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"WW2 US Infantry uniform color" Topic

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AustinC18 Dec 2022 4:51 p.m. PST

I've tried to search here but it's a bit difficult to sort through everything and my own research hasn't found much.

I was wondering if WW2 US infantry would have had mixed uniform colors/types towards the end of the war?

I'm going to be painting a platoon of Flames of War US infantry set in March-May '45 and was wondering if they'd have a mix of the 1941 uniform (the lighter khaki/brown) and the darker green 1943 uniform.

I want the unit to look battle worn and veteran so I also have some guys in greatcoats and the unit is armed with various rifles/SMGs.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2022 4:59 p.m. PST

I did that. Does not make it right. But I assume uniforms replaced in spurts and not all at once. Plus men pick up things in combat, as needed. Missing a winter coat, pick up one. I like the troops to look battle hardened and in the field, maybe some repo/depo newbies mixed in. Did the same with Russians and Germans.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2022 5:03 p.m. PST

My 20mm are a really mixed lot color wise.

My reasoning is between replacements, old hands, and reissues uniforms when a unit was pulled off the line for R&R no uniformity could be maintained.

All bets are off for paratroopers. As I understand it, they got new uniforms before each deployment.

William Warner18 Dec 2022 6:28 p.m. PST

In 1945 units were receiving a lot of replacements to fill out losses.They would likely be equipped in the latest issue, so there might be a variety of uniforms.

Legionarius18 Dec 2022 6:46 p.m. PST

Even in peacetime and with the same issue and type of uniform soldiers will look different. Some will be brand new, other will be faded, still others will have a slightly different fit. Some soldiers will be wearing the latest issue, others will hang on to the old as much as possible. And this is in peace time. In my time in Afghanistan I saw how some soldiers and units used green nametags on their tan desert cammo uniforms. Others had additional pockets tailored locally. Still others bought or customized all kinds of pouches, slings, camelbacks, etc. Special forces are always in a league of their own as far as personalizing equipment. In extended combat and when the supply system is strained you can imagine how variety there will be in a "uniform." The question of questions is: What is OD green? The same can be asked of khaki, Feldgrau, and many others.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2022 6:46 p.m. PST

By all means check, but my understanding was that the choice was made at the divisional level, and the US supply system was very good. Also that US units very seldom wore greatcoats precisely because the Germans frequently did. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of a group of GI's with some in khaki and some in green--which is not to say it's impossible.

Col Durnford, reading SLA Marshal's Bastogne: the First Eight Days. If the 101st got new uniforms after Market-Garden, that's all they got. They're begging 10th AD for rifles, ammunition and helmets. Doesn't look as though they'd gotten replacements, either.

Your armies, your choices

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2022 8:25 p.m. PST

And I saw the same in the 1980s with the Woodland pattern camouflage uniform. In fact I saw one soldier whose pant legs were differently colored, one slightly faded and the other nice and bright.


MILSPEX7819 Dec 2022 3:45 a.m. PST

I think in '45 the main thing you want to get right is the ankle boots. I haven't seen pics of any GIs in '45 with putties.

Also '43 jackets and M2 carbines with banana clips give a good '45 feel.

Best late war movie, and one of my faves of all time since I was 12, The Bridge at Remagen, one day I'll game it in 20mm..

MILSPEX7819 Dec 2022 3:48 a.m. PST

Ben Gazzara and George Segal, what total dudes..

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 4:30 a.m. PST

Let me re-emphasize: I have too many service stripes to believe in a thoroughly homogenous army. I wrote an article to that effect in an old MWAN. My objection was to the promiscuous mixing of khaki and green in US WWII units and to the use of greatcoats by US forces in combat. I checked for either of those in photos last night without success, by the way, and I'll trade a ton of "would have" or even "must have" for an ounce of "I have evidence that they did."

By all means go for fade, late war weapons with khaki, non-conforming web gear or messing around with cammo on the helmets. Might also look at boots. Earnie Pyle mentions that there were just enough sent to Italy for front-line soldiers, so every rear-echelon type who stole a pair of boots from what looked like a small mountain meant one rifleman without. Field jackets might be another possibility.

If you feel you have to mix green and khaki, pay attention to your justification--officers and NCOs in khaki and brown, and privates fresh from the replacement depot in unfaded green.

MILSPEX7819 Dec 2022 7:04 a.m. PST

Ok, I'll admit, the tanks weren't perfect in TBAR but how many WW2 movies of that era were they perfect in? Maybe Kelly's Heroes? Maybe Iron Cross T34s? A Bridge Too Far used cardboard on other vehicles to make them look like their historical types. Same technique as TBAR. Of course, in The Battle of the Bulge (1965) they didn't even try to make the tanks look like their WW2 predecessors. Dirty Dozen, my favourite movie of all time just had German half tracks as the only on screen armour and they looked pretty real to me, just like my ESCI kits..

MILSPEX7819 Dec 2022 7:10 a.m. PST

@robert piepenbrink.

Hey greatcoats/trenchcoats(?) seemed to be uncommon but some shots around the Ludendorf bridge in '45 DO show some GIs wearing em, 2nd from right here:

Easy to spot here, maybe an MP:

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 8:44 a.m. PST

Ah, real evidence! Thank you, Milspec. Yeah, I could easily believe an MP--standing in the cold all day, and--no offense: I knew a few MPs--not usually actually under fire. The comment I'd seen from WWII ETO soldiers was that you didn't want to wear a greatcoat so you didn't get shot for a kraut.

For what it's worth, I just went through a Bill Mauldin collection--maybe 250 cartoons overseas in wartime. Lots of variance in sleeves up or down, cammo netting on the helmets, anything in the cammo netting, boots vs shoes, jackets--but only about three or four cartoons showed troops far enough forward to be in rifle range wearing greatcoats. So it did happen, but it wasn't a regular thing, even in winter.

I'm probably biased here. I want to take one quick look at my troops and know what side they're on and anything special about them. Lots of minor variance is all to the good, but only within that.

I suspect my Continentals look a little more uniform than Washington's usually did too.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 10:13 a.m. PST

Are we talking this?

I had a book of the Bulge, since sold, that showed US troops in the wool overcoats. I have two originals here at home.

A few quick pictures I dug up on the web.

Subject: Pin on The battle of the Bulge (16/12/1944 => 25/01/1945)


Subject: 73 years later: The Battle of the Bulge


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 11:26 a.m. PST

Excellent, 35th! I would rather be refuted by facts than supported by guesswork. So possibly a mix of mostly field jackets and a few overcoats for when the Army plays in the snow?

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 12:01 p.m. PST

Fair number actually





Just a few from the Battle of the Bulge

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2022 3:04 p.m. PST

Nice! Thank you. I am suitably refuted. Obviously the memoirs I read were not reflecting everyone's experience. Good boots in that color shot, and no fade to speak of, too. I wonder what division? But you'd need about four different heads to get the helmets right.

MILSPEX7820 Dec 2022 12:20 a.m. PST

Good input yourself Robert Piepenbrink.

I would imagine there were US troops and units facing Germans in great coats that would have wanted to differentiate themselves to reduce friendly fire incidents.

That GI 2nd in line might have been thinking just that, or there were a shortage of coats..?

I know the famous ragtops of the 7th Infantry Division in Panama were mostly worn to look different to the PDF, who had US kevlar helmets.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2022 4:42 a.m. PST

Now, out of curiosity, has anyone seen a photo of a US unit which resembles the platoons AustinC and Col Durnford describe building?

We do a fair bit of guessing in Napoleonics and prior. In the age of photography--especially WWII and more recent--we ought not to have to do as much.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2022 5:16 a.m. PST

The wool overcoat was a bit of a mixed bag. It was quality wool and known to provide warmth under all but the most extreme conditions. However when wet, or the skirts got caked with mud, as they were want to do, the greatcoat as it was known became oppressively heavy and cumbersome.

Milspex78 the greatcoat continued to be worn right up to the end of the war due to a shortage of other, much more suitable combat clothing of winter weight.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2022 6:20 a.m. PST

Marc, I can vouch to that. Civil War uniforms, (all wool), are much heavier wet and lose their heat factor. Mud is an add on, but I did not notice the weight as much with it on my uniform. Just makes you feel more miserable. Cold can be miserable, but cold and wet… the worst. But I have never been in it below 18 and I knew, I could always leave within a day or two. I was doing it for fun??? I can only imagine the misery of these guys. Also, it is something for the young, it is much worse the older you get.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2022 10:42 a.m. PST

Marc, if I remember correctly, the brass were a little surprised at how popular the field jackets turned out to be, so Services of Supply may have been a bit catching up.

And for the "Cold War Gone Hot" people among us, in late 1983, I was among the last people issued an olive green field jacket. We all got ONE, and everything else was woodland pattern BDU. Depended a lot on the unit whether you could actually get away with wearing a "mixed" uniform. People were perfectly capable of telling us the OG field jacket could only be worn with OG fatigues we were never issued, and which were not for sale. I wound up giving mine to a brother whose unit was more understanding. And I didn't get the kevlar helmet for about two more years. That was in the 101st. Heaven knows when the last Guard and Reserve units got theirs.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2022 1:59 p.m. PST

Robert, I just put some WW2 books in the WW2 marketplace on TMP. Anyone interested, some good US uniforms and equipment books in there like new.

Anyway, one book

ballantine's illustrated history of World War II
Bastogne the road block

In my list for sale. Noticed some coat pictures in there, while leafing through. One is an artillery team moving their gun into position. All had the long coats.

MILSPEX7821 Dec 2022 5:42 a.m. PST

Robert good stories.

My neighbor in Fall's Church VA circa '83 was a Vietnam vet working on Reagan's SDI and his daughter had joined the Army. I remember watching her rock up all bad ass in crisp woodland BDUs with the patrol cap and do pushups on their kitchen floor.

I used to hang out over there sometimes.

Art was an American legend to me. His study was adorned in pics from Vietnam and an American flag. He gave me the cap he wore with a gold Major leaf in Vietnam. Local manufacture.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP21 Dec 2022 12:23 p.m. PST

Robert indeed the M43 field jackets were much more popular than the older, iconic, khaki colored M41. As part of the Army's new layer system, when used with the liner, the M43 was warmer but not quite up to severe cold. And yes various production issues held up widespread issue of the M43 such that the M41 continued to be seen in fairly large numbers through the end of the war. Also very popular were all styles of the mackinaws. Warmer still they were never available in near enough numbers.

And a quick plug the Windrow & Hawkins book 35thOVI has advertised is a steal at his price and an excellent resource for anyone doing World War II GIs. Pick it up before I buy it as a second copy.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP21 Dec 2022 3:31 p.m. PST

Thanks Marc. They are pretty much
All a steal. I've tried to price them to sell. 🙂

But WW2 has been harder to sell than any other period.

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