Ageing, Wear & Tear (Dirt & Grime)
When you look at any period photographs of paratroopers in combat kit, they are always dirty, the kit is marked, stain, repaired in places and has been heavily worn. Assuming your not going to portray an fresh face trooper who is going to be based stateside and always be in training then you kit should reflect this.
M42 Jump suit
I did try wearing a new jump suit all the time, even wearing it relic hunting and dump digging, but it wasn't wearing in fast enough so I started to take matters into my own hands. In the uniform section I linked a video that suggests a way of ageing the uniform and kit using coffee/tea water mix. I didn't think this would be permanent enough so went with an old can of light wood stain. Laying the jacket down I splattered it about and paid attention to the areas that I would touch and handle more than others. The pocket flaps, the areas around the zips, the bottom of the jacket that you always hold when doing up the zip in particular. Then lastly rubbing all the seams and areas that are slightly higher than the rest, if you ever done any modelling, the same way you would dry brush areas. Currently its drying in the cellar as it now stinks to high heaven! If you wondering why its not hanging up outside, it's because its 3am!
The look it gave didn't have as large as an effect as I wanted, however it was a great starting place to add alternative layers of different types. I got out some brown, black, light green acrylic paints and got to work, slowly building up the layers by mainly dry-brushing all the areas that would be prone to the most dirt, rubbing and wear. It wasn't too long before it really started to come to how I wanted it. With the addition of a leather name plate I called it complete.
Of course, original webbing wont need to be ages of course and because of its value its probably a really bad idea any way! Reproduction webbing simply looks terrible and it needs something doing to it. I only have two bits of reproduction kit, my transitional Musette bag which the first thing I did to it was rough it up a couple of with a wire brush on a drill, wearing some of the seams away a little. wearing a couple of small holes in the flap and just generally wearing away that perfect, brand new surface finish that it had. I will get it dirty in the same or similar way to the M42 jump suit.
Original compass pouches seem to sell for much more than I value them at, so I looked at reproductions, the ones SOF sell seem to be the same cheap rubbish you'll find being sold from manufacturers on EBay. The material is correct, but the colour is just odd, it has that weird orangy-brown-green tone. However, the colour of things can be changed fairly easy, especially when you want to make something darker. Going lighter is a little more tricky. However, this was just a case of soaking in acrylic model paint that is spot on to the correct colour of the shade of OD I want, when I hold it next to an original M1911 mag pouch it matches perfectly. All it took was some acrylic paint, mixed with a tiny bit of water and rubbing it in... it took 5 mins and looks great! no skill needed. Before and after photos below.
The only other item that needs some attention is my map case. Its actually a pretty good copy, although again very very clean! The first problem I noticed that the pencil loops have nothing to stop things falling straight out the bottom and onto the floor. Should you have this issue too, get a pair of pliers, crush the bottoms together so that a pencil wont go straight through. I then soaked just the bottom in super glue, its set solid and the problem is solved. Simply, easy and effective, my favourite kind of fix. I may also stencil my name and rank on the front. I saw a fantastic original musette bag that had this done to it and it looked fantastic.
I haven't had my Bruni 96 8mm blank firer long, but I couldn't stand how mint it looked. It is simply horrible looking! It didn't take long for these guns to obtain wear in the most used and abused places. Also considering that not even the officers always got brand new M1911's, instead being issued one from an armoury. So I went to work on this too. Firstly taking the mag out, safety ALWAYS first when it comes to handling any firearm, YES even blank firers. I went through the motions of cocking, firing, aiming, unloading, working the hammer to uncock it and placing in and out of the holster. On each of these actions paying careful attention to what parts were in contact with my hands, fingers, thumb and parts of the holster. As these would be the areas that would be worn the most. Then looked around my desk to see what I had to hand, a good Stanley knife and sandpaper! Perfect, that'll do. I used that Stanley knife, dragging the blade away from the cutting edge across the hand guards, removing just the top of the varnished surface until I had worn away that I was happy. Then taking the sand paper I rubbed away that perfect black finish in the areas that needed work. Wearing away slowly and carefully rather than being too heavy handed. The gun actually came up really well, of course it won't make a Bruni any more reliable, but it sure as hell looks better