Original U.S. Vietnam War Era M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment Field Set
Original Items: Only One Set Available. The M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE), also known as the Individual Load-Carrying Equipment (ILCE), was developed by the U.S. Army and first issued in the early 1960s. The M-1956 LCE was designed to replace the M-1945 Combat Pack, the M-1923 cartridge belt, the M-1936 pistol belt and the M-1937 BAR magazine belt. The M-1956 LCE was designed to be quickly configured, using no tools, to accommodate various mission and ammunition loads. The M-1956 LCE remained in service through the 1980s and set the standard for future United States military load-carrying equipment.
This Iconic Vietnam War Gear Set Consists Of:
- Individual Equipment Belt (Unmarked) & Individual Equipment Belt Suspenders (Dated 1967): The M-1956 LCE continued application of the belt-supported-by-suspenders concept, adopted by the U.S. Army at least as early as the Pattern 1903 equipment. The M-1956 "Belt, Individual Equipment" or pistol belt differed little in form and function from the M-1936 pistol belt and would accommodate any of the pouches and equipment that would mount on the M-1936 belt. The M-1956 pistol belt had size adjustment hardware at both ends and a "ball type" buckle connector. The M-1956 pistol belt was manufactured of olive drab cotton webbing to United States military specification MIL-B-40158 and was produced in two sizes: Medium, for waists under 30-inches (FSN 8465-577-4925), and Large, for waists over 30-inches (FSN 8465-577-4924). Earlier production M-1956 belts have horizontal weft while later production have vertical weft. The belt has a blackened metal buckle and three rows of eyelets. Eyelets in the top row were usually used for connection of the suspender hooks. The middle row of eyelets accepts the size adjusting hooks. The lower row of eyelets was usually used for attaching accouterments utilizing an M-1910 double hook.
The olive drab U.S. Army Shade 7 cotton "Suspenders, Individual Equipment Belt" (also designated "Suspenders, Field Pack, Combat, M-1956") were manufactured in Regular (FSN 8465-577-4922), Long (FSN 8465-577-4923), and X-Long (FSN 8465-823-7231) lengths to United States military specification MIL-S-40160. All sizes are additionally adjustable in length by means of cam buckles. A single web keeper is sewn across the top of each shoulder pad. Metal rectangular rings, for attachment of the ammunition pouch suspension hooks and sleeping bag carrier, are located at the top of the front straps. The straps of the suspenders have metal hooks on the ends for connection to the pistol belt and field pack. The hook hardware on the front straps includes integral triangular rings to accept the sleeping bag carrier tie-down straps. The back suspender strap hooks connect either to the field pack or, if the field pack is not to be used, directly to the pistol belt. Early production suspenders have open, formed-wire J hooks on both front and back straps. Later production suspenders utilize snap hooks on the rear straps and stamped aluminum J hooks on the front straps. The underside of the shoulder pads is thinner drill in earlier-production suspenders and twilled nylon in some of the latest examples.
- x2 Small Arms Ammunition Cases (Marked, Too Faded): In 1956 the US Army employed several types of cartridge belts for soldiers armed with the M1 Garand, BAR belts for those armed with the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, 3- and 5-cell pockets for those armed with sub-machine guns, a pocket for 15 round M1 Carbine and M2 magazines, and two different pockets for the 30 round magazines, in addition to 2- and 3-cell grenade pouches. The M-1956 Small Arms Ammunition case sought to replace all of these with a pair of simple pouches capable of holding either a 6-pocket M1 bandoleer of M1 Garand en bloc clips (8-rounds each; total of 48 rounds), 8 x M1 Garand en bloc clips (8 rounds each; total of 64 rounds), 2 x BAR magazines (20-rounds), 4 x M1 or M2 carbine magazines (30-round), 3 x 40mm M79 grenades, or 2 x M26 hand grenades plus 2 x hand grenades fastened on the sides of the case.
The equipment came at a time when the M14 Rifle was being tested, and the ammunition pouch was thus also designed to hold 2 x M14 magazines (20-rounds each). It was also later found to be capable of only holding 3 M16 magazines (20-rounds each) despite the significant size difference between the magazines. A pouch with dimensions better suited to the 20-round M16 magazines was later produced.
The cases were issued in pairs and worn at the front of the belt on either side of the buckle. Like all other M-1956 equipment they were constructed of heavy canvas. The top flap was closed by means of a metal eyelet and cloth tab closure. Early models featured a steel plate at the front both to maintain rigidity and to protect the ammunition. Two hand grenades of any type in the US arsenal could be attached on either side of each pouch, with the spoon hooked through a web strap and another web strap with snap-closure wrapped around the top. Like other pouches in the system, the ammunition pouches each attached to the web belt with a pair of slide keepers and, uniquely, an adjustable length strap with a closable hook which connected to the rectangular hook on the suspenders, intended to keep the case upright and transfer some of the weight directly to the shoulders.
- x2 Canteen Covers WITH Canteens: With the adoption of the M-1956 equipment, the M-1910 1-quart aluminum canteen and later World War II-production of the M-1910 canteen were made with Corrosive Resistant Steel (Aluminum canteens were still made alongside CRS canteen) remained in service well into the 1960s, later replaced by a plastic variant introduced in 1962. Both were of similar dimensions and slightly curved to sit comfortably on the hip. As a result, the M-1956 canteen cover was not fundamentally different from the earlier models with the exception of the use of two slide keepers in lieu of the M-1910 double hook and metal snaps for closure instead of lift-the-dot fasteners. Constructed of cotton duck with taped edges, the M-1956 canteen cover had a synthetic wool felt lining for insulation and was slightly oversized to accommodate both the canteen and the canteen cup. Covers produced after 1966 have nylon-taped edges. Typically canteen covers also demonstrate the most visible signs of age, fading easily due to continuous wetting and drying. Originally a single canteen and cover was issued and worn either on the belt between the Small Arms Ammunition Case at the front and the Field Pack at the rear, or mounted on the side of the Field Pack. Troops in Vietnam generally carried two or more canteens, and this practice largely continued after the war, as, with the adoption of larger complementary rucksacks, the Intrenching Tool Carrier (see below) often migrated to attachment points on the rucksack, freeing space on the pistol belt for another canteen.
- First Aid / Compass Case: The M-1956 First Aid Case served the same function as the earlier M-1942 First Aid Packet or Lensatic Compass Case. The case was made from cotton duck and featured a simple flap closure fastened by a blackened "glove-type" snap. A single slide keeper was mounted on webbing sewn to the back of the case, and later production incorporated an eyelet at the bottom of the pouch for water drainage. Each soldier was issued one first aid case for carrying a field dressing, and those whose duties required them to carry a lensatic compass would have a second first aid case for that purpose. Placement varied with unit standards, but the first aid case was usually mounted in one of three places - on one of the suspender shoulder pad web keepers like this example (often mounted with the opening downward, for quick access), on the pistol belt between the buckle and ammunition case, or on the grenade mounting webbing on the side of one of the ammunition cases.
- Field Pack “Butt Pack”: The field pack was sized to hold rations such as a Meal, Combat, Individual (C-Ration) along with sparse personal implements, for example shaving kit and extra socks. The field pack's placement at the rear of the pistol belt led to it being referred to colloquially as the "butt pack." The M-1956 pattern field pack featured two flaps, on the left and right inside, to cover the contents of the pack, and an approximately square top cover flap. This design was changed in the M-1961 field pack. Common features of both include cotton duck construction, slide keepers for attachment to the pistol belt, and a pair of eyelets at the top of the pack for attaching the suspenders. Both also included a web handle at the top, webbing on the side of the container to facilitate mounting of accouterments with slide keepers, eyelets near one edge of the top cover to receive M-1910 double hooks, and a pair of web straps at the bottom of the pack for attaching items like the poncho and poncho liner. Both also featured a card holder with a plastic window at the top of the cover flap.
- M-6 Bayonet for the M-14 Rifle by Imperial With M8A1 Scabbard: The M6 Bayonet is a bayonet used by the U.S. military for the M14 rifle, it can also be used with the Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle as well M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle. It was introduced in 1957, at the same time as the rifle itself. It is the only bayonet made for the M14.
All items are in wonderful condition with some bearing visible war-time dates though the ones that are difficult to read has the possibility of post-war dates. This iconic rig was “the” rig that was carried by all ground troops deployed to Vietnam. Perfect for the young collector looking for a place to start collecting!
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