90th IDPG Weapons


81mm Baseplate Backpack Assembly - Strap, Carrying, M1 - D-37085

Date: 5/3/2011
Author: Chris Guska


Photo courtesy of Tom Kelly - scanned from "The U.S. Army in World War II, Pictorial Record :The War Against Germany, Europe and Adjacent Areas"



In talking with 81mm Veterans, several have mentioned the use of a "backpack" assembly to carry the baseplate. I was quite vexed, as I could not find any reference to a backpack in the usual sources: QM Catalogs, modern collectors "reference books", Mortar TM's & FM's, or Ordnance Catalogs. Only in the ORD 9 for the 81mm mortar did I find a cryptic reference to a "Strap, Carrying, M1 - D-37085".

Over the years, eBay has provided me with a bounty of images and references, in addition to piles of awesome WW2 junk. One of the tidbits I had saved was this:

I never gave this image much thought until putting the pieces together for this article when searching a bit harder for nomenclature and drawing numbers for what I assumed to be an "assembly" for this pack system. Apparently, this elusive pack system is only known and referred to as Strap, Carrying, M1 - D-37085. The term "Strap" doesnt quite do this thing justice.

What about photographic useage of the "Strap" in theater? I have 3 photos currently - one of which was originally posted on the US Militaria Forum in a thread about Armor Photos.

Here's the 3rd.

I know I've seen other photos of it in use - I'll post them as I find them.



The Item:

Rewind back to several years ago (2007), I came across some of the components of this backpack system, but was always missing the leather connector straps. I simply had a backpad and V strap, with obviously several missing links. Over time, I managed to throw enough money at the examples that came up to get a "complete set". Fast forward to 2010, when I sent my "complete" set of leather off to Raymond @ American Patrol Company (AP Co) to have reproduced. Raymond graciously reproduced the leather load bearing straps that connect the V strap to the baseplate, and hold the backpad in place. The backpad and V strap are both original.

Here's what I ended up with:

Strap, Carrying, M1 In Use with Pad, Shoulder, M2:

Observations from use:

Surprisingly, this pack assembly is comfortable to wear and use. I walked aroud quite a bit with it on and found it to be secure and easy riding. When combined with the M2 Shoulder Pads, it doesnt dig or pull akwardly. I did not try it out without the M2 Shoulder Pads, which were standard issue to 81mm Sections.

It is quite akward to don and doff. You need to have a helper assist in holding the baseplate or help hook the right hand strap. Its not something one man could quickly deal with unless he was quite practiced and agile.

I'm quite pleased to add this piece to our display - and may even potentially use this in a tactical role at a future event.



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