Khrushchev, Gagarin and Brezhnev May 1961

Uniform changes were relatively modest during the 1946 – 1954 period, with Soviet officers and soldiers throughout most of this era being little different in appearance from their late war counterparts.

However, changes were introduced for armor and air force officers’ uniforms in 1949. Major changes in generals’ uniforms followed this in 1954 and a complete packet of post-war changes was codified in uniform regulations published in 1955. The clear centerpiece of these M55 regulations was the introduction of new gray (and for the air force, blue) officer parade uniforms with a distinctly “Naval” look. This parade uniform was not long destined for greatness, however, and was withdrawn in favor of a more conservative officer uniform style in 1958.

The M1958 officer uniforms remained in use with only minor modifications until 1970, when virtually every officer and enlisted uniform was “modernized”. These M69 models are the uniforms most familiar to people in the West.

Finally, in 1989, uniforms were further standardized using subsets of the M69 uniforms, with a few new ones introduced for good measure. The M89 uniforms continued in service through the collapse of the Soviet Union and, with only small modifications, into the first few years of the new Russian Federation.

Soviet naval uniforms were modernized and simplified over the Cold War period but changes were modest compared to the Army and Air Force. A naval officer of 1944 in his black uniform would fit right in with an officer from 1989, eliciting only a couple of comments about his “old” looking insignia and high-collared jacket.