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The History of The US Navy Deck Jacket

The Thread

An American U. S. Navy classic, the Deck Jacket has been developed and reworked multiple times throughout WWII and into the 60s, and 70s with a variety of details that evolved to improve functionality and comfort during difficult conditions at sea. With WWII being a truly global conflict, the US Navy developed three separate clothing systems for varying environments: cold weather, wet weather, and tropical weather.

Full N-1 System

The full N1 system consisted of a few components: the deck jacket, a bib and brace overall, and a soft ‘helmet’ with a peaked front. These pieces were designed to be worn either individually or combined with other uniform items as needed. The bib and brace overalls were crafted in a traditional workwear fashion and heavily insulated, effectively shielding sailors from the biting wind and freezing temperatures. Due to the impracticality of overalls, a sailor couldn’t wear them 24/7. A waist-length jacket that offered warmth and comfort, on the other hand, became a second skin

N-1 Deck Jacket (WWII)

First issued in 1943, the Navy’s iconic N1 deck jacket sheltered countless sailors from cold on land and sea. Arguably considered one of the most popular pieces from WWII ever created the N-1 Deck jacket has withstood the test of time and battle with its excellent craftsmanship and versatility. The N1 deck jacket was made from a hard-wearing ‘jungle cloth’ outer shell, and most Jackets are fully lined due to the harsh conditions throughout the Atlantic Ocean. It is meant to keep you warm with great smaller features like ribbed inner cuffs and a flappable collar. Featuring a talon zipper and cinchable drawstrings on the bottom(although most of the N-1s around today do not still have the cinchable drawstring around the waist.) The N-1 system was a cold weather system that included a helmet and overalls. The N-1 deck jacket had experimental iterations in Navy Blue and with clasp closures, but ultimately the U.S. Navy settled on the Button & Zip Closure N-1 Khaki which was widely cherished by deck crew, who would often wear their N-1 beyond service.  Another great thing about N-1 Jackets is that most are easily datable with a contracting number on the inside tag.

N-2(Wet Weather)

The N-2 deck jacket is optimized for rainy conditions. Developed and introduced in 1962, Made of a solid cotton sateen shell, with a pile fur lining, these jackets are both comfortable and warm. Some of the most significant changes from the N-1 to the N-2 include a lighter and warmer inner lining,  hidden knit cuffs, and a single snap-down chest pocket.

N-3 and N-4 Jackets(Wet/Tropical Weather)

The N-3 system was a tropical uniform developed for use in the Navy. It is made of 2×1 herringbone fabric, which at the time was considered the best fabric for strength and mobility compared to its denim counterpart.  The Navy’s equivalent to the Army’s M-41 field jacket, with a few slight differences including 8.5 oz. HBT material in darker olive drab shade 7 instead of the lighter colored 9 oz. material used by the Marine Corp and Army for their utility uniforms. Other differences include the laurel wreath & star buttons. The N4 was the main all-around combat field jacket of the US Navy through the end of WWII. Constructed out of dense khaki twill. The N-3 utility as part of a 4-piece utility uniform together with a shirt, trousers and cap. Lots of these uniforms where issued by the US navy to specialized units nearing the end of WWII – construction battalions, combat- and amphibious units among others. The practicality of the N-4 is that it is light, yet warm. The shell is made from a light but strong weave poplin cotton, and the lining is 100% melton wool. The neat and trim fitting cut is very contemporary and stylish, which means it suits every day casual wear even today.

How the N-1,2,3,4 naming system works

The usage of the letter-number system has proven easy to understand with N=Navy and the number being the sequence of articles issued. N-1 being the first and so on and so fouth. Different variations of Deck jackets would be released based on where Naval men were stationed and how the climate affected these men.

Written by Sammy Aronoff

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