The brief affair with HBT camo and the U.S. Army, or, the Duck Hunters of D-Day
In the first part of 1943, the Army began flirting with a two-piece (jacket and pants) herringbone twill (HBT) camouflage uniform. Now, one thing to note is that this differed from the Marine HBT “duck hunter” or “frog skin” camo that was introduced around the time of the invasion of Tarawa as the Devil Dog kit was based on their P41 design while the Army’s was a slightly different variant based on Big Green’s M1942 fatigue uniform.
These two-piece camouflage uniforms were fielded by units of the 2nd Armored Division, including the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment and 17th Armored Engineer Battalion for D-Day. They appear in photos between June to September 1944.
There are records and photos indicating that at least some units of the 2nd Infantry Division and 30th Infantry Division received them also.
These surviving examples from the Normandy Tank Museum shows a diorama of 2nd Armored Div troops in your typical battlefield mix-match:
The first dummy has the regular GI shirt, HBT camouflage pants, M1 Garand ammo holder belt, M36 web, M1 Garand reproduction, M28 bag, M1 helmet, gaiters very similar to the medic above. The second dummy has much the same but adds a T shovel worn in the same way as the C-rat connoisseur Pvt. De Freitos above, and gas mask cover. The third has the full HBT suit, original camouflage pants, and jacket, M36 webbing with FM-BAR belt and charger holder. He also seems to have ditched his gaiters because he is that kinda guy.
The thing is, with so many Waffen SS guys and German Fallschirmjäger wearing camo smocks, the idea of GIs in camo proved unpopular and they were soon withdrawn from the ETO.
Some U.S. Army units were issued some of the two-piece HBTs in the Pacific late in the war.
That theater also saw the use of a one-piece uniform jumpsuit. They were reversible with regular mustard green on the inside.
Issued briefly, this zippered onesie was found by the Joe in the field to suck balls and was withdrawn.
Many of the Army’s surplus HBT went on to be donated to French forces such as was seen operating in French Indochina, and the Dutch trying to pacify their East Indies archipelago.
Army SF guy rebooted the pattern briefly in the early 1960s, complete with a camo beret, and issued the same to CIDG units in the hills.
And of course as with anything, both surplus and recreations were popular with hunters in the 1950s and 60s as seen in this 1952 sportsman’s catalog image:
Interestingly enough, Turkey, Iran, and Red China switched to duck hunter-ish schemes for a time in the 1970s and early 1980s, proving the last nails in the coffin for the pattern in military service.