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German Uniforms and Equipment

Y - Belt (Koppeltragegestell)


The Y - belt in this form (with support straps)  was introduced in April 1939 and initially only intended for Infantrymen in rifle companies.
Later in the war the Y-belt also was authorised for motorcycle units (1941) and bicycle units (1943).

Initially its official name was «Koppeltragegestell aus Leder mit Hilfstrageriemen» which can be
translated as Belt suspenders from leather with auxiliary carrying straps, but later with
the order
HM 40, No. 431 of 2 April 1940 the name was changed in
«Koppeltragegestell für Infanterie
» which means as much as belt suspenders for Infantry

The function of the belt is to evenly distribute the weight of the equipment (which was considerable).

Before the Y-belts came into service the weight of the belt was supported by the
uniform belt hooks with the internal suspenders for the M36 Uniform which will be covered in another section.

Physical description :

The belt is made of smooth leather, painted black on the outside and natural colour from the inside.
The metal parts are initially made from a aluminium but as the war progressed from steel which was painted light grey.
Later the metal parts were left unpainted.


Below: A rare 1939 dated Y belt with all metal parts of aluminium  







On the left :

The back of the wide strap the maker mark can be seen.



The Y belt is made from 2 leather belts which were sewn over a metal ring with
a diameter of aprox 4,5 cm.

The leather belts have a total length of 66 cm. and have a width of aprox 4 cm. on the wide part.


below: an unfinished leather belt for Y strap


unfinished Y - belt



The piece that is sewn onto itself after being put over the metal ring

Notice the holes that already have been made to make the sewing easier



The ring itself was sewn on a leather protective piece with 2 leather tabs.

The reason the protective piece was sewn is to prevent damage to the uniform.

At the end of the protective piece a small loop is sewn to allow the passage of the backstrap.

note: often, the protective piece was stamped with the manufacturer stamp or Rb. number.


below, the ring with the protective piece





The back strap (also called end strap) is aprox 43 cm. long and
normally has 6 buttonholes and a metal button to adjust the length.

In this case 2 more buttonholes have been added to make it more adjustable.

At the end, a hook is riveted to the strap and then again covered
with a leather piece of protection again to prevent wear of the Uniform.


below: the endstrap with metal hook and the leather protection









below: the method is shown how he endstrap passes through the ring









The auxiliary straps are riveted to the main straps and again covered with a leather piece for protection

We can see 2 big differences in the method of attaching the aux. straps to the main straps here:

On early until mid war Y-belts the sewing is not visible on the front.

On late war Y-belts (from around 1944) the sewing is visible on the front.


below left: sewing on front visible (late war)
below right: sewing not visible (early war)




Here another picture of the unfinished Y-belt

Clearly visible the hole for the rivet, and the incisions made for sewing



Also there are 2 different kind of auxiliary straps but both versions
can be seen on both early and late war Y-belts.

Here we see the 2 versions of auxiliary straps.

Also seen are the little pieces of leather sewn on the end of the main straps
 which prevent the hooks from sliding off.



Side view of upper model



Side view of lower model



Often, the holes on the main strap and / or the auxiliary straps are numbered
 but this is not allways the case.

below left an example where the main strap holes are numbered ( 1 - 8 )
and below right an example where the auxiliary straps are numbered (1 - 12 )






On the top of the main straps , the D-rings are sewn on.

These D-rings hold the A-frame (Gefechtsgepäck), and other back packs.

The 1st types of D-Rings are sewn on in the direction of the straps (see below left) but later types
are sewn on the main straps at an angle of 45° (see below right) so that when the Y belt is worn the D-rings point downwards







The specially designed backpack and A-frame (Gefechtsgepäck) had hooks attached to them which are to be 
secured on the sewn on D-rings on the back of the Y-belt

Here a picture of an Y belt with the A-frame (Gefechtsgepäck) attached.




Below , a 1942 dated Y-belt in almost mint condition








The example shown has the following markings:




The hooks on the straps are supposed to hook onto the D-rings on the ammo pouches,
but were often hooked straight on to the belt, or attached to the so called D-ring belt loops
(also covered in another section). Sometimes the auxiliary straps were used.

Below the different methods of wearing which can be found on periodical photos 











On the following page the tropical (or webbing) Y - belt will be shown



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