Category Archives: MOLLE

Osprey Helmet Bag

Part of the Osprey Mk II and Mk III body armour set included a pouch holding a helmet bag. The helmet bag is designed to give a soldier a safe place to stow his helmet when it is not needed, somewhere it will be secure, out of the way but easy to access if it needs to be quickly donned. A lot of troops issued with the PLCE sets used a climbers carabineer usually attached to one of the shoulder straps or the waist which was used to clip the Mk 6 helmet to. The Osprey system gave troops a dedicated bag for this and although I do not have the pouch it is stowed in, I do have the mesh bag:imageThe bag is designed to be large enough to fit a Mk 6 helmet in reasonably snuggly so that it doesn’t rattle around:imageThe neck of the back has a drawstring and an adjustable strap allows it to be attached to the Osprey system:imageAs well as the drawstring, two large Velcro panels are also provided to help secure the neck:imageI am not sure how popular this helmet bag was in service as I have struggled to find much information on it, one thing I did find referenced was its use as a dump pouch for used magazines. In combat there often isn’t time to carefully stow used magazines away, but equally a soldier does not want to just drop them on the ground where they might get damaged, lost or stolen by the enemy. A dump bag is just an open bag that used magazines can be dropped into until there is a lull in combat when they can be put back into pouches. This large open mesh bag would probably be well suited to this role and would obviously not be needed for its primary purpose when contact with the enemy had been made.

My thanks got to Michael Whittaker for kindly letting me have this piece.

Osprey Mk IVa Side Armour Carrier

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:imageThe front is covered with a set of PALS loops to attach pouches to:imageThe main feature of the side plate carrier is a large pocket that a ballistic plate can be slid into:imageThis 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:imageA small label indicates stores details:imageInterestingly 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.

Aircrew Modular Vest Holster

The blog has covered a lot of MOLLE pouches and equipment over the years, normally from the Osprey system. Tonight however we have something a little different, this is a holster from an aircrew modular vest:imageThe aircrew modular vest was developed by Beaufort to combine body armour with a life vest and give aircrew places to attach pieces of equipment such as holsters and pouches for escape and evasion purposes. The images from the company’s brochure show the features of the vest:CaptureThe holster can be seen on the right of the image. The holster is designed to carry a 9mm military automatic and a spare magazine. Here it is with a Browning Hi-Power:imageA strap goes over the backstrap of the pistol to hold it secure, held in place with a lift the dot style fastener:imageThe spare magazine is held in a separate pouch on the front secured by a tape and press-stud:imageThe holster is made from soft cotton rather than the Cordua nylon most military equipment is today. The bottom of the holster includes padding sewn inside the fabric to help protect the muzzle of the pistol and to protect the wearer from the front sight of the automatic:imageThe back of the holster has a pair of heavy duty nylon MOLLE straps to allow the holster to be attached to the rest of the vest:imageIn this case it has been taped up with sniper tape to make a belt loop to allow the holster to be worn there rather than on the vest. The back of the holster has a sewn in label indicating it is made by Beaufort and is a ‘holster pocket’:imageAlthough a well thought out system, the aircrew modular vest was not hugely popular as it was felt to be a bit delicate compared to other webbing out there and many aircrew dropped it in favour of other designs. This example is in Desert DPM fabric but it was also produced in standard DPM and in the newer MTP fabric. It is an unusual piece as far smaller quantities of aircrew equipment are procured when compared to standard infantry webbing so this is a nice addition to the collection.

Osprey Mk IV Rank Slide Attachment Strap

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:imageThis is made from woven nylon tape, printed in MTP camouflage, with a press stud fitting to allow it to be made into a loop:imageThis 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:imageQuite 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…

Osprey Pistol Magazine Pouch

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:imageThis 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:imageThe magazine itself slides inside to make a secure fit, but one that allows it to be easily withdrawn:imageThe 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:imageThe 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:imageThese 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.

MTP Osprey Mk IV Smoke Grenade 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:imageThe lid is secured with both a tan plastic Fastex clip:imageAnd a piece of Velcro to ensure the grenade does not come out accidently:imageAs 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:imageAnd a small label is sewn to the bottom rear of the pouch with stores numbers on:imageThis 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.

DDPM Osprey Holster

After a few weeks looking at MTP osprey components, this week we return to the slightly earlier DDPM items with a look at the desert pistol holster, issued extensively during the operations in Afghanistan and used to carry the Browning Hi Power and Sig P226 issued to troops at the time. The holster is a simple open topped design, made in desert DPM infra-red resistant Cordua nylon:imageA top strap goes over the back of the pistol and secures the gun into the holster with a simple press stud:imageA plastic adjustment buckle is fitted to the rear of this strap to allow it to be tightened to hold different weapons effectively. The holster is designed to be used with the MOLLE straps and PALS loops of the Osprey system so two straps are fitted to the rear:imageThere is one long and one shorter strap to conform with the shape of the rear of the holster. Beneath these is a series of loops that allow the straps to be interwoven with the straps on the Osprey vest to allow a secure fit:imageA label is sewn to the rear as well and indicates that this holster was manufactured in 2011:imageInterestingly the design of holster is open at the bottom, leaving the muzzle of the pistol exposed:imageThis seems an odd choice for a piece of kit designed to be used in the desert where there is a high likelihood of dirt and dust getting into the muzzle of the gun. I suspect though that it was felt that gravity would remove most traces of debris that entered the barrel and it was better to allow it to fall away than leave it in the bottom of a holster where it would gather and could start abrading the weapon or turning into an abrasive paste with the oil coming off of the weapon.

These holsters were commonly worn either on a drop leg panel or strapped to the chest on the Osprey body armour cover.