M56 Helmet – The distinctive silhouette of the M56 helmet is a defining feature of the NVA Motor Rifleman. It can be worn with a stritchtarn cover or a net, the latter being more appropriate for the 1980s. The helmets are heavy but surprisingly comfortable, though they do ring like a bell if struck by a BB.
Woolen oversees cap – When the helmet is not being worn it should be replaced by the grey woolen oversees cap. A professional NCO or officer wheres a very similar gabardine version.
Webbing consists of a grey Dederon (Nylon) webbing belt and Y-Straps. The belt is not worn on the waist but higher around your belly button and the Y straps go between you neck and shoulder boards (dont cover them!). Standard rifleman equipment would be (left to right):
Front Left: Bayonet – East German type, always black not brown like the Soviet models.
Rear, left of Y Strap: Canteen – Plastic canteen with Stritchtarn cover and grey aluminium cup.
Rear, right of Y-Strap: Entrenching Tool – Most common was a folding type with a grey plastic skeletal holder. There is also a version with stritchtan cover and grey straps, or the earlier version witha straight handle and black leather skeletal holder.
Front Right: Four Cell Ammo Pouch – Stritchtarn pouch with grey straps. There are several versions but most common is the curved type for Mpi-KM or the later Mpi-74N type whioch has an additional small pouch on the side for the cleaning kit.
The green rubberised gas mask bag was always worn with the field uniform and sits under your left arm. It was always the last thing you put on so the strap goes OVER your webbing, with the waist strap sitting about where a normal belt would be (don’t get it hung up on your e-tool!). The bag should contain:
Gas Mask (SchM41)
Filter Hose (covered in grey fabric)
Gas Cape (green plastic poncho)
Anti Fog Stickers for mask
Thin cotton gloves (worn under the above)
…Though for airsoft purposes its great for ammo, lunch, gas, speedloaders, batteries, extra water etc.
ABC Protection Suit
When issued the grey rubber NBC suit (rolled up and in its cover) sits on the shoulders connected to the Y-straps. The attachment is a little tricky so best to get a friend to help. The suit is punishing to carry as its heavy, will bounce around and try pull your webbing over your head when you get up from prone. Even worse is trying to actually wear the suit, unless you’re into that kind of thing…
Stritchtarn Tunic – There are several cuts of the standard stritchtarn jacket available but the most important thing is that they have two small holes and a loop on the shoulders to fasten the shoulder boards in place. If the holes and loop are missing you are probably looking at a later ‘UTV’ uniform which was not widely issued before the collapse of the DDR. There are buttons in the collar to attached a collar liner which was supposed to be changed every day (still better than sewing one in like the Russians!). Leave your top button open so your CO can check that collar liner.
Jackets from the 1970s are a nicer cut and have exposed grey buttons on the sleeve pocket and re-enforced elbows. Later 80s versions have covered buttons but lack the elbow re-enforcement and tend to be a looser fit. All field uniforms were designed to be oversize anyway to accommodate the woolen service uniform underneath in cold weather so dont worry if it looks baggy.
Shoulder boards are always the grey and brown subdued type with a grey plastic button. Unless you have a specific in-game role its best to stick to the enlisted ranks: Soldat, Gefreiter or Stabsgefreiter. There is an excellent Wikipedia page for ranks of the NVA.
Standard issue DDR ‘underwear’ was a white long-sleeve t-shirt and long johns. This was often replaced with self-bought items so any t-shirt is acceptable so long as the colour is neutral.
Like the tunics, trousers come in several cuts with the 1970s version being the nicest (exposed buttons on the leg pockets). Trousers sit high on the waist and must be worn with braces. Although counter intuitive the trousers should always go over the boots, not tucked in.
Enlisted men wore leather jackboots with thick socks or foot-wraps. Officers and professional NCOs wore a taller version of the same made from nicer leather. The foot-wraps are not the same as the Soviet version, instead they are a square of soft flannel that can be put on quickly and are actually quite comfortable as they stop the boots slipping.
Please note, though jackboot look the part they offer no ankle protection and very little grip. The sensible option for airsoft is to exchange them for any military style lace-up boots.
The most common was the Mpi-KM, basically an East German made AKM with distinctive brown plastic/Bakelite furniture. Later a version of the AK74 was also used.
For airsoft any AK variant would be acceptable, though full stock types are preferred. RPKs were also used in every squad (x2) and the only difference to load-out is a longer mag pouch and the removal of the bayonet.
The SVD Drugunov rifle was not used in any significant numbers by the NVA so should not be used – take a look at the Soviet section instead!