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'37 pattern webbing for the un-initiated


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#1 mikeyra

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 12:06 AM

As i happen to wear 37 pattern quite often over the re-enacting season as well as during all the ww2 airsofting events, i thought id start the ball rolling on this one.

at first glance, 37 pattern seems awkward and a pain to set up. Firstly, being bare canvas, 37 pattern requires covering with coloured 'blanco' in order to match it to the terrain. Original ww2 blanco blocks (like powder paint) are becoming rarer to obtain these days and so modern alternatives have to be sourced. Blancoing the webbing is time consuming and requires soaking the webbing and applying the powder with a toothbrush...no wonder that later patterns would come out pre-coloured.

For the general Tommy on D-day, webbing would generally consist of two ammunition pouches on the front, connected to both the belt via hooks and the cross straps of the harness. For the airsofter, given the wide availability of stenguns, it must be noted that earlier marks of ammunition pouch are too small to comfortably fit stengun mags. Also, if the hooks are not secured to the belt with a pair of pliers, then the pouches can tend to ping off during combat, leaving you in a bad state especially if you are crawling or laying prone. A common trick was to tie a length of string across the chest, connecting the two ammo pouches and limiting their natural drift along the belt.
My suggestion: If you use a stengun, dont waste the money of a stengun bandolier, buy the bigger ammo pouches, its what they were designed for anyway.

The Entrenching Tool...photographs prove that the regulation manner of wearing webbing was not uniformly enforced. Usually worn on the back attached to the webbing straps, the British e-tool was never particularly popular, and if skirmishing or re-enacting, is rarely used. You will not be sacrificing the look if you decide not to wear the e-tool, but if you do, attach it as high up as possible so you don't get a shovel up your jacksey if you sit down.

Respirator bag - the lightweight respirator bag can be worn satchel style over the shoulder, or more comfortably, secured by hooks to the webbing belt, most comfortably on the back above the e-tool. Generally these bags are wicked useful as you can stash airsofting gear easily.

The 37 water bottle has a habbit of dangling, secured generally on the hip. There are two designs of water bottle carrier, the skeleton and the sleeve. If you intend to use a water bottle for prolonged combats, then bare in mind the awkwardness of detaching the bottle to have a drink. The skeleton carrier was eventually replaced by the sleeve, being marginally more comfortable.
Handy hint: on hot days, douse the felt bottle in cold water, before putting it in the carrier - this will keep it cooler for longer.

The small pack. The 37 small pack attaches to the webbing via two brass hooks on L straps that come under the arm and over the shoulder. Before you go into action, make sure these straps are the right length. If they are too short, you will hoist your webbing up around your armpits; if theyre too long the pack will bounce around on your back and make a god awful racket if you have anything metallic inside, let alone bags of bb's. Again, in short length scenarios, i wouldn't wear the small pack, and would try and carry my essentials in the gas mask bag and ammo pouches.

There are of course many many many different items of webbing that can be used, including pistol holsters, binocular cases (reinforced and good to store delicates in) map cases, compas pouches, wire cutter pouches etc! This of course gives you the chance to personalise your webbing to fit a) your own skirmishing needs and B) the cool look you want to portray. Snipers for example would barely be seen in anything more than a belt, while paratroopers would often be seen festooned in pouches, ammo bandoliers etc.

As has been mentioned with the 58 and 95 webbing, 37 requires a certain level of adjusting before it is truly comfortable. 37 was really the progenitor of modern british webbing (the result of thousands of hours and tens of thousands of pounds of development), and thus the evolution can be seen in many places. wartime 37 pattern fittings were made of brass, and thus needed to be dulled down...eventually they would be produced black at the end of the war. Ammo pouches had poppers as fastners, which can be a real pig to close during a firefight, leading to you shedding your ammunition over the ground. In the cold, unbuckling your water bottle can be difficult, prompting the need for a mate's help, and when the webbing gets wet, it can take ages to dry, despite the oddly waterproofing effect of the blanco.

All in all, i have come to regard my 37 pattern webbing as an old friend, despite having to regularly detangle the bastard after the webbing fairy gets its hand on it in the kitbag. After a few years service, the canvas has worn in, being flexible and having that lived in feel. It is also surprisingly cheap. As skirmishing kit, i would say that 37 is not the for feint hearted, but is definately a long term investment that you wont regret!

Captain "Lefty" Lawn, X Troop, 47 Royal Marine Commando

"Get off the road! There's only two types of men allowed on this road, dead men and officers!"

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#2 White_Rabbit

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 12:46 AM

very nice guide mate, when I was younger I owned several sets of 37, 44 and 48 pattern webbing and luckily for me I was shown how to set it up comfortably by my grandad and 2 of my uncles. Wish I still had all that gear as Id be able to kit out a few people with what I owned back then !

#3 Target

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 09:34 AM

Great post a few few pointers I shall use to help my use of Brit webbing




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