US Army Cot, Folding, Canvas

SSGT Jesus Ramirez struggles to assemble a Cot, Folding, Canvas at an American Red Cross shelter offering refuge from Hurricane Rita, Abilene, TX, 23 September 2005. About 100 Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base volunteered for this duty. The cot is the M-1938 model wood and canvas construction, still in use in 2005
SSGT Jesus Ramirez struggles to assemble a Cot, Folding, Canvas at an American Red Cross shelter offering refuge from Hurricane Rita, Abilene, TX, 23 September 2005. About 100 Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base volunteered for this duty. The cot is the M-1938 model wood and canvas construction, still in use in 2005.

The Army Cot is a basic and versatile unit for a single soldier, used for steeping/rest positions or for medical patients. The folding cot is extremely portable, generally used in mobile encampments or field medical units. Metal spring camp beds, bunk beds etc. are used in more permanent facilities while the soldiers individual equipment such as sleeping bags or poncho used as a ground sheet are the norm in fast changing field conditions.

Cot, Folding, Canvas open and folded
Cot, Folding, Canvas open and folded.

The M-1938 wood and canvas style of cot was in use before World War II, then evolved after the Korean War to a similar design based on aluminum and nylon. Such cots are still in use in the 21st century. Intended for one person, the cot dimensions were 78 inches long by 30 inches wide, by 17 inches high. When folded, the size is 37.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 5 inches. Straps wrap and hold the folded position.

Today in WW II: 8 Jun 1940 British Navy fully withdrawn from Norway after ineffective defense operations against German invasion.  More 
8 Jun 1941 British and Free French forces enter Syria in Anglo-French effort to remove the pro-Hitler regime of General Dentz.
8 Jun 1942 Sydney and Newcastle, Australia, are shelled by Japanese submarines causing damage to suburbs and a blackout.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Cot, Folding, Canvas in World War II

US Army Air Corps personnel sleep on bare cots (Cot, Folding, Canvas), Rufisque Field, French West Africa, circa 1943.
US Army Air Corps personnel sleep on bare cots (Cot, Folding, Canvas), Rufisque Field, French West Africa, circa 1943.

Cots were in use by the US armed forces prior to World War II with both wood and steel models available. For example, the M-1938 Army Folding Cot (Army Stock No. 26-C-3033) was made for field use (olive drab canvas, dark stained wood frame) and medical services (white canvas, white painted or light stained frame). However, the most popular design of a folding bed was based on a more comfortable steel frame design.

As war production ramped up in 1940 and 1941, shortages developed in most types of steel. Pig iron and steel were placed under priority control by the OPM at the end of the summer of 1941. For the Army, the Quartermaster Corps was instructed to make "every effort to conserve the use of iron and steel products where they are now specified and substitute wood and other materials wherever possible." Thereafter. the Cot, Folding, Canvas with a wood frame replaced steel as the standard Army cot.

Cot, Folding, Canvas in use at an airstrip furing World War II
Cot, Folding, Canvas in use at an airstrip furing World War II.

The cot was widely used in all theaters of World War II, wherever semi-permanent or permanent quarters were needed. The cot was not normally carried as individual equipment, but was installed for sleeping or resting purposes in barracks or tents, ranging from singles to vast arrays in hangers or even large outdoor spaces. The Air Corps used pyramidal tents with four cots and four sleeping bags each to house air crews next to airstrips, in England and on tactical strips in the ETO after D-Day in June 1944. Medical facilities used cots for patients, operating rooms, and staff accommodations.

The cot may be used with a sleeping bag or blankets, mattress or pad, an insect bar and other accessories.

The components of the folding cot system were issued individually or in sets, eg, a folding cot with insect bar, frame poles, and connecting clamps boxed together.

Modern Version of the Folding Cot

Aluminum and nylon cots fill Snohomish Armory, a Washington Army National Guard facility, in Snohomish County, WA, 26 March 014. Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing based in Spokane, WA searched for survivors of the deadly 22 March mudslide in nearby Oso.
Aluminum and nylon cots fill Snohomish Armory, a Washington Army National Guard facility, in Snohomish County, WA, 26 March 014. Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing based in Spokane, WA searched for survivors of the deadly 22 March mudslide in nearby Oso.

The canvas and wood cot of World War II inspired the design of more modern versions of cots to fill the same mission requirements. Modern nylon replaced the canvas sleeping surface while aluminum stock replaced the wood frame. As the photo shows, however, it's still easily recognizable as a descendent of the M-1938 wood folding cot. The 1977 edition of FM 21-15 "Care and Use of Individual Clothing and Equipment" shows the wood frame version of the cot on page 190, even though the aluminum version was already in use for more than a decade.

By 1967 the cot had supplied under NSN 7105-00-269-9279 and NSN 7105-00-369-4568, both NSNs cancelled and replaced by NSN 7105-00-935-0422, now the usual number referring to the folding cot. Nomenclature was Cot, Folding with part number AA-C-571. The same NSN and part number were also named "Cot, Folding, Canvas" even when the delivered item was the aluminum/nylon version. You may also find cots with this NSN named "Cot, Folding, Aluminum."

All parts, down to screws and washers, are available individually for replacement and repairs. Cot covers can stretch, sink and sag with use. To tighten the cover, insert spacing plugs between the end stick and frame. New covers may be tight and not need plugs, so store unused plugs in an end stick until needed. The plugs and other parts are listed here:

  1. Folding cot strap NSN 7105-00-113-0003  
  2. Leg, folding cot NSN 7105-00-935-0425  
  3. Lower half-leg NSN 7105-00-935-0427  
  4. Upper half-leg NSN 7105-00-935-0426  
  5. Side rail NSN 7105-00-935-0423  
  6. Cover NSN 7105-00-935-1845  
  7. End stick NSN 7105-00-935-0424  
  8. Cross leg support (left) NSN 7105-00-935-0428  
  9. Top leg support (left) NSN 7105-00-935-0431  
  10. Top leg support (center) NSN 7105-00-935-0432  
  11. To leg support (right) NSN 7105-00-935-0430  
  12. Dowel plug NSN 7105-00-935-0433  
  13. Spacing plug NSN 7105-00-935-0434  
  14. End plug NSN 7105-00-935-0435  

Source: PS Magazine

The cot was widely used by the US military and allied forces as well. With huge numbers in use world-wide, they are also widely available from surplus dealers and have been transferred to State and Local governments, as well as non-profit organizations.

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