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M-1943 Field Jacket

Jacket, Field, M-1943 and Cap
Jacket, Field, M-1943 and Cap.

Today in WW II: 16 Apr 1941 Britain receives 1st American Lend-Lease aid shipment across the German submarine-infested Atlantic.  More 
16 Apr 1945 After an immense artillery barrage, Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov's troops advance from the Oder River toward the Seelow Heights defenses of Berlin.
16 Apr 1945 German troop transport Goya sunk by Soviet submarine L-3, with loss of about 7,000 lives.
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Development of the Jacket, Field, M-1943

Although the M41 Parson's Jacket was widely used in World War II, it was not really a satisfactory solution for the soldier. The Field Jacket M-1943 was an integral part of a combat uniform being developed by the War Department based on the layering principle to give great flexibility for conditions encountered in the world-wide war. In March 1943 the OQMG recommended a uniform based on the layering principle, but no agreement was reached on the individual components of the uniform. Internal debate went on during 1943 with the ETO Command favoring a British style short wool jacket. Differences were finally reconciled in 1944 and large quantities of the M-1943 (also called the M-43) jacket began to appear in the ETO, after tests by the 3rd Division at Anzio. Paratroopers wore them for Market-Garden and they were widely available to Army units in the Fall of 1944, and thereafter.

The Jacket, Field M-1943 (formal name) consisted of an olive drab cotton outer shell with layers added inside as more warmth was needed. There was a pile jacket liner for extremely cold areas, while the short wool jacket (the "Ike" jacket) was worn in milder temperatures. An olive drab cotton cap, also designated M-1943, was the head cover and was worn inside the helmet liner when the M-1 helmet system was used. A fur-edged hood was also added as an accessory. The wide-cuff double-buckle combat boots were adopted at the same time.

Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, CG, 92nd Infantry ('Buffalo') Division, inspects troops wearing M-1943 Field Jackets, Italy, March 1945.  The officers often wore the Tanker Jacket
Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, CG, 92nd Infantry ('Buffalo') Division, inspects troops wearing M-1943 Field Jackets, Italy, March 1945. The officers often wore the Tanker Jacket.

Features of the M-1943 Field Jacket

The M-1943 jacket had a sateen outer shell with a cotton lining. The waist was adjustable with an internal drawstring. The wrists could be closed by buttons. The jacket could be closed with six hidden plastic buttons under a fly cover, creating a smooth front. Other important features of the M-1943 Field Jacket included:

  1. Four reinforced cargo pockets, two at chest level and two below the waist line of the jacket.
  2. A hood was available that could be buttoned on to the collar.
  3. A neck flap was attached to the left side and could be buttoned across the throat area for cold or windy conditions.
  4. As part of the layering principle, a liner was available for cold conditions.

Post World War II Development of the Field Jacket

The design of the M-1943 jacket was so successful that military forces around the world still wear field jackets remarkably similar to it. In 1950, a modified version was issued to U.S. forces. The M-1950 Field Jacket has a button in liner instead of the seperate liner garmet of the M-1943. The M-1950 was quickly superceded by the M-1951, another very similar design which now had a zipper instead of buttons under the front fly and metal snap closures for the pockets. The M-1951 Field Jacket was actually fielded after the 1953 armistice so was not seen in the Korean War, but it remained in service until replaced by the M-1965 Field Jacket.

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