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WWII Airborne Rigger Pouches


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Ronny,

 

It's definitely a rigger pouch, not USAAF. Note the sloppy construction... The print on the back is the manufacturer's company marking, which was marked on the fabric riggers used to make the pouches.

 

Cheers

 

That is so cool. Thank you!

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Notice the two pouches are slightly different. I think the one on the right side is a USAAF pouch, and the other is a "Rigger" made variation.

 

The one on Bob Piper's left is for Rifle/Carbine Clips, and the one on his right is for Grenades, which should make it a rigger-made one, as the USAAF didn't have this "middle" sized pouch in the inventory. The Rifle/Carbine pouch is too small for 2 Grenades, or should be if it is made the correct size.

 

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CONCLUSIONS SO FAR:

 

So, early units like the 509th used USAAF stock pouches. The USAAF had these pouches on hand, but in 1943 marked them to be issued until used up. So production stopped somewhere before 1943. the 505th and 504th had access to remaining stocks of USAAF pouches and put them to good use in Sicily. The troopers liked the design so much that they continued to produce USAAF style pouched through the division riggers. These "rigger" pouches became more prevalent later in the war as USAAF stocks were used up.

 

Does any one have info on the rigger pouches constructed and used by the 503rd RCT in the Pacific? That seems to be another creature all together.

 

BTW: Thanks gang. this thread is really turning into a great resource. Couldn't have done it without you all.

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WWII Parachutist

I haven’t done a lot of detailed research on rigger pouches, so correct me if I’m wrong:

As Dustin noted, due to the AAF drawing number the pouches must have been standardized pre July 1942. The Quartermaster was often considered too slow, conservative, and outdated, (think hideous balloon suit), and as the AAF had a field representative working directly with the Airborne, some equipment was channeled through them. The Air Corps had great reputation for giving the best service. My feeling is the pouches were designed by the parachute Test Section and then procured through the Air Corps.

Dr. Terris Moore was influential in getting the airborne specialized equipment. He notes that on October 7, 1942, the question of carrying greater amounts of ammunition was finally settled by the use of the piston belt and rigger pouches which were already in production. This would lead me to believe that prior to this the pouches were used in limited quantities. After this production ramped up, until production ceased and they were changed to Limited Standard approximately a year later, leaving the riggers to pick up where the AAF left off.

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WWII Parachutist
Another observation: It seems like the LTD’s on the early pouches are predominantly black, and switch to nickel, and then later a combination of black/nickel.
This would seem to confirm that:
AAF procured pouches largely used blackened snaps. Any officially procured piece of field gear should have the tactically sound black snaps, not shiny nickel ones.
The early versions of actual rigger-made pouches were heavily nickel snaps. This makes sense as riggers, who maintained AAF gear and were stocked with AAF designed and procured equipment and materials, would have had mostly nickel snaps at their disposal. On parachutes, nickel snaps were standard in the early years.
Later, as blackened LTD’s became prevalent in AAF inventory, more pouches were made with these.
Again, my expertise is parachutes, not field gear so I'm curious if this is indeed generally accurate.
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AAF procured pouches largely used blackened snaps. Any officially procured piece of field gear should have the tactically sound black snaps, not shiny nickel ones.
The early versions of actual rigger-made pouches were heavily nickel snaps. This makes sense as riggers, who maintained AAF gear and were stocked with AAF designed and procured equipment and materials, would have had mostly nickel snaps at their disposal. On parachutes, nickel snaps were standard in the early years.

 

 

Parachutist makes a good point here and one I didn't consider initially.

Ronny67, because they were placed on limited standard does not necessarily mean that production stopped only that the drawing was cancelled and no more funds would be released for continued procurement. This happened quite often but existing contracts were allowed to continue until completed so it is possible the production continued till and into 1944. So we don't really know when deliveries from prime contractors ceased. For all we know a contract was awarded for 30,000 pouches and the following month they were cancelled on paper basically saying that the procurement division was no longer going to release funds for any more purchases and this all your going to get!

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WWII Parachutist

 

Parachutist makes a good point here and one I didn't consider initially.

Ronny67, because they were placed on limited standard does not necessarily mean that production stopped only that the drawing was cancelled and no more funds would be released for continued procurement. This happened quite often but existing contracts were allowed to continue until completed so it is possible the production continued till and into 1944. So we don't really know when deliveries from prime contractors ceased. For all we know a contract was awarded for 30,000 pouches and the following month they were cancelled on paper basically saying that the procurement division was no longer going to release funds for any more purchases and this all your going to get!

It would be interesting to know how many pouches were procured under AAF contract, and under what period of time. It appears that the early AAF pouches have durable dot snaps, while later ones LTD's. This would seem to suggest that they were procured for some length of time - reports regarding the insufficient durable dot snap would have filtered back, causing the specifications to be changed to LTD's - a process that does not happen overnight.

 

Also the question of why the AAF terminated procurement of the pouches? Money issues - they felt this should be a Quartermaster responsibility, and eventually phased out the project? But why didn't the Quartermaster Corps pick up where the AAF left off - instead, they left the riggers with the short end of the stick?

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Of course now we are just speculating however having an understanding of the "system" this may shed some light and be a partial answer. Typically when an item is placed on "Limited Standard" there is an item that supersedes it but not always directly. I do not think money was the issue. I have an inclination that this was on a administrative level. I would not be surprised at all that there was an evaluation of equipment and during this evaluation these pouches may have received poor reviews for one reason or another and also found redundant. If you look at it from a QM point of view they had available as standard the M-1923 cartridge belt, clip pouches Carbine/rifle , clip pouches Thompson, GP ammo bag and ammunition bandoleers, the idea of specialty parachutist pouches would be redundant and not necessary leading to the decision on an admin level to no longer fund this application. The termination was a coordination between the QM and AAF

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I agree with Dustin. These pouches were an oddball piece of kit, that had a very limited application. It would make sense that they would be phased out once their redundancy was realized. I am still unsure what initially drew Abn troopers to these pouches. What was it about them specifically that made the 509th adopt them in England? Mark Bando remarks on the pouches in his book: "101st Airborne, The Screaming Eagles in WWII" that soldiers complained that once you used a clip from the pouch, everything else in the pouch rattled around causing noise. If this was a drawback to the pouch design, then what was the benefit of using them on your belt than a traditional Cartridge belt? Maybe they were all troopers could get their hands on?

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I agree with Dustin. These pouches were an oddball piece of kit, that had a very limited application. It would make sense that they would be phased out once their redundancy was realized. I am still unsure what initially drew Abn troopers to these pouches. What was it about them specifically that made the 509th adopt them in England? Mark Bando remarks on the pouches in his book: "101st Airborne, The Screaming Eagles in WWII" that soldiers complained that once you used a clip from the pouch, everything else in the pouch rattled around causing noise. If this was a drawback to the pouch design, then what was the benefit of using them on your belt than a traditional Cartridge belt? Maybe they were all troopers could get their hands on?

 

The benefit was the amount of ammunition that an individual Paratrooper could carry on him for an airborne operation, plain & simple. Maximize the load each Trooper could carry without having to rely upon immediate resupply. Standard M1923 cartridge belts have obvious limitations, etc. The ability for each Paratrooper to have enough ammo, equipment, chow, etc., on them for at least 48-72hrs before needing resupply is what drove the necessity for the rigger pouches, M42 jumpsuits, and the like. For example, the packing list for the 505th for Normandy specified what each Trooper would carry, in relation to the weapon they'd been issued. This included where it was worn, and it what specific pocket it would be carried, Everything also had a weight next to it. So, in a C-47 that's required to fly a certain distance, with only a certain amount of fuel, carrying between 16-20 fully-loaded Paratroopers and equipment, weight is everything. Rigger pouches allowed for more flexibility in maximizing the Paratrooper's lethality on the drop zone, without going too overboard on weight & supply issues.

 

Chris

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WWII Parachutist

Exactly what Chris said.

 

The ability to carry more ammo was the point of the report issued by lightweight equipment expert Dr. Terris Moore in October 1942. The cartridge belt allowed only 80 rounds to be carried on the belt - that same amount could be carried in two and a half pouches, leaving space for even more ammo or other gear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have found a few more photos of USAAF Style pouches in use. Here is a photo of a 509th trooper in Africa. Note his original USAAF contract TSMG pouch.

post-153625-0-59980700-1416598404.jpg

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I posted this over in the helmets section in Jkash's 551st helmet thread. The 551st also made rigger pouches similar to the 503rd.

post-153625-0-31147000-1416598536.jpg

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Here is a very early 509th picture, I suspect while they were still in england. The 509th became combat operational before the M1A1 Carbine was issued. You can see the bottom of a USAAF pouch under his reserve chute on his right side.

post-153625-0-30817100-1416598655.jpg

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These 509th troopers are Dog tired after feirce fighting in SouFrance. Note the USAAF style pouch on the kit to the right.

post-153625-0-42038100-1416598811.jpg

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This photo was taken shortly after the battle of Biazza Ridge, Sicily. Elements of the 505th and 504th engaged the Herman Goering Panzer Division, and kept the Germans from rolling up the beach heads. These fierce paras faced multiple Tiger tanks with Bazookas and explosives.

post-153625-0-13318700-1416599037.jpg

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