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The ABCs of Collecting WWII Army Issued HBT Clothing


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The second hint is the red printing on the QM tag as this denotes an anti-gas treated item that was manufactured that way.

 

 

Do you have any sources to back up this claim? I have seen many items that were not 'gas treated' which have red labels.

 

For example: 1937 wool trousers

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Always looking for mint condition WW2 US combat gear, equipment, helmets and uniforms -

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ThompsonSavage, I am trying to recall where I heard the statement that a red QM tag denoted an anti-gas treated item. In my own collection I only have two items with red QM tags and both of them indeed have the anti-gas treatment applied. See second item below which is a treated wool hood. And in my collecting travels I never happened on an untreated item with a red QM tag to sway this idea.

 

However, with your statement that you have seen "many" non-treated items with red QM tags, then I will gladly retract my statement as misleading. Thanks for clarifying this point.

 

Bob

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"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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You don't have to retract your statement, I was just curious as to where you found that information since I have never heard of it. As to the red printed labels I have seen parkas, raincoats, hoods, wool shirts and trousers, jackets, HBT's, mountain trousers/jackets...

 

Mountain trousers as for sale by member M1Helmet

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Always looking for mint condition WW2 US combat gear, equipment, helmets and uniforms -

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Two comments other than nice stuff and thanks for talking the time to write it all up:

 

1. Instead of using first pattern second, etc. I really do prefer to use the sped numbers as hey are a far better determination of order and date and modification. We did an article in Militaria a while back going through all the specs and noting the small changes from change to change. This avoids the possibility of missing something, and allows you to spot any real odd balls. It's always best to use the original nomenclature than invent a system. So they should run 45, 45A, 45B, 45C etc. There's no trick to the progression- it's all in the specs.

 

2. Cammo uniforms. I drive myself crazy with this but popular opinion is wrong. These were withdrawn from service long before june 44 as they didn't really work all that well. This is why you see them issued stateside as substitutes for standard HBTs. Some ended up in France and were issued to a few units, the 2nd Division wore them out to Brest in Sept 44, meaning there was no recall of them for friendly fire on a wide basis. I've researched the heck out of this, and after looking into every single place I can think of (especially the 2nd armored records) I cannot find any actual reference to the problem. The Army history people who maintain the research records of the green books say there is nothing in them to back up the claim in the book, and they do not know where it comes from. I have had two people tell me they have seen a record in the archives indicating the blue on blue, but to date neither has been able to actually produce it, and I spent 2 days going through where one 'thought' he had seen it with no luck.

 

My own theory is that an estimated 10-20% of casualties are fratricide. Sad to say but true. What better way to justify how you accidentally shot one of your own guys but to blame it on the uniform. Again this was all written up in a multi-part article on the history of WW2 Army cammo in Militaria Magazine. And again, none to date has been able to actually show me an original reference this comes from. However I have copies of the original "make cammo a limited standard until it we run out" paperwork, as well as photographic proof it was used up into Brest. I also spent 2 weeks in 2AD vets in 1982 and not one of them ever heard the story, and Mark Bando who heavily researched the time period it supposedly happened in never found it as well. I'd still love to see where this all came from, but to sate there is nothing solid to back it up.

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jgawne, Thank you for the enlightening information. I have been looking at QM tags forever and I guess I really never read them and understood the details. The spec number as an identification mechanism does seem to make sense with what I was seeing with the items in my collection. Especially, the two jackets with ink stamps on the gas flap, which share spec 45E. I guess the only thing that surprises me is that the government gave manufacturers such leeway from the official "Cast in Concrete" procurement specification. Just look at the color and pocket differences of some of the jackets and trousers, sharing the same specification number. Its almost as if the government wrote "Item to be made from green HBT material, and to include two pockets" and let the manufacturers fill in the numerous blanks. Maybe wartime dictated this due for the demand of the materials to cloth our soldiers during WWII. This is a subject I would like to explore more.

 

Secondly, thank you for taking time to give us the scoop on the camo HBTs. I wrote this article more to spur discussion within the forum and to maybe learn more about my collection. You have really helped to further mine and other members knowledge on this subject.

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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Revised edition

 

Jackets

 

Spec No. 45
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'

Spec No. 45B
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

 

Spec No. 45B (Special)
Same spec as Spec No. 45B but with gas flap and buttons to attach hood

 

Spec No. 45D
1943, same as Spec No. 45B (Special) 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)

 

Spec No. 375 (Camo HBT)
Resembles Spec No. 45D, hidden buttons, reinforced elbows, pockets on green side

 

Spec No. 45E
Basically the same as Spec No. 45D 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)

Trousers

 

Spec No. 6-254 (same as trousers, cotton, khaki)
Pre-war design, light OD, white lining, no thigh pockets, 'narrow' shape

 

Spec No. 42A (1942) and 42C (3/10/43)
Light OD, expanding thigh pockets, gas flap, 'baggy' shape

 

Spec No. 42C (OD7) with revision 1/15/44 (Spec P.Q.D. No. 339, P.O. No. 3954)

Same as Spec No. 42A and 42C but in OD7, variations in pocket pleats (middle/rear pleat)

 

Spec 374 (6/3/44)
Camo trousers, 1943, ankle tabs, hidden buttons (except waist), knee patches

 

Always looking for mint condition WW2 US combat gear, equipment, helmets and uniforms -

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ThompsonSavage, That is a wonderful HBT specification synopsis you submitted. It is a real keeper and I appreciate you sharing it was us.

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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I have to agree with Jon about Spec #s. There is a real progression to the specifications. That is really the way to organize all US military clothing. Since 1876 the US Army Quartermaster Department has had a specification for all clothing item and camp equipage. And after 1918 all of the soldiers individual equipment.

The US Army QM had a specification for all clothing items. I know that sometimes we see an item that does not conform, but it is not likely that a contractor in the WWII era would just go off and do his own thing. A standard clothing item had a specification that was between 3 and 8 pages long.There really is no room for doing as you pleased. The on site QM inspector would have had a field day rejecting clothing. As for the Trousers with the zipper, you would need to go to the Archives and find all the correspondence from the QM to the contractor and you would probably find a letter asking , (with an addendom to the contract for the price difference between buttons and zippers) that they make so many trousers with zippers.

If you think that the US Army took whatever the contractors gave them, you need to spend a little time at the National Archives and see the letters telling contractors how much they needed to fix.

Without data, your just another person with an opinion...................

 

Selling DVDs of Ordnance Drawings on ebay seller ID 245thcac
Original Research from Museums and The National Archives
1912 Cavalry Board Report, 1910 Infantry Board Report, Equipment Blueprints and Drawing, Coast Artillery Training Films and 1897 Specifications for Clothing
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Very interesting and comprehensive topic, illustrated with very nice coats and trousers ... thanks for sharing ;)

 

About the camo pattern, I'll second JGawne as even in the PTO, the camo utilities were discarded, because they were non-effective (and hot).

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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The examples posted are beautiful!

 

I'm pinning this thread,

 

RC

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Thanks everyone for the kind words and comments on this post. I really appreciate you all taking the time to read it. I am still curious if anyone else has seen the weird, white, sticky tape, type cutter tags that I show on the fourth jacket in my post. They are the tags that have a 22 on them. Also, still looking for any new insight on the "What the hell are These" trousers with the zipper.

 

Thanks,

 

 

Bob

post-299-0-68850200-1371869730.jpg

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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I am still curious if anyone else has seen the weird, white, sticky tape, type cutter tags that I show on the fourth jacket in my post.

 

Yes, these are basically the same as cutter tags. They ensure the continuity of size, shape and color of each individual cloth piece that will eventually become a complete garment.

 

Here is one with '16' on the tags.

post-45626-0-61614600-1371892414.jpg

Always looking for mint condition WW2 US combat gear, equipment, helmets and uniforms -

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Bob, thanks for this thread and all the primo shots of your collection.

I received an education here; there is a little-known variant in the Frogskin patterned HBT, beside the 2 slight differences in the "PacMen". Your camo Trousers carry this variant, shown below- "normal" at left, "weird" at right...

 

post-3226-0-78430800-1371934184.jpg

 

Up until yesterday, the only time I had seen the brown spot with the "hook" on the left side was on several Jackets in various collections made by Woodbury Mills. Your Southern Athletic Trousers are a first-time encounter for me.

 

Trivial, I know, :D but this variant print doesn't show up often at all. Interesting!

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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Flage Guy, I am really happy that we have a supreme resource like you on this forum. The little detail about the "hook" is the kind of thing I just eat up as I am really into an items different variations and try to collect them all. Just to make sure, I went down and inspected the camo trousers again and every one of that particular brown printing has the hook on it.

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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After looking at the specifications provided and comparing my collection to it, it looks like I am missing a 42A pair of trousers along with a 42B and 42B (Special) jacket. I guess my HBT quest is not quite over yet, but the hunt is half the fun.

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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  • 3 months later...

If you think that the US Army took whatever the contractors gave them, you need to spend a little time at the National Archives and see the letters telling contractors how much they needed to fix.

 

While I'm sure that most items non-compliant with a specification were rejected, I believe that minor variations were often overlooked or allowed to pass.

 

This variation is still common today. For example, I have seen ripstop Airman Battle Uniform trousers with three different interior pocket fabrics on the shelf at the same time at clothing sales (ripstop, camo twill, and tan twill). I've seen a similar variety of waistband fabrics; it seems random which lot from which manufacturer has which fabric.

 

One possible reason this is that the Air Force is currently in a transition from twill uniforms to ripstop. That means a lot of leftover twill fabric that can find its way into ripstop uniforms in hidden places like the waistband or pocket. All this variety is taking place in a relaxed manufaturing environment for a service that is not growing. Imagine during WWII when lots were much bigger and a spec might change 5 times in 4 years, plus experimental batches. I can see some overlap in both design and materials slipping through the inspection process.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Awesome work, Bob. Thanks for sharing your collection with us. I am still in the process of finding some good basic examples (seems nearly impossible to me to find examples with the tags still present/readable)!

 

Kyle

325th_Crest.jpgAlways looking for any 82nd AB items!

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Kyle, Thanks for the nice words on my collection!! There are some really nice HBT examples still on EBay for a reasonable price with readable QM tags. Keep cruising the site and good luck!!

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yes I have seen some on ebay but obviously the nicer ones go for a pretty penny. I did recently come across a 1941 Daisy Mae hat with a really crisp cutter tag in it. So at least that will hold me over for the time being!

 

 

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325th_Crest.jpgAlways looking for any 82nd AB items!

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