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The ABCs of Collecting WWII Army Issued HBT Clothing


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In finally filling out my WWII Army HBT Uniform collection, with a mint, Camouflage Jacket, I thought it would be helpful to do an article about the various HBT types and patterns. I am in no way implying that my collection is any better or extensive than many other forum members, but instead of collecting quantity, I have concentrated on variety and condition. All of the items I will be highlighting here, from my meager collection, have easily readable QM tags or ink stamps which will make it easier to identify the maker and manufacture information about the item.

I wish to give Kenneth Lewis, the author of the wonderful book Doughboy to GI, much credit for identifying the characteristics of the various patterns for the Army, HBT jackets and trousers. Hopefully with Ken’s blessing, I will be using his pattern references here if my item descriptions.


Please give me a chance to finish this post before you respond to it. Look for the last section with my name as a sign off before posting here.


1st Pattern HBT Jacket.

Up until about 10 years ago, really nice 1st pattern HBT jackets were very hard to find. But all of a sudden a large stash of mint, unissued jackets in enormous sizes, were found in Europe and made their way here. The jacket I am showing here, is NOT from this stash, but is from a set of jacket, trousers and hat I was extremely fortunate to buy locally. I will be showing the trousers later in this post as part of what I would consider is a premier matching set with this jacket. The characteristics of the 1st pattern jacket are the pockets have clipped corners on their bottom edges and also on the corners of the flaps. The pockets also have pleats in them and the jacket has an adjustable waist band, with two buttons in the front.


My example shown here is in absolutely mint/pristine condition and also has its full complement of cutters tags and uses the 13 star, metal buttons.



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2nd Pattern HBT Jackets

By far the most common, green HBT jacket available these days is the second pattern version. This simplified pattern has the larger, square breast pockets without vertical pleats, but with some expansion capability at the bottom of each pocket. It also had the gas flap added to seal the buttoned opening against the entrance of poisonous gas droplets. The word “Special” in the item name, on the QM tag or contract ink stamp, denotes that the gas flap was put on the jacket during manufacture.


This first example of the 2nd pattern is the absolute best HBT example that I have ever found in all of my many years of searching. When I bought it, it was still folded up as it had come from the maker and the gas flap inside the jacket is even still sewn back against the front of the jacket. Of course the cutters tags are the icing on the condition cake for this item. Of interest is the fact that there is no QM tag inside, but the contract information is ink stamped on the gas flag inside. Pattern date for this example was July 15th, 1944. Buttons are the 13 star, metal variety.





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The second example is special mostly for its mint condition, with cutters tags and QM tag intact. Also, it uses the 13 star style buttons.




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The third mint example uses some unusual cutters tags that appear to be white sticky tape with a 22 printed on each tag. Has anyone else seen tags like this? The rest of the jacket is standard with a nice QM tag and 13 star, metal buttons.




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The fourth example is in super condition, but has been issued, which normally would dissuade me from buying it. However, I was interested in the plastic buttons on this variation, since by far I have seen many more jackets with 13 star buttons. I suppose the plastic buttons were used to save steel for the war effort.



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The final example is yet another mint, 2nd pattern, with nice QM tag and 13 star buttons, but minus the cutters tags.





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3rd Pattern Jacket

The third pattern HBT jacket looks very similar to a second pattern, except the two large breast pockets have vertical, pleats to allow them to expand more for cargo carrying purposes. These jackets also have the gas flap and the one I own uses 13 star buttons. I don’t see the third pattern very often for sale in mint condition, so you may want to buy an example as they appear.


This solo 3rd pattern example from my collection is mint with a single, lonely, cutter tag and an intact QM tag. The buttons are the 13 star type and jacket has the gas flap.




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4th Pattern Jacket

Pocket design was simplified on this pattern, back to the clipped corner breast pockets of the first HBT pattern, but without the clipped corner flaps. Also, the pocket pleats were eliminated in this pattern. This pattern is another of those hard to find HBT items in any kind of reasonable condition.


My example has been issued and used, but still has readable size and contract information ink stamps inside. Since, I have not found a better 4th pattern jacket yet, this little tidbit will have to remain in my collection. FYI. The gas flap was still retained and the jacket uses the 13 star metal buttons. One very interesting aspect about this jacket is that the contract ink stamp lists a July 15th, 1944 pattern date on it. But the first example of the 2nd pattern jacket, that I showed earlier, also has the same date as its pattern. It does not make any sense that two jackets with obvious design differences such as the pocket’s, would be considered the same pattern, with the same date. I am open to any opinions/explanations anyone may have about this.



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Camouflage Jacket

The camouflage jacket is reversible, with green shades on the outside and brown shades on the inside. It was issued for use in Europe, but soldiers wearing it there were subject to friendly fire, due to unfamiliarity of the US soldiers with this camouflage clothing being used by their side. So the pattern was not successful in Europe, but ultimately got use in the Pacific theatre with the Army personnel fighting there. This pattern used plastic composite buttons and had large square breast pockets. All buttons on the jacket, button into a fly type button hole, so the buttons are not exposed, when wearing the jacket.


Just posted this Jacket, Herringbone Twill, Camouflage about a week ago on the forum. It is mint, unissued with the intact QM tag. Even though the printed colors of the fabric are very light, almost faded, it was determined that there were jackets made with this cloth, early in the jackets history. BTW. Finding this jacket for me was the last piece and Holy Grail of my HBT collection, because they are very difficult to find in this condition. It took me over a decade to find one I liked and that was in the condition I collect.



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The remaining section of this post will be devoted to the four patterns of HBT trousers that you may encounter in your collector travels.


1st Pattern Trousers

The first pattern trousers were cut like a normal pair of civilian trousers with two side pockets, two back pockets and a watch pocket. These trousers were manufactured as replacements for the earlier blue denim clothing.

The trousers I am showing are one of the Crown Jewels of any HBT collection. They are absolutely mint, unissued with cutters tags and QM tag. These trousers along with the camouflage HBT jacket, described earlier, are the two hardest to find items for any WWII HBT collector. I was thrilled when I stumbled on these trousers, the first pattern jacket described earlier and a mint Daisy Mae hat, as a set, here locally.



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2nd Pattern Trousers

The design of the trousers was changed to more closely match the design of the HBT jacket. It was found that while stylish, the pockets on the 1st Pattern trousers were too small to really carry the items a soldier would need for combat. This pattern was developed with two very large, square pockets, one on each hip. They were designed to expand somewhat at the bottom, rear of each pocket. Also, a gas flap was added behind the button up fly, for the first time. As on the jackets, the word “Special”, appearing on the trousers QM tag, denotes that this gas flap was manufactured on the trousers. FYI. These pattern trousers seem to be the most commonly encountered for collectors and all of the QM tags on the following three examples show a pattern dated 4/1/44.


This example is a nice, mint, unissued pair of 2nd pattern trousers, with perfect QM tag. Other than missing the cutters tags, they are as nice as they come. The added jewel was the inspectors tag, I found in one of the pockets on these trousers. Nice to know that the manufacturer was concerned enough about maintaining the quality of their product, that they included this tag.




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The second trouser example is another mint, unissued pair of trousers, with QM tag and the one lonely, little cutter tag on the lower part of the left leg.





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The third example of these trousers is interesting because they appear to be treated to be impervious to poisonous gas. The two hints to this is the appearance of them being almost dusty looking and the fact that are slightly sticky to the touch. This is due to the “waxy” type treatment that was applied to the trousers that caused dust and other air debris to stick to the trousers. The second hint is the red printing on the QM tag as this denotes an anti-gas treated item that was manufactured that way. Notice that the manufacturer used plastic composite buttons instead of the 13 star, metal version.





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3rd Pattern Trousers

Basically, the third pattern trousers are identical to the second pattern, except for yet another pocket re-design. In order to increase the carrying capacity of the pockets on the trousers, vertical pleats were added to both pockets so things such as rations and grenades could be carried in them. The gas flap was retained and 13 star metal buttons is the norm.

This example of these 3rd pattern trousers is mint, unissued with perfect QM tag and gas flap. Unfortunately, the QM tag does not have a pattern date on it, which would have maybe given a hint when this pattern was released.



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Camouflage Trousers

The camouflage trousers were developed to be teamed up with the camouflage HBT jacket. Same as the camo jacket, they are reversible, with green shades on the outside and brown shades on the inside. This pattern had large, square hip pockets the same as the green, second pattern trousers, without any vertical pleats. This pattern used plastic composite buttons and all buttons on the trousers, button into a fly type button hole, so the buttons are not exposed, when wearing the trousers.

What can I say about this example of the trousers?? They are mint, unissued with cutters tags and perfect QM tag. The print colors are bright and the trousers look like they are brand new. They just don’t get any better than these boys. Interestingly, the camo trousers seem to be significantly easier to find these days, than the camo jackets are.



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What the Hell Are These Trousers


If you collect long enough you will eventually stumble into something that seems to break the rules on the established knowledge. These HBT trousers appear to be a mint, unissued pair of second pattern HBT trousers, with 13 star metal buttons, until you look at the fly. Instead of a button up fly, there is a good quality brass zipper sewn there made by RAPID. Inside the waist there is an ink stamp which reads SANFORIZED VAT DYED LOT 375 CP and the number 4232. There is also a paper tag stapled to the outside of the waist that has the Lot 375CP and size 4232 printed on it. I had posted these trousers before on the forum and the diagnosis was that they were WWII, but something that was made for sale in the military PX system. The theory on the zipper was that the manufacturers were able to integrate the new fly design into the PX trousers quicker than the larger normal military contracts. Any other comments/theories from the forum about that would be very enlightening.


Any comments, insights, corrections, etc. on this entire post are welcome and thanks for your time in viewing it.






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Nice overview, but I would like to comment on the way you have numbered your patterns. It seems you left some variations out. I'm using the word 'pattern' in a way to describe mayor noticeable design changes.


My view on the evolution of the WW2 US army HBT uniform:



First pattern
Pre-war design, light OD, waist adjusting tabs, no gas flap, hem band, no provision for attaching a hood, small pockets with 'cut off corners'

Second pattern
1942 design, light OD, expanding cargo pockets on the chest, no hem band, no gas flap, no provision for attaching a hood, no waist adjusting tabs


Third pattern
Same spec als second pattern but with gas flap and buttons to attach hood


Fourth pattern
1943, same as third pattern but now in OD7, variations of pocket pleats have been observed with different makers (In my opinion the pleats were a variation, not a new pattern. It seems the choice of pleat was optional for manufacturers)


Camo HBT
Spec 375, basically the same as fourth pattern, hidden buttons, reinforced elbows, pockets on green side


Fifth pattern
Spec 45E, basically the same as fourth pattern but with simplified pockets (smaller size, squared or 'cut off corner' design), has small pencil sleeve inside pocket, very late introduction date (if issued at all during WWII)



First pattern
Pre-war design, light OD, white lining, no thigh pockets, 'narrow' shape


Second pattern
1942, light OD, expanding thigh pockets, gas flap, 'baggy' shape


Third pattern
Spec 42C, same as second pattern but in OD7, variations in pocket pleats (middle/rear pleat)


Camo trousers
Spec 374, 1943, ankle tabs, hidden buttons (except waist), knee patches



And I have probably forgotten some patterns...

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