The M-51 Fishtail Parka
On 14 November 1950, a cold front from Siberia descended over the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean peninsula, and the temperature plunged to as low as −35 °F. The cold weather was accompanied by frozen ground, creating considerable danger of frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions. Medical supplies froze; morphine syrettes had to be defrosted in a medic's mouth before they could be injected; frozen blood plasma was useless on the battlefield. Even cutting off clothing to deal with a wound risked gangrene and frostbite. Batteries used for the Jeeps and radios did not function properly in the temperature and quickly ran down. The lubrication in the guns gelled and rendered them useless in battle. Likewise, the springs on the firing pins would not strike hard enough to fire the round, or would jam. In fact, it was the brutal Korean weather that gave birth to the fishtail parka.
The M-51 fishtail parka hails its history from the US Army in Korea during the tough wet winters of the early 1950’s during the Korean War. Like many iconic pieces of outerwear, “the fishtail” has roots in the military. The old M-43 field jacket and liner of WWII as well as the wool great coat were the standard outerwear provided to the military, but the notoriously wet and cold climate of the Korean peninsula necessitated a warmer coat for American troops in the Korean War.
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The Army designers first developed the M-1949 (Military 1949) and then the M-51 Cold Weather Parka as a result. The main concern for the US military during the Korean War was to keep the soldiers warm and mobile without wearing a robust and clumsy piece of outwear. The fishtail parka accomplished these needs with a three-quarter length, so it could keep someone’s entire body warm without hindering their movement, and constructed the coat out of waterproof cotton and then a nylon cotton blend, so the material would shed snow and freezing rain. In the 1960’s, the army surplus fishtail parka became a fashion staple on the streets of London, protecting the suits of working men that needed shield from the city’s elements. While fashionistas would have you believe the tail is intended to hang down like the back end of a fish, it’s actually function is to be tied around the wearer’s legs, from the back to the front, in order to seal things off from any unexpected wind gusts.
Our made in the USA M51 DMZ Fishtail with liner has adopted the architecture of the G1 issue shell and liner, and has now been modified to fit a zip in/zip out soft merino shearling hoody, which acts as a fur liner that can also be used as a beautiful and comfortable stand-alone piece. With its authentic water repellent military specification tight weave canvas, the 100% Mil. Spec cotton gives the wearer perfect cold or wet weather protection. Cockpit USA also offers an M51 DMZ fishtail shell and a U.S Army Airborne Parachute Wing insignia fishtail version that heralds the bravery of the military parachutist. Authentic, historic, and unique; the M51 Fishtail Parka is designed for those who demand the best.