M55 Zhukov Officer Uniform

The short-lived 1955 regulations codified a series of officer uniform changes started in 1949 and defined a major redesign of Army, Air Force, Internal Troops, KGB, and Border Guard officer parade uniforms. Although these changes were significant as to the uniforms they affected, these regulations did not change the majority of uniforms in use at the time.

The counterpart set of regulations for soldiers was published in 1956 but this made no major changes to those incrementally introduced since 1945. The centerpiece of the M55 regulations was the adoption of a steel gray parade uniform for all Army, MVD and Border Guard officers, and a dark blue one for Air Force officers (actually first introduced in 1949).

These uniforms are sometimes referred to as “Zhukov”, after Marshal of the Soviet Union Zhukov who was Defense Minister at the time. In actuality, MSU Zhukov moved quickly to replace these uniforms which he found “unseemly.” Nevertheless, the reference to “Zhukov uniforms” stuck.

As previously mentioned, these parade uniforms were rather “naval” in appearance, with extra lapel, collar and visor cap ornamentation. Metal leaves introduced in 1949 for Army officers were added to the visors of all officers’ parade caps, while a spray of metal leaves surrounded a new oval shaped officer’s cockade (replacing the plain red star). Gold woven cords previously only worn on general and admiral caps replaced the black chinstrap on these parade caps. Visors on all visor caps were standardized on the rounded form that would remain in use with some modification to the end of the Soviet era.

Once again, naval uniforms were not significantly affected by the 1955 regulations. Army, MVD, KGB and Air Force generals received summer dress uniforms and caps in light gray (border guards wore their normal green/dark blue cap with the light gray tunic). Generals’ caps also had their round WWII-style cockade replaced with a new oval one similar to the officer’s parade cockade, but done entirely in gilt (gold colored) metal and red enamel.