Friday, April 30, 2010

M-31, Early East German Canteen

I scored a pretty hard to find, bordering on "rare", German canteen on eBay last weekend. It arrived today! It surpassed all of my expectations...... it is in unissued condition! This is one of the final pieces that I have been searching for to outfit the BGS bike with.

These early, post-war, East German canteens are a nearly identical match to the late-war (WW2) M-31, German army canteens. The only real difference is the type of leather used on the straps and the metal belt clip is a slightly different style. These East German models were issued to the Barracks Police (pre-army forces) and later the Army, from the mid 1940's to the mid 1950's, the exact time period that my BGS bike dates to. The early BGS canteens were nearly identical to both the WW2 and East German canteens.......... a near perfect match!

The canteen itself has no markings other than "TPW", or it could be "Md1", dependening on which way is right-side-up, on the cap and cup. No dates. Based on this, I would date this canteen to the 1940's, before the East Germans adopted a standard date-ID system. The WW2 German canteens have a three letter stamping on the cup and canteen necks (bot matching and in capital letters as well). According to my internet research , the three letters represent the manufacturer (found on all WW2 canteens as well). My guess is that one of the factories that made canteens during WW2 found itself in the new East Germany and just kept stamping out canteens for the new German Police and Army, using the old dies and patterns. In the late 1950's, the East German Army switched to plastic canteens with a flat bottom, in a cheap cloth cover, and tapered metal cup.

I am still waiting for a back-ordered batch of old Swiss Army surplus bread bags (from my super-secret source !!!!) that I will use for "saddle bags" on the back of the BGS bike. The shovel, canteen and mess kit will strap on the outside of the bread bags.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WW2 German Klappspaten & M-43 WW2 US Shovel

The mailman brought another treasure to the door today.............. a WW2 German issue "Klappspaten" folding shovel. Found it listed on eBay listed as a US shovel and carry pouch! I won the auction and ended up paying a token amount for a great piece of WW2 German equipment like this! In the eBay photos, I could see that the shovel end had been worn down from use and it looked like it had dried concrete all over it.............. correct on both counts. I didn't want to ask the seller for exact measurements, etc., to confirm that it was actually German and not a Dutch copy, and risk tipping off other bidders of my suspicion that it was WW2 German. I took the gamble and it paid off! ( A great deal even if it was Dutch!).

There are only a couple of nearly microscopic differences between the WW2 German shovels and the Post-War Dutch ones. The big difference is in the blade width. The German shovel is 150 mm wide and the Dutch ones are 157 mm wide. Mine is 150 mm wide. I haven't been able to locate any "waffenstamps", makers code or mini-Nazi-eagle stamp marks,but that does not rue it out as a WW2 issue shovel. The shovels made at the very end of the war, before the collapse and surrender, often won't show marks and have proud rivets on the shovel face (not ground down flush like the earlier models). Mine are proud. I'm still doing research on the differences to make a positive ID, but I'm pretty darn sure it's WW2 German.

After WW2, the German shovels were repainted in olive green and reissued to the Norwegian and Dutch armies. The original German color was black metal and my shovel appears to be one of those reissues. The black finish is plainly visible where the green top coat has worn off............ This afternoon I did some clean-up work with a scribe, dental pick and green scouring pad and cleaned off all of the concrete. Looks great!

The canvas carry pouch that came with the shovel is a WW2 US Army issue carrier. It is dated 1945. I actually needed one of these for my 1944 US Army shovel! Good deal all around! Now I need to locate a leather German shovel carrier.

I am planning on mounting the German shovel on the rear rack of the BGS bicycle after I find the correct leather shovel cover.......... the search continues! As you may recall from earlier posts on the BGS bicycle, the BGS used reissued WW2 German equipment in the early start-up years of the service. This is the period that my bike comes from, so a mix of WW2 and post-war equipment is perfect.

An interesting bit of WW2 trivia: The Germans invented the folding shovel in 1938 and the US promptly made our own copy and issued it out to our troops in 1943! There are NUMEROUS pieces of military equipment used around the world that are based on, or are copies of, the WW2 German originals........ there are even large numbers of reissued German WW2 weapons still in use by armies around the world.

Here are some pre-cleaning pictures of the German "Klappspaten" shovel:

My M-43 US Army folding shovel and carry pouch:

Comparison pictures of the two shovels from both armies. German on the left, US on the right:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Filming in the Pacific Northwest!

Greetings from the set of a new short feature film that was recently shot out here on the Olymic Peninsula by none other than N8, and starring none other than myself!

I spent this last weekend working with N8 on his newest project, a short film shot on HD video. I won't give away all the details until the final cut makes it out of the editing room, but here are a few teaser stills that he forwarded to me.

The film is a fairly surrealistic "spaghetti western / samurai western" sort of film filled with symbolism............ N8 says that the final film will be somewhere in the 10 minute range and has a very good chance of showing at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

I spent most of last Sunday dressed in wet, mud caked, and orange powder dusted cowboy gear............ with a healthy coating of mud and orange on my face, neck, hands............. We used N8's Great Great Grandfathers cowboy spurs and my old black powder revolver to give the costuming that final authentic touch. The shots turned out pretty darn cool! The following stills are in low pixel resolution compared to the actual High Definition Video the film was shot in.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for the upcoming movie release!

Friday, April 16, 2010

NVA Kockgeschirr

Yesterday afternoon a large box arrived on the doorstep containing a full case of original, unissued, East German Army mess kits! (NVA Kocchgeschirr = East German Army Mess Kit)
I got a fantastic deal on the full lot from my "source" and since I was in the market for one to put on my BGS bicycle, I figured I'd spring for a full case, keep one or two for myself, and then turn the others into WW2 reproductions.............

The mess kits are nearly identical to the WW2 German Army mess kits. The bottom bucket portion is a nearly an exact copy. The top lid-cup is exact with the exception of loops for the leather mess kit strap to pass through on the handle. The older WW2 kits have metal "belt loops" for the carrying strap to pass through, where the East German ones just have "strap guides". Unless you were a pretty sharp collector, you'd never notice the difference! The BGS used a nearly identical version of this mess kit as well. Eventually I'll have one of these kits strapped to the back rack on the bike along with other field gear.

Here are a few pictures of the mess kits in the original case:

Here are a few "up close" pictures with Penguin our Alpha-cat helping out:

Here is a comparison of an original WW2 German Army mess kit with the leather strap and my NVA mess kit with a leather strap (I'll find a more original looking strap!). You can see the metal "belt loops" on the WW2 mess kit (the second picture):

Here are a couple of original pictures of BGS officers using and carrying the mess kits in the field:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Polish - DDR- NVA Wz-63 Paratroop Helmet

I had the very unique opportunity to purchase a vintage military surplus, Polish Wz-63 paratrooper's helmet that came from the former East German Army (DDR - NVA). The helmet is in pretty darn good shape for its age and service history, and is complete, with the exception of a padded chin cup (often discarded by the troops). These helmets were manufactured by Poland for their army, but they proved very popular with the East German Army and other service units. They were used from about 1972 to 1986.

They were standard issue for the East German Paratroop unit: 40 Fallschirmjaegerbataillon .
This unit was the only paratroop unit in the East German Army and numbered about 600 soldiers total with only about 288 who were actual paratroopers. This was East Germany's only paratroop unit.

40 Fallschirmjaegerbataillon unit emblem

I have also turned up some photos and documentation that shows that these helmets were also used by the East German Special Police, and the Border Police as dispatch riders helmets for the military motorcyclists................ as well as the Polish Army Paratroops.

My helmet is dated 1976 and has the Polish military stamps on the back side of the leather liner. The neck guard and chin strap are green leather. The helmet itself is steel.

Here are a few pictures of this helmet in service by various units:

East German Paratroops:

East German Special Police:

East German Border Police:

Polish Paratroops: