Following the success of the frogskin pattern in WW2, in the early 1950s the US military started to experiment with camouflage as a standard pattern for its uniforms. Not much is known about these early, and largely hand painted patterns, but the two that resulted were known as Vine Leaf or USMC Standard and Cloud or Mitchell Pattern. These two patterns would be printed onto reversible fabric, with one side designed for temperate climates, the other for dry climates. Today, they are collectively referred to as Mitchell Pattern.
There were never actually any Mitchell garments widely issued, only shelter halves and helmet covers, but the pattern did make it onto a few tailor made and commercially available items. This is one of the former, an extremely hard to find four pocket jacket. This was certainly constructed from shelter halves as you can clearly see where it's been unpicked down the right hand sleeve and in other areas. Likely this would have been made in either Okinawa or one of the many tailors in Vietnam.
The design draws its inspiration from the early 1963 pattern jungle jackets with which it shares many features. Four pockets, two chest, two skirt, with the upper left chest pocket's button cover seam left open to allow a pencil to be placed in quickly. The buttons are the same slightly domed and polished plastic. Plus there are also epaulettes and the tabs on either side of the body to allow the waist to be pinched in very slightly.
The absolute best thing about this garment, and very unusually, it's made not just of Mitchell shelter halves, but WW2 frogskin ponchos as well. The pocket covers, epaulettes and inside button placket are all from the older fabric, again not unheard of in early Vietnam, but exceptionally rare to find.
This is probably my favourite piece I've put into the store, and I will certainly regret parting with it!
This has been well used, and looks all the better for it. She's got a few stains and marks here and there and a couple of small holes, but would you have this one any other way! She's an absolute vintage masterpiece and very wearable. I've reinforced a couple of the buttons on the main skirt pockets with original shelter half material, and the others all look fine.
- No tags, but fits like a perfect size medium
- Pit to pit 21"
- Shoulder to shoulder 20"
- Shoulder to cuff 22"
- Collar to hem 29"