M*A*S*H episode
“The Incubator”
SSN02 36incubator
Trapper and Hawkeye make a visit to the 728th Evac Hospital, to try to retrieve a new incubator in "The Incubator" in Season 2 of "M*A*S*H".
Season 2, Episode # 12
Number (#36) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Robert F. Simon
Logan Ramsey
Ted Gehring
Eldon Quick
Sarah Fankboner
Helen Funai
John Alvin
Jerry Harper
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: K412
Writer(s) Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Director Jackie Cooper
Original airdate December 1, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB The Incubator
Episode chronology
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"Carry On, Hawkeye" (K411) "Deal Me Out" (K413)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Carry On, Hawkeye" (K411) "Deal Me Out" (K413)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 2 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

The Incubator was the 12th episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 36th overall episode of the series. Written by Larry Gelbart and Lawrence Marks, and directed by Terry Becker, it originally aired on CBS-TV on December 1, 1973.


Hawkeye and Trapper decide they need an incubator to aid their medical work, and fight the army red tape to get one.

Full episode summaryEdit

Hawkeye and Trapper are frequently stymied in treating patients by the 4077th's lack of an incubator. They lose valuable time sending samples all the way to Tokyo, so they set out to see if they can get one.

They go to Colonel Henry Blake who proudly shows off a new barbecue grill from the Army Quartermaster. Henry arranges a meeting with Captain Sloan, an officer from the Quartermaster Corps. Sloan refers to his manual and then tells them they can't have one - it would be considered a luxury. But they could have a pizza oven! Henry gets all excited about the pizza oven, but Hawkeye and Trapper leave Henry's office disgusted at the supply Captain "who won't tie his shoe without a direct order."

Later Radar tells them he had located an incubator, in fact, three of them, at the 728th Evac Hospital in Pusan. Delighted, Hawkeye and Trapper go to Pusan to see Major Arnold Morris (Ted Gehring) at the 728th. But Morris has to have everything in triplicate and refuses to give any of them up, in the fear one might break, and as he says to them "then I'd only have two!".

Hawkeye and Trapper go next to Colonel Lambert, the 728th Evac Hospital commander. Lambert agrees they can have an incubator, or even a B-52 bomber, but for a price. After all, he is sending Korea to Switzerland "one dollar at a time". Lambert doesn't even stay on the base - he has two houses, one blonde, one brunette.

Hawkeye and Trapper then move on up the chain of command to see General Mitchell. They crash a press conference he is chairing to ask him tough questions about why MASH hospitals are not given incubators. Naturally, being a press conference, the last thing Mitchell wants to do is give answers. The press conference descends into chaos when Hawkeye yells "Give me a incubator or give me death." and calls the General a "NINCOMPAC".

Back at the 4077th, Henry tells Hawkeye and Trapper that Mitchell wants the two of then arrested, but Henry cannot afford to because there are wounded to be attended to. Leaving Henry's office, Radar shows them his proud acquisition: an incubator! It turns out he got it by trading the barbecue that Henry got.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Speaking to Solomonson and O'Neill in an interview for "TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book", Eldon Quick, who played Captain Sloan said that the lines in his scene had originally been written for Larry Linville's Frank Burns character. However, as it consisted rattling off a string of difficult to memorize numbers and initials, Linville asked for someone else to do it, so the part was given to Quick. Quick attempted to create a "by the book" bureaucratic character for the scene.[1] Frank Burns was unit requisitions officer in other episodes such as "The Price of Tomato Juice" so he would have suited this scene as well.
  • About the character of Major Morris, Larry Gelbart writing with the id "Elsig" told the newsgroup that he was originally meant to play the supply sergeant (sic). He then decided against it for various reasons. Vic Tayback was hired for the role but they weren't happy with the scene and so re-shot it with someone else (Ted Gehring).[2]
  • The character that appears in season 8, Luther Rizzo, shares a name with the patient in this episode. This was completely unintentional.
  • The medal ribbons on Cpt. Sloan's dress jacket are surprisingly dressy for a lower ranked officer of Quartermaster Corps. He wears, on his far right, a National Defense Service ribbon. In the center, a Korean Service ribbon, which is especially surprising for Quartermasters. On his far left he wears a United Nations Service Ribbon.
  • Anachronism. Lambert's mention of the B-52 is anachronistic as it only entered service in 1955.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit



  1. Ed Solomonson & Mark O'Neil, TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book (Albany, GA.: BearManor Media, 2009), 160.
  2. Elsig (Larry S. Gelbart), "Vic Tayback in an episode?", November 20, 1998, URL
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