Category Archives: MOLLE

Osprey Mk II Body Armour Cover

Last week we looked at the Mk IV Osprey cover from 2010. Tonight we go back a few years and look at its predecessor, the Mk II which was developed at the end of 2006 and issued to troops on operations in early 2007. The original Osprey body armour had been the subject of close interest from the government’s Defence Clothing Integrated Project Team and they had identified a number of flaws with the design including PALS strips pulling undone, poppers which opened too easily and a general feeling that the first pattern had been poorly made. The Mk II updated not only the vest, but also the shoulder brassards and collars (which we will look at another week). Originally these covers would have contained a ballistic filler and hard plates, however these are virtually impossible to get hold of on the civilian market at the moment.

The vest is split into two parts, a front and a back:imageThese are fastened at the shoulder with an arrangement of Velcro and press studs:imageTo improve the reliability of the vest in service all press studs were now made one-directional rather than multidirectional as in the earlier design. This meant that the only came undone if pressure was exerted in the right direction and this massively increased their reliability in the field. Note also the folded down fasteners to attach the collar to the armour.

One immediate difference readers will note when compared to the later design, is that the armour for the vest sits proud in a separate pocket, rather than being integral to the vest like the Mk IV:imageThe large pocket unzips and allows a large hardened SAPI plate to be fitted covering the whole of the thorax. A smaller pocket is also included so the plate from the old ECBA can be fitted over the heart if a lighter, but less well protected, set up is preferred:imageThe same arrangement is fitted to the rear:imageNote also the black male Fastex buckles top and bottom for the attachment of a Camelbak water bladder and two fastenings are fitted along the bottom edge to allow a respirator haversack to be attached. Both sides of the vest are fitted with PALS loops to allow pouches to be attached as required:imageA handle is fitted to the top of the rear to allow an injured soldier to be dragged clear by his comrades if needed:imageOne of the changes made to the Mk II vest was to fit a waist cummerbund belt to improve the fit and comfort of the vest. These straps pass around the body of the wearer and secure with Velcro at the front:imageAnother change made was the addition of a short strap to the shoulder:imageThis is designed to be passed through the rear sling loop of an SA80 and supports the weapon from the shoulder in lieu of a standard sling.

A single rank strap is fitted to the front to allow a rank slide to be fitted if required:imageBoth sides of the vest have a label giving sizing and care instructions:imageThere were a total of eight different sizes of Osprey Armour produced: 170/100, 170/112, 180/104, 180/116, 190/108, 190/120, 200/116 and 200/124.

Osprey armour was very effective, but it was bulky and heavy, which coupled with high temperatures and heavy loads in theatre led to rapid fatigue amongst troops wearing it- the Afghan National Army working alongside British troops dubbed them ‘tortoises’ for their appearance and speed!800px-Sniper_During_Op_Oqab_Tsuka_in_Afghanistan_MOD_45149829For those whose life has been saved by the armour though, the weight is a small price to pay. Lance Sergeant Collins was shot at in 2008:

When I was shot I thought the worst, especially because it from only about 200 metres away and I think it was a 7.62mm round – that’s a high calibre bullet to be hit by. I was examined on the spot expecting to be told bad news but there was nothing there. The body armour had stopped the bullet and saved my life.

He came away with just some bruising- only a few years before this would have been fatal.

We will continue our study of osprey Body Armour next week when we start looking at some of the accessories used with the various marks of armour.


DDPM MOLLE Drop Leg Harness Panel

There seems to be a constant stream of desert DPM equipment out there to find, with webbing, pouches and other forms of equipment available in huge quantities and at low prices. This is great for the collector and it is well worth building up a selection now if you want them as experience says they will not be around forever. With this in mind, I have been very pleased to add this drop leg harness panel to my collection:imageThis panel is designed to allow a holster of similar piece of load bearing equipment to be worn on the thigh in a quick draw position. The pain body of the harness consists of a DDPM panel with a set of MOLLE loops sewn to it:imageThese allow a holster to be attached in a position to suit the wearer and the panel is large enough to allow a pair of spare magazine pouches to sit alongside. At the top is a strap with a loop to attach to the user’s waist belt:imageThis is adjustable and is secured with a lift the dot fastener and Velcro:imageA pair of straps are fitted to pass round the upper thigh, one end has a male Fastex buckle on it:imageWhilst the female fastener is attached to the panel itself with small pieces of elastic to ensure a secure fit to the leg:imageThe back of the panel has a breathable fabric that is distinctly ‘rough’ to the touch, presumably to help it grip to the user’s trouser leg to hold it in position more securely:imageA simple stores label is sewn to the back:imageThis design seems to have been fairly popular and a near identical version has been produced in MTP following the adoption of that camouflage pattern. Interestingly it appears sets of these with holsters and magazine pouches have been sold as surplus in the US where they are popular on the civilian market with shooters there.

MOLLE Triple Ammunition Pouch

It has been a while since we last looked at one of the DDPM MOLLE pouches on the blog. Tonight we have one of the largest pouches produced for this system, the triple ammunition pouch:imageThis pouch has three separate pockets, each of which can hold two SA80 magazines (I only have the one magazine to hand, but you get the idea!):imageEach of these pockets is secured with heavy duty Velcro and a press stud:imageAs with all modern pouches, drainage holes are fitted to each individual pocket:imageThe pouch attached to a waistcoat or plate carrier using the standard heavy duty straps, secured with press studs, that pass through the ladder straps to hold the pouch securely:imageThis particular pouch was produced in 2007, as indicated by the label on the rear:imageI am struggling to find out how popular these pouches were, I suspect however that three individual ammunition pouches would have worked better than this single large pouch- they would offer more flexibility when setting up the load bearing equipment and six full magazines would be a lot of weight to have supported by just two straps on the rear, as in this pouch. Three individual pouches would have six straps to support the same weight and would presumably be more secure. Either way these pouches are easily available on the surplus market and this one cost me just £5 which seems very reasonable for such a large piece of web-gear.

MOLLE Torch/Knife Pouch

Amongst the many standard pouches issued with the DDPM MOLLE set is a small, thin one designed for use as a torch or knife pocket. This pouch is made of the same infra-red resistant Cordua nylon as the rest of the MOLLE set:As with other components, it has a strap secured on the back with a lift the dot press stud that allows it to fit to the ladder straps on the combat vest:The contents of this pouch are far lighter than most of the other pouches issued with the MOLLE set, so a simple flap secured with Velcro suffices to secure it:Again in line with the other pouches in the set, a metal grommet is fitted in the base to allow excess water to drain off:This pouch is possibly the smallest one issued as part of the DDPM MOLLE set, so the stores label on the rear pretty much fills the whole width:This particular example dates from 2007 and as with all the other MOLLE pouches, this one is dirt cheap at the moment: it can normally be picked up for one or two pounds with a bit of hunting.

MOLLE Water Bottle Pouch

It has been a while since we last looked at a Desert DPM MOLLE pouch, so tonight we are going to look at the water bottle pouch from this set. This pouch is one of the largest components of the MOLLE system:It is designed to carry the standard black plastic 1L water bottle that has been in service since the early 1960s (see here for more on the bottle):The pouch is made from the usual infra-red resistant Cordua nylon fabric, printed in desert DPM camouflage and secured with a pull tab fastener:The lid is also secured with a large Velcro tab under the top flap:A metal grommet on the base allows water to drain out of the pouch if needed:The back of the pouch has the usual heavy duty straps and lift the dot fasteners of all the MOLLE pouches:The label indicates that this pouch was manufactured in 2007:The water bottle pouch is up there with ammunition for having to carry a lot of weight, and the straps are suitably heavy duty. They only lasted a small period of time in front line service before being replaced with better sets and like all this kit, these pouches are readily available and sell for peanuts- this one cost me just £1.

Osprey MTP Single SA80 Magazine Pouch

Last year we looked at a number of different MOLLE pouches in Desert DPM fabric, used by the British Army in Afghanistan. In 2010 the British Army adopted the Mk4 Osprey body armour which was made in the new MTP camouflage, accompanying the body armour was a series of pouches, again produced in MTP. These were very similar in function to the earlier DDPM MOLLE pouches but featured the new camouflage and slight design changes. Tonight we are looking at the first element of this set I have picked up, a single SA80 magazine ammunition pouch:imageNote the use of a long Velcro flap to the pouch, rather than the quick release buckle used on the earlier designs:imageThis pouch would hold just a single magazine, hence the slim profile. The base of the pouch has a single metal grommet for drainage of any water that might enter:imageThe rear of the pouch has the familiar straps to engage with the cloth loops on the body armour, the same lift the spot fasteners and stiffened straps are used as the earlier designs:imageThe rear also has a label indicating the pouch’s function:imageNote the lack of an NSN number- instead of a stores code it just says ‘N.I.V.’ which means ‘Not in Vocabulary’. This was because these pouches were rushed into production and shipped straight on to front-line troops as part of an ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’ so the early production runs were not allocated an NSN number; later examples are coded.

MOLLE Medical Pouch

We return to the MOLLE system again tonight, with a detailed look at the personal medical pouch. This pouch is made of lighter weight nylon than the ammunition pouches we have looked at before, but has the same IRR desert DPM finish to the outside:imageThe lighter weight material is unsurprising as the pouch is designed to hold much lighter contents than a regular ammunition pouch. In service it was expected to carry two field dressings and a pair of morphine injectors, loops being provided inside the pouch for the latter:imageA special panel is attached to the lid of the pouch for the soldier to write his name, number and blood type on:imageThe lid is secured with a black plastic Fastex fastener:imageAs is the case on all these pouches, an eyelet is fitted in the base to allow water to drain out:imageAnd on the rear are a pair of MOLLE straps:imageThese differ from other pouches in having plastic ‘T’ clips inside them that can be accessed by unvelcroing the straps:imageThis allows the pouch to be worn on a PLCE belt, often worn in theatre as a trouser belt. This allows all troops to carry their medical kit with them, even if they are out of armour and not wearing a MOLLE vest. This particular pouch was manufactured in 2006:imageIt appears that the standard practice was to wear the medical pouch on the right hand side of any belt of vest. By having everyone wear them in the same place it was easy for a casualty’s oppo to find his first field dressing and apply it quickly. Clearly this rule was not heeded by the owner of this set of Osprey body armour, where the pouch is mounted centrally:505px-osprey_body_armour