The Panamka brimmed hat (also called a “Panamanka”, “Panama”, or “Panama Afghanka” hat) was issued to Soviet soldiers serving in tropical climates and widely exported to Soviet-aligned guerilla movements worldwide.

Sample 1:

This example was recovered in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).


Buttons are completely smooth with no star, hammer and sickle, or any other identifying insignia. The blank buttons are a characteristic of Soviet export uniforms (source:


High “beach ball” 4-panel construction similar to French bush hat. Note that the design pre-dates the French bush hat, introduced in 1949, since the Panamka hat’s official name, M-38 Field Hat, indicates it was accepted for service in 1938. A supposed WW2 era example made out of different fabric can be seen here:


Blue-green inside with faux leather plastic sweatband. Unknown if it once had a stamp or if it was manufactured sterile like the Soviet Tropical Export Uniform which uses the same fabric.

Usage Photos:

Soviet-Afghan War:

These hats were commonly photographed being worn by Soviet soldiers in the Soviet Afghan War (1980’s).


Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA):

Photo from 1974 (from

Zimbabwe Africation National Liberation Army (ZANLA):

ZANLA was the military wing of the Zimbabwe National Union (ZANU), one of the two major guerilla groups who fought against Rhodesia. Their leader was Robert Mugabe. (cannot show photo directly due to licensing issues)

Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA):

Opponents of Soviet-backed insurgents sometimes used captured Panamka hats. (cannot show photo directly due to licensing issues)