With the 502nd PIR being an elite unit and one that required specialist equipment, the 'extra' kit we can adorn ourselves with certainly has some interesting choices! As long as you can find them for sale of course...
The T5 has its own section, although I had to cut most of this out as the website owners who I 'borrowed' the information from had a shit fit and threatened to take me to court should I not take it down. Typical American reaction to anything they don't like, so don't but a chute from them. Moving on...
Update, I purchased a Chinese made repro T5 £200 all in, harness, reserve and main (no actual silk parachutes of course) this arrived today. It took some figuring out to understand the harness, but I got there in the end. Of course it came with no instructions what so ever. After assembling it and taking some photos, I posted it on Facebook with some text that I found online about the T5. Didn't think any more about it, then saw a comment on that thread complaining that I had taken it from a site... ffs unreal, it was the same god-damn site as before. He had even put a link to his over-priced near perfect replicas. Yes they are near perfect repros, but the prices HA! You gotta be fucking kidding me right... sure it has "The harness features ultra heavy 7-class stitching" who cares... when the prices is $1000 and that doesn't even include the reserve chute! But then again your metal work does have "authentic paint shades" so maybe it is worth.... no, still no. Oh and the reserve is only another $300 on top of the $1000... all probably without shipping too. So...... you can probably see why I went with the £200 option. Agreed it is not as perfect as his, but then again, for a saving of around £1000 its just not even in the same competition. Its not like buying a weapon where its a £150 plastic Denix Garand or spend £2000 on an original deactivated weapon. There you can see the value, feel the value and it will only go up in value... the value of reproduction kit only ever goes one way..... down!
Oh if you didn't guess, I just deleted his comment and link to his website and unfriended him, not that he'll care, I just can't be bothered with sulky "I'm going to take you to court types", block, ignore, you don't exist!
LEG BAG TYPE X
Now, this is something that I don't plan on ever getting, but thought that it should be included because of its randomness and impact on the Normandy invasion for the American troops. Having no training on how to use these, the result being that almost all soldiers using this bag, simply lost it and all of its contents!
I could barely find anyone even making these, however I did come across two, firstly was the company who made all the leg bags for the filming of Band of Brothers. I looked on their website and sadly there is no mention of making these anymore. However, they may still make them if you ask. I did see mention of about a 2 month waiting time!!! No price listed, but I get the impression that it will be expensive as hell.
The only realistic choice seems to be a company called Jump Master 44. They have, what look like a good copy to me, not being an expert in leg bags at all of course. The two photos below are of their leg bag, costing 450 Euros. Which seems like a lot for a bag, but it does look complicated and for such a specialist bit of kit that they will rarely sell, the prices is probably justifiable.
Although not specifically made or used by the airborne, they are always seen in period photos and drawings. The Hawkins was also referred to a mine, however what ever its correct name or terminology is isn't really important. Soldier of Fortune also make one for about £38, I will added one to my kit, it's not amazing. However, it just about passes for a No.75 Hawkings mine
The Gammon grenade was a lethal invention, both for the user and the target... possibly more dangerous for the person throwing it! I'm pretty sure from looking at the photo here that it uses the same fuze as the British plastic 69 grenade. However the bag contained the explosive charge. A soft flexible none protective cloth bag with an explosive charge inside.... anyone else see any potential dangers with that!
From what I remember reading about these, they were very unpopular. I'm not sure I have read much about if they were actually a good grenade or not. Only that they were universally disliked and dangerous to use.
From as you can see on the photo, WPG make fair reproductions of these. There website does state that they are out of stock at the moment, priced at £28
Now getting a couple of M15 or M18 smoke grenades was something I really wanted to add to my impression. However, it soon become clear that this wasn't going to be straight forward. Firstly all I could find was the M18 in post war colours. They were used all the way through Korea and Vietnam. These green cans with a totally different style of text. Number 11 on Osprey drawing above is of the type used during ww2, the only problem was where to find some. It would seem that all the big companies have omitted this item that would have been fairly commonly carried compared to some of the odder items that it is really easy to purchase. Luckily I have 4000+ 'friends' on Facebook and the bulk of those are either collectors of militaria or re-enactors. So when I post something up like "I need some WW2 M15 or M18 Smoke Grenades" it goes to a big audience and I got a reply. I was offered two almost solid metal M15 Smoke grenades. They were not cheap compared to US ww2 fragmentation grenades (£20 each, Ian Malugani) cost just over a £100 with postage for 2.
Unless you get lucky like I did, or can find something that I missed online, I think the only real options are 1, to respray the post-war versions, or 2, to 3d print them in hard plastic or resin. The files do exist already for these on 'thingyverse'. I would be really interested to see photos if any of you have printed these.
M1 Carbine - Folding stock
Although the M1 Carbine gets a slating by almost everyone, for the biggest part this is really unfounded. Yes, it didn't have the stopping power of the M1 Garand (often seen as its bigger brother) but it was still a great and very capable weapon. Hence why so many of these were made. The only thing that let this weapon down was the calibre, not that it didn't kill targets, but that it was the only weapon in the US arsenal of this type. A box of .30-06 could be split between the M1 Garand, .30 Cal Browning machine gun, M1903 Springfield and the BAR. .45 'slugs' could be used be the M1911 pistol, Thompsons and Grease gun... yet this new M1 carbine had its own need to be supplied. I can imagine that everyone in the supply chain and quartermaster departments all having an instant dislike to the weapon for this reason alone.
The carbine did have some great features to it, it was compact, lightweight, a standard magazine system that held 20 rounds which was unheard of then. This is an semi automatic rifle with a 20 round box mag! Something very overlooked now when you hear people saying, it was 'rubbish' and that you couldn't' kill a thing it. If it was that bad, the army would have dropped it, long before creating a M2 carbine and making the folding stock version and issued it to its elite units!
Forget buying a deactivated folding stock carbine... they would be £1000s. You can of course, just a normal M1 carbine and buy a reproduction folding stock and swap them over, no damage would be done to the carbine in doing this.
You can buy Denix folding stock version too. I haven't examined one, so I can't comment on the quality. So I would suggest going to a fair to look at one before you order one online.
Number 4 on the Osprey drawing scroll up a little now. It shows the holster that these could be carried in on the side of the leg. This being ideal for those members of crew weapons, like mortar teams, or someone carrying a M1A1 bazooka.
Another of those random items that you often see in photos of the Normandy invasion are bright white ropes which are all neatly rolled on themselves. They are seem usually attached under the bottoms of the musette pack, probably as its simple to put them there, and very easy to get to as your musette bag would be in front of you when you jumped. Not behind you. See the photo below. It appears that this trooper with the bazooka has two... one on the bottom of his musette pack as normal and one across his front. Its not too clear how that is attached though.
For us, the rope are really easy to find for sale. Soldier of fortune sell them as well as every other re-enacting supply company. Of course, if you can be bothered to wind it up, you could just find a supplier of thick white rope and create your own... in fact they would probably sell rather well on EBay for those of us who are too lazy to do it ourselves...
griswold bag - for garand rifle
One of the more commonly seen items that would have littered the French drop zone sites would have been the Griswold Bag, designed to hold the M1 Garand Rifle broken down into its two main components. Basically a sleeping bag with a large clip on hook for your rifle.
Originals can be found if you look hard enough, but these will almost always be the later modified version, however your really going to pay for them. Reproductions vary wildly, from thickness, colour and more importantly in size... some of these are two small to fit the parts! So, don't even bother picking one of these up at the moment.
hey are examples all over EBay, just be wary that it could be either a weird colour, weird size or weird material... or all three! Just avoid them all for now.