cap which gives it a somewhat exaggerated appearance. Again, I had to resort to some drastic modifications to rectify this, including considerably lowering the cap-badge. This hat's only real advantage is that it exactly matches WPG's summer/tropical uniform.

Seal Military also stock a light khaki service cap. I have just acquired one of their Luxenbergs in light tan and I can highly recommend it. The fit and finish is excellent and it is a very good match for WPG's Class C summer/tropical uniform. This is definitely my own personal favourite tan service cap.

Then again, there is always the magnificent version of a classic Luxenberg cap, complete with leather back-strap, from the Diamond Clothing Company if you really want to go mad and treat yourself! However, it appears that Diamond have now ceased manufacturing crusher caps to concentrate on their A2 leather flight jackets, but these caps do turn up on the second hand market and are worth acquiring.




What Price Glory stock a very nice cotton/mohair tie that evidently copies the blend and weave of a WW2 original. I confess I have never seen an original summer/tropical tie, other than in photographs, nor have I seen any other supplier offering a similar repro item.




The same officer's-pattern waist belt used with the Class A uniform is appropriate with the summer/tropical rig.




Again, the same shoes that I recommend for wear with the Class A uniform will also work just as well with the summer/tropical uniform.



This is the finishing touch to any uniform ensemble. My own personal preference is for original insignia, which is easily obtainable through ebay. This at least adds a nice touch of authenticity when wearing reproduction uniform. However, if budget restrictions dictate the purchase of reproduction insignia, in my opinion the suppliers with the biggest and best range of badges, patches and insignia are Seal Military and Soldier Of Fortune

If you are intending to portray a USAAF officer, be aware that the winged propeller branch-of-service insignia as worn on the lapels of the Class A jacket or shirt collar should be of the correct pattern. Most suppliers advertising this type of insignia are actually selling modern-day US Army Aviation Branch badges which are not quite the same as the original USAAF style. Below left is an original WW2-era USAAF lapel badge - notice that the tops of the wings are fairly straight. In the centre is a modern lapel badge of the US Army Aviation Branch - notice how the wing-tips curl upwards and that the wings have a distinctly different shape. This is the pattern incorrectly sold by most suppliers as USAAF insignia. Below right is the pattern supplied by Seal Military which is very close to the original WW2 style of insignia, and is the only one that I can currently recommend.


Seal Military stock far and away the very best range of reproduction pilot's wings available in the UK, from standard metal ones at very reasonable price to luxury sterling silver copies of Luxenberg's that simply exude quality. Until 1942, it was the custom for USAAF aircrew officers to wear miniature qualification wings above the left breast pocket of their shirt when in Class B dress, but thereafter it became more common for full-size wings to be worn. A good supplier I have found for miniature shirt wings is USA Military Medals .

Click on the thumbnails at upper left for guides as to the correct placement of badges and insignia. These images are taken from the 1943 edition of The Officer's Guide, a book published annually for US Army officers.

Officer's rank insignia, aircrew wings and medal ribbons are often available in two different forms: pin-back (brooch-type) and clutch-back. The latter type have two or more sharp pins that penetrate the uniform fabric and are secured at the back with spring clips or 'clutches'. Although the pin-back type can appear to be the easiest option to affix, they are actually quite difficult to mount straightly. Clutch-back insignia are by far the simplest type to make a neat job of mounting and are therefore recommended. The only exception to this is in the case of shoulder-mounted rank insignia: if the uniform to which the insignia is to be affixed has 'open' shoulder loops (see my comments in the Tunic section above) then clutch-back is the best and correct option. If the shoulder loops are stitched closed then pin-back insignia is the only option as the clutch-back pins will never penetrate through all the layers of fabric on the shoulder to allow the spring clutches to fit. See my note about insignia mounting pin lengths in the Medal Ribbons section below.

Shoulder patches were sewn on the left arm only, centred on an imaginary line from the shoulder seam to the cuff, the top of the patch being 1/2 inch from the shoulder seam. The patch was usually either the winged-star Army Air Corps insignia or that of the Army Air Force to which the officer was assigned. The most commonly-seen Air Corps patches in England during WW2 were those of the 8th Air Force whose aircraft carried out the strategic bombing of enemy targets in Europe, and those of the 9th Air Force whose aircraft attacked tactical targets in Europe prior to D-Day and also provided paratroop transport and glider tug aircraft for airborne operations. See images at left.


19th December 2016













Medal Ribbons  

The question of wearing medal ribbons is a somewhat contentious one. Some maintain that if you didn't earn them then you shouldn't wear them. But another point of view suggests that, if the character you are portraying would have worn medal ribbons then, in the interests of authenticity, you should wear them also. I personally believe that, as long as the ribbons worn are consistent with the history of your character, then it is proper to do so. As long as you are sensible about this and haven't inappropriately awarded yourself a Victoria Cross or Medal of Honour then campaign medal ribbons and similar awards are fine. As a matter of interest, the USAAF in England had a policy of automatically awarding the Air Medal to every officer and enlisted man who completed five combat missions over continental Europe (see image at top left). If wearing medal ribbons, do make sure that they are mounted in the correct order of precedence (see our links page for online guides) and that the reason for their award is fully understood.

Be aware that, unlike British and Commonwealth forces who wore up to four medal ribbons on a bar, US forces only wore three ribbons per bar. Any additional ribbons were worn above the first bar. It can be a bit fiddly to neatly align the bars so if you prefer to have your four or more chosen ribbons mounted as one double-row unit, you will have to obtain these from one of the several specialist suppliers in the USA such as Medals of America or USA Military Medals.

Good sources for US medal ribbons within the UK are Seal Military and Soldier Of Fortune. A sensible combination of ribbons would be the Air Medal (for more than 5 combat missions), American Defence Medal (if your assumed character was already serving in the US forces between 1939 and 1941) and the EAME (European-African-Middle Eastern) campaign ribbon for service in any of those theatres from December 1941. If, like me, your persona is that of an 'old soldier', he may well have served in the Great War 25 years earlier and would also wear the US WW1 Victory ribbon (see image at bottom left).

A note about mounting pin sizes is in order. All of the modern reproduction medal ribbon bars (and most other US insignia) I have seen have the standard US clutch-pin type of fastening (sometimes called butterfly clips). The sharp pins that fasten the ribbon bars in place on the uniform come in two different lengths, 6mm and 10mm. Some suppliers seem to stock only the 10mm size as standard (which other suppliers consider to be extra-long). These are fine as they will comfortably accommodate even the thickest uniform jacket material. But the shorter 6mm pins struggle with anything thicker than a shirt or summer tunic. I would advise checking with your chosen supplier about pin length before ordering.




I see so many re-enactors going to great lengths to get their uniform exactly right and truly authentic, only to spoil the overall effect by visibly sporting a digital wristwatch, which of course weren't even invented until nearly 30 years after WW2! Even wearing an analogue watch with a modern-style metal bracelet is somewhat anachronistic as leather or cloth watchstraps, or occasionally the early type of expanding sprung metal straps, were the order of the day back in the 1940s.

USAAF aircrew (and other US Army officers) were issued with standard A-11 wristwatches which were made under contract by Bulova, Elgin and Waltham, the most common of which was the Elgin model 539. These were issued with khaki cotton watchstraps. Vintage Elgin A-11 watches from WW2 are still available through eBay and on specialist collector websites, but their price is high and the condition not always the best. However, there is one UK watch specialist, The Merchant Adventurers, that carries a very reasonably-priced modern replica of the iconic A-11 watch. These are Swiss-made timepieces made to very high standards and can be thoroughly recommended. These watches come as standard with a modern-looking black nylon strap, but replacement replica khaki straps can be easily found on ebay or Amazon for just a few pounds and are very easily fitted. Alternatively, both Soldier Of Fortune and What Price Glory stock authentic copies of the original khaki cotton watchstraps.

Soldier Of Fortune also stock the same modern copy of the Elgin A-11 US Army wristwatch (see image at left) which comes complete with an authentic khaki cotton strap. However, my first example came with a strap that was badly made and would have barely fitted a child's wrist. The replacement I was sent was better-made and considerably longer - it might pay to check that a sufficiently long strap will be supplied when ordering.

More recently I have discovered a supplier in the US, The WatchDoc, with a stock of original new-old-stock GI watchstraps (see left). It's only when you compare one of these to the reproductions sold by Soldier of Fortune that you realise just how shoddy the repros are. Moreover, the originals from this supplier are really not expensive and are easily available via eBay. Do be careful about ordering the correct size as I found that the standard size was a bit too tight for my wrist (and I'm not overly muscular) and had to replace it with an extra-long one.

















Another potential authenticity issue for re-enactors who wear prescription glasses is their spectacle frames. Although some modern metal-rimmed frames can just about pass for the 1940s period, most simply look too modern to be realistic. Luckily there are some online suppliers offering modern reproductions of original period frames that can be re-glazed with prescription lenses. These include Dead Men's Spex and The Optometrist Attic. The latter are an excellent source of absolutely authentic WW2 GI spectacle frames for US re-enactors. This is because they can supply the very same standard silver Shuron P3 frames as issued to hundreds of thousands of GIs during WW2 (see left). These aren't new-old-stock but have been in constant production by Shuron since the 1930s. It might surprise some readers to learn just how many US servicemen did wear prescription glasses during WW2 and a recent article, Eyeglasses and the WWII GI, written by Michael Ellis of the 90th Infantry Division Preservation Society is definitely worth a read. I have recently obtained a pair of these authentic Shuron P3 frames with the cable temples (the type of arms with flexible curves that fit snugly behind the ears) and easily got them re-glazed to my prescription at my local  Specsavers opticians.







The devil is in the detail, as they say! Why not add this detail, in the form of replica ID cards and other ephemera, to your carefully recreated period ensemble? Soldier Of Fortune carry a small range of such paraphernalia.