Earlier Pattern M56 Bum Pouch

The Australian M56 webbing set underwent a lot of updates and changes over the course of its service life and having a later pattern set, I have been pleased to pick up the components needed for an earlier pattern set from a friend ‘down under’. I always find this evolution of design interesting and having two sets, an early and a late, makes for an interesting contrast:

Early Production:

Late production:

Today we are taking a look at the earlier version of the ‘bum pack’. This Australian produced example dates from the mid-1980s, but is different to the late 1980s versions we looked at here and here. Visually from the front the most obvious difference are the buckles used to secure the top flap:

These earlier versions are made of stamped blackened metal, rather than the plastic Fastex clips that would be introduced a few years later:

This earlier pattern also has a series of eyelets down either side of the top flap:

Many of the fittings are made of cotton webbing tape, rather than the nylon versions that would come later, this can be clearly seen in the grab handle on the top of the pack:

Note also the celluloid pocket to allow a soldier to put his name and number within to help identify his pack. On the rear face of the pack can be seen the wide strip of webbing that allows the two metal securing clips to be passed through that secure the pack to the belt. Note also the two tabs with eyelets that allow the suspenders to be attached to the top of the pack:

Inside the pack is a thin nylon weatherproofing flap with a draw cord to protect the contents of the pouch from getting wet:

This pack is nicely marked on the underside of the top flap and was made by PCG in Melbourne in August 1985:

Comparing this pack with the later examples it is obvious where developments were made and many examples of late production M56 webbing mirror features that would be introduced with the 88 Pattern set which was under trials at the same time as they were made. This example however is closer to the original US design and despite being made a decade later is far closer to the pattern used during the Vietnam War.

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