M-1951 Parka

Reference photo of soldier in M-1951 Parka, Liner and Hood.  Mittens, Arctic, M-1949 are fastened over the ends of the parka sleeves
Reference photo of soldier in M-1951 Parka, Liner and Hood. Mittens, Arctic, M-1949 are fastened over the ends of the parka sleeves.

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Evolution of the M-1951 Parka

Engineer wearing Overcoat, Parka type, with Pile Liner operates EE-8 telephone communication along a supply tramway, 2 March 1952.  Jerry Cans for Water are on the platform floor behind him
Engineer wearing Overcoat, Parka type, with Pile Liner operates EE-8 telephone communications along a supply tramway, 2 March 1952. The parka waist had a sewn-in cloth tube to accomodate a standard web trouser belt inserted. Jerry Cans for Water are on the platform floor behind him.

Development of parkas during World War II did not produce a parka that consistently met the cold climate needs of the military. Development continued with improvements in outer shell, liner and hood. A number of these parkas were produced, including this list:

Item Stock Number Spec/Pattern Notes
Overcoat, parka type, with pile liner 55-O-3139-35 (Small) PQD No. 392 Contract dated Jan 26 1945
Overcoat, parka type, with pile liner 55-O-3139-25 (Large) MIL-O-1952 Pattern date 21 July 1947
Parka, Outer, W/Fiberglass Liner, EX-48-1     Experimental design for fishtail parka, fur edge on hood
Parka, Shell, Cotton, M-1948 55-P-4980-20 (Small) MIL-P-1042 Pattern date Dec 24 1948
Parka, Liner, M-1948     Liner for Parka, Shell, Cotton, M-1948

These parkas were a two-piece design with a parka shell that included a hood plus a button-in parka liner. The "Overcoat, parka type, with pile liner" was an upgrade of a WW II parka and is sometimes called the M1947.

In the Korean War, the Army and Marines were initially supplied with the "Overcoat, parka type, with pile liner," the OD7 garment from World War II that was slightly improved in 1950. The same item exists in an Air Force model and USMC model, very similar to the Army parka but with USAF or USMC labels and stock numbers. The more advanced M-1948 Parka, a replacement for the "Overcoat, parka type, with pile liner," was available to some Army units, but most still wore the older models. The M-1951 Parka (adopted 27 June 1951) went into production but did not reach Korea in large numbers before the end of combat in 1953.

Description of the M-1951 Parka

The M-1951 Parka was a three component garment, the cotton/nylon OG-107 shell, the button-in mohair frieze liner, and the fur-lined hood:

Item FSN or Stock No. Mil Spec
Parka, Shell, M-1951 8415-223-7621 to -7626 MIL-P-11013 Mar 12 1951
Parka, Liner, M-1951 8415-240-2460 to -2464 MIL-P-11012 Mar 12 1951
Hood, Parka, M-1951 73-H-66950 MIL-H-11023 Mar 12 1951

The general description, given in the Mil Spec document is, "A parka designed to be worn over other outer clothing at mean monthly temperatures below plus 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius)."

The early production, first generation M-1951 parka sets were made of heavier material overall with an alpaca liner, similar to the M1948 parka they replaced. The heavy construction was expensive to manufacture and proved, in field use, to be hard to manage, especially when wet. A second generation was made out of lighter fabrics, but still quite warm. Sizes were generous since the M-1951 Parka was intended to be worn over the winter uniform.

The M-1951 Parka has an integrated cloth hood (sewn in), adequate for wear under a helmet but too light for severe conditions. The fur-lined Hood, Parka, M-1951 buttons on to the integral hood as a liner to increase protection. When the M-1965 Parka was introduced, it had no sewn-in hood, but had buttons that would accept the Hood, Parka, M-1951. The same hood design continued in use, but after wolf fur was phased out, it became the Hood, Winter, W/Synthetic Fur Ruff (OG-107) (NSN 8415-00-782-1004).

A snow camouflage over-white set was issued for use with the M-1951 Parka. Until supplies caught up, the WW II issue overwhites were used by some units in Korea.

The M-1951 Parka, as well as the M-1948, are commonly called the "fishtail" parka due to a split lower back and its bottom drawstrings that can pull the parka close to the legs. Epaulets and the attached hood help differentiate the M-1951 in photos.

The M-1951 parka was ultimately superseded by the M-1965 (or M65) parka, MIL-P-43496 May 16 1967 "Parka, Extreme Cold Weather."

USMC M-1951 Parka

The Marine Corps M-1951 parka and liner are not exactly the same as the M-1951 Army version, althugh they reference the same MIL specifications. The Marine version of the parka and liner were manufactured by L.W. Foster Sportswear Co. Inc. while the hoods were made by Jules Segal and Company. Labels will say "U.S. Marine Corps" or "U.S. Marine Corps Depot of Supplies."

Recommended Books about the M-1951 Parka

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