Assault Jacket

U.S. Army assault jacket

Based on the British assault jerkin, the American assault jacket was conceived as a replacement for the standard combination of the M1928 haversack, M1936 suspenders, and the M1923 cartridge belt. It was believed that assault troops for the upcoming Operation Overlord would benefit from a one-piece design that limited the amount of equipment they could carry, and that could be removed quicker than standard web gear.

The assault jacket featured four large pockets on the front, two small grenade pockets on the sides, and two large pockets on the back which were meant to duplicate the storage normally provided by the M1928 haversack. Grommets along the waist were designed for hanging standard web gear, but were mistakenly constructed in such a fashion that they did not function correctly.

Approximately 14,000 assault jackets in two colors (light khaki and dark olive drab) were made by four separate companies: S. Froehlich Co., Harian Stitching Co., Tweedie Footwear, and J.A. Shoe Co.

The assault jacket was issued to assault troops of the 1st, 4th and 29th Infantry Divisions, as well as to officers and NCOs of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions. Quickly designed and manufactured, the assault jacket turned out to be a flawed piece of clothing that was disliked by most soldiers.

Once wet, the straps of the jacket were difficult to open, putting men at risk of drowning if they could not remove the heavy garment. The assault jacket was known for being uncomfortable, too hot, having poor weight distribution, and a virtually useless system of waist grommets. The assault jacket would not see further use in the U.S. Army during the remainder of World War II.


Although assault jackets were reported to have been originally issued only to Ranger officers and NCOs, Privates Mellish and Jackson are seen wearing them. It is possible that they were able to acquire one before the invasion, since some soldiers were able to identify the jacket's weaknesses before entering combat and did what they could to get rid of them. Roughly 350 assault jackets were made for Saving Private Ryan.


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