It has been quite a while since I last covered the Osprey Mk IV set on the blog, we ran a major series of posts last year covering a lot of the different components. One item we did not look at then were the side armour panels and it is one of these we are considering tonight. These are a pair of add on panels that are used to fit extra hard plate side armour to the Osprey set to protect a soldiers flank. Each side panel consists of a flat piece of MTP cordua-nylon:The front is covered with a set of PALS loops to attach pouches to:The main feature of the side plate carrier is a large pocket that a ballistic plate can be slid into:This is secured by a Velcroed flap. The rear of the panel has a set of straps to attach it to the rest of the vest:A small label indicates stores details:Interestingly the Osprey manual does not list these side plate carriers at all, instead just showing the larger cummerbunds that wrap entirely around the wearer’s body. This is a smaller and lighter alternative that just adds the plates to the side and was introduced as part of a mid life upgrade of the Osprey Mk IV to Mk IVA standard and allows the front ops panel to be retained whilst flank armour is worn.
After nearly six months of posts, I am bringing our series on the Osprey body armour to a close tonight. There are still components I need and as I get these we will look at them on the blog, but not as a regular weekly post. Our final post is for the shoulder armour issued with the Osprey Mk IV set:This may look familiar to you from the Mk II set we looked at here. The basic design is almost identical, however it is made in the MTP pattern of camouflage to match the later vest. The underside of the brassards has the same ribbed anti slip fabric as the interior of the vests:The brassards are not a matched pair, one having a small Union flag secured to it with Velcro:The other has a small pocket sewn on:The straight end of the brassard has an elasticated strap that is wrapped around the upper arm to secure the brassard:These particular covers date from 2011:Worn with the brassards are a pair of shoulder pads that cover the gap between the armour and the brassard:Like the brassards, these open up to allow a soft armour filler to be fitted, the opening being on the rear of each one:Again a label is sewn to the rear of each component:Setting up the brassards and shoulder armour is quite involved and a detailed diagram is included in the Osprey user’s manual:There are still quite a few Osprey components left to cover, and as I find them we will revisit the set. I hope this set of posts has been informative and covered the individual components in a bit more depth than other online resources.
This week’s piece of Osprey equipment is one of the simplest items ever covered on the blog, being the strap issued to allow a rank tab to be worn on the Osprey IV body armour:This is made from woven nylon tape, printed in MTP camouflage, with a press stud fitting to allow it to be made into a loop:This is passed through the MOLLE straps on the chest of the armour cover to allow a rank slide to be worn if the commander’s pouch is not used. Despite its simplicity, the manufacturers felt it worthy of inclusion in the instructions that accompanied the Osprey Mk IV armour:Quite why this warranted a full page of pictorial instructions is beyond me, however one must never forget that some squaddies are not the brightest in the bunch and without clear instructions could possibly fail to understand the strap’s purpose! I apologise for this post being so short, but there is really very little to say about this one…
This week’s Osprey item is a little different in that although it was widely used with the osprey system it was never designed for it. The Osprey Mk IV armour can be up-scaled by fitting a pair of cummerbunds, each of which holds a plate of ceramic armour:It is this armour plate we are considering this week. The plate was first developed for use with the enhanced combat body armour, ECBA. The first versions of the plates had square corners, but the example here is the Mk 2 plate where the corners have been rounded off to make it slightly easier to slot into the pockets on a set of armour:The material inside the plates is sintered alumina and each plate weighs 1.16kg, making them surprisingly heavy for their size. The plates are slightly dished as they were originally designed to fit over the chest:In the ECBA they are fitted to the pockets on the front:And rear of the vest:ECBA was used at the start of Operation Telic, however ECBA was not initially available in sufficient quantities so some men had to make do with the older CBA without the armoured plates. After a number of high profile deaths an urgent operational requirement was put in to secure more of the armour plates to allow ECBA to be issued to all troops in theatre. With armour plates it is essential to be able to track their manufacture and history as a defective batch could have fatal consequences for its wearer. The front of the plate has space for contract numbers to be written and is printed with the NSN number and instructions as to which way round the plate should be fitted to the vest:These plates were considered too valuable to discard when ECBA was replaced with Osprey so they were retained and used to provide the supplemental armour for the flanks on the new system. As such these plates are much harder to find on the collectors market than the soft armour, with the plates being kept in British Army inventory in large numbers. So far I just have the one plate, so I will be looking out for a second as regardless of whether they are worn in the ECBA or in the Osprey cummerbund a pair is required.
This week we have another short post on the Osprey system as we look at the full size collars for the Osprey Mk IV:We have covered most of the details for these collars on the posts on the DDPM version of the collars here and the half collars for the MTP version and filler here. Details then will be familiar with the same Velcro and press stud arrangement for attaching the collar to the vest:Along with a loop on the rear to secure this section:A Velcro tab is provided to secure the front of the collar when worn, which can be tucked away on itself when not needed:The inside of the collar has two labels, one for each part:In close up we can see that the collar dates from 2012:Again, I am lacking fillers for this collar, but they do turn up from time to time so I will keep my eyes out for some and it’s another osprey component I can tick off the list.
Among the many pouches produced for the Osprey IV system was a small pouch to carry spare 9mm magazines for the service pistol. By this stage traditional holsters had been largely replaced by hard shell plastic designs so a soft holster was not part of the Mk IV complement of equipment, however extra magazines would be required to be carried so a set of dedicated pouches was clearly desirable. The pouch is made of an MTP printed fabric with a top flap that has a more open weave than many of the other pouches in the Osprey IV set:This change of fabric was presumably to give extra strength on a thin top flap that would otherwise be in danger of breaking if the more standard fabric had been used. The large top flap covers the base of the magazine and is secured with a large Velcro fastening to make it harder for the pouch to be accidently opened:The magazine itself slides inside to make a secure fit, but one that allows it to be easily withdrawn:The magazine used here is for a Browning Hi-Power, in service more modern magazines would have been carried, but this is the only double stack pistol magazine I have access to and illustrates the concept just fine.
A single MOLLE strap is fitted to the rear to allow the pouch to be secured to the vest:The weight of even a full pistol magazine is negligible so one strap would be more than adequate. Under the strap is the standard Osprey label, printed on fabric and sewn to the rear of the pouch:These pouches were not only used for carrying pistol magazines, but also occasionally saw service on operations to carry morphine syringes in a safe and secure pouch that allowed easy access in case of emergency. Although not what the designers had originally envisaged this sort of adaptation is typical of how soldiers use equipment when deployed on active service and this seems a very sensible secondary use for the pouch.
The standard set of pouches issued with a set of Osprey Mk IV body armour included two for smoke grenades, We have taken a look at smoke grenades on the blog before, in this post. If you have seen our previous posts on Osprey pouches, it will come as no surprise that this pouch is very similar to previous examples, but sized appropriately to carry a single smoke grenade:The lid is secured with both a tan plastic Fastex clip:And a piece of Velcro to ensure the grenade does not come out accidently:As with all these pouches, a pair of heavy duty straps are fitted to the rear to allow it to be attached using the MOLLE system:And a small label is sewn to the bottom rear of the pouch with stores numbers on:This is just a quick post this week as there is very little to say about this pouch that hasn’t been covered in other posts, however it has been included for completeness and to help make this series a useful reference to those researching the Osprey Mk IV.