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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:09 am 
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Location: An Airfield Somewhere in Lincs.
Real Name: Ric
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Welcome.

The purpose of this thread is to provide answers to the most commonly answered questions on RAF portrayals. Please read this thread as it may answer your question. If it does not, you are encouraged to use the search function to see if your question has already been answered – the chances are it will have been as people start at the same point when they are new to the RAF world. Use suitable key words for your query such as “Battle of Britain”, “Shirt”, “Overalls” etc in the box at the foot of the main RAF sub-forum (right at the bottom, underneath “Who’s Online” and next to the big “Jump to” box.) At the end of this message there is a large number of links to places to buy RAF uniform, insignia and kit and also useful reference sites.

Question - What uniform do I need?

- Depends on the timeframe and rank to be portrayed:

- As a rule for aircrew portrayals, Service Dress (4 button tunic and trousers) prior to 1942 and Suits, Aircrew/War Service Dress (RAF form of Battledress) post 1942.
- For groundcrew portrayals, Service Dress (tunic and trousers) prior to 1943 and War Service Dress (battledress) post 1943.

- Service Dress was used throughout the war for best dress – i.e. dances etc. Note that Service Dress differs in pattern and material for Other Ranks and Officers – serge and barathea respectively. The differences may be viewed using the reference links below. Not detailed in this thread are the specific requirements for RAF Warrant Officer portrayals as these can be researched as necessary.

Question - Can I use a modern uniform?

- NO. Modern Other Airmen’s uniforms are a different pattern and material to the wartime Other Airman’s uniform. In the same vein, current RAF Officer’s uniforms are a much darker colour. Uniforms of up to 1970s vintage may be used for Officer’s portrayals as they are closer to wartime pattern, although will need minor cosmetic alterations to wartime spec. Other Airmen’s portrayals ideally require original tunics (up to circa mid 1950s made) or a good repro may be sourced. Note that trousers were higher waisted and were a more generous cut in the legs than modern No.1 or No.2 trousers. They also had button flies.

Question – What headwear is required?

- The headwear follows the same distinction for Officer and Other Airman’s uniforms. However, there are 2 main types as used throughout the war – Service Dress (SD) Cap (a peaked cap) and Fields Service (FS) Dress Cap (aka forage cap, chip bag etc.)

- Other Airmen’s FS caps are constructed from blue-grey serge and have a pressed brass metal (or later black Bakelite) wreathed RAF monogram cap badge. Officer’s FS caps are constructed from blue-grey barathea and have a gilt eagle surmounted by a crown.

- SD peaked caps were worn pre-war by Other Airmen and were not used during the war years, except for certain trades such as MT or Police. They have a black leather peak and are made of serge, with the same cap badge as per the Airman’s SD cap. Officer’s SD caps are barathea with a blue cloth peak. The badge is a large bullion crown over an eagle which surmounts a wreath. This badge can be made of bullion or metal.

Question - What shirt do I need?

- This depends on whether you portray an Officer or Other Airman. Officers wear a light blue shirt made from “end on end” material (use an original, ex-fire brigade shirt, Van Heusen etc). Other Airmen wear duller blue-grey coloured shirt (use an original or WPG repro).

- Key points to note are no pockets, white buttons, no epaulettes. More desirable to be half fronted (i.e. you put it on over your head) and with a separate collar fastened on by collar studs.

Question - What tie do I need?

- As a rule, a plain black wool tie was issued. These are still available as originals. If appropriate, Private Purchase options (i.e. non-issue) could be silk or rayon. Note that wartime trousers are higher waisted and original ties are therefore considerably shorter than their modern equivalent.

Question - What footwear do I need?

As a general rule, plain black Oxford pattern shoes with leather soles may be used by both Other Airmen’s and Officer’s portrayals. Other Airman’s portrayals may use non-toecapped black leather “ammo boots” with plain soles. Current RN deckboots are acceptable, or repros may be sourced.

Question - How do I portray aircrew?

- The best advice here is to choose the timeframe, theatre and specific aircrew trade that you wish to portray in order to assist identification of the correct kit. Use the following books or visit some of the website links below:

RAF vs Luftwaffe Volume 1 – Flying Clothing of the Air War 1939-1945
RAF vs Luftwaffe Volume 2 – Flying Equipment of the Air War 1939-1945
The Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (Men at Arms series) by Osprey

Question - Where can I buy the kit I need?

- Use the links below as the primary sources of original and repro kit/clothing. Do this in conjunction with knowing WHAT and WHEN you wish to portray – this is crucial

Need more information? Use the links below to assist you in your developing RAF portrayal.

Reference sites

http://www.ww2wings.com/wings/britainraf/britainrafinsignia.shtml - Insignia
http://www.britairforce.com/raf_1.htm - Uniforms and insignia
http://www.rathbonemuseum.com/MAIN/main.html - Uniforms and insignia
http://wing.chez-alice.fr/ETO_Militaria.html - General reference site for kit/equipment/uniforms

Sources of kit

http://onlinemilitaria.net/ - AKA WPG – Repro uniforms, flying kit
http://www.stby.com/airdigger/ - Repro insignia, flying kit
http://www.historicflyingclothing.com/ - General original RAF items
http://www.pegasusmilitaria.com/ - Repro uniforms, flying kit
http://www.sutlers.co.uk/acatalog/World_War_2.html - Repro uniforms
http://www.warhorseandreproductionsofhistory.com/3.html - Repro uniforms
http://www.abinsignia.com/index2.html - A good range of repro insignia
http://www.nicholasmorigi.com/ - Repro insignia
http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/ - Repro flying boots, flying jackets
http://www.eastmanleather.com/ - Repro flying jackets
http://www.battledressandbayonet.com/ - Has one or two repro RAF related items
http://www.sofmilitary.co.uk/reenactors/select.asp - Some repro RAF related items
http://www.ebay.co.uk – An ideal place to search for any items that cannot be sourced otherwise.

There are also some individual sources of kit and uniforms who do not trade online with a store, but may be located on ebay.

Research links

http://www.rafcommands.com/

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:47 pm 
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Real Name: Ben
Good job here Ric. One thing, are we allowed to post e-mail addresses? As seeing as though the Eagle-Squadron website is down, it's hard for people to contact Stephen Silburn @ Sefton Clothing Co. He, IMHO, makes the best repro gear; if you are looking for a b-type helmet, c-type helmet, d-mask etc then he is the one to go to ;)
BTW-he appear fairly regularly on eBay with the name izavailable. Seeing as though it is wrong to post e-mail addresses without permission, here is a link to his eBay page ;)
http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/izavailable/ 8)

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Our name is Hornet Squadron, no bloody good are we.
We cannot shoot, we can not fight, nor march like infantry.
But when it comes to pay parade, we shout with all our might:
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 13:55 pm 
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And just an FYI Aero Leather no longer have any 36 Patt Flying Boots in any size.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 21:58 pm 
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Do you have any info about small packs and gas mask containers carried by officers and airmen during the war years please Ric.

I have a khaki "gas mask bag", or so it was described, and a blue grey airman's small pack. Which would you suggest would be the better option for a WW2 Wing commander to be seen carrying please?

Thanks

Mike

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:09 am 
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I've included this on my latest PM Mike.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 14:40 pm 
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Location: haverhill, suffolk
Real Name: Ian brown
Group: AFLHA/2nd Armoured in europe.
Great help!
Thanks for the links too, however I noticed epic militare are now selling service dress and wondered if anyone has seen, felt etc the quality or if they pass muster?
Normally I would be on the American thread, but looking to put together a service dress for attending dances (sigh!) And I thought I could emulate my grandfather as he was ground crew.
Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 14:38 pm 
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MMM not seen them before. id like to hear from someone whos seen them as looking at their BD at W&P the last couple of years and thet just didnt cut the butter let alone the mustard, but these might be ok.The jacket however will need the buttons and the buckle replacing.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 21:11 pm 
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Necrothreading a bit, is Stephen Silburn still around?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:35 am 
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Real Name: Adrian Hollis
Group: AFRA, portray- RA AA gunner, 9th AF pilot
The Epic SD uniforms are ok and pass the '6 ft test'. They are actually based on an original SD uniform. I know this as my friend is the one who supplied his!

The only problems with the Tunic is that they have GS buttons rather than the RAF buttons. These can be changed though. The belt is secured to the tunic wrong as well. With a little bit of modification, you can get it to a reasonable standard. Don't forget, these are very budget items.

I can tell you this as an insider, as I work for Epic!

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Lance Bombardier Bryce R. Hollis 89 Bty, 35th LAA RA. Captured by Japanese on Java 8/3/42

1st Lt Delmore (Del) Meier, 314th TS, 31s TG, 9th USAAF. Flying C-47's from RAF Grove


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