- Peaked cap
A peaked cap, forage cap, barracks cover, or combination cap is a form of headgear worn by the armed forces of many nations and also by many uniformed civilian organizations such as law enforcement agencies. In the United States military, they are commonly known as service caps, wheel caps, saucer caps, or combination covers in the Naval services.
The cap has a crown, a band, and a peak (British English) or visor (American English). The crown is one color, often white for navies, light blue for air forces, and green for armies, and may be piped around the edge in a different color. The band can be one color, often black, or can be striped, vertically or horizontally. Most caps have some form of cap device (or cap badge). In the British Army, each regiment and corps has a different badge. In the American armed forces, the cap device is uniform throughout the branch of service, though different variants are used by different rank classes. The peak or visor is short, historically made of leather, or in newer caps may be a shiny plastic. Sometimes it is covered in fabric and may be adorned with embroidered ornamentation.
The peaked cap has been worn by Russian Army officers (lower ranks had the same cap but sometimes without a peak) as a new type of forage cap since 1811. Another early appearance of the peaked cap appears to have been in the Prussian Army of 1814-15 when Feldmarschall Prince Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher and other officers wore it as a field cap in place of the cumbersome shako of the time. Throughout the nineteenth century peaked caps were the characteristic ordinary duty headdress for officers of both the Prussian and Russian Armies. In 1856 a form of peaked cap was adopted by petty officers of the Royal Navy, in imitation of an undress headdress worn by officers from as early as 1827. The British Army adopted peaked caps in 1902 for both the new khaki field dress and (in coloured form) as part of the "walking out" or off duty wear for other ranks. A dark blue version was worn with dress blues by all ranks of the U.S. Army between 1902 and 1917.
During the twentieth century the combination or peaked cap became a common headdress in the armies, navies, air forces and law enforcement agencies of the world, especially for officers. As a relatively practical and smart item it also became popular amongst police forces, largely replacing the helmets and kepis worn earlier.
In the Canadian Forces, the service cap (French: casquette de service) is the primary headgear for men's Naval service dress. It has largely been replaced by the wedge cap in the Air Force, although it is still available for wear. It has been eliminated from the Army in favour of the beret, except for general officers and in Guards units such as the Canadian Grenadier Guards who wear the Bearskin cap.
The peak and chinstrap of the service cap are always black. The crown of the cap is white for Navy, "postman blue" for Air Force and dark green for Army. The cap band is black for all three elements with the exception of a member serving with the military police, who wears a red cap band on any occasion that they wear the service cap.
The chinstrap is affixed to the cap via two small buttons, one roughly over each ear; these buttons are miniature versions of the buttons on the service dress tunic, and as such bear an environmental device.
The peak of the cap of non-commissioned members and subordinate officers is left plain, except for footguard units' forage caps which are adorned with one or more bands of brass (depending on rank) at the forward edge of the peak. The peak of the junior officer's cap has a gold band along the forward edge, that of the senior officer has a row of gold oak leaves across the forward edge, while that of the general or flag officer has two rows of gold oak leaves, one along the forward edge and one near the cap band. The same oak leaves are worn by the Governor General of Canada as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces.
The service cap is theoretically unisex, although there exist a service hat (French: chapeau de service) for female. The service hat does not have a crown top and the sides are folded upwards.
Police forces across Canada also wear a peaked cap. The cap is basic black with colour cap band of either of red (municipal forces), blue (Ontario Provincial Police) or yellow (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
The peaked cap and peaked hat are worn as formal dress by members of the Hong Kong Disciplined Services (police, fire, customs/excise, immigration, etc...) with influnece from the British colonial services.
Royal Navy officers, Warrant officers, and Senior Rates today wear a framed cap with a white cover and a black band in Nos 1, 2 and 3 Dress; originally only worn in tropical climes, the white cover was adopted for all areas after the Second World War. For officers, there is a option of a cotton or plastic cover.
Royal Marines wear a cap with a white cover and a red band with 'Blues' uniform. The Royal Marines Band Service also wear this cap with the Lovat Uniform and Barrack Dress.
- The Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Army Air Corps, Parachute Regiment, SAS, Intelligence Corps and 4/73 Special OP Battery RA who wear berets;
- The Royal Regiment of Scotland who wear a regimental Glengarry with cockfeathers taken from the former ceremonial uniform of the Royal Scots;
- The Royal Irish Regiment who wear the Caubeen;
- The Brigade of Gurkhas who wear a round Kilmarnock cap in No 1 dress and the Slouch hat in No 2 Dress
- The Queen's Royal Hussars, whose officers wear a tent hat in No 2 Dress.
It has a cap band which may be coloured (red for all Royal Regiments and Corps), a crown (formerly khaki, now dark blue, except for Military Police which has always been red, and the Rifles who wear Rifle Green) which may have coloured piping or a regimental/corps colour and a patent leather peak and chinstrap. The chinstrap is usually secured above and across the peak and secured at each end by a small (20 line) button of the appropriate Regimental or Corps pattern.
Officers in some regiments are also required to wear a Khaki version of the Cap, often called the "Service Dress Cap" with Service Dress (the Officers' No 2 Dress) and/or Barrack Dress; the design of this dates back to the cap worn in the field until replaced by the steel helmet during the First World War.
All ranks of the Royal Air Force wear a cap with a blue-grey crown and a black band, worn with the appropriate badge in No 1 dress, and sometimes in other types as well. The peak is:
- Black and polished for airmen, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and warrant officers
- Blue-grey fabric for officers of the rank of Wing Commander and below. Officer cadets wear a white band instead of a black band.
- Black and polished with gold rank braid for officers of Group Captain and above
United States Marine Corps
In the United States Marine Corps, these caps are also worn, in two forms. For all ranks, the device is the Marines' Eagle, Globe, and Anchor device. In addition, officers wear a lace cross on the top, called the quatrefoil, a traditional mark of distinction from the Marine Corps' foundation enabling sharpshooters aboard ships to identify friendly officers from foes. For blue dress uniforms, the cap is white with a gilt device. Only the visor is black, and the chin strap is black for enlisted Marines; it is gold and scarlet for officers. For the service uniforms, an olive drab combination cap is available; the device is black, and the chin strap is black for all ranks. In both cases, field grade officers (majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels) have oak leaf motifs on the visor, similar to those worn by Navy commanders and captains, while general officers' caps have a different, larger oak leaf motif on the visor. In the Marine Corps, the combination cap is referred to as the "barracks cover."
In the United States Navy, midshipmen, chief petty officers, and commissioned officers wear combination covers, but there are differences between the three types. Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, United States Merchant Marine Academy or in Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) units wear a combination cap with a gold chinstrap attached by gold buttons, with a gold fouled anchor device. A chief petty officer wears a combination cap with a black chinstrap attached with gold buttons, with a device consisting of a gold fouled anchor with silver block letters "USN" superimposed on the shank of the anchor, with the addition of one, two, or three stars at the top of the anchor if the wearer is a Senior Chief Petty Officer, a Master Chief Petty Officer, or the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, respectively; while a commissioned officer wears a combination cap with a gold chinstrap attached by gold buttons, with an officer crest device, a silver federal shield over two crossed gold fouled anchors, surmounted by a silver eagle. Chief petty officer and junior commissioned officer visors are shiny black plastic without ornamentation. Officers O-5 (Commander) and above have gold embroidered oak leaves and acorns on the a black felt-covered visor, with additional embroidery for flag officers (O-7, or rear admiral lower half, and above), referred to as "scrambled eggs." The crowns come in khaki or in white (the white combination cap is worn with both white and blue uniforms). The black band around the cap includes a black circle extending upward on the front of the crown as a backing behind the device. The gold buttons on the sides of the cover are of a design to match the gold buttons on the service dress jacket and the snaps on officer shoulder boards.
United States Army
In the United States Army, the combination cap for the blue service and blue dress uniforms of enlisted soldiers has a golden stripe on top of the cap band, black chinstrap; the device is the United States' coat of arms in front of a gold disk (the exception is the Sergeant Major of the Army whose device is a gold-colored rendering of the U.S coat of arms surrounded by a gold-coloured wreath). The version for warrant officers and company-grade officers (second lieutenants, first lieutenants, & captains) has a cap band with the branch-of-service color between two golden stripes, and a gold-colored chinstrap. Field-grade officers O-4 and Above (major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel) have oak leaves known unofficially as "scrambled eggs" on the visor. General officers' caps are similar to those of field-grade officers, but the cap band is dark blue and embroidered with gold oak leaf motifs. Warrant officers' cap device is a large gold-color rendering of the warrant officer insignia; whereas all commissioned officers' device is a gold-color rendering of the United States' coat of arms, larger than that of enlisted soldiers and lacking the golden disk backing.
The Army Green ("AG") service cap is similar to the blue service cap in insignia and chin straps. There is no ornamentation of the cap band the AG cap at any rank; the visor of field-grade and general officers is ornamented with oak leaf motifs. The AG service cap is favorable to wear over the AG garrison cap, but has been phased out since the introduction of the Army-wide black beret and Rangers' tan beret (a way for the 75th Ranger Regiment, who formerly wore the black beret, to distinguish themselves from the bulk of the Army).
It should be noted that the simpler "Army Green" service uniform will be obsolete in 2011. See Army Service Uniform for details.)Whilst the Army Green service cap was already phased out when the black beret was introduced as standard headgear. The service cap is still in Cadet Command Regulation 670-1, even though it is no longer found in Army Regulation 670-1, "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia".
The Army white service cap is worn with the white mess uniform and was previously worn with the Army White Uniform until the latter uniform was declared obsolete. Its ornamentation is identical to that of the Army green service cap.
Military Police, whilst performing military police duties in the green service uniforms, wear a distinctive white service cap with a black visor. The cap band is topped with thin green yellow stripes, denoting the branch colors of the Military Police Corps. The MP white cap was not authorized with the Army Blue uniform (which was only for formal occasions) in the past., and will continue to be unauthorized for the dress version of the Army Blue uniform, but is now authorized for wear with the Army Blue service uniform.
United States Air Force
In the United States Air Force, all male personnel have the option to wear combination caps, but only field-grade (major through colonel) and general officers are required to own one - the same is true of the corresponding female service hat. The combination cap is issued without charge to enlisted airmen of both genders assigned to certain ceremonial units and details.
With the exception of enlisted airmen assigned to the Air Force Band and the Air Force Base Honor Guard, each of which has its own distinctive cap insignia and other uniform devices, Air Force combination caps bear a relief of the Great Seal of the United States rendered in silver-colored metal. For enlisted members, the arms are surrounded by a silver-colored metal circle. (The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force has a wreath instead of the circle). Commissioned officers' insignia is larger and lacks the encompassing circle.
The chinstrap is secured to each side of the cap with a silver-colored, screw-in, metal button bearing an updated and simplified version of the "Hap Arnold emblem" first designed by James T. Rawls for use by the Air Force's predecessor, the Army Air Forces, in 1942. Apart from the screw-back, the buttons are of the same design as those used to secure the uniform coat's epaulets and pockets.
Enlisted airmen's chinstraps and visors are of plain black leather or polymer material. All commissioned officers' chinstraps are also of plain black leather or polymer material.. The visors of company-grade officers (second lieutenant through captain are plain black leather or polymer material. Field-grade officers' visors have two pairs of clouds and lightning bolts, patterned after the oak leaf motifs used by the other services. General officers' caps add an extra pair of clouds and bolts on the visor, while the cap of the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force adds clouds and bolts around the entire cap band. The clouds and bolts are jokingly referred to in military slang as "farts and darts", much as the other services' oak leaf motifs are known as "scrambled eggs".
United States Army Air Forces
During World War II, the "50 mission crush" cap was popular among aircrews of the United States Army Air Forces. Bomber and fighter aircrews had to wear headsets over their service cap during flight, so they would remove the stiffening wire from the cap. The headset would then crush the cap, which would eventually retain its crushed appearance. Since it took a good many missions to properly achieve the look, a so-called "50-mission crush" cap was considered a sign of a seasoned combat veteran. Current US Air Force regulations prohibit the wearing of 50 mission caps.
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard wears the combination cap, known as the combo cover, with the Service Dress Blue uniform (SDBs), the Tropical Blue Long uniform (Trops), and with all other formal dress uniforms. The cover is identical to that of the Navy with respect to the chinstrap and peak ornamentation. Its crown is white. The buttons securing the chin strap to the sides of the band are smaller versions of the buttons worn on the Coast Guard's uniform coats. The blue band around the cap includes blue fabric extending upward on the front of the crown to serve as a backing behind the device. In the case of enlisted personnel, this extension is a blue circle identical to that on the caps of Naval officers and chief petty officers. In the case of commissioned officers, however, the extension is a more elaborate polygon to accommodate the officers' cap device.
Unlike their Naval counterparts, enlisted Coast Guardsmen below the rank of chief petty officer wear combination covers; their cap device is a golden representation of the Coast Guard emblem. Coast Guard chief petty officers' cap devices match those of the Navy, albeit with a shield on the front of the fouled anchor; like Navy chiefs, their cap devices are enlarged renderings of the rank insignia worn on their collars. Coast Guard commissioned officers' cap device is an eagle with wings outstretched, above an anchor grasped horizontally in its talons.
Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps
The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps - the two small services, consisting only of officers, which are the two uniformed services that are not armed forces - wear uniforms and rank insignia adopted from the Navy. The combination covers of the two services are identical to those of the Navy with respect to colors, chinstrap, and peak ornamentation. The buttons securing the chin strap to the sides of the band are smaller versions of the buttons worn on the services' uniform coats. The cap device of NOAACC officers is similar to that of Navy officers with a globe in place of the shield; the cap device of PHSCC officers is similar to that of Navy officers but has a caduceus in place of one of the anchors.
United States Maritime Service
While the majority of American merchant mariners are employed by shipping businesses and accordingly wear either uniforms prescribed by their employers or civilian attire, some officers receive commissions in the United States Maritime Service for federal government duty, such as the faculty of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the Military Sealift Command's civilian officers manning non-commissioned United States Naval Ships. These officers wear uniforms and rank insignia adopted from the U.S. Navy, albeit with United States Merchant Marine's own button design, cap device, awards, and decorations. The combination covers these officers are identical to those of naval officer with respect to colors, chinstrap, and peak ornamentation. The buttons securing the chin strap to the sides of the band are smaller versions of the buttons worn on their coats. The USMS cap device is a rendering of the Merchant Marine device in gold- and silver-colored metal. Like the device worn by naval officers, it features a silver eagle, with wings outstretched, above a gold shield; the shield, however, is defaced with an anchor, and surrounded by a wreath.
In the Israel Defense Forces, combination caps are used only by:
- Air Force Officers;
- Navy officers in ceremonial dress;
- Military Police soldiers in law enforcement duties;
- Military Band Soldiers;
- Some regimental sergeants major of other service branches, in ceremonial dress.
A number of civilian professions - the most notable modern examples being merchant marine and civil aviation - also wear peaked caps. In such civilian old traditional usage, only captains aboard ships and pilots in command (airlines captains) in service aboard the aircrafts, have the golden oak leaf motifs ("scrambled eggs") on the visor; this is in contrast to the naval tradition, where it is also worn by Commanders (one rank below Captain) as well as by Commodores and Flag Officers.
Peaked caps are also commonly worn around the world by railway staff and security guards.
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