Category Archives: equipment

MTP Rucksack Cover

Just as it had done with the desert DPM rucksack covers, the British Army introduced MTP pattern rucksack covers when that camouflage became standard issue to allow its DPM patterned bergens to continue in service. Bergens are a relatively expensive item of military kit, whilst a simple cloth cover is comparatively cheap and a simple way to ensure that supply chains were not clogged up waiting for replacement kit to replace serviceable bergens that just happened to be in the old camouflage.

The rucksack cover consists of a large piece of MTP fabric:imageThis has a drawstring around its edges that allow it to be secured over the bergen:imageA plastic slider buckle allows the string to be tensioned to give a secure fit:imageAs usual, a small white label is sewn inside with details of the item’s NSN number and date of manufacture:imageTwo MTP covers can be found, a smaller version designed to cover packs such as the daysack; here modelled by a Ghurkha on exercise:imageAnd a larger bergen cover like the example above, which can be seen here being used by a fusilier:image

Air Ministry Ammeter

We have looked at various military electrical gauges over the years and tonight we have a small example of an RAF ammeter:imageThis gauge is different from previous examples we have covered due to its small size and four mounting holes in either corner of the square face. This suggests that this particular ammeter is taken from an aircraft rather than being for some ground based purpose.

The front face of the ammeter is marked with the AM and crown mark of the Air Ministry and a stores code of 5A/1663:imageI have tried looking up this code and come across several eBay auctions describing this as being a ‘rare early Spitfire instrument’. Unfortunately I cannot find any corroborating evidence for this description yet and sellers are notorious for trying to attach militaria to an interesting unit, person vehicle in a bid to boost sales. A list of Air Ministry stores codes however suggests that it is actually for ground lighting and miscellaneous equipment:

Air Ministry Equipment Codes:

4A = Workshop Equipment
4C = Airfield Equipment
4F = Air Compressors and Servicing Trolleys
4G = Aircraft Servicing and Ground handling Equipment
4K = General Ground Equipment (including Refuelling Equipment)
4N = Sparking Plug Testing and Servicing Equipment
4FZ = Air Compressor Spares

5A = Ground Lighting and Miscellaneous Equipment
5B = Aircraft Wiring Assemblies
5CW = Aircraft Electrical Switches, Switchboxes, Relays and Accessory Items
5CX = Aircraft Electrical Lamps, Indicators, Lampholders and Accessory Items
5CY = Aircraft Electrical Plugs, Sockets, Circuit Markers, Suppressors and Accumulator Cut-outs
5CZ = Aircraft Electrical Miscellaneous Stores
5D = Aircraft Armament Electrical Stores
5E = Cable and Wire Electrical Stores
5F = Insulating Materials Electrical Stores
5G = Special Ground Equipment
5H = Standard Wiring System
5J = Batteries Primary and Secondary
5K = Electrical A.G.S and Bonding Stores
5L = Electric Lamps
5P = Ground Charging, Transforming Equipment and Motors
5Q = Ammeters, Micro-ammeters, Milli-ammeters, Voltmeters and Milli-voltmeters
5S = Strip Wiring Components
5UA = Aircraft Engine and Air Driven Electrical Current Producing Equipment and Spares
5UB = Aircraft Electrically Driven Electrical Current Producing and Transforming Equipment and Spares
5UC = Aircraft Electrical Current Control Equipment and Spares
5UD = Aircraft Electrical Motors, Blowers and Spares
5UE = Aircraft Electrically Driven Pumps, Accessories and Spares
5V = Aircraft Electrical Domestic Equipment
5W = Aircraft Electrical Actuators, Accessories and Spares
5X = Component Parts of Wiring Assemblies

6A = Aircraft Engine and Flying Instruments, Accessories and Spares
6B = Aircraft Navigation Equipment, Accessories and Spares
6C = Instrument Test Equipment, Tools, Accessories and Unit Equipment Spares
6D = Aircraft Gaseous Apparatus and Ancillary Equipment
6E = Miscellaneous Instruments, Accessories and Unit Servicing Spares
6F = Aircraft Personnel Equipment
6H = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 4 and 8, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6J = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Types A3 and A3A and A.L.1, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6S = Automatic Stabilisers, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6T = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 9, 10, 10A, 13, SEP 2, 14 and 17, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6W = Instrumemnt Ancillaries to Radio Equipment
6Z = Radio activity Detection Equipment and Accessories, Unit and Major Servicing Spares

9 = Bomb and Torpedo Sights
9A = Aircraft Towed Target Gear
9B = Armament Ground Instructional Equipment

10A = Miscellaneous Radio (Wireless) Equipment
10AB = Miscellaneous Radio (Radar) Equipment
10AC = Unassembled Items peculiar to Radio with Generic Headings similar to those in Sections 28 and 29
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AF = Calculating, Indicating and Measuring Equipment
10AG = Tools and Tool Boxes peculiar to Radio
10AH = Telephone Head Equipment, Microphones and Receivers
10AJ = Mountings and their Component Parts
10AK = Dials, Handles, Knobs,Plates, Escutcheon, Pointers, Pressbuttons and Scales
10AL = Screens and Insulating Components and their Assemblies
10AM = Labels (Radio)
10AP = Boxes, Cases, Covers and Trays, other Cases, Transit
10AQ = Furniture, Tentage, textile Materials and Ventilator Equipment, peculiar to Radio
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AT = Windows and Visors
10AU = Strip Metallic
10B = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10BB =Radio (Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10C = radio Chokes, Capacitors and Inductors (see also Joint-Service Catalogue)
10CV = Joint Service Common Valves
10D = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Equipment, Modulators, Panels, Receivers, Transmitters etc.
10DB = Radio (Radar) Equipment, panels, Power Units, Racks, Receivers and Transmitters
10E = Magnets and Radio Valves (Industrial Types)
10F = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Starters and Switch Gear
10FB = Radio (radar) starters and Switch Gear
10G = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment
10GP = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment – Post Office Pattern
10H = Radio Connectors, Discs Indicating, Fuses, Leads, Plugs and Sockets and Ancillary Parts, Holders and Terminals.
10HA = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Connectors, Cords Instrument and Leads
10J = Radio Remote Controls
10K = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10KB = Radio (Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10L = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Control Units
10LB = Radio (Radar) Control Units
10P = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10PB =Radio (Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10Q = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Indicating Units
10QB = Radio (Radar) Indicating Units
10R = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Transmitter Units
10RB =Radio (Radar) Transmitter Units
10S = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Test Equipment
10SB = Radio (Radar) Test Equipment
10T = Radio Monitors and Wavemeters
10U = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Amplifying Units, Loudspeakers and Sound Reproduction Equipment
10UB = Radio (Radar) Amplifying Units and Loudspeakers
10V = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Oscillator Units
10VB = Radio (Radar) Oscillator Units
10W = Radio Resistors and miscellaneous Spares
10X = Radio Crystal Units
10Y = Cases Transit (general Radio purposes)

11A = Aircraft Bomb Gear
11C = Rocket Projector Gear

12A= Bombs (Live)
12B= Bombs (Dummy)
12C= Ammunition
12E = Torpedoes
12F= Misc. Armament

13 = Drawing Instruments

14A = Cameras
14B = Photographic Processing Equipment, Enlargers and Accessories
14C = Projection, Assessing Apparatus and Epidiascopes
14H = Photographic Test Apparatus

15A = Man-carrying Parachutes
15C = Equipment-dropping and Sea-rescue Apparatus
15D = Air Sea Rescue and Equipment, and Supply-dropping Parachutes

22C = Flying Clothing & Equipment

25A = Propellors
25B = Aircraft Radiators
25D = Spinners for Fixed Pitch Propellers and Fairey Spares for Metal Propellers

27A = Aircraft Wheel Equipment
27B = Aircraft Air and Oil Filters, Fuel and Oil Coolers
27C = Survival Equipment
27D = Miscrellaneous Aircraft Cover Equipment
27F = Aircraft Pumps and fuelling Equipment (Airborne)
27G = Aircraft Brake System Equipment
27H = Miscellaneous Aircraft Equipment
27J = Aircraft Control Handles with Gun, Camera, R.P. and Brake Operating Mechanisms
27K = Teleflex Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KA = Exactor Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KB = Aircraft Controls – Roller Chains
27KD = Pressurised Cabin Equipment – Normalair
27M = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment – Lockheed
27N = Airborne Fire Fighting Equipment
27R = B.L.G. Oleo Leg Equipment
27S = Standard Ball and Roller Bearings other than M.T.
27T = Controllable Gills
27U = Airborne Heaters
27UA = Aircraft Cabin Cooling Equipment
27V = Aircraft Controls – Teddington
27VA = Aircraft Controls – Dunlop
27VC = Aircraft Controls – Palmers
27W = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment, Standard Design
27WW = Aircraft Windscreen Wiper Equipment
27Z = Turner Duplex Hand Pumps for Aircraft Hydraulic Systems
27ZA = Exactor Self Sealing Couplings

28D = Bolts A.G.S.
28E = Clips A.G.S.
28F = Couplings A.G.S.
28FP = Aircraft Fastner and Quick Release Pins
28G = Eyebolts A.G.S.
28H = Ferrules A.G.S.
28J = Filler Caps and Fuel Filters A.G.S.
28K = Fork Joints A.G.S.
28L = Locknuts, Lockwashers A.G.S.
28M = Nuts A.G.S.
28N = A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28P = Pins A.G.S.
28Q = Rivets A.G.S.
28R = A.G.S. Miscellaneous P to R
28S = Screws A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28T = Studs A.G.S.
28U = Trunnions and Turnbuckles A.G.S.
28V = Unions A.G.S.
28W = Washers A.G.S.
28X = Wire A.G.S.
28Y = A.G.S. Miscellaneous S to Z

29A = Bolts and Nuts, General Hardware
29B = Screws, General Hardware
29C = Eyelets, Roves, Screw Cups, Washers, General Hardware
29E = Pins, Woodruff Keys, General Hardware
29F = Rivets, General Hardware

40H = Gun Turret Cases and Airtight Containers

50A = Aircraft Gun Turrets
50CC = Boulton Paul Gun Turret and Gun Mounting Tools
50DD = Bristol Gun Turret Tools
50EE = Frazer Nash Gun Turret Tools
50H = Aircraft Gun Turret Maintenance Equipment
50J = Free Gun Mountings

52 = Recognition Models

54A = Plotting Equipment

71B = Plants (Mobile, Transportable and Static) and Plant Accessories

Sadly the face of my example is marred by a crude glue repair round the edges of the Perspex, this glue has dried and cracked and has clearly been in place for many years.

The rear of the ammeter has two brass contacts that allow the instrument to be wired into an electrical system for use:imageWhilst this instrument was never actually used in a spitfire or indeed any other aircraft, it was a lucky find for £2 in a large box of vintage plugs and so was a great little addition to the collection and the sort of little find I love having.

Mk 3/1 Cotton Bandolier

In the 1950s the British army introduced an update to their cotton ammunition bandoliers. The end of World War II had seen the MK 3 bandolier introduced with a light webbing carrying strap, the MK 3/1 added an extra row of cotton across the bottom edge to reinforce it. Originally issued to carry .303 ammunition, these bandoliers remained in service for the 7.62mm rounds as well. This example is typical of the post war bandoliers:imageThe bandolier has five individual pockets, each secured with a brass wire hook, passed through a hole in the cotton and folded over to secure it:imageEach pocket would carry two five round chargers, giving a total of fifty rounds per bandolier. The webbing strap is 1 1/8″ wide herringbone twilled webbing:imageThe reinforcing strap is clearly visible across the bottom:imageThe bandolier has a number of stamps, this one dates the bandolier to 1967 and shows it is a MK 3/1:imageA stamp on the rear shows it was filled by Radway Green on 20th June 1967:imageThere is also a random circular stamp which is poorly stamped so impossible to read:imageThese bandoliers remained in service throughout the SLR era, the rounds being used to refill magazines during quiet periods. Here troops in the Falklands War can be seen with the disposable bandoliers slung over their chests:imageThis account from the Falklands by Vince Bramley describes using these bandoliers:

The weight of the webbing was cutting into my shoulders, the bandoliers cutting into my neck. By resting the SLR on my webbing, I could reach up and pull then straps from my neck to help relieve the agony they gave me.

About three kilometres into the march, we stopped. I sat down quickly and swapped the bandolier straps over to my other shoulder, longing to rest for those vital five minutes we were given.

Mk 1 Marching Compass

The black square marching compass was introduced in the Second World War as an alternative to the more expensive prismatic compass that had been in use since the First World War. This compass was made of Bakelite and when folded was a distinctive square shape with a small brass loop sitting over the main body of the compass:imageThis brass loop was to slot your thumb through to hold the compass steady whilst a bearing was taken:imageThe compass opened up into two parts, one was a silvered panel with a slot cut through it to look down when taking a bearing, whilst the other half had the compass itself:imageThe dial of the compass sat around the luminescent needle and could be rotated to take a bearing:imageThe following instructions were given for using the magnetic marching compass:

A: To march on a given bearing by day or night:

Rotate ring until given bearing is over the luminous arrow. Hold compass level and move it so as to keep the luminous needle tip between the two dots on the ring. March along the luminous line on the lid.

B: To read the bearing of a given object:

Hold the compass level and aim the centre line of the lid at the object, tilting the lid as required. Allow the needle to come to rest. Rotate the ring until the luminous needle tip lies between the two dots on the ring. Read the required bearing off the ring at the luminous arrow directly, or by the reflection from the mirror in the lid.

The compass could be used for night marching, similar to the process indicated in the pre-war Army’s Map reading manual for use with the prismatic type of compass:

Marching on a Compass Bearing.- The guide must know the bearing on which he wishes to march. He then observes some object which has the required bearing and marches towards it.

In the Service Prismatic Compass the magnetic north is marked by a broad luminous arrow-head. The glass cover is turned until the setting-vane on its rim, corresponding to the luminous direction mark on its glass, points to the required magnetic bearing as shown on the external ring; the cover is then clamped at this bearing. The box is now held so that the direction mark is superimposed on the arrowhead, in which position the line of the luminous patches in the lid, fully extended, indicates the line of advance.

Like many marching compasses, this example was made by ‘The Gramophone Company’ and their initials T G Co Ltd are marked on the rear together with a /|\ mark and the compass’ designation:imageT.G. Co. Ltd. was the abbreviation used by The Gramophone Company. This firm merged with its subsidiary His Master’s Voice (2/3) and with Columbia Graphophone Co. (1/3) in 1931 to become EMI (Electric& Musical Industries) who continued to use “The Gramophone Co.” trademark for various items, changing it for the War contracts to just T.G. Co. Ltd.
In reality, F. Barker& Son apparently built these compasses since they all carry the B prefix to the serial number.

T. G. Co. disappeared as soon as WW2 finished. This company name was probably used to keep secret the manufacturer’s real identity.
The letter ‘B’ in the serial number means that this compass was in reality produced by F. BARKER & Son.

Although a stop gap wartime design, the marching compass was well regarded as it was easier to use than the prismatic type and it continued in service into the post war era alongside the earlier and more sophisticated design for many years to come.

Folding Hexamine Cooker

For many decades the standard way for a soldier to heat his rations in the field or boil some water for a brew was to use the folding hexamine cooker. Hexamine was a solid fuel that burnt easily and generated enough heat from a small block to boil a mess tin’s worth of water. The stove that is was used with was a small brass folding design and it is one of these we are looking at tonight. The stove comes wrapped in a grease proof type paper to protect it whilst in storage:imageThe front of the paper is printed with details of the contents:imageWhilst the rear shows how to use the stove:imageOnce unwrapped the stove is a small brass box:imageThe ends fold down to lift the main burner plate off the ground, and provide points for the mess tin to rest on above the flames, the box of hexamine is visible stored inside:imageWith the box removed it can be seen that the burner has holes in its base to encourage airflow to allow the hexamine tablets to burn:imageThe hexamine itself is provided in a small waxed cardboard box (that can be used to help light the blocks). The top of the box warns to use the fuel in a well ventilated area:imageThis is wise advice as hexamine is made from various noxious chemicals including formaldehyde which you do not want to breathe in!

The rear of the box gives more detailed instructions on using the cooker:imageThe manufacturer of the hexamine has marked their name on the edge of the box:imageHere troops can be seen boiling water using a hexamine cooker:imageAs ever ARRSE has a wonderfully irreverent take on hexamine:

Top stuff. Don’t be fooled. Buggering around with gucci petrol stoves is simply not worth it unless you are some kind of mountain warrior.

Hexy is a slang abbreviation for Hexamine, a kind of solid fuel which allegedly (according to the powers that be) burns cleanly and leaves no residue or ash.

Hexamine, given enough encouragement, will burn, releasing copious amounts of noxious fumes, its true there is no ash or residue left on the ground, this is because the residue has migrated to your mess tin, which is now coated in thick immovable black goo.


Protectors, Eye, Anti-Mine

The post war mine detector kit included a pair of specialist goggles to help protect the eyes of the mine clearance soldier from small fragments of metal that might be thrown up by an explosion. These goggles have a wrap-around design with extra thick lenses to help protect the wearer:imageThey were issued in a set with a case and anti-dimming kit:imageThe case is a small green carry case, secured by two quick release tabs on the front:imageA pair of ‘c’ hooks on the rear allows it to be carried on a belt:imageInside the goggles rest with the lenses to the rear of the case:imageA small pocket is provided at the front for the anti-dimming kit:imageThe case itself is lined with a soft white cloth to help protect the lenses of the goggles from scratches and a maker’s stamp for the case is printed here indicating the case dates from 1965:imageA label with instructions for the goggles use is sewn into the lid of the case:imageThe goggles themselves have a distinctive angular design to give them greater peripheral vision than standard goggles:imageSmall ventilation holes are stamped into the top, bottom and sides of the goggles to help air flow into the lenses and preventing the eyepieces from fogging up as quickly as they might otherwise have done:imageOne side of the lenses have the word ‘top’ stamped on them to ensure the wearer puts them on correctly:imageThe size of the goggles over the bridge of the nose can be adjusted and a green elasticated head harness is provided to help keep them on the head:imageA metal buckle on either side allows the tightness of the head harness to be adjusted:imageNote also the faint date stamp indicating that these goggles were produced in 1965. These eye protectors started being trialled in 1949 and seem to have continued in service until at least the 1970s.

One of the biggest mine clearance jobs after the war was clearing the anti-invasion mines laid on Britain’s beaches, as reported in the Times in 1956, eleven years after the war ended:

In Fairlight Glen, east of Hastings, sappers of the Bomb Disposal Unit, R.E., are now doing a job of mine clearance. This is not in fact as alarming as it sounds. The public still are able to walk freely and safely over large areas of the beautiful glen and up to the famous Lover’s Seat.

All the same, the various authorities concerned were not altogether satisfied that the glen was wholly cleared of mines that were hurriedly laid in the area in the summer of 1940. It appears that the original plans were lost when the officer of the laying party was blown up while carrying them, and accurate records of the mines laid before the accident were not available. After the war the area was swept with detectors except for a portion which since 1947 has been enclosed with the idea of allowing erosion to destroy or reveal the beach mines known to be there…

The first step by the R.E. was to gain access to the minefield by driving a road to enable bulldozers and other heavy equipment to get down to the beach. The whole densely overgrown area was suspect because of the discovery of a mine in the summer of 1954. It was decided that this growth must be burned down and the ground beneath swept with detectors as the access road was cut. In the course of burning off and sweeping the ground leading to the minefield proper four mines have been found…

We saw men moving over the ground and up the steep hillside with standard detectors, and later with the so called locators which find mines buried 5ft, or more below ground. The mines “found” were detonated one by one with heavy explosions, but there was reason to believe that these were nothing more than demonstration bangs.

Bayonet Securing Tab

The 1937 pattern bayonet frog had been designed to carry the long sword bayonet of the SMLE in its leather scabbard. When the short No4 ‘pigsticker’ type bayonet was introduced along with its tubular metal scabbard it was discovered that the scabbard was prone to slipping out from the frog and bayonets could be lost. Although the webbing would be modified to work better with the new bayonet and its scabbard, a short term expedient was needed to allow the new bayonet to be carried in the existing frog. The ‘tab, securing, bayonet, No.4, Mk I’ was adopted on 26th July 1940:imageThis simple device consisted of a leather tab, with a slot cut in it:imageThis was threaded over the boss on the bayonet scabbard before it was slotted into the frog:imageThe opposite end had a stamped brass eyelet:imageWhen the bayonet was inserted in the frog, the tab was folded over the top of the uppermost webbing loop and secured to the boss with the brass eyelet:imageThis held tension on the scabbard and prevented it working loose. Although the bayonet frogs were soon modified, the tab remained in inventory until at least 1974 and lasted long enough to be allocated an NSN number.

Examples of the securing tab can be seen in period photographs:imageWhilst these tabs were used, many soldiers used the expedient method of cutting a small slot in the frog to better fit the boss of the scabbard, and in 1944 this was adopted as the official method of modifying the frog and the tabs became obsolescent, although clearly remained in inventory for at least another thirty years!