Thursday, February 25, 2016

German K98k Mauser Ammo Pouch, WW2 Russian Capture, Wehrmacht - Russian Front

Today we'll be taking a look at a newer addition to the collection and a wonderful piece of WW2 and Cold War history.  It is a very nice, late war, WW2 German K98k Mauser, ammo pouch.

I spotted this pouch on eBay earlier this week and took a gamble on it.  The listing photos were poor and the seller listed it as a 1948 date stamped, vintage, post-war pouch.  I had a hunch that it was actually WW2 production and that the 1948 date was most likely 1943. Needless to say, I won the auction and got a great deal.
When the pouch arrived in the mail, I was more than happy to see that my gamble paid off.  

The pouch has clear stampings on the back side, with an RBN number and the date, "1943", clearly stamped under it.  The pebbled leather and the date stamp line up perfectly to give the illusion of an "8" instead of the stamped "3".   Definitely WW2 vintage German Army!

This is a classic "late war" pouch with riveted straps and pocket corners, with the short, riveted belt loops on the back.  All of the metal hardware has been brushed with black "tar paint".  The "tar paint" was applied by the Russians.  The pouch is a genuine "Russian Capture" pouch!

During WW2, the Russians gathered up all of the German Mausers and ammo pouches from the captured German soldiers and sent them to their armories for overhaul.  At the armories, they "de-nazified" the rifle markings (stamped out the swastikas) and prepped them for long term storage.  The ammo pouches had all of the metal rivets, and often the stitching, painted with he same "tar paint".  The rifles and pouches sat in warehouses until long after the war, waiting for a WW3 that never came.  Some time in the 1990's these Mauser Rifles and pouches were then cleared out and sold as surplus. 

Russian Capture Mausers at the end of WW2
This ammo pouch follows nicely along this story line:  Issued to a Wehrmacht soldier who was sent to the Russian Front, soldier captured by the Russians, pouch sent to the Russian armories, pouch in long term storage, surplussed, and then to eBay and then to my collection.  A very interesting history, unfortunately the known history only covers the high points.  I would love to have all of the "back story", details and circumstances of how the Russians actually picked up this pouch.  We will never know that part of the history, but at least an actual piece of the "Russian Front" is now going to be preserved.  It is also nice to be able to connect it to an actual time and location during the war.

A group of German POW's escorted by a Soviet soldier.

The overall condition of the pouch is quite nice. The condition and wear of the leather gives us a few clues about it's pre-capture useage.  The leather is nicely pebbled in the center areas, and nearly worn smooth on the edges.  The leather is also "softened, worn, and stretched" indicating that it saw extensive field use before capture.  It is a fire-tested veteran of the Russian Front.  

These pouches normally have a rawhide dividing strip inside each pouch pocket.  These strips keep the two stripper clips of ammo separated.  These strips are missing from this pouch.  You can see were the ends are still riveted in place, but the main strip has been cut away.  For some reason the Russians cut out all of these dividers when they were paced into long term storage.  This is another clear indicator that this pouch was captured by the Russians.

On the back of the pouch, we can see the "RBN" number.  These numbers were instituted in 1942 and were meant to replace the old "3 Letter Code" that was being used previously.  These numbers all follow the same format:  RBN  x / xxxx / xxxx.  They are always 9 digits long, in number groups of 1-4-4, each separated by back-slashes.  No one knows for certain what the numbers mean exactly, as the records were lost at the end of the war.  It is however, widely believed that the second set of numbers x / XXX / xxxx, is a city code, and the last set of numbers x / xxxx / XXX, is the manufacturers code.  There is normally a year date stamped under the RBN number.  You can see the "1943" stamped on this pouch.
The number on this pouch is:  RBN 0/0390/0069

This pouch is a wonderful new addition to the "Russian Front" part of my collection.  Now the hunt continues for a companion pouch!

Here is the photo album of this wonderful pouch:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

German Army Tire Pump, WW2 Wehrmacht, Heer, or Early Post War, for vehicles or bicycles

Well I'm back to "The Blog" after a break for the holidays and business...............  I have a backlog of good stuff to get posted, so stay tuned!

Today I'd like to show off an extremely rare, German Military tire pump.  I say rare, but that may actually be an understatement.  There are "tons" of the old truppenfahrrad, bicycle tire pumps floating around, but one type of pump that you may never find, is one of these "floor pumps" that can trace its roots back to the German Military.

I just happened to be browsing one of my favorite surplus sources for new and unique deals, and stumbled on these pumps.  They were being sold as "vintage, surplus German Army" pumps, at a price I could not pass up (not that I can ever pass up rare, authentic, military bicycle items!).  I took a chance and ordered one up.  After a couple of order glitches, the pump arrived.  It was more than I could have hoped it would be!

This pump is old.  I would date it as WW2 vintage, or early Post-War vintage.  There has been a lot of the "bottom of the bucket" and "back of the warehouse" surplus hitting the market lately, as Germany clears out the last of the old storage warehouses (the Old Stuff).  I think that this small batch of pumps fits into that category (the batch was so small that they sold out almost instantly with no more available).

First off, lets get a good look at this pump and then we'll take a look at why I think it may be WW2 vintage, or at least very early Post-War.

The pump is in new condition and does not appear to have ever been issued or used.  The paint is nearly perfect.  The wood handle shows no wear, no corrosion, no rust, etc. 

When it arrived, it was still wrapped in the old preservative paper with some very old cardboard around the fill nozzle.  This style of preservative paper is the old type,1950's and prior.

The hose is the old cloth covered rubber with a real leather gasket on the threads of the pump end.  The fill nozzle is the old style with the old pink rubber inside.  All of this puts it in the WW2 or 1950's time frame.

One of the best clues as to the age of this pump, is the makers decal on the pump tube.  On the tube of the pump, there is a diamond shaped decal with the brand name "SUDAG".  

A bit of research revealed that the SUDAG name and emblem was used by the German tool and manufacturing company, Suckow-Duisberg.  

Old 1927 paperwork from Suckow-Duisberg.

From what I can tell, Suckow-Duisberg was manufacturing in full force in the 1920's and through WW2.  After WW2, it seems to have disappeared with no further "hits" mentioning it in any of the records.  If this is in fact correct, then the pump dates to the WW2 era.  (Possibly the factory was destroyed and never rebuilt after the war?).

The decal itself also gives us an important clue as to age.  The decal has a metallic gold background.  This gold background has a very "grainy" surface and appearance.  The metallic printing on the old WW2 and pre-WW2 decals have this grainy appearance.  The post-war decals have smooth surfaced metallic printing.  Another strong indication the pump is from WW2 !

The cast metal base of the pump has the initials PWO cast into it. During the WW2 years, Germany started assigning random three letter codes to manufacturers to protect the locations of the German factories (so the Allies couldn't figure out who and where to bomb).  If these initials are the three letter, war-time code for the company, then this would indicate that the pump was manufactured during the war, or was assembled after the war from war-time parts.  There is not a complete list of all of the three letter codes used, as all of the records were lost or destroyed at the end of the war.  I have not been able to find PWO to confirm that it was the code name for Suckow-Duisberg.  If the PWO code is a war-time, three letter code for the SUDAG company, then it would make perfect sense that the two would be totally unrelated.

Another strong clue is the green paint.  The color seems to match the WW2 military paint color, RAL6003 "Olivgrün", used by the Wehrmacht on many of their vehicles.  It would make sense for the pump to be painted this color if it was intended to be carried in the tool kit of military vehicles.  The base of the pump has fold-up feet, and the wood hand is threaded with a metal insert to make it removable, which would also indicate that it was intended to be carried in a more compact form on a vehicle.

After WW2, Germany did not have an army until the Bundeswehr was created in November of 1955.  That is 10 years after the end of WW2.  In 1951, the Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Border Police) was created, however they used a much, much darker green, (schwarzgrün), for their vehicles and equipment.  The early Bundeswehr, German Army, used an Olive Drab Green color, darker than the pump's green color.  More circumstantial evidence that the pump is actually WW2 issue.

I may never know the true age of the pump, but I can say that it fits perfectly for WW2, or very early post-war production.  I will be adding the pump to the bicycle gear that I have collected for my old Bundesgrenzschutz Dienstfahrrad bicycle.  It's a perfect fit. 

Here are a few pages from a couple of old bicycle parts catalogs from the pre-war years.  You can see how this pump fits with the parts listed and illustrated.

Lets finish things up and take a look at the photo album of this amazing pump.