Peaked cap

A peaked cap, forage cap 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, 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. 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.


The peaked cap worn by the Russian Army officers (other ranks had the same cap without a peak) since 1811, as a new type of forage cap. Other appearance of the peaked cap appears to have been in the Prussian Army of 1814-15 when Feldmarschall Prince 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 and airforces 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 dress cap (chapeau 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 It has largely been replaced by the wedge cap in the Air Force, although it is still available for wear on formal occasions. It has been eliminated from the Army in favour of the beret, except in Guards units such as the Canadian Grenadier Guards.

The peak and chinstrap of the service cap are always black. The crown of the cap is white for Navy and air force blue for Air Force. The cap band is black for both 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.

United Kingdom

Royal Navy

Royal Navy officers, Warrant officers, and Senior Rates today wear a 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.

Royal Marines

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.


Most Regiments and corps of the British Army wear a forage cap in Numbers 1 and 2 Dress, the exceptions being:

It has a cap band which may be coloured (red for all Royal Regiments and Corps), a crown (formerly khaki, now black, except for Military Police which has always been red) 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 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:

United States

United States Marine Corps

In 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 Quattrefoil, a traditional mark of distinction from the Marine Corps' foundation as sharpshooters on ships. For Dress Blue 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, a khaki combination cap is available; the device is black, and the chin strap is black for all ranks. In both cases, Field Grade Officers have oak leaf motifs on the visor, similar to those worn by Commanders and Captains of the Navy; General Officers caps have a different, larger oak leaf motifs on the visor.

United States Navy

In the United States Navy, chief petty officers and commissioned officers both wear combination caps, but there are differences between the two types. A chief petty officer wears a combination cap with a black chinstrap attached with gold buttons, and decorated with a gold fouled anchor with silver block letters "USN" superimposed on the shank of the anchor, with the addition of one or two stars at the top of the anchor if the wearer is a Senior Chief Petty Officer or Master Chief Petty Officer, respectively; while a commissioned officer wears a combination cap with a gold chinstrap attached by gold buttons, and decorated with an officer crest, 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" in military slang. The crowns come in khaki or in white (the white combination cap is worn with both white and blue uniforms).

United States Army

In the United States Army, the combination cap for the "Army Blue" uniform of NCOs has a golden stripe on top of the cap band, black chinstrap, and the insignia within a metal circle, while the Warrant Officers and Company-Grade (2LT, 1LT, CPT) Officer version has a cap band with the branch-of-service color between two golden stripes, golden-colored chinstrap, and a larger insignia without the metal circle. Field Grade Officers (MAJ, LTC, COL) have oak leaf motifs on the visor. General Officers caps is similar, but with a cap band of oak leaf motifs.

It should be noted that the simpler "Army Green" service uniform will be phased out in 2011. (See U.S. Army Service Uniform for details.) Whilst the Army Green service cap has already been 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.

The Army Green service cap is similar to the Army Blue service cap in insignia and chin straps. There is no cap band on the AG cap. The AG Service Cap is favorable to wear over the AG Garrison Cap but has been phased out since the Army Black Beret and Ranger Tan Beret (a way for the 75th Ranger Regiment to separate themselves from the regular army because they formerly worn the black beret) has been introduced.

United States Air Force

In the United States Air Force, all personnel have the option to wear combination caps, but only Field-Grade (Major and above) and General Officers are required to own one. The cap of enlisted members has the insignia within a metal circle, while the Company-Grade (2LT-1LT-Captain) Officer version has a larger insignia without the metal circle. Field Grade Officers have two pairs of clouds and lightning bolts on the visor. 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".

These caps are often disliked because of their bulk. Airmen prefer the flight cap for practical reasons. They often refer to this hat as "the bus driver cap" instead of "service cap" because of its similarity to hats worn by the drivers in some cities' public transportation systems, and also because the round top is almost as large as the steering wheel of a bus.

United States Army Air Forces

During World War II, the "50 mission crush" cap was popular among pilots of the US Army Air Forces. Bomber and fighter pilots 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 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.


The rogatywka is a 4-cornered type of peaked cap, related to the czapka and worn by members of the Polish Army. Naval officers and Air Force personnel wear convention peaked caps instead.


In the Israel Defense Forces, combination caps are used only by:

Civilian usage

Public safety officers, such as those from the police, fire department, ambulance service, and customs, often wear peaked caps, especially on formal occasions.

A number of civilian professions - the most notable modern examples being merchant marine and civil aviation - also wear peaked caps. In such civilian usage, only Captains have the 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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