Esprit de Corps is such an essential ingredient for military
forces as General Wade well knew back in the 18th Century and he -
like many of his modern followers - used tartan as an additional
morale booster for his troops.
The regimental tartans of Scotland are steeped in tradition and
stained with more than a little blood, and Colin Hutcheson deals
very effectively with them in his article in this section.
The tartan shown in our banner above is the Royal Air Force
tartan and the aircraft - as any aeronautical buff will know, is
the all-weather Gloster Javelin Mk 9 in which STA Director Brian
Wilton spent 8 years of his RAF career. Enough flag-waving!
Most military tartans seem to start life as part of the uniform of
that force's pipe band, but not too much time passes before they
become absorbed as an integral part of that force's identity.
The range and diversity of modern military tartans will surprise
many. Here is a small selection:
Al-Maktoum. ITI 1531
The original Al-Maktoum Tartan was based upon the Cameron Tartan
and designed in 1977 by the late Major Stallard for the late HH
Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai. It was
initially for the use of the Dubai Pipe Band and the tartan became
one of the international symbols of Al-Maktoum. It later fell into
disuse for a number of years before being rediscovered in 2002 by
the Dundee based Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic
Studies and it was officially used by the Al-Maktoum Foundation in
Beartrap ITI 7624
Designed in 2008 by the STA for the Patrol & Reconnaissance
Wing Eleven of the Airborne ASW - anti-submarine flying wing. Their
emblem is a serrated beartrap about to close on a submarine and
since their function was similar to the original Black Watch, that
tartan was used with just a change of colours to incorporate the
Citadel Military Academy ITI 1572
Full name 'Citadel Military Institute of South Carolina' this is a
variation of the Earl of St. Andrew's tartan plus yellow and red
stripes for this very old Military Academy. The designer in 1980
was possibly the head of the Citadel Piping School at that time -
one Ludovic Grant-Alexander.
Johore Regiment ITI 260
Produced around 1930 for the Sultan of Johore for the Johore
Sultanate of Oman. ITI 717
Air Force Juniors Pipe Band tartan.
Polaris Military ITI 222
Called 'Polaris' for very many years, its correct name is 'Polaris
Military'. Designed in 1964 by Alexander MacIntyre of Strone,
Strone House, Argyll for the officers and men of the American
Submarine base at the Holy Loch - making the Polaris submarine the
first ship in history to have its own tartan. The idea came from
Captain Walter F Schlech of the USS Proteus AS19 who was Commander
of the submarine squadron. The Lord Lyon of the time apparently
exploded when the tartan was submitted to him and is quoted as
saying "We don't record tartans for submarines. It is nonsense. I
have never heard of a ship's tartan in the whole history of
The navy blue represents the naval uniform, the dark green the
depths of the oceans and the Royal Blue and gold overchecks
represent the 'Blue' and 'Gold' crews who alternate.
RAF Kinloss ITI 10120. RAF Leuchars ITI 5443 RAF
Lossiemouth ITI 2188
All these three Royal Air Force stations are located in
Royal Canadian Air Force ITI 1343
Probably the world's first air force to adopt its own tartan.
Truly a unique national treasure, its creation was sparked in the
early 1940s by Group Captain E.G. Fullerton AFC, Commanding Officer
of No. 9 Service Flying Training School and later Commanding
Officer of RCAF Station Trenton."
The tartan was submitted to Lord Lyon, King of Arms in Edinburgh
for approval in July 1942. In reality he had no power to approve or
disapprove and he merely 'noted' its existence although it's
frequently and erroneously claimed that he granted approval on 15
August 1942. Regardless of the legal niceties, it became officially
known world-wide as The Royal Canadian Air Force Tartan. It's
thought that the original sample pieces were woven by the late Enid
Inch of Loomcrofters.
US Air Force - there is a handful of tartans seemingly connected
with the United States Air Force but their validity is difficult to
US Coastguard ITI 4068
Designed in 2002 this is based on Hamilton tartan in honour of
Alexander Hamilton, first US Secretary of the Treasury and founder
of the US Coast Guard. The blue is changed to modern Coast Guard
Blue symbolic of the seas and skies where the men and women of the
Coast Guard work. The red represents the courage and sacrifice of
Coast Guard members in peace and in war. The ten thread count white
overstrike is a symbol of the white sails of the first ten cutters
of the service authorised by Hamilton.
US Marine Corps ITI 975
This is one of those official unofficial tartans much loved by
serving and retired Leathernecks.
Designed by Bob Hall of Tallahassee, USA and Ruraidh MacLeod of
Auchtermuchty for the US Marine Corps which was founded in 1775 by
the Scot John Paul Jones.
US Seabees ITI 3838 US Special Forces ITI
West Point Military Academy ITI 1130
Commissioned in 1983 by Supt LTG Willard Scott of the Academy and
designed by the late Harry Lindley it was first used in the
academic year of 1985/1986.
It is a colour variation of Grey Douglas The Academy wished to
commemorate General Douglas MacArthur so Harry Lindley used the
Douglas grey and then incorporated twin yellow lines to represent
the uniform braids - not the yellow stripes on cadets' trousers:
those are in fact black on grey.
Women's Royal Army Corps Association ITI
Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) ITI
Designed for the Wrens in 1995 by Peter MacDonald.