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Now that you have decided to start re-enacting the WWII GI, you need some web gear. But what color?  Some people will tell you that everything, absolutely, MUST be khaki. But, this is not entirely true. Khaki was the earlier color, but you need to break it down into the time, theater, and item of equipment.

When did the production of khaki webbing stop, and green webbing begin? The answer to this question will help put everything in perspective. The US Army did NOT decide on August 10, 1945, to switch over from khaki to green webbing to make it easy for collectors in years to come. Get that myth out of your head. Actually, the US Army was already using some darker green colored items even before WWII, if you stop and take a look at the canvas used on vehicles. And the re-inforcing material used on the M1942 paratrooper uniform was clearly green in most cases when applied. So even the Quartermaster Corps was not obsessed with everything being "khaki". But with regard to web equipment, some items can be found dated as early as 1942 made of OD green material. I have seen several items dated 1943 which are green, or partly green (items made of a mix of khaki and green material are commonly called "transitional" and are under-appreciated in the hobby and among collectors). By the time 1944 rolled around, a great many items were being made from green webbing, as the khaki was being phased out. However, some khaki material remained and I have seen items dated 1945 made of khaki, and I have even seen a M1928 pack in khaki dated 1946!

What about the different shades of khaki and OD green? This is a question bound to trip some people up. There were always some subtle variations in shade due to dye lots, as different manufacturers and other factors (like dyeing temperature and quality of the water used in dyeing) were inevitable when an entire nation began making these items. Early or pre-WWII webbing was often of a more plain tannish khaki, and in 1940-1942 the emergence of a khaki with a slight greenish hue was introduced (I have heard this called the pea-green khaki) and has been recognized as OD#3. In some cases, it is rumored this greenish hue was brought about by the addition of a chemical additive in the dye which was to help make the webbing more mold and mildew-resistant, though I do not have data to substantiate this. When OD green was introduced, it was of a medium-to-dark green, officially called OD#7. Sometime (probably in 1944) the first appearance of a darker OD green #7 came about, but this is not seen on a large scale until after the war. This later version of OD#7 was also had more of a dark earthy tone of green than the earlier OD#7 which was more greenish with little trace of brown hues. One should also be aware that the wartime OD green faded to a shade not always easy to distingush from dirty khaki.

When to wear green or khaki? Now that we understand that OD green webbing DID exist to some degree, we need to decide when it is appropriate. In the next section we will break it down into some of the individual items made in "khaki" (OD#3) and "green" (OD#7). It is important to note that certain elite troops, because of their role, were often issued with newer and more modern equipment first. Also, depending on when a unit was last in the States (being equipped before going overseas) has something to do with this issue as well. Are you going for a impression for North Africa 1942 or Sicily in 1943?  Then, you probably need all khaki web gear. Trying for April 1945 in Germany?  You will need a bit of OD green webbing. Once in combat, troops that survived became aware of how obvious their coloration made them to the enemy. If a GI was wise enough to realize that turning his M1941 field jacket inside out made him darker and less conspicuous, then he would probably have accepted green webbing if he could get ahold of some. And never forget the individuality of the soldier, that is also a big factor!  I have heard several accounts from veterans that they grabbed the "newer" equipment (in some cases they mention it was green) in order to have the latest thing, or to have what they thought was newer and better than what everyone else had.

How about specific items? We now need to look at some individual items of equipment to decide if it is correct to wear it in green or khaki:

I realize that this list will not be agreed to by everyone, and that is OK. These are just some conclusions I have arrived at based on my own study, but the study is ongoing and new discoveries help uncover more truth. But the key point is that you understand that not everything was made in khaki and only khaki, and some items were more often OD green than khaki. So next time you're at a swap meet and someone throws out a box of green webbing, perhaps you can make a dash to grab some up - just like many of the actual soldiers did in order to help blend in better to the surroundings.


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