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USMC WWII "Frogskin" Covers - Rethinking The Norm


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Also forgot to mention my theory on why so many no slits seen post WWII.

With the upcoming invasion of mainland Japan the Marine Corps thought it would need thousands of marines in order to take the islands and ordered quantities of equipment needed including covers in order to supply the needs. The slits were deleted to save time and cost. Just a theory, but it has happened twice before during Desert Storm and GWOT. Thanks all

 

Interesting theory ... make sense to simplify production rather than add features like slits, that were seldom if ever used.

Collecting USMC AEF 1917-18 & PTO 1941-45, US Navy PTO 1941-45.

 

Most seeked items : USMC dog tags from 1915 to 1945, USN corpsman dog tags and other identified items, USN id'd M1 helmets.



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I was thinking about this not too long ago. I believe I might have a possible explanation for the different covers. I don't have any proof though. I can imagine it would be hard to find out though for the right person that would know where to look.

 

Early on, the USMC depot made packs with the flap strap buckle retaining tabs made out of cloth instead of webbing like Boyt did. The reason was they did not have the proper sewing machine to sew through the webbing. I believe you needed a special sewing machine to do these small button holes and perhaps the USMC Depot or perhaps the contractor that made the covers did not have this machine and therefore omitted the buttonhole slits.

***WANTED: MINT UNISSUED USMC DEPOT WEB GEAR AND A SIZE 38 P42 CAMO JACKET***

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Pump,

First let's identify the patterns so we are all on the same page.

 

I always believed the " First pattern" was the cover used with NO foliage slits.

The "second pattern" was the cover WITH foliage slits AND BUTTON HOLES

The "third Pattern" was the cover WITH foliage slits, but WITHOUT button holes.

 

Then came the 1952 Blue Anchor Overall covers, which had foliage slits, no button holes.

These are simplest to pick out even in photos on a helmet because of the USMC EGA stamp with one riband.

 

I have also believed that the Dark EGA stamp ( no riband) was applied to SURPLUS WW2 produced covers, both first, 2nd and 3rd pattern ( as described above).

These covers are most commonly seen POST WAR up to Vietnam...

 

That's what I have come to discern from my years of collecting. The photos I see from Tarawa are without foliage slits (unless I am wrong, and now I will go back and double check) but early use of cammo ( Cape Gloucester) I always believed to be the non-foliage slit type covers. Also I am sure there was a point where the styles blended as circulation of more covers increased ( hence foliage slits from Tarawa pics ( above)... Never really gave it the depth of thought...

 

??

Actively seeking WW2, Korean War and Vietnam War era USMC items

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Hello CH,

 

That was the original way I learned it as well, however as the model numbers are made up by collectors I have seen the last two switched lately (due to the number of slits). Here are two from Cape Gloucester - 1944 with the slits

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Pump and all,

Thanks for this very interesting thread. Not to confuse things further, but I have a "first pattern" cover that has had slits punched in it with a utility knife or bayonet. I was under the impression that this was a common practice. If so, I think it would be difficult to discern from a cover with "factory made" slits in a vintage photo.

Best regards, Paul

 

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Pump and all,

Thanks for this very interesting thread. Not to confuse things further, but I have a "first pattern" cover that has had slits punched in it with a utility knife or bayonet. I was under the impression that this was a common practice. If so, I think it would be difficult to discern from a cover with "factory made" slits in a vintage photo.

Best regards, Paul

 

Are the slits punched through in the same uniform pattern as the stitched slits?

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I was thinking about this not too long ago. I believe I might have a possible explanation for the different covers. I don't have any proof though. I can imagine it would be hard to find out though for the right person that would know where to look.

 

Early on, the USMC depot made packs with the flap strap buckle retaining tabs made out of cloth instead of webbing like Boyt did. The reason was they did not have the proper sewing machine to sew through the webbing. I believe you needed a special sewing machine to do these small button holes and perhaps the USMC Depot or perhaps the contractor that made the covers did not have this machine and therefore omitted the buttonhole slits.

I'm not certain that is a valid argument. Any manufacturer capable of winning contracts to make clothing (inlcuding USMC Depot made items) would have had the capability to make button holes in clothing. The USMC Depot made prototype clothing and would have had machines that were set up to stitch button holes. If they were sewing canvas items they also would have machines able to sew through thick webbing reinforcement, i.e. the reinforced webbing that holds the hook attachment at the rear of the canteen cover. Whether the covers were purposely made that way or an oversight by a contractor is probably lost to history. They were issued during WWII though, there is sufficient still and moving picture evidence to document their existence.

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Since I am one of the people who may have perpetuated this issue I will chime in. In going over my notes and documents it is clear that uniforms and helmet covers were manufactured prior to the Sept 42 dated document. In March of 42 the first camo sample uniforms were sent from the Depot QM to the Commandant. A May 28, 42 document states that Camouflaged Helmet Coverings: Under development by the Marine Corps Equipment Board."

 

By June of 42 the Commandant had already approved adoption and manufacturing and was setting Issuance requirements. 1 per individual with a 15% replenishment (dated June 27, 1942).

 

A November document from the Quartermaster stated that "10,000 camo helmet covers are being prepared for shipment to the Third Marine Division." Numbers were not given, but the 2nd Division was listed as being in line to receive covers as well.

 

My personal opinion is that there were probably multiple styles made including with and without slits in the beginning too. It has been 10 years since I wrote my book so I cannot recall my thinking. I believe it was probably in order of how other uniforms were made and development. Such as the morphing of the HBTs to P42 camo to P44 camos. I guess I assumed the helmet cover went through changes as well.

 

I guess the question is, was it possible that certain units got covers with slits while others did not and eventually the slits went away or were made in smaller numbers in the beginning? I believe I got all of the possible data in the folders I found, but there is probably other info out there somewhere.

 

Maybe the Depot made ones without slits while a contractor made them with slits. The Depot was making HBTs throughout the war while they contracted them as well so it is possible the depot made a certain style while contracted another style.

 

When I find some time I will see if I can search through my photos to find any helmet cover shots that might be dated.

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A1C Matthew Seidler, Delta Company, 466th EOD killed in action. 05 Jan 12 at 1600L while conducting mounted route clearance patrols in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned 24 two days before his death. Cousin, Soldier, Hero.

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Bill,

 

I tend to agree with your theory. I have yet to see an image of the so called 1st pattern cover in use early WW2. My original USMC rig is a swivel bail helmet with no foliage slits in the cover and it is of correct WW2 pattern without EGA. It makes sense to me that to simplify the production process, the slits were deleted late war. I look forward to your findings and like Mike, I am searching for evidence.

 

Cheers

 

Sean

Further to my last,

 

I have spent this time scouring images of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd MARDIV's from NOV 1942 to mid '44. Frogskin covers with foliage slits predominate.

 

Here is the link to the reference material used http://www.pacificamilitary.com/pmd/

 

 

Cheers

 

Sean

OIF 04-05 AUSSIE VET

 

20 years experience in BUYING and SELLING Militaria

 

Collecting and Researching ALL THINGS 1st and 2nd MARDIV '39 -'45

 

1st MARDIV activity in Australia post Guadalcanal and Australian Manufacturers contracted to supply clothing and equipment for the refit.

 

2nd MARDIV involvement on Guadalcanal and 'Bloody' Tarawa

 

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"It makes sense to me that to simplify the production process, the slits were deleted late war."

 

It does make sense, but keep in mind why would they simplify production of the helmet cover when they went ahead and made the P44 camouflage pants and coat ten times more complicated to make then the P42 variety. Internal pockets, excess snaps, draw strings on the pants, integrated belt loops etc?

 

Since we do not know when the decisions were made to change this item it is hard to make any real conclusions.

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A1C Matthew Seidler, Delta Company, 466th EOD killed in action. 05 Jan 12 at 1600L while conducting mounted route clearance patrols in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned 24 two days before his death. Cousin, Soldier, Hero.

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Good info Alec, I don't know much about the uniforms in general and was hoping someone who did would comment if anything similar happened late war to them as well.

 

Just going by past practice, which I used for the original theory on dropping the slits were the Desert Storm/GWOT covers. As mass quantities were needed in a hurry the slits were dropped, when ample supplies were regained the slits were added back into production ie. 1953 covers. May all be hogwash, but ya got to start with something in order to try and get to the bottom of it. And it had to start somewhere 1942-1945. No doubt very large numbers of the no slit covers were produced at some time for some reason as they were seen in use long after WWII in quantity.

 

That's the whole point here is to try and determine when it all started by good photos if possible since there is a lack of documents. Could very well end up having been used together throughout the war. While the "model" numbers are excellent for telling them apart, as seen here I think over time many (including myself) have taken it literal at times.

 

The photos provided by Driver in #43 look about the clearest and pretty convincing to me as proof of no slit covers in use in WWII, what do you guys think? And it would also help confirm Theorywolf's post on the first page of his helmet. BTW, I would never discount anyone's vet bringback helmet based solely on a hunch. Just wanted to make that clear.

 

Thanks, Bill

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I respectfully disagree with Bellumbill's comment about the photography technology in Korea being better than in WWII. It was the same. US Military photographers used the official large (4 inch by 5 inch negative) format cameras in both wars. 35mm was used less frequently with the exception it was more popular for civilian photojournalists. There was a little advance in film quality, not enough to be a factor.

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Could it be possible that these were made side by side? Depending on who was manufacturing them? So in reality there isn't a 1st, 2nd or 3rd pattern as far as timeframe. But just 3 different covers made at the same time?

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Could it be possible that these were made side by side? Depending on who was manufacturing them? So in reality there isn't a 1st, 2nd or 3rd pattern as far as timeframe. But just 3 different covers made at the same time?

Actually, that sounds like the most plausible explanation to me. Collectors seem to like to pigeonhole items to a specific style and time frame. It doesn't appear that one style was made and used exclusively before another style was introduced. Whatever was accessible in the supply chain was probably what was shipped and issued.

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I disagree,

 

we have clear evidence of the style of cover approved for production dated 1942. It has foliage slits.

 

What we need to find are Board approved drawings of the 1st pattern [sic] that pre date this. I doubt it's existence any question any variations from the original drawings, by mistake or otherwise.

 

The question is what type of cover was issued first and when did the variations follow.

 

From my research all evidence supports the premise that covers with foliage slits were the first type issued. They predominate in images from late '42 throug mid '44. In that regard my Cape Gloucester Marine has a foliage slit cover. Why, because It is historically correct for that period.

 

A collector cannot help but pigeonhole particular equipment in order to be accurate. Soldiers are issued what was available at the time. In the case of USMC helmet covers, we know that they were first issued late 1942 with foliage slits.

 

Cheers

 

Sean

OIF 04-05 AUSSIE VET

 

20 years experience in BUYING and SELLING Militaria

 

Collecting and Researching ALL THINGS 1st and 2nd MARDIV '39 -'45

 

1st MARDIV activity in Australia post Guadalcanal and Australian Manufacturers contracted to supply clothing and equipment for the refit.

 

2nd MARDIV involvement on Guadalcanal and 'Bloody' Tarawa

 

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For those interested check out the link posted above by Desoto. I don't have any of those particular books by Hammel, but even looking at the computer sample chapters reveals many excellent photos that I've never seen before from all campaigns. With Driver's Iwo picture I checked out the one on Okinawa - very interesting. If you look tell me what you think - about sample page 22 - 26.

 

Thanks for the link Desoto

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By 1945 more and more examples of the 'no slits' cover begin to appear in use. It is at this point in the timeline that we have hard evidence of both style of covers being worn side by side. A good indicator for this is condition. Most 'slitted' covers are well worn, and most 'non slit' covers are in better condition.

 

I suggest that this cover came into production mid to late 1943/44 which supports my argument that it was not issued early war late 42 -mid 44.

 

So a 'no slits' cover is not appropriate to depict a late Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Bouganville or Cape Gloucester Marine.

 

I also think it possible that the slits were deleted for serviceability. The slits even though reinforced, introduced a weakness in the integrity of the material, ie. they would rip/tear and wear. No slits = greater strength. No matter what army, or what period, any modification to equipment was normally promulgated as a result of equipment failure/reduced serviceability.

 

Cheers

 

Sean

OIF 04-05 AUSSIE VET

 

20 years experience in BUYING and SELLING Militaria

 

Collecting and Researching ALL THINGS 1st and 2nd MARDIV '39 -'45

 

1st MARDIV activity in Australia post Guadalcanal and Australian Manufacturers contracted to supply clothing and equipment for the refit.

 

2nd MARDIV involvement on Guadalcanal and 'Bloody' Tarawa

 

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gif

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By 1945 more and more examples of the 'no slits' cover begin to appear in use. It is at this point in the timeline that we have hard evidence of both style of covers being worn side by side. A good indicator for this is condition. Most 'slitted' covers are well worn, and most 'non slit' covers are in better condition.

 

I suggest that this cover came into production mid to late 1943/44 which supports my argument that it was not issued early war late 42 -mid 44.

 

So a 'no slits' cover is not appropriate to depict a late Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Bouganville or Cape Gloucester Marine.

 

I also think it possible that the slits were deleted for serviceability. The slits even though reinforced, introduced a weakness in the integrity of the material, ie. they would rip/tear and wear. No slits = greater strength. No matter what army, or what period, any modification to equipment was normally promulgated as a result of equipment failure/reduced serviceability.

 

Cheers

 

Sean

1940 Desoto,

 

Actually, I agree with you. I have always thought the covers with the buttonholes were the earliest. Absent any further documentation on the non-slot covers it is purely speculation as to when they were manufactured and why.

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Wow- what a fine discussion, which I was evidently too late for :D

I have never been convinced of the "no-slit 1st pattern" Cover doctrine, mainly due to what I saw in tons of photos, but being confirmed (in my mind, at least) by collector Bill Schneider forwarding me a photocopy many years ago of the complete Marine Corps Helmet Cover specs of 1942. I do have a slitless Cover which was issued late in the War, and it is made of the "new improved" HBT Frogskin in which the dyes used were more colorfast and the colors featuring a more "forest green" tone.

Support our troops...abandoning the War on Terror is not an affordable luxury.

I'm so old, I still call W.W.II U.S. militaria "war surplus".

 

God's blessings in the Name of our Lord Jesus- Jim Robertson

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