M-1943 Field Jacket

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

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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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