Jump to content

1980s gear questions


Recommended Posts

 

  1. Thanks for all the help. I was wondering what a combat vehicle crewmen would wear in the 1980s? What I was thinking was the coveralls, the helmet(I know its not the pasgt or m1 I have seen them at the military store but don't know what there called),boots(I already have), gloves(?), gas mask(not sure what kind), maybe a vest(I saw that there is a cvc vest but I don't know how common), and LBE(don't know if they wore them when inside the vehicle probably not). I know that it is probably different depending on what vehicle you are in and what roll like driver, gunner, ect. Thanks.

 

 

I served as an Armor Crewman with M Co., 3d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Bliss from May 1985 to November 1986. In addition to BDUs, Post regulations authorized Armor crews to affix the same unit patches, rank and name tapes found on our BDUs, to the standard Men's solid green cotton coveralls (mechanic's coveralls) for wear in the field and at the motor pool only. Standard issue and cap-toe boots were authorized (as long as the caps were not patent leather). Tanker's boots were authorized. Jungle fatigues and boots were still allowed when I arrived but as I recall, it was late '85 or early '86 when they were phased out, certainly by summer '86 (because I remember the griping in formation by they guys who had to go get a bunch of new uniforms).

 

Crews were not issued any Nomex until we transitioned from the M60A1 to the M1A1. Transition was staggered. 2nd Squadron transitioned first, approximately mid-1986. 3d Squadron was next, starting their transition training mid-November '86. 1st Squadron was last, date unknown by me as I had ETS'd by then, but I think it would be safe to assume approximately 6 months after 3rd Herd.

 

Gloves were the standard black leather shell over the optional wool green inner gloves. The light tan engineer's gloves were used for heavy duty, such as deploying concertina wire. It was rare to see them, but not unknown. When in the field, I wore a pair of black open-back driving gloves that I bought at the local Pep Boys auto parts store. Very unauthorized, but they served a purpose. Being thinner, I had the benefit of gloves but they were cooler and I was still able to sense what I was touching. No one ever gave me any real flack about them, and a few others adopted them. Again, strictly field use only.

 

The gas mask was a controlled item. You wore it constantly, not only for training, but so you wouldn't lose it. It actually came in handy on road marches. The M60A1s had a built-in forced air filtering system that you could plug your mask into. It was the cleanest source of air on the tank. The tank trails radiating out from Ft. Bliss to the ranges had been pulverized to fine talcum powder consistency after generations of tracked and wheeled traffic. As on a dog sled team, the guy in front was the only one with a good view. The rest of us choked to death on the cloying dust from all the vehicles in front. If the wind wasn't carrying the dust to the side, we drivers would wear our masks as we rolled. We also borrowed a trick from the Baja racing community. We would grab a stack of clear acetate report covers, and duct-tape a stack of them to our CVC shells like a visor, each sheet with it's own strip of tape. You could stack up to 12 of them and still be able to see. As we rolled down the road, we would simply reach up and peel off the outer one when it got to covered with crud. Unauthorized, and very useful.

 

We would also mooch green medical bandoleers from the medics, the large ones that could be used for tying an arm into a sling. We turned them into dew rags or, more commonly, wore them on our faces Jesse James bank robber-style like a bandana, again to cut down on the amount of dust that caked to your face. Most crew members wore them. Again, strictly off-post or coming to or from the ranges to the motor pool.

 

In 3d Squadron, we were allowed to custom paint our CVC shells to a reasonable degree, as long as only the standard palette of desert Army colors on our vehicles were used on the helmets (O.D. Green, Black, a deep Gold-brown, a light tan sand, a deep primer brown) and no one did anything stupid. Most crews simply stenciled their Platoon and tank number. Then we started getting creative. The crew of Three-Three painted theirs solid sand and replicated the German Africa Corps palm tree in black, replacing the swastika with a large "33". Politically incorrect as all hell, but the Squadron commander loved the spirit. The only two guys from Illinois were on my tank, the Loader and me, the Driver. This was 1985, when the Bears went on to win the Super Bowl. We had a gunnery right after the Bears spanked the Cowboys in Dallas 44-0. I painted our CVC's to mimic the Bears' helmets. Black helmets, light tan substituted for the white, brown substituted for the deep orange. Not Bears colors, but the effect was striking. We saw a lot of grins, shaking heads and thumbs up as we rolled off post. It's a shame we had to repaint them solid green when we turned them in.

 

LBE was typically not worn in the tank. Too uncomfortable and a safety issue, as there is a LOT for straps to get hung up on inside a tank. The Driver would usually chuck their LBE in the tray directly underneath the Driver's control panel to the right of the driver. Other positions had similar places to stash them within arm's reach. Typical LBE had the straps, pistol belt, two ammo pouches on the front, a standard issue green MX-991/U flashlight with red lens filter, clipped to the front left strap (as viewed by the wearer), and a tightly rolled poncho affixed to the back with twisted green elastic hooked "rubber bands" commonly available in the PX for blousing trousers. A standard 1-quart green hard plastic canteen with metal cup and cover was affixed to the right hip of the belt. Our canteens were all retrofit with a black cap that could (theoretically) be injection-filled in an NBC environment.

 

For "real world" field use, our tanker rolls consisted of the typical grey solid foam mat, and whatever else the crewman wanted to add. Some brought only a wool barracks blanket or poncho liner. I brought a sleeping bag and would lay on top of it. I slept outside on the front fender, just about the only safe place to stretch out on a tank without lying at an odd angle. I also brought along a shelter half sans poles and stakes. I would use the rope as a tether and tie it to either a lift ring or a handrail on the turret, depending on how the turret was oriented. In high winds, this kept it from blowing away. I would tuck the shelter half underneath the mat and wrap myself up like a tamale. The mat kept me off the fender just high enough to keep from getting too wet during the rain, a rare event in the desert. Mostly, the tarp kept the blowing sand off me. I slept like a baby. The shelter half could also be handy for a spot of shade when doing maintenance.

 

One item often overlooked: Ear plugs. There were two different types of cases: The green trapezoid-shaped case with the removable lid that doubled as an insertion tool, and the transparent medicine bottle-like case with the screw top. Both had a metal beaded chain that was typically looped through a button hole on an upper pocket; the exact type and placement was typically defined at the Company level.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

Awesome simply awesome information. I was a ground pounder using only LPC's so to hear how you Tankers did stuff if fascinating and makes sense. I find it easier to vet someone because the little details reveal their true experience.

 

I've still got those worthless earplugs!!! I didn't like the pointy ones because my earholes were too small. I liked the squishy ones because they form fitted then expanded. One of my ears got damaged from machine gun fire- putting ear plugs in during training afterward was hard because I couldn't tell if it was working or not.

 

Rock

2RO2.jpg

 

2/505th (RA) 5/502nd (RA) 2/505th (REEN)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Rock. I did some research online. To be more specific for the record, the nomenclature for the OD green 37” x 37” x 52” muslin compressed triangular cloth bandage/bandanas that we scammed from the medics and used for face masks were "Bandage, Triangular", NSN 6510-00-201-1755.

 

Hey, as a ground pounder, what were your favorite boots for real-world field use, and why?

Link to post
Share on other sites

My preference was the green jungle boot. They were comfortable in all but the coldest of times. Even if it was super cold and you were ruck march or doing something active, the jungle boot was still comfortable. I know a bunch of folks that replaced the sole, but I found the panama soles well suited. My favorite cold weather boot was a pair of rabbit fur lined full leather boot with vibram soles. They were great if you weren't moving around much as in the motor pool or guard duty otherwise they would be too hot if you were moving around. However the desert boots issued in 2004 and later are probably the most comfortable. And the roughout meant no spit shine :). I didn't care for the first issues of the black all leather speed lace and would wear the chevron sole black leather boot although it had terrible traction.

 

Dew rags were very desirable by lots of folks when dealing with the dust of various training areas.

 

Peter

Looking for items related to the 161st Infantry Regiment

(aka NGW; Washington Territorial Militia 1855-1886; 1st/2nd Infantry Regiment, Washington 1886-1898; 1st/2nd Regiment, Washington Volunteer Infantry 1898-1899; 1st/2nd Infantry Regiment Washington National Guard 1899-1917)

and 36th Infantry Battalion/Regiment


donation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite boots were initially the German mountain boots. I picked up 2 pairs when at Wildflicken. Brought them back to Berlin and wore them until the Matterhorn boots came out. I wore them in the winter and summer. I still have them and wear them today..

 

The green jungle boots were also my favorites. I wore them at Fort Campbell after I was issued 2 pairs for Panama. I still have them as well..

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

Jungle Boots were my favorite.

 

The Jump Boot was impractical, slippery, hot and worthless for field use but some guys did wear them. They were expensive and once you used them in the field you would likely never be able to use them for a Class A inspection ever again due to pitting.

 

The Standard Leather Boot was fair for use in the field. Not the best traction, was hot, but comfortable for field use and many guys used them. We were issued two sets and used one for inspections and the other for the field as a back up field boot.

 

The Jungle Boot totally practical. It had great traction, was cool and breathed the best, was comfortable for field use and most of us used them. Also, these drained water the fastest of any boot and dried out faster as well. I had two or three sets of these and they were fabulous.

 

The Mountain Boot was used by maybe one or two people, usualy former SF guys but even our known SFQ'd guys wore jungle boots or even "leg boots" as we called the standard infantry boots. I never bought them and never saw the need to do so.

 

Rock

2RO2.jpg

 

2/505th (RA) 5/502nd (RA) 2/505th (REEN)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Hello all, I recently found a pistol belt pad that buttons on to the pistol belt to make it more comfortable when wearing, were they used in the 80s?

Cold War Collector 1945-1991 NATO & Warsaw Pact

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

Post a couple pictures of the pad.

 

As I remember it, most of our guys bought the Large Rucksack, which has a pad on it, and one or two guys went out and purchased the new "Special Forces" rucksack.

 

Rock

2RO2.jpg

 

2/505th (RA) 5/502nd (RA) 2/505th (REEN)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jungle Boots were my favorite.

 

The Jump Boot was impractical, slippery, hot and worthless for field use but some guys did wear them. They were expensive and once you used them in the field you would likely never be able to use them for a Class A inspection ever again due to pitting.

 

The Standard Leather Boot was fair for use in the field. Not the best traction, was hot, but comfortable for field use and many guys used them. We were issued two sets and used one for inspections and the other for the field as a back up field boot.

 

The Jungle Boot totally practical. It had great traction, was cool and breathed the best, was comfortable for field use and most of us used them. Also, these drained water the fastest of any boot and dried out faster as well. I had two or three sets of these and they were fabulous.

 

The Mountain Boot was used by maybe one or two people, usualy former SF guys but even our known SFQ'd guys wore jungle boots or even "leg boots" as we called the standard infantry boots. I never bought them and never saw the need to do so.

 

Rock

 

That covers all the bases with the 80s boots except the two winter/arctic boots.

 

The black BATA bunny boots were for cold and wet. Good down to -20. The white ones were for insanely cold Alaska weather.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a couple more boots I recall being worn in the 80s

 

1. Herman Survivors - Similar to Chippewa Mountain boots

 

2. Danner Boots -

 

It is funny , I just had a conversation a couple weeks ago with one of my old "Army friends" about all the styles and types of boots being issued/worn today and what we had to choose from when we were privates. (Not many)

 

I am also a fan of the Green jungle boots, I still have 3-4 pair

donation2010.gif
Link to post
Share on other sites
Fender Rhodes

Hello all, I recently found a pistol belt pad that buttons on to the pistol belt to make it more comfortable when wearing, were they used in the 80s?

 

I don't recall any buttons, but Saigon Sam's, outside of Camp Lejeune, used to take worn out ALICE pack kidney pads and sew fabric loops to them. You then slid these onto your pistol belt, with the pad against the body. Some guys had them, others didn't...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well it won't let me post a picture but go on google and type in pistol belt pad, that is what he had.

Cold War Collector 1945-1991 NATO & Warsaw Pact

Link to post
Share on other sites

Again to echo Fender Rhodes, This was not an issue item, it was more of a "personal" modification for comfort. I had seen some people using these but they were not widely used. But different companies jumped on the band wagon and produced "their" version of the padded belt for comfort.

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites
TheGreenMachine

Hi,

 

I'd like to introduce myself first: My name is Dennis, 33yrs old and from Germany. I'm interested in the US military (including gear, clothing, equipment, history) between the early 80s and mid 90s. I still remember the news-reels about Panama in '89 and later in Iraq/Kuwait in 1991. Woodland and 6col "Chocolate Chip" were (and will always be) my favorite camouflage colors as my childhood was so characterized by it.

 

The last years allowed me to start a humble collection of US gear and with each year, collecting becomes more difficult as some items are really hard to find. Anyway, I'm concentrating my efforts on complete setups of an (light) infantryman from 7th ID during "Just Cause" and also on one of 1st ID during "Desert Shield/Storm". My knowledge about the aspects of US gear are rather basic (imho), as my experiences from my time in the german Bundeswehr are totally different.

 

So, I hope to gather some interesting facts (in fact, I have already on the last 19 pages which I read enthusiastically). For the start, I have some questions which some of you might be able to answer:

 

- I read the ammo pouch for the SAW (M249) gunner changed at some point - there seem to be differences between the 80s model and the one from 90s and onward. Any idea about this item? Same seems to go for the bandolier for the SAW. Was it open-topped in the 80s or had it some kind of lid/flap on top?

 

- Is it correct that the SAW gunner didn't had any sidearm back in the 80s? I've always thought machine-gunner would carry some kind of pistol (it was usually the case in the German army)

 

- I have a leg-extender for the M12 bianchi holster, which allows the holster to be carried on the leg, with an additonal 2-mag pouch above the holster. Was this item ever issued? Was it rather for officers or special forces people? I remember seeing it on George Clooney when he played the soldier in "Three Kings", but never saw it used on genuine soldiers.

 

And to offer some visual candy, here's a rather old pic of myself. Back then, my impression of a 7th ID grenadier was sooo wrong, but anyway:

 

1280_3961623932316264.jpg

Thanks so far for any information!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Dennis,

 

Welcome to the forum. We are glad that you have been able to find our post informative. I am a retired US Infantry Master Sergeant. I spent my late 80's in Berlin, Germany as a SAW gunner, Team Leader and Squad leader. I carried a SAW and the first pouches were attached to the pistol belt (LBE) replacing the 2 M-16 pouches. They were OD green with a velcro top. The 200 round assault drum would fit into this pouch. The SAW gunner did not carry a side arm. I will post some pictures of what the 80's SAW pouch looked like. I can't speak for the later versions, but can vouch for what I carried. Normally saw gunners carried 600 rounds. 1 drum was carried under the saw and two additional drums were carried in the 2 pouches.

 

As far as the leg holster, I beleive it was a case by case situation. I never saw them being worn in regular units, but Special Forces carried them as well as MP's working with K-9's.

 

Will post some pictures this weekend.

 

Leigh

 

Your 7th ID lightfighter impression looks very very good..

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dennis,

 

This is one of the M249 SAW pouches that I had attached to my LBE when I was a SAW gunner in Berlin (1987ish)

 

The assault drum came in an ammo can that held 2 cloth bandoleers (400 rounds total) The assault drum held 200 rounds. As I mentioned before typically, but not standard, SAW gunners carried 200 rounds in the gun, and then 2 SAW pouches in lieu of the regular M16 magazine pouches which was another 400 rounds, so the gunner carried 600 rounds. Normally there were 2 SAW gunners in a squad one for the A team and one for the B team. Extra ammo was carried by another squad member and they carried the cloth bandoleer that came out of the ammo can.

 

If you need more pictures. let me know..

 

Leigh

 

 

post-5554-0-85968800-1390066619.jpg

post-5554-0-43624300-1390066632.jpg

post-5554-0-87708000-1390066643.jpg

post-5554-0-61701800-1390066661.jpg

post-5554-0-70479300-1390066721.jpg

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites
TheGreenMachine

Hi Leigh,

 

thank you very much, especially for these nice pics. Seems this earlier type of LC-2 pouch is indeed quite rare. Maybe I'll be able to obtain some one day. As far as I was able to find out, distribution of the pouches was rather poor and many units received not enough to equip each soldier fully, so some seem to carry only one of these pouches (there are some known pics of 7th ID in Panama).

 

Thanks for your comment on my display. Tons of failures there (wrong type of BDU, Buttpack, sidearm etc.) but I'm working on it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

RE: M249 in the 1980's. They came to the 82nd Airborne in about 1984 if I remember correctly and we were one of the first units to test the new weapon. Trying them head-to-head against the M60 MG was not fair because our M60's were so old. The New SAW, once broken in were quite reliable by comparison so long as you didn't try the M16 Magazine in the side. The first model M249 had a fixed handle, and cloth bandoliers as I remember. Don't really remember the drungs and they also had a magazine well designed for the gunner to affiix a standard M16 magazine for firing. We didn't have specialized pouches for the M249 at that point and I don't actually remember the drums, just the solf pouch.

 

I left Berlin about the time Leigh was there and we did not have the M249 yet as I remember. Just M16's, M203's, M60's and M21 Sniper Rifles along with the .45 M1911 Pistol. The web gear between Fort Bragg and Berlin was virtually the same except in Berlin, being a garrison dog and pony assignment, were more strict on what you could carry to some degree. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina we carried the basics plus whatever gear, and weapons we were willing to lug on our backs.

 

Rock

2RO2.jpg

 

2/505th (RA) 5/502nd (RA) 2/505th (REEN)

Link to post
Share on other sites

RE: M249 in the 1980's. They came to the 82nd Airborne in about 1984 if I remember correctly and we were one of the first units to test the new weapon. Trying them head-to-head against the M60 MG was not fair because our M60's were so old. The New SAW, once broken in were quite reliable by comparison so long as you didn't try the M16 Magazine in the side. The first model M249 had a fixed handle, and cloth bandoliers as I remember. Don't really remember the drungs and they also had a magazine well designed for the gunner to affiix a standard M16 magazine for firing. We didn't have specialized pouches for the M249 at that point and I don't actually remember the drums, just the solf pouch.

 

I left Berlin about the time Leigh was there and we did not have the M249 yet as I remember. Just M16's, M203's, M60's and M21 Sniper Rifles along with the .45 M1911 Pistol. The web gear between Fort Bragg and Berlin was virtually the same except in Berlin, being a garrison dog and pony assignment, were more strict on what you could carry to some degree. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina we carried the basics plus whatever gear, and weapons we were willing to lug on our backs.

 

Rock

 

Rock,

 

The first time I experienced seeing the M249 SAW was during a EDRE (Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise) with the 101st Airborne in May-June 1986. We flew to an old Airfield in Arkansas and did a "relief in place" exercise. A Ranger battalion had jumped in and "secured" the field the day before. Don't recall what Battalion, possibly 3rd Ranger Bn. We were to relieve the Rangers at their fighting positions. I carried an M60 at the time and when my squad leader showed me my fighting position, I was met by a PFC Ranger who was carrying an M249 SAW. Never seen one before that exercise. It was really something. When I got to Berlin in January 1987, we did not have SAW's yet. I think we got them in the early months of 1988 and the pouches came about 2-3 months later. I was one of the trainers for the SAW and had to do a dog and pony show for some visiting congressmen out at Doughboy city for the SAW. I also remember being told as a "last" method to use the M16 magazines. We used them in training and a few times at the live range, but I can't recall if we had issues with them or not.

 

Thanks again for your continued contributions to this thread.

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember firing SAWs at some range last summer before I left the Marines. For some reason, they still wanted us to attempt the magazine trick in them. Jammed every other shot and took about a minute each time to clear out the 4 or 5 rounds attempting to go into the breech at the same time.

 

Great LMG otherwise.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What pouches were used with the m60?

 

The ammunition was carried in the cloth bandoleer. Inside the cloth bandoleer was a cardboard box and that held 100 rounds of 7.62 ammunition. Usually a 4-1 ratio, 4 ball rounds and 1 tracer round. So every 5th round was a tracer. Some preferred to take the machine gun ammo out and carry it on the outside of the rucksack, and others carried it inside the ruck.

 

I can't speak for other units such as Special Forces but I believe they had an assault pack or something similar to the SAW assault drum.

 

Here are some pictures that show the bandoleer and a method of carrying the bandoleer while attached to the M60. The M60 feed tray hangar assembly is a metal plate that assists the feeding of the linked ammo into the gun. It has notches in the assembly to attach the cloth bandoleer to the side of the gun, making the carrying of the rounds easier and it kept the bullets out of the dirt and clean. A lot of the pictures you see show the "Rambo" style of carrying the ammo over the shoulder and long belts hanging out of the gun. Not very practical for movement and combat, because the belts will twist and the links will break, and again not to mention the ammo gets dirty and then the weapon system will jam.

 

The last picture is an illustration of the hangar assembly. Part 5 hangs on the side of the gun and helps feed the bullets that are linked into the gun itself. The top Part is the tray assembly and this is where the bullets feed into the gun and the links get spit out. You can see on part 5 the notch on the left side. This was used to attach the cloth bandoleer to the gun, similar to what I pictured in the second photo.

 

Hope this helps..

 

Leigh

post-5554-0-39205800-1390237453.jpg

post-5554-0-68385800-1390237620.jpg

post-5554-0-36298500-1390238020.jpg

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember firing SAWs at some range last summer before I left the Marines. For some reason, they still wanted us to attempt the magazine trick in them. Jammed every other shot and took about a minute each time to clear out the 4 or 5 rounds attempting to go into the breech at the same time.

 

Great LMG otherwise.

 

The magazine springs were just not quite strong enough, or at least that is what we experienced.

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.