One of the most influential military uniform items in fashion during the 20th century, is the WWII vintage M-1943 Field Jacket, the United States Miltary’s first jacket specifically designed for 20th century combat. The M43 Jacket had a simple design with four cargo pockets. A sharp contrast from the M41 Jacket, which did not have any utility capabilities for combat and resembled a pre-WWII civilian windbreaker.
The jacket was made from windproof sateen cotton and was first issued in 1944 to the troops in the European Theater of Operations. The M43 was to be worn in conjunction with a pile-lined coat, that acted as a liner in cold weather and trousers made of the same cotton. Because of supply issues the M43 did not always get issued to the troops with the complete set of trousers and liner. A lot of the period photographs from 1944/1945 show Soldiers only wearing the new M43 with the older wool trousers.
The design of the four cargo pockets on the front side of the jacket would become so popular, that even today the design of the the jacket is still being improved.
The models of the Jacket are as follows… M43, M51 and M65
Here are examples of the jacket worn in its Olive Drab color, I will cover the Woodland, Desert and ACU versions of the M65 in another post.
The M-1943 Jacket worn in WWII
M51 Jacket in the Korean War The M65 Jacket in the Vietnam War
The jacket went from the original model the M43 with buttons, to the M51 model with snaps and a zipper replacing the buttons, then the last version with an internal canvas hood added to the collar. The jacket is still issued today in an Army Combat Uniform (ACU) version. However, the original Olive Drab version of the jacket has had the most influence in fashion, as you can see in these examples.
The jacket has also been seen worn by celebrities and on the screen.
Rapper Jay-Z and Bryan GreenBerg from “How to make it in America”, both sporting the M65 Field Jacket.
The M65 has become a true Military Fashion classic and one in which you can easily find at any Army Navy Surplus store. I have listed some excellent online retailers and also a website that has the original M43 reproductions available.
U.S. Wings $99.95
Soldier City $109.99
U.S. Army Style $79.95
For the most part, designers and labels have left this design relatively authentic to the original when it comes to their renditions. The simpleness of the four pocket design has remained an influence on other military chic designer jackets, but it all started back in 1944, where it was first worn fighting to liberate Europe one city at a time.