Friday, January 30, 2015

Army Uniform Standards: Official versus Reality

The nature of armies is such that the uniforms and equipment are not up to the latest official standards. A habit of many armies throughout history was to not issue new gear until they had used up existing stores. A good example is by way of the French and British in the Napoleonic Wars. If they had a sword that was named the "1815 pattern", you might think they had them in time for the Battle of Waterloo. Actually, the 1815 pattern might not have reached the men until a few years later. The army would issue all the remaining earlier pattern swords first.

Check out the US Army at the beginning of World War II. Official Army photographs show men wearing the "new" M1 steel helmet in 1940. Indeed, the helmet was officially accepted as THE Army Helmert in 1940, replacing the British-style "brodie". Official means poop. Look at films or photos of the soldiers and marines at Bataan or Wake Island or even on the ground for the Battle of Midway. There is not an M1 helmet to be seen anywhere. They all have the wide-brimmed brodie. It took a while for new gear to reach the troops. In fact, most US troops had a variety of gear. The old khaki-color, OD #9, was replaced first by OD #3 and then OD #7. That is, officially. Yet come 1945 they were issuing gear in all three colors.

The Germans had a problem, too. Army (Wehrmacht) standards for the uniforms were field grey tunic and stone grey trousers. In 1942, field grey trousers were officially supposed to replace stone grey. (Field gray at the time was a grey-green color; stone grey ranged from flat grey to a slightly bluish grey.) Only the Waffen SS had field gray trousers prior to mid-1942. The Army kept issuing stone grey trousers until they ran out. Some troops were wearing thme as late as 1944. And field grey changed as those producing dyes ran into shortages. Late-war field grey could range from a dark or medium grey to a greyish-brownish tint.

When I was in the Army (US, of course, early 70s), the newer nylon gear was authorized. We still got mostly the 1957 type canvas webbed gear, from ammo pouches to pack suspenders. Later, when I joined the National Guard, a lot of our equipment was up to ten years behind the regular Army.

The point is that soldiers are rarely equipped in the latest gear. They likely have at least a few of the older issue gear. The same goes for uniforms.

And remember another thing: uniforms and gear are prone to fading. It all depends on the dye lots and the time the equipment and uniforms have been worn. Fading and wear ought to be factors when painting miniature soldiers.

1 comment:

  1. "Fading and wear "- yes, yes, yes! Too many minis look like they are clean and tidy straight from some factory.