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About Original Mkb42,
MP43/44 Pouches

Last Updated: April 2, 2013

 

 

 

WWII Sturmgewehr Pouches
Although several books have been written on the German STG's of WWII, information on the magazine pouches is scant at best. Most original examples turn out to be fake, and the ones deemed original by those daring enough to collect them can exceed $10,000 for a nice pair. Wartime photos are nearly as scarce as the pouches themselves. Consequently, gathering information is a bit of a challenge.

Over the past year, I have managed to acquire 4 original pouches, plus one I've had for a decade which I thought was fake (Mkb42) but it turned out not to be. How often does that happen? Until this point the only really good reproductions available have come from eastern Europe or from one "artist" in Germany. Most were offered as original, but they usually end up changing hands for a few hundred dollars. Until the Spring of 2009, I'd never paid much attention to these things, but I knew they were rare. When I went to try to find originals to copy, I nearly had a coronary from sticker shock. 18 months later, I'm pretty confident that I now know my stuff.

Most, if not all, of this information I have determined myself from scouring every wartime photo I can find, as well as every photo or example of original pouches I could locate in collections or on one of the collector forums. A few facts I was able to cross-check with the reference books. The best for German wartime documentation is "Sturmgewehr" by Handrich . For many photos of weapons as well as pouches in use, try "The Mkb42, MP43, MP44 and STG 44" by DeVries and Martens.

My description of pouches (Type I, Type II, etc.) is entirely of my own making. It is NOT as per any wartime German regulation or specification. It's to simplify things when referring to pouches with different details or materials.
Note: All of these pouches hold the 30 rd. magazines for the Mkb42/MP43/MP44/StG 44/45 rifles. They all use the same magazines despite the weapons being renamed on what seemed to be a quarterly basis by the Germans. All pouches were used concurrently with one another- there was always a critical shortage of magazine pouches for these rifles and many troops never received them.

Mkb42 Pouches: The original magazine pouch for this family of rifles. Some references refer to this as "late War" item which is incorrect. This was the earliest style of pouch. The single flap proved to be inadequate as the corners tended to turn up, which allowed dirt to get into the magazines, and the magazines at either end often slipped out. I don't think these were manufactured after 1943- but this is a hypothesis only.

One oddity of these pouches I have never seen mentioned in any reference, but it's rather important. The curvature of these pouches is inverted from the later models- the magazines curve away from the center of the wearer's body- "bass-akwards" from "normal" MP44 pouches. I suspect this was decided upon by a clever engineer who wanted the magazine facing the right direction when removed from the pouch so it could be placed directly into the weapon without having to turn it. However, this also causes the bottom of the magazines to collide with the wearer's thighs when he squats or runs. The soldiers obviously noticed this- if you study photos closely, one can see that they often turned the magazines the other direction to better clear their legs- or wore the pouches on the sides of their bodies rather than the front. The cells are rather roomy and it's not difficult to turn the magazines the opposite direction.

The Mkb42 pouches are the only type of pouches I can find in any photos pre-dating the summer of 1944. The few originals I have seen are, if marked at all, dated 1943. This style of pouch can be found in photos from late 1943 through the end of the War.

The Mkb42 pouches are made from coarse khaki, gray or field gray canvas. On the few originals I have seen, the fittings are brown leather, but in some original photos they appear to be web as well. In the photos from the Infantry School, their pouches appear to be dark in color (olive green?) with leather trim around the flap edges. But to date, I have never seen any surviving originals of this type.

The only legible maker marks I have seen on these pouches was "jsd". However, so few originals exist, that a meaningful sampling is impossible.

MP44 Pouches: In 1943, troop reports regarding the new rifles were generally positive, with the notable exception of the pouches. The single flap was criticized for the aforementioned reasons, as was a general lack of durability. The Mkb42 pouch has only one layer of canvas throughout and lacked reinforcements. Late in 1943, new pouches were introduced, with separate flaps for each magazine. A small strap was also added to the rear of the pouches to prevent them from sliding together.

MP44 Pouches, Type I
These are the initial "improved" pouches for the Mkb/MP43/44 rifles. I suspect they were produced in the Fall of 1943 and early 1944. The fabric is thicker, they are reinforced better and there are individual flaps for each magazine. The fabric is gray or field gray canvas, usually with brown leather straps- but black pieces are sometimes found mixed in. Largely peculiar to these pouches, most of the leather components are cannibalized from some other item. They are characterized by stitch-holes where they have been dis-assembled and recycled. Exactly why is a mystery.

1. Early Type I
Not a perfectly matching pair- those are incredibly rare.
2. Recycled leather throughout. Faint Mkb42 stamp on right hand loop. There is in illegible maker mark on the left one. It may be "ddx 43".
3. Leather flap sides rather than the Pressstoff seen later.

The accessory pouch flaps are leather- black or brown pebble grain or smooth brown. The snaps on these flaps can be about any sort of press snap used by the Germans and vary widely in size.
The flaps are usually lined with split leather or coated canvas, while the box sides are most often leather. Press Stoff can be encountered as well, but appears to be the exception on early Type I's.

Late Type I
The bottom of each cell has been reinforced to help prevent the magazines from wearing through. These also tend to have Press Stoff flap sides rather than leather.

Markings on Types I's are often scant or non-existent. A few have "Mkb42" on the belt loop and sometimes have a WaA4 or WaA14. An RB number are occasionally stamped on the underside of one of the flap closure straps. Maker marks "fuq 1943", "kkd", or "ddx" have been observed. The recycled leather tends to take the stamps poorly making them more difficult to read.


MP44 Pouches, Type II
These are the "classic" STG pouches most often encountered today. I suspect Type II's appeared early in 1944.
Type II's exhibit an enormous amount of variation in the materials used for the straps & loops, flap sides, flap linings, snap types and the accessory pouch flaps. They are truly the ultimate example of draconian recycling measures due to economic hardship and raw material shortages. Despite the severe economy measures, they remain typically German- unnecessarily complex and time consuming to make.

The fabric is now a khaki linen canvas, characterized by red stripes woven in the fabric. A few other late War items are also made from this peculiar canvas- MP 40 six cell pouches, rucksacks, tornister packs and mail bags to name a few. My suspicion is that this material was made for some other purpose (feed sacks perhaps?) but was available in a large quantity so the Germans used it for other purposes. (Weaving a red stripe in the fabric served no purpose for these items and only added complications.)

The straps and belt loops on Type III's are occasionally leather but more often, olive, khaki or gray webbing. Some pouches have a mix of web and leather parts. On models with web flap straps, the metal tips can be either the pointed (often "LUX" maker marked) or the blunt type with two rivets as seen on MP40 "tropical" pouches.

4. The "Holy Grail" of MP44 pouches. An unissued, matched set. Although seen in original photos, Type II's with leather fittings are those most difficult to find.
5. A pair with several variations between the pouches. Both are probably the most "typical" two variations among Type II pouches. Judging by the wear patterns, these were worn together.
6. Different types of webbing. The canvas and the woven red stripes vary from panel to panel. The stripes are woven in the cloth- not printed.
7. Mixed fittings- this is the matching set- leather on the front, web fittings on the back. The gray web is typical for MP44 pouches, but olive and khaki were used also.
8. Brown or black hold down straps- pebbled or smooth. "Rapid rivets" are used on many Type II's. The stud bracing is normally brown.
9. Woven buttonholes- not cut and sewn. Most originals utilize this type of material. This appears to be unique to MP44 and some "tropical" MP40 pouches.
10. The back straps are made from a variety of webbings- usually 12mm or 18mm. Olive, gray, or undyed. Roller or friction buckles are used.
11. Maker marks and Waffenamts are usually ink stamped. But even on an unissued pouch, deciphering the stamps is a challenge. This looks like cdc or cgn? and 1944. The other loop has an illegible Waffenamt.
12. The stitch line running along the open edges of the flap side is to keep the layers of Press Stoff from coming apart. It is often machine sewn. The saddle stitch used to hold the sides onto the flap must be hand sewn. No machine can do this stitch.
13. More flap side details. The open edge of these in hand-sewn. It appears that the same stitch went ahead and attached the panel to the flap as well.
14. Several types of flap lining are used. Binding leather (black or tan) is most common, but split leather, Press Stoff and various types of canvas have also been seen.
15. The Pressstoff maker's logo and date are partially visible. Most likely the material came in sheets and these parts appear to be die cut.
16. The internally sewn style saved about 10 minutes per strap. Although not clear in the photo- the flap canvas is finer and thinner than that used on the main body of the pouches.
17. Crazy nazis. You're losing a War and yet you still take time to hand stitch the flap to the lining- and then do it again to hold on the sides. Used when Pressstoff is the flap lining.
18. Size 5 or 6 snaps- segma style (shown) or double wire (prym) were all used. The flap is held together by rapid rivets (shown) or the one piece barrel rivets (often seen on G43 pouches)



Original pouches with leather flap closures appear to be in the minority. The more common material was webbing. One peculiarity of this webbing makes them especially difficult for forgers. In most cases, the buttonholes for the closure studs are woven into the fabric- not sewn. This webbing is not found on any other German gear and thus cannot be cannibalized to make fakes. I have seen one original pouch where the holes were sewn, but the rest of the pouch was completely without question so it did happen. But the norm seems to be woven holes.

The flap sides are usually made from black or tan Pressstoff but a few have been seen made from a variety of odd materials...tan vinyl, gray or black rubber (?) or heavy canvas. On the Press-stoff types, there is one stitch around the open edges to prevent the layers from pulling apart. Many fakes try to imitate Press Stoff with multiple layers of leather- but this is easily spotted and the pouch "busted".

The flaps are lined with a variety of materials, ranging from split leather, coated canvas or a God awful tan vinyl. Very late production pieces sometimes used heavy canvas.

The bottom of the pouches is reinforced with an extra layer of khaki canvas or, occasionally, leather.

Although the flap closures are usually sewn to the outside of the flap, later pouches had them sewn between the outer and inner layers of the flap, allowing them to be machine sewn rather than hand stitched. The flap linings begin to be made of odder and more random materials.
On later production pouches, the loops on the front of each cell are riveted instead of sewn.

Markings on Type II pouches run the gamut from next to nothing to being so plentiful as to be obnoxious. Most are ink stamps, due to the parts being mostly made from webbing. Waffenamts, "MKB", dates, 3 letter codes, and so forth have been seen. However, most tend to be difficult to read due the texture of the webbing, especially if the pouch has been used at all.
Makers observed are "olx", "bla", and "fuq".



 

 

 

 

 

 


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