Rhodesian FireForce Vest by North - Hand Painted

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One of the most iconic pieces of Rhodesian Militaria ever produced: The “FireForce Vest”… 

This incredible piece of Kit was produced by North, in Rhodesia, during the Rhodesian Bush War with the North tag and 112cm size tag still present. During the war, these vests were privately purchased (just like the Chest rigs), and were used primarily by Rhodesia’s elite military units such as the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI). The vest itself is made of a lightweight green canvas material, features two water bottle canteen pouches with press snaps, six magazine pouches to hold your FN FAL Mags, two large compartments on the upper reverse that close by way of two pull straps and four press studs, and one large lower compartment that closes by way of zipper on the reverse as well. An interesting feature about this vest in particular is the clamps on the front to close the vest, there is a zipper to close it as well but it is quite uncommon to see these style clamps on these vests versus the wooden toggle pieces we usually see on vests. Inside is the thin blue canvas material with a large slant pocket on the left side. Inside shows clear indications of being worn. Unlike most that -rarely- pop up on the market, I would confidently say this piece definitely seen action. The biggest aspect about this vest making it so unique is the hand applied camouflage, the paint most likely being that of a vehicles paint, this practice was seen in Rhodesia amongst many members of the armed forces when creating camouflage schemes on their weapons and other kit items, but this is the first time we have seen this technique applied to a FireForce Vest. On the left shoulder padding you can also see “A Pos” written. This refers to the Blood Type of the Troopie who had wore this vest during the war.

This is truly a spectacular highlight of all the things we have had the privilege to offer to the collecting community and would certainly be a center piece to any collection.

Pictures of the vest show it in natural light as well as our studio lighting.

FireForce is a variant of the military tactic of vertical envelopment of a target by helicopter-borne and parachute infantry developed by the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Rhodesian Bush War. Regiments involved included the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI), the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) and the Rhodesian Special Air Service (SAS) assisted by the Rhodesian Air Force (RhAF). The FireForce counterinsurgency missions were designed to trap and eliminate Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) insurgents before they could flee. Unlike conventional military units, Fire Force troops were broken down into 'sticks' of 4 men instead of the usual 8 or 9-man sections. The reason for the 4-man stick was because the Rhodesian Air Force Alouette III helicopters could only carry 4 men. 

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Collections: Archive Tags: Bush Wars, Kit, Rhodesia