Distinguishing Pre and Post 1975 PAVN Uniforms

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Post 1975 uniforms are easily distinguished from wartime in many ways:

  1. After 1975, the PAVN elected to have soldiers wear shoulder boards daily.  This was not the practice during the war.  Shoulder board were worn during the war, but primarily in the North. On post 1975 uniforms,  the loops that attach these shoulder boards are typically very wide compared to wartime tunics that have very thin straps to attach shoulder boards.
  2. Postwar uniforms are standard reed green color.  Wartime uniforms came in many colors, reed green being the one that the NVA tried to standardize on in the late 1960s. During the war the ChiComs made hundreds of thousands of uniforms for the NVA. In so doing they used up many old bolts of cloth in colors like khaki, grey, blue, blue gray, olive brown, white etc.  During the majority of the war NVA troops wore a variety of colored uniforms.
  3. Many postwar uniforms were made from loosely woven cotton where you can see the fabric is crosshatched. Wartime uniforms were primarily made from cotton twill. Twill fabric has tiny rows of parallel cloth.
  4. Many postwar uniforms have thin belt loops around the waist.  The intent was to have the PAVN soldier wear a pistol belt with the shirt hanging outside of the trousers. I have seen no examples of wartime uniforms where such loops existed, except on captured raincoats.
  5. Postwar uniforms often have labels inside them. Labels were very rarely seen in wartime uniforms.  PRC made NVA uniforms do not have labels, they have stamp marks inside consisting of a series of numbers, perhaps five to eight numbers.  These numbers are often found in the armpit area.  This PRC practices was used even during the Korean War. You will not find these numbers inside postwar uniforms.  You may find size 1, 2 or 3 stamped in some wartime clothing.
  6. On wartime uniforms made in the PRC for the NVA, you will find that the underside of pocket flaps and collars are made from scraps of twill which have been sewn together to make a piece of fabric large enough to span the distance.  The PRC did not waste any material.  You will not find this on post 1975 uniforms.
  7. Many postwar uniforms finished  the wrist area of the lower sleeve by simply folding over the cloth and sewing it down. Wartime uniforms have a much more elaborate finish.
  8. Some post war trousers have opposing metal D rings at the waist for use as a belt.

All of the uniforms here are post 1975.  Note first that most all are kelly green.  The early light colors like khaki, brown, clay, gray etc were discontinued as the PRC stopped supplying Hanoi. To maintain their million man army Hanoi had to make their own uniforms.

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