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The M-1951 Field Jacket

The M-51 field jacket was the replacement for the M43 jacket we talked about last time. The M51 looks nearly identical from a distance except for the OG107 OD green shade. On a closer look you see the differences.

Unlike the all button M43, the M51 has a zipper front and metal snap to close it up. It also has a button in liner. The m43 liner was a separate garment worn under the coat. I have a second unissued M1951 jacket with liner but I won’t be getting it out of its vacuum sealed plastic storage bag. Sorry about that.

Like the WW2 coat, it did keep the button cuffs.

The inside tag gives the specs on the jacket.

The jacket was well liked and used even after the M65 was issued. We will talk about the M65 in a few days. The collar and thinner waist line came a much more sharper military appearance than the M65 so it was used after its replacement came out. Older career soldiers and officers preferred the look of the well starched and fitted M-51 over the M-65 and its mandarin collar.

To give you an idea of what the uniform of the time was, below are a couple of shirts. First is the OG107 shirt from the Vietnam war era of the issue of the uniform. This version is a heavier cotton version than the later “durapress” version from the late 70s and 80s.

A wool cold weather uniform was also issued at this time.

After we finish talking about the field jackets, I will post more of each uniform and the Jungle uniforms used in Vietnam during this time if you guys want.

6 thoughts on “The M-1951 Field Jacket”

  1. I feel like the pattern of the M1951 is pretty ideal to me. granted it does lake the integral hood of the M65 but it just feels like a more all around useful jacket. that and the nylon liners make me sweat more than keep me warm it always seems.

    Reply
  2. I dunno… I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where keeping your ass warm in inclement weather is more a thing than many other locales in the US, and I gotta be quite honest: The US Army uniform system from about 1980 to 1990 was crap. I had the first “Disco Collar” BDUs right out of basic, with the old OG M-65 field jackets because they didn’t have them ready yet, and I’m here to tell you that the cotton fabric combination of all that crap just… Sucked. Particularly all the body heat away from the skin. The M-65 was fine in moderate dry cold; get it wet? Lord have mercy, hypothermia here we come…

    None of the solutions were at all effective, until the advent of the early ECWCS for general issue. The problems with the M-65 were that the layering of all that cotton just did nothing to keep you warm. I’ve got nasty memories of Bad Tolz ’85, where we weren’t issued real cold weather gear, ‘cos “Not authorized on MTOE”, and we had to compete with the guys from Vicenza, who’d just gotten issued all the nice new ECWCS gear. Those bastards were outside sweating in 30 below, while we were freezing our asses off in the traditional gear.

    Never had much love for all that cotton. Ever. I do not like the M-65, and I’m pretty sure I’d have disliked the earlier variants, as well. The old-school wool shirts were great, the pants sucked. The field pants weren’t too bad, overall, but the problem was that they, too, were cotton.

    Best winter field uniform combination I can think of would have been the old-school German winter field pants they surplussed back in the late 1970s, early 1980s–Those things wore like iron, were warm as hell, and had waterproof panels where you’d contact the ground. Very well thought-out garments–Couple those with a US Army wool shirt and even a 60/40 cloth mountain parka, and you were set for severe cold.

    Most of my time in the Army was spent wearing a uniform that was really utter crap for cold weather–You had to buy your own supplemental gear, like good boots, for a lot longer than was at all reasonable. Good winter-weight combat boots didn’t make general issue until the early 2000s, most places.

    Reply
    • The M1951/43 liners are nice and fluffy something or other (Alpaca?). And I’m in the dry southwest so not to worried about wet. I was thinking of use as in something that I can wear to work and out camping etc and be nice and comfortable and not out of place looking at either. Yeah ECWCS is certainly superior for the extremes but for milder stuff its great.

      Reply
      • I would buy a repro from At The Front of a M43 . finding a real one at a price you can live with and be wiling to wear would be difficult. A real M51 in good condition and affordable isnt easy either. Id look at getting repro’s not trying to track down ultra rare originals.

        Reply
        • Yeah I was hoping ATF would have the M43 on their black Friday sale but no luck so I’ll wait and see. hopefully they do another run of the liners one of these days. I have their fleece tankers and love it (among others), definitely recommend it.

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