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Soviet officer map-case bag

An officer bag or a map-case was every Soviet boy's dream. This is how "commanders" were marked during the yard games. Yet, it was no easy to get one - they were not up for sale. So if a kid did have one, it was very likely that he was from a military or police family.

Soviet officers map case bag
Soviet officers map case bag

This piece of equipment was iconic for the Soviet officer of the Cold War time - you will see it on almost any photo. Let's see what had to be inside the bag.

The officers bag

A field bag (map-case) is included in the set of field equipment for officers, warrant officers and contract servicemen. The field equipment set also includes a leather waist belt with a belt (in army terms it is called equipment), as well as a shoulder belt for a cape.

Soviet officers map case bag
Typical setup for the officers equipement

Structurally, the equipment allows fastening the field bag by the lower half rings of a large clutch, the upper half ring of which serves to fasten the harness. This way of attaching the field bag to the waist belt is recommended but not required, allowing the bag to be worn separately from equipment.

A small strap between the half rings for fastening the belt is intended for attaching Adrianov's compass to it. In order to avoid accidental damage to the glass of the compass, the compass was often fixed inside the bag with elastic bands designed to fix documentation.

Soviet officers map case bag
How compass attached to the bag

For constant control of the contents of the field bag, a leaflet with an inventory was glued to the leather insert. The inventory included all the necessary items for an officer to work in the field with working documentation and a map. At the same time, the content of the inventory was not sufficient to carry out this very work in accordance with the military specialization of the officer, as well as the nature of the tasks performed. Somewhere the content of the inventory was quite enough, and somewhere the contents of the entire internal volume of the bag were simply not enough for the things necessary in the work.

Soviet officers map case bag
The list of contents

Basic kit of an officer's field bag

So, according to the inventory, the bag should contain the following items:

  • fountain pen

  • commander's ruler

  • compass

  • envelopes

  • curvimeter

  • adhesive tape

  • a set of colored pencils

  • penknife

  • battle map

  • workbook

  • rubber

  • flashlight

  • drawing compass

A commander's ruler, a curvimeter, a set of colored pencils, an eraser, a measuring compass - all these are tools for working with the map. The gluing tape is for gluing fragments of maps, and the penknife is there to always quickly sharpen pencils.

Soviet officers map case bag
Typical contents of the officers bag

For a compass, some variations were possible. It is no secret that Adrianov's compass, the most common one in the army, in addition to its simplicity, has some significant drawbacks. Therefore, some officers, if possible, used tourist compasses, in which the magnetic needle was placed in a non-freezing liquid and quickly "calmed down". Great chic was the possession of an artillery compass.

As a flashlight, either an ordinary KSF-1 pocket signal light or ordinary flashlights from a civilian distribution network were used.

Soviet officers map case bag
Types of compasses used in the Soviet Army

Artillery officer equipment

If, as indicated above in the report, we consider the contents of the field bag of an artillery officer, then in addition to the items from the inventory, his field bag, as a rule, contained the following items:

  • Artillery slide rule ALL-25

  • Chordogoniometer

  • Coordinate measurement (artillery circle AK-3 (AK-4) with MPL-50)

  • Correction calculator

  • Ruler for the distribution of areas of barrage fire

  • Microcalculator MK-52 (MK-75)

  • Shooting table

  • Shooting rules

  • Artillery notebook

Soviet officers map case bag
Artillery spotters in Afghanistan

Use of the officer field bag during the Soviet-Afghan war

Real combat operations have shown that it is not advisable to carry a field bag with you on constant bases. Firstly, its dimensions can constantly interfere with movement, and secondly, a field bag reveals a commander in its owner, and as a result, an important target for an enemy snipers. Therefore, if the performance of the task made it possible to refuse to carry a field bag with them, the officers willingly took advantage of this opportunity, leaving them in the compartments of armored vehicles or placing them in backpacks carried with them.

At the level of command of a company or platoon, at best, it was only necessary to have a battle map at hand, possibly not filled out, excluding the possibility of its correction. Therefore, the officers independently made a small “envelope” from water-proof plastic foil, which, due to the sewn twine, was hung around the neck. It turned out that the battle map in such an “envelope” was always at hand.

Soviet officers map case bag
Battle map in the plastic case

For a certain class of military specialties of officers working independently in the field, the “envelope” option did not always work, since their specialization already included direct work with a battle map or documentation. As an example, I would like to note a wide class of artillery specialties, in which the number of items placed in the field bag is the highest. Therefore, the option of filling the field bag in this report will correspond to this particular direction of the military science of the “gods of war”.

Soviet officers map case bag
Spotter with R-158 radio set

Use of the map-cases by the GRU Special Forces

In the practice of combat use (OKSVA), the commanders of the Special Forces (as well as the radio operators attached to the SpN units) widely used the following setup of working documentation.

A pocket was sewn to the back of the chestrig, in which following contents were placed (if necessary):

  • battle map

  • encryption notepad

  • working notebook - call signs of radio networks / channels and communication order / interaction signals / control signals

  • writing instruments

  • compass (for example, an artillery one - it does not have a wrist mount, it is not very convenient to carry it in your pocket, a “string and around your neck” is also not an option)

  • lighter / matches

Sometimes, for the sake of greater safety (protection from precipitation or sweat), documentation was placed in a plastic bag (in practice, in thick / strong polyethylene packaging from ROP / RSP)

Soviet officers map case bag
Member of SpN group working with the battle maps

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