P41 Utility Jacket

Initially devised as workwear the P41 HBT Utilities were quickly adopted for combat use when World War 2 broke out. An essential item to have in your collection, worn by most fighting men in the USMC throughout the war. And it is great fun collection those,  with a few exceptions you can still get them fairly cheap. Just watch out that you do not buy a post WW2 P41 by mistake (see collecting tips at the end of this post). Since there are no crazy amounts of money in P41s yet there are only relatively few fakes floating around. Except for the repro jackets of course, but no widespread lowlife cheating faking sh*# that is ruining the hobby in many other instances.

I have a bunch of P41s in my collection, most show signs of use and many are personalized. I am not obsessed with mint WW2 items, i like the “has been there” look. The personalized ones are my favourites. I will make more posts about P41s  in the future, in this post I will feature two for comparison. One is from World War 2 the other was used at the time of the “forgotten war”, Korea.

Let’s start with the jacket from  WW2:

The Marine has put his name above the breast pocket. This is the most common location for name stencils.

The USMC/EGA has almost completely faded away, if you look closely you can still make out parts of it:

The jacket is also stenciled on the inside (lower rear):

Here is the one used during the 1950s, it has seen use and is missing buttons:

The jacket was issued (at least) twice:

Well how can i be so sure it was used during the 50s? Well, the Marine was kind enough to write it on the back! 🙂

Now some tips for collecting WW2 Jackets. When the USMC realized the P44 Utilities were not the improvement they were hoped to be the P41s went back into production. My understanding is that this happened in 1947. I have seen such jackets referred to as P47s, but i am unsure if this is an official term.

What is the difference between a WW2 and a post WW2 P41 jacket?

Easiest way is to check out the breast pocket, on post war jackets it is quite round at the bottom on WW2 jackets they are more squared (degree varies among manufacturers). It seems “P47s” are cut a little slimmer than WW2 jackets as well. Sounds easy? In the world of collecting nothing comes easy 🙂 there are some early WW2 Jackets with round breast pockets! Those are less common than post war ones though. If you want to make sure to get a WW2 jacket go for the squared pockets.

Another small hint can be the way the name is stenciled on the jacket, during WW2 99% of the time it was done like this: First letter first name then middle initial followed by the last name spelled out in its entirety. After WW2 it became common to put the last name first. But again, there are exceptions to the norm…

Buttons and thread colour can be two more indicators. WW2 thread is mostly (not always!!) khaki and not dark green. Post WW2 buttons are more of a gunmetal colour while WW2 buttons are bronze coloured or black painted steel. But apparently some post war jackets were made using old stocks of buttons… in the end you will have to factor in all the above to decide wether it is a WW2 jacket or not. Most of the time it is not as difficult as it might sound, start with the breast pocket!

~ by m1pencil on October 24, 2010.

13 Responses to “P41 Utility Jacket”

  1. Dear Sir,
    What a wonderful source of information this site is to me. I am a collector for almost 25 years now mostly WW2 US and German ETO gear. But now I am looking into the Pacific Combat zone “Triggered” by the HBO mini series. I was wondering since I have bought an At the Front P41 coat if it was common practice to put the EGA collar insignia on this jacket. In the series Eugene Sledge wears one for goodluck. Was this actually done I can’t find any pictures on the INTERNET supporting this! Good you please help me with this? I hope to hear from you.
    Kind regards,
    Bernard van Bronkhorst
    Royal Dutch Fusilier first class (ret.)

    • Happy to hear that you like my site! 🙂
      As to your question, yes some Marines did wear pin on EGA insignia. Mostly attached to HBT caps (before the introduction of the P44 cap which had an EGA printed on the front). I have also seen EGA devices attached to Ka-bar sheaths and other pieces of equipment, some Marines got really creative 😉 though the by far most common placement was the cap.

  2. Hi,

    I’m really keen to buy an early P41 USMC jacket (Guadalcanal era), but being in Australia I’m a bit cut off from the market in the US! Are you interested in selling one of yours, or can you point me in the right direction to buy one online?



    • Hi,

      I’m also not from the US 😉 Sorry I have no P41 jacket for sale, but those are offered frequently on eBay.com. if you keep looking there i’m sure you will find a nice one for a fair price. 😀

  3. Hello sir,

    I just bought this p-41 jacket:

    I found some info that the single row stitching on the jacket could mean it was made by Keystone.

    Do you know what year this jacket was made? Do you have any dated p-41 jackets?

    I am hoping this jacket would be appropriate for early 1944.

    Thank you!

  4. Hi,

    Yes I think I remember reading somewhere that Keystone manufactured P41s used single row stitching. According to “Grunt Gear” Keystone C & A Mfg. Co. manufactured P41s from 1942 to early 1945. First contract dating from 1/42 and the last one from 7/44 (being completed 1/45).
    From the one picture in your link it is not possible to say exactly when this jacket was made (at least for me). Any markings inside? With a contract number it would be possible to date it quite easily.

  5. How about this one? Are they belongs to WWII or post war?


    • Hello Bob

      Hard to say, can only watch the pics on my mobile currently. I would say it is post war, or at least has seen use post WW2. Rank stencils on the sleeves are extremely rare during WW2. Cool stencils on the back side, should be possible to research the owner. Service number puts him in the 1943-1953 range IIRC. 19$ is a good price anyways 😉

  6. Hello m1pencil,

    Great thanks for your detail explanation. Well note.
    BTW, how to search the USMC’s military background?

    Yes, the stencils on the back was cool! Also good price, too 🙂


  7. perfect analysis!! thank you..i agree 100%

    I own several sets from beat to dead stock.

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