Category Archives: War on Terror

Desert DPM Fire Resistant Windproof Smock

Update: My thanks to Michael Fletcher and Sean Featherstone for helping correctly identify the material used in this smock as being a special fire resistant fabric.

A few months back we looked at the desert DPM field jacket here. At the time we mentioned in passing the windproof smock, with a user commenting:

Windproof smock – all the advantages of the 94 smock, and is bloody excellent in dry cold. Not so clever in wet, muddy conditions. The fabric’s just too thin, and the ingrained dirt that goes with infantry trench-living will abrade it like feck, so it disintegrates, suddenly (a characteristic of all 100% cotton clobber). The hood’s a pain in the arse, even in Noggieland, where (for all the usual good tactical reasons) it was seldom used, except in the most severe cold (like -40).

Tonight we are looking at the said windproof smock, here in desert DPM fabric:imageOne thing to notice throughout all the photographs on this post is the material the smock is made from, it is obviously a very different weave to that used in the field jacket and this is a special fire resistant fabric used for smocks issued to aircrew, pilots and others who might be exposed to fire as part of their daily duties.

Some features of the smock are clearly common across the CS95 system, so we have the usual centrally mounted rank slide:imageAnd large pockets secured with the typical sewn on buttons:imageOther features of note are the strips of Velcro on the sleeves to allow insignia to be added or removed, these help easily distinguish the smock from more conventional patterns:imageThe most distinctive feature of the smock however is the hood, this has a piece of wire across the whole of the front, allowing it to be adjusted and set to a degree:imageWhen not in use it is rolled up and secured behind the neck:imageA cotton tape and button preventing it from unravelling:imageAs with most items of British Army clothing a large white label is sewn into the inside of the smock with sizing, care instructions and a space for the owner to write his name and number:imageNote the ‘FR’ on the label indicating that the smock has been treated to make it fire resistant. As with so much of this kit, desert DPM smocks are easily available and cheap- being surplused off in large numbers following the switch to MTP clothing. As has been said many time before on this blog, if you are a new collector, this is an ideal area to start with- it’s cheap, available and its likely that in years to come the ‘War on Terror’ will become ever more collectable.

Desert DPM Bergan Cover

The British Army used a number of different rucksacks and bergans on operations during the ‘War on Terror’. One thing that most had in common though was that they were produced in a woodland green DPM camouflage. This was great in the forests of northern Europe, but not much good in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan where it stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. What the army did not want to do was to issue all its troops two separate bergans in two different camouflage patterns depending on where they were deployed- for one thing bergans are expensive! The answer they came up with was an adjustable cover in desert DPM camouflage that could be fitted over a bergan to hide the green DPM:imageThe cover is made of a poly-cotton printed in desert DPM; a cord is fitted all around the inside edge of the cover. The cover is pulled over the bergan, with the corded side closest to the back, the draw string is then tightened using the plastic tensioner to prevent the cover from slipping off:imageThis is complemented by a set of straps and Fastex clips that also help secure the cover:imageOnce fitted a neat appearance can be achieved:s-l300A stores label is sewn into the inside of the cover:imageThe covers were a common sight being used by troops in the early days of the war on terror, however today they are less common as following the adoption of MTP camouflage, one pattern is now sufficient for both temperate and arid conditions and separate covers are no longer needed for more recent bergans. Older examples are still on issue and an MTP cover has been produced for these but they are starting to be phased out as DPM bergans reach the end of their working lives. Here we see troops wearing the rucksack covers as they exit a Chinook:savas-tamtamlari-yemen-icin-caliyor--474320

Pelvic Armour

Traditionally British body armour protects the core of the body from shrapnel and projectiles by having a ballistic panel front and back over the chest, with the addition of ceramic plates to cover the heart and protect against enemy rounds. The idea is that most fatal injuries occur to the thoracic region and most projectiles will hit it horizontally. Experience in Afghanistan though revealed a real danger from IEDs that forced shrapnel into the chest cavity vertically from the ground upwards. To combat the increasing numbers of injuries and fatalities the Ministry of Defence introduced a new set of pelvic armour that covered the groin region and reduced the risk of vertically propelled shrapnel. This armour consisted of two soft plates that went between the wearer’s legs giving rise to the soldier’s nickname ‘the combat nappy’:imageThis armour was introduced in 2010 and the government at the time noted:

A second layer of detachable pelvic body armour, designed to meet the greater threats faced by soldiers on the ground has already been successfully trialled by the MOD. It can be rolled up and clipped to a belt and then pulled through the legs to form a protective pouch – meaning troops’ mobility is not impeded. It will be issued to all troops operating outside the wire from Spring 2011.

The £4m contract for 25,000 sets of the second-tier body armour has been signed with Northern Ireland-based Hawk Protection Ltd. MOD INTRODUCES PELVIC PROTECTION FOR FRONTLINE TROOPSLoops are provided at the top of the armour to attach it to a waist belt:imageThe sides are secured with Fastex clips:imageA tab on the back was frequently used to record the soldier’s ‘zap’ number:imageThe inside of the armour is designed to be as comfortable as possible with no protrusions to chafe the wearer:imageA label is sewn into the back giving the user instructions on its wear:imageThe BBC reported at the time of their introduction:

The “combat codpiece” comes in camouflage colours, and looks like a bulky pair of underpants which tie on at both sides, which is worn over the trousers.

It can be rolled up and clipped to a belt at the back of a pair of trousers with two velcro straps, and then – when needed on patrol – be pulled through the legs to clip together at the sides to form a protective pouch. _50462615_codThe padding inside the front and back segments offers an extra layer of protection. These will be issued to troops in the early spring, with the contract for 25,000 sets worth £4m.

Col Peter Rafferty, personal combat equipment team leader at defence equipment and support, says that those researching and developing the equipment faced many challenges, not least in creating protection which still allows the soldiers and others in the field to do their jobs without impeding their mobility.

“We are constantly reviewing what we can do on protection for our forces – we never stop, and we’ll continue to examine what more we can do,” he said.

When out on patrol or outside the main bases in Afghanistan, British forces and others already wear body armour which shields the key areas of the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, as well as a relatively heavy helmet to protect the head, and blast-proof goggles to shield the eyes from any blast.

However, key arteries flow through the groin area as well, which is an area prone to sweating, so both the blast-proof underwear and pouch had to be made of materials which allow sweat to pass through, rather than adding to the heat experienced by those patrolling in the Afghan summer heat.

My thanks go to Michael Fletcher for hooking me up with this very interesting piece of modern body armour.

AFV Body Armour Cover

Armoured fighting vehicles present equipment designers with a set of distinct challenges. They are narrow spaces, with plenty of protruding objects to catch on uniforms and equipment and regular uniform, body armour and webbing is not appropriate for these men. Whilst it might seem counter intuitive to issue men sitting in an armoured box body armour, there is always the possibility that a vehicle will be hit and its crew will need to bail out and fight their way back to safety. In this case they will need body armour for protection and webbing to hold ammunition for their weapons. To solve this problem the British Army introduced a specialist cover for a set of body armour designed for personnel serving in armoured vehicles:This cover uses the standard filler as issued with the Combat Body Armour or Enhanced Combat Body Armour. At first glance it is just a plain olive green body armour cover, although on the back can be seen two loops at the top of the cover that allow an injured crewman to be hauled through the hatch of an AFV:A single rank slide loop is fitted to the front of the cover:The first indication that this is not a normal body armour cover are the two large zippered pockets on either side of the main opening, the one on the right for maps and documents and the other for a 2l water bladder. These are secured with zips:The main feature of the body armour is revealed however when the front is un-zippered to reveal a set of pouches:These take the place of a full set of webbing and contain on the left two utility pouches. On the right there is a small Leatherman pouch and a first field dressing pouch above a removable panel. The removable panel has either a holster or, as in this case, two single pockets for SA80 magazines:This panel is secured with a combination of Velcro and press studs:This panel has its own separate stores label and NSN number:The loose fabric covers, once unzipped, are rolled back and secured with Velcro ties:This particular cover was issued and has the name and number of a soldier called ‘Merriman’ who was in the Queen’s Dragoon Guards:The cover has a stores code on the inside, which gives some basic care instructions to the user:A later version of this cover offers the ability to upgrade the armour with ceramic plates in the style of the ECBA. My thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping me add this very interesting piece of modern armoured equipment to my collection.

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.

Desert DPM Field Jacket

The British Army’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan took place in arid desert conditions for much of the time. Despite this, temperatures were not universally high and at night the ambient heat could plummet rapidly. Therefore, in addition to desert DPM shirts, the army issued a heavier field jacket in the desert camouflage:The design of this jacket is clearly a copy of the equivalent CS95 design in temperate DPM. It has two angled breast pockets secured with the distinctive looped tape buttons:And a further two patch pockets on the skirt:It fastens up the front with a zip that is covered by a Velcro fly:A single front mounted tab is provided for rank insignia:A small Union flag is sewn onto the sleeve:As with all modern combat clothing a label is sewn in giving sizing and care instructions:These uniforms were ubiquitous in the early days of the campaign in Afghanistan and here Brigadier James Cowan, commander of the task force in Helmand, can be seen wearing one in 2010:It must be said that the fabric used in this jacket is not particularly thick, but the CS95 uniform and by extension this desert pattern uses a layering principle. Beneath the field jacket would be a shirt and t-shirt layer, the air trapped between each layer then being effective at keeping the wearer warm.

One user who had experience of various different types of uniform outer layers gives his assessment:

Worst combats ever were those on issue when I was in NI in 1991 – single lines of stitching, so the seams would fall apart when you knelt down, and pockets would drop off. Superseded by the interim 94 pattern stuff (similar cut to the Cbt 95 smock – but made of fabric that held more water) : school report would say “an improvement, but could still do better”). At last line infantry had as standard issue a buttonless zip-front smock with decent sized pockets, and sturdy construction (the things that made para smocks attractive): zip front and generous sizing means you can stuff ammo or whatever inside the thing for ready access in a hurry.

Windproof smock – all the advantages of the 94 smock, and is bloody excellent in dry cold. Not so clever in wet, muddy conditions. The fabric’s just too thin, and the ingrained dirt that goes with infantry trench-living will abrade it like feck, so it disintegrates, suddenly (a characteristic of all 100% cotton clobber). The hood’s a pain in the arse, even in Noggieland, where (for all the usual good tactical reasons) it was seldom used, except in the most severe cold (like -40).

Field jacket has to be tops – all of the advantages of the better kit listed above, and designed to minimise the drawbacks of all of the others (like, it’s cotton, so it will wear out . . . but would you prefer something that lasted longer but melts into your flesh when flash-heated by an explosion?) – plus all the clever touches like ripstop fabric and things to tie your compass to.

British Army Dust Goggles

The British Army’s two main conflicts of the twenty-first century so far have been fought in hot and dusty conditions. This has led to very rapid improvements in the military’s hot weather gear and the introduction of new equipment specifically designed for this environment. Tonight we are looking at one such piece of personal kit, a pair of dust goggles:As with much equipment brought in to deal with an urgent operational need, there are numerous variants and manufacturers of dust goggles that can be seen in phtotographs- some officially supplied by the MoD and other bought by soldiers themselves when they either found the issue equipment wanting or wished to increase their ‘allyness’. This pair of goggles are some of the most basic and were manufactured by ‘Scott’ in the USA and are based off sports goggles. The goggles themselves are made of rubber and plastic, with a foam backing cushion:Note the manufacturer’s name embossed into the foam padding. Cut outs around the frame allow air to enter through the foam and keep the wearer cool:An adjustable elasticated strap is provided that helps hold them securely to the head or a helmet, note the plasticised strips on this to help with grip so it doesn’t slide up or down:The military markings on these goggles are very hard to read, being raised lettering inside the mask at the top, here we see their designation ‘Classic Downhill Type’:The name reflects the goggles origins as a civilian sporting design. Even harder to read is the NSN number:These goggles were used at the start of the conflicts before being replaced with smaller, lighter and more comfortable designs. Here a soldier (probably a support troop) wears this style of goggle:Like so much of this kit from the War on Terror, these goggles are readily available for very low prices, this pair for instance costing £2.