Thursday, July 28, 2011

Schweizer Armee, Swiss Army Movie-Video, Official Swiss Army Video on K-9, Cavalry-Horses

Today I have another video that was produced and filmed by the Swiss Army.  This video is dated 2010.

The video covers the Swiss K-9 Training Center, Horse Patrol Unit, Horse Transportation Unit, and the Horse Training and Veterinary Center .  The footage of Horses in use in the modern Swiss Army is truly fantastic!  I had no idea that the Swiss Army still uses horses......... the video is about 12 minutes long, and is in narrated in English.

Here is one more short video that covers the Swiss Army pack horse units. The video was filmed and produced by the Swiss Military and is about 1 1/2 minutes long...... and in English.  It's extremely good!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Schweizer Armee, Swiss Army Movie-Video 1976, M/70 Alpenflage Leibermuster

For your viewing pleasure,  today I have a fantastic film that was produced back in 1976 by the "Schweizer Armee", or Swiss Army.  It shows a dramatic, but fictional, invasion by Eastern Block forces.  The best part about the film is that it shows the old style Alpenflage field camo in use (the old M/57 and its variations, up through M/57/70).  One thing that I found particularly interesting is the occasional use of the old WW2 Sumpfmuster camo on many of the helmet covers!  You may have to look close to pick out the various uniform details, but it I have not found a better visual source for "real" information on Swiss field uniforms and equipment form the Cold War era.

The film basically is a showcase of all of the Swiss military weapons that were in use at the time.  Great shots of all types of Swiss infantry  machine guns, mortars, bazookas, rockets, tanks, firing away at the "enemy".

Here is the film in its entirety........... filmed in 1976, about 26 minutes long.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Liberty Cuffs

For a change of pace from all of the previous "Tera Firma" military gear and clothing posts, I thought I'd pull out a set of vintage Liberty Cuffs to show off today.

Liberty cuffs are a strictly unofficial bit of US naval uniform tradition that once was quite popular with shipboard sailors from WW2 through the 1980's.  During this time, enlisted sailors were required to wear their issue naval jumpers to and from the ship and while on board.  No civilian clothes were allowed on the ship.  This gave birth to the "Liberty Cuff" tradition.  Sailors being the rebellious bunch that they are, could not pass up the opportunity to sneak a bit of flagrant individualism under the noses of the officers and the ever present Shore Patrol.  The Liberty Cuff was born.  It was traditional for a sailor to have his jumper tailored and additionally embroidered with art inside.......... against all US Navy regulations, of course.  Once the sailor was off the ship and on liberty, he could turn up the cuffs of his jumper and sport his Liberty Cuffs.  But, while he was on liberty, and looking so salty, he had to keep the ever vigilant eye open for the dreaded, and ever present, Shore Patrol.  These tough Navy cops would bust a sailor in a minute if he was caught "out of uniform" with his Liberty Cuffs turned up.....................................

Here are my cuffs.  They date somewhere in the WW2 to 1980's time period and are new and unissued.  For a great write up on the history of this naval tradition, take a look at this wonderful web page:  Liberty Cuffs

To finish things up, lets take a look at a few period photos of these cuffs in the fleet.  The first two photos are of Steve McQueen in the movie "The Sand Pebbles"...............

Middle sailor, back row.......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

M 70 Swiss Alpenflage Jacket & Backpacks, Model 57/70, Model 1970

Today I'll be showing off a pair of early 1970's vintage Swiss combat jackets with packs that I recently picked up.  These jackets are the ultimate camo combat jackets........ TONS of pockets, integrated pack system, heavy weight, sniper veil, in short, an amazing bit of military field clothing from the cold war era.

First off, here's a bit of back history on these jackets.  This style of field jacket was designed back in 1957 and was issued up until 1983 with several minor design changes (mostly small technical differences).  The model jackets that I have are the Model 57/70 style.  In 1970 the jackets went through their final revision prior to the new style BDU camo that was issued in 1983.  In the M 57/70 jackets, the waist cinch cord and inner wind cuffs were deleted as well as an inner pocket for the weapon cleaning kit.  The Jackets were issued with a small back pack that is designed to attack directly to the jacket, creating an integrated field combat system.

UPDATE NOTE 12-01-15: I received some additional information about these wonderful Swiss combat outfits in a reader's comments below.  I am reprinting it here so that the details are not missed:

"I realize this is an older post but being Swiss I'll be glad to clear a few things up ;)

Firstly, although in 1983 the army changed to the M83 (TAZ 83 as we call it in Switzerland) uniform sets, the RS (recruit school) continued to,use TAZ 70 jackets up until 1993 (RS is where all men aged 18-27 do their compulsory 21 weeks service, they are usually Ives the old gear)

Now I have a photo of my father doing his service in 1982 (unfortunately I don't seem to be able to post the photo) and along with the m70 jacket he also wears the ww2 service belt which they made until the mid-70s. Although most things could fit in the pocket the only reasons the service belt was worn was to keep the jacket closer to your body as well as to carry the STGW 57 bayonet with its leather frog as can be seen in my fathers photo. The service cap by the way up until 1983 when they began using the Swiss camo (Alpentarn) cap was actually the ww2 M43 wool field caps which are very similar in design to German ww2 mid was service caps"

Here is a couple of shots of the jacket and the attached pack.  We'll take a closer look at the various details a bit further on in the posting.

With pack attached.

The Swiss Alpenflage camo was printed over various base colors through the years.  The two jackets that I have a quite different in their appearance for this exact reason.  One jacket is printed over a light colored fabric and the other over a darker brown fabric.  It's interesting to see much difference this small detail makes:

The jackets are loaded with details and features. One of the very cool features is the integrated sniper's veil.  The veil rolls up into a special compartment in the leading edge of the hood.  It is very effective when rolled down and tucked in around the face.  I'm surprised that this sort of veil has not been adopted by the various modern military units around the world.  The hood has a series of buttons and a tab that allows one to fix the hood flat against the jacket when it's not being worn and to shorten the leading edge for a smaller hood.

The rear pack straps are designed to be attached to the square "rings" on the front chest of the jacket with the attached clip-hooks.  The lower straps are wrapped around the waist and buckled like a belt in the front.

There is a heavy metal clip in the front of the jacket that is used to hang the steel helmet when it's not being worn.  I use the clip on my jacket for hanging my survival knife.

The elbow and lower arm area has a clear, heavy, vinyl waterproof section sewn over the camo cloth.  I also noticed that the lower arms on both jackets seem to have been cut from a different camo batch as the cloth is a slightly different color!

The jackets have pockets everywhere!  Here is a quick diagram and listing of all of the pockets and what they are used for, courtesy of The Swiss Rifle Forum .

Here is the legend that tells what each pocket is for:

56) Magazines for Stgw 57.
57) "White" magazine (for firing rifle grenades), ABC- protection sheet, reflecting leg band.
58 ) Food, toilet paper.
59) Army knife, hearing protection, private items.
60) First aid dressing. 

61) Gun cleaning kit, universal cleaning kit.
62) Cooking utensils.
63) Canteen with cup and cutlery.
A gas mask in a carrying pouch and a flashlight (fitted to the waist belt or chest) were carried separately. 

65) Stick hand grenades / military manuals.
66) Rain protection and winter utensils, washing in plastic bag, emergency cooker.
67) Rifle grenades.
68 ) fitted to the Combat pack; the shovel or/and pick.

To finish up the posting, here is an album of photos of both of these jackets...........

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finnish Puukko Knife, My Favorite Bushcraft Knife

Today I'll be showcasing the all around handiest bushcraft knife in my field kit......... My Finnish Puukko knife.

I picked this knife up several years ago from a woman who had traveled to Finland and bought the knife there.  A little bit of hand finishing, some oil on the leather sheath, a good sharpening of the carbon steel blade, and this knife quickly proved itself to be a great little field knife.  

Puukko knives are the traditional knives of the Scandinavian north country, most specifically Finland.  There are many subtle style variations to these knives, but basically they are about the length of ones own hand, have a straight backed blade, and no hand guard.  The puukko knife is the only civilian item that a Finnish soldier is allowed to carry without violating military regulations and these knives can be seen carried by many soldiers in the military garrison setting, (As an interesting side note, Finland banned the carrying of ANY sharp object in public in 1977 which has lead to the public disappearance of the once common puukko knife.  In Finland you can only carry a knife if it is part of your job!).

I added a small stainless steel ring to the sheath and quickly realized that I had hit on the perfect mounting system for these puukko knives.  I can add a caribiner, and the knife can clip easily to everything from my belt, to my jacket, or the straps of my pack.  

As an alternative carrying method, I can add a leather thong with a double slip knot and it can be carried around the neck. If you look at the photos, you can figure out how this knot is tied (this knot and the bowline are two of the the most useful knots to know!).  The two half hitches pulled together make a very strong knot and when the half hitches are slid apart, it makes for an easily adjustable lanyard.  Oh yes, and it is VERY easy to untie if you need to remove the lanyard.

Here are a few more photos of my Puukko Knife: