The A-Frame "Assault Pack" was designed as a means to enable the soldier to carry a substantial amount of equipment without having to use the entire rucksack or tornister pack. When the need for speed required a lighter load still, the "Assault Pack" could easily be removed from the Y-straps and left to be picked up later. In theory, it held all the soldier's non-combat critical items and gear. The A-frame, was designed to carry the zeltbahn, mess tin, and a blanket or overcoat. A small bag was usually provided to hold a few personal items- such as iron rations, change of socks, underwear, gloves, cleaning kit, etc..
A few examples of original A-frames. There are literally dozens
of variations in shade, fittings, and materials.
Original A-frames: Like most German WWII gear, A-frames were made from a wide variety of materials. Our reproductions duplicate the most typical or "textbook" pattern. However, examples can be found in tan, green, gray, and mustard. Several weaves of webbing exist, and it's not uncommon to find them made with recycled internal suspenders. The first frames (bottom right in the pic, dated 1939) had aluminum hardware and no stiffener. By 1940, the "standard" pattern had appeared- steel hardware, leather or web straps, and stiffeners in the sides. The rectangular loops vary in size, leather straps can have roller or non-roller buckles (but always 2 loops), and the web straps come in every shade and style the Germans made. A few even have woven holes and a roller buckle rather than the slide. Thread can be white, tan or olive- some are completely hand sewn, others machine. It makes your head hurt doesn't it?
ATF and A-Frames: A-frames are actually the first thing I ever made: the lack of a good repro is what led me to start making stuff in the first place- and consequently stated ATF. We also now offer "Imported" Aframes for those on a budget. They aren't "farb", but they are not quite as exacting in materials as our regular models.
Originals vs. ATF
There are no other reproductions like these. Compare for yourself.
ATF A-frames: These are closer to originals than any other reproduction. Even the Czech made fakes which are pimped as real everywhere aren't even in this ballpark. The rest, mostly made in Pakistan or China are "A" shaped but that's about it. Weird webbing, fat straps and bizarre hardware abound.
Originals vary quite a bit in shade, weave and assembly details. Most are machine sewn, but others are hand-stitched. The webbing is usually khaki-olive, but gray and green ones exist. The equipment straps are either leather or web. (A-frames with web straps are usually called "Tropical" but they were widely used in all theaters.) The two riveted straps are not tornister or mess tin straps- they are longer and have 2 loops.
German WWII Rucksacks
The German military used a mind-boggling variety of packs during WWII. There are five main backpacks or rucksacks, each one coming in a wide array of variation. Most troops were issued a tornister pack (usually fur-flap) during basic training. This pack was found to be overly complex to make and wanting in space and practicality, so the M31 was developed from the Gebirgsjager's pack. The M31 and the Gebirgs rucks were similar in size to the "ALICE" packs used by the US Army in the 70's and 80's. There was also a smaller, "Artillery Rucksack", which can be seen in photos being worn by all sorts of units throughout the War. There are several other rucksack style packs commonly found, but they have no name or nomenclature associated with them, which are similar to the M31 but simpler. Muddling things yet more, was the German penchant for "field made" packs.
Topping all of these complexities off is the fact that packs and rucksacks, even "standard issue" ones, were made from nearly every material in the German inventory. The canvas can be linen or cotton, the color can be olive, green, fieldgray, gray, field blue, khaki, beige, camo, or a mix. The fittings and straps were made from black or brown leather, gray, olive or green webbing, leftover internal suspender parts, or captured materials. The hardware varies widely as well, and the internal pockets and reinforcements are made from any and everything imaginable.
Despite originals being relatively plentiful, there is little historical information available on them. The tornister was standard issue in both WWI and WWII, the Gebirgsjager's pack is mentioned as such as is the Artillery ruck. That's about it. Mostly, we have worked from photographs and unit markings to make some sense of these things.
All of which is enough to give neophyte collectors aneurysms and keep fieldgear collectors busy for years. So, if "your original" doesn't look like "our" original, that's not news. To illustrate this fact, here are a few of the M31's we currently have on hand.