Tank crews had specially designed jacket, trousers, and helmets to facilitate their work in cramped quarters that were always too hot or too cold. The full description of the development of clothing for armored forces is found on the page titled World War II Clothing for Armored Forces.
Member of Crew of M-3 Tank #309490, D Co., 2nd Bn., 12th Armored Reg., 1st Armored Div. at Souk el Arba, Tunisia, North Africa. Photo taken 23 Nov 1942. Wearing Jacket, Combat, Winter.
The "Jacket, Combat, Winter" (formal name) was also called the "Tanker Jacket" because it was originally issued exclusively to armored units. The jacket was part of the winter combat uniform that included the "Trousers, Combat, Winter" (bib front overalls) worn over a shirt, with the jacket as a top layer.
The tanker jacket was vastly superior to the flimsy (and cold) M-41 field jacket resulting in a rapid spread of the tanker jacket to any troops who could get their hands on them. The zipper was more convenient than the button/zipper of the M-41 and the shorter length was an improvement over the longer M-41 for anyone sitting or crouching. Tanker Jackets found their way into the Air Force in both the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters. It was especially favored by officers who took much of the available supply.
Tanker Jacket Description
The Tanker Jacket is basically a windbreaker design, waist cut medium weight jacket with two outside pockets and zipper front. There were two patterns made, the first in 1941, and a revision in 1942.
The material was heavy khaki or OD color, If khaki, the lining was "mustard" brown while the OD jackets had a lining of the same color. 8.2 oz cotton for the outer shell with a bi-swing back. There was a knit wool collar, waistband and cuffs, as well as a wool blanket lining. The zipper front closure had a wind flap.
The 1941 first pattern jackets had patch pockets with horizontal openings. This was revised to slash pockets ("hand warmer") for the 1942 2nd pattern.
Jacket, Combat, Winter Stock Numbers and Labeling
Stock numbers were 55-J-100, 55-J-130 in a range to cover the sizes. The two pattern specifications were:
PQD Spec. No. 26 Pattern 2/10/41
PQD Spec. No. 26A Pattern 1/9/42
1943 Comments on the Tanker Jacket
Comments of Maj. Gen. Isaac D. White, Commanding General, 2nd Armored Division, in reply to request from DD Eisenhower, 18 March 1945 re: US vs. German tanks and equipment. In a long reply covering a multitude of topics, this jacket is mentioned in one paragraph:
Jacket, Combat, Winter: This is a highly satisfactory item, particularly for tank crews. The quality of material has suffered in mass production. The outer material should be the same as the jacket, field, M1943, with no change in the inner blanket lining. The knitted waistband should be eliminated and a buckle type waist band of the same material substituted. The cuffs should be modified to a straight faced cuff with a knitted cuff forming a windbreak inside the outer cuff.
The Tanker Jacket Lives On
The Tanker Jacket was worn from early in World War II until the uniform standardization of 1979. As with a few other items of military apparel, it continued to exist just beneath the official radar long after it lost its official Stock Number.
The tanker jacket style was popular and local tailors would make one up for a soldier or officer out of a shelter half, wool scarf for the knitted areas, plus some blanket material for the lining. These were unofficial but often allowed.
After the war, stocks of the Tanker Jacket were issued until exhausted but no new jackets were produced, officially. The waist length 1944 jacket, the Jacket, Field, Wool (Ike Jacket) existed in inventory into the early 1950s but gradually, the M-1943 Field Jacket, the first of the longer, four pocket design that still exists today, became the only authorized standard medium weight field jacket.
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