H009061 SIGNALMAN'S BACKPACK CABLE LAYER. (Rückentrage für Schwere Feldkabel)

BACKGROUND: Accurate intelligence and secure lines of communication are crucial elements to all army’s in the field and during WWII each division in the German Army had an integral Signals unit. The Signals unit were usually of Battalion strength and generally consisted of a Headquarters Company, a Radio Company and a Telephone Company. The Signals personnel utilized a wide variety of radio receivers, field telephones and associated communications equipment in all theaters of operation. Although assorted wireless radio receivers were used the most common form of field communications were the Feldfernsprecher 33, (Field Telephone 33). The field telephones required the laying of corresponding field telephone lines which was the responsibility of the Signals Battalion Telephone Company. In order to lay the appropriate lines assorted cable layers were utilized which included a hand held version for light cables and horse mounted and backpack cable layers for heavier cables. The backpack cable layer could be operated by one individual and held up to three hundred yards of cable resulting in it being widely used to lay communications cable in the field. The backpack cable layer consisted of a tubular frame with a central, removable, wire retaining spool with cogged sprocket wheels, a running chain, a cable dispensing bar and a removable, cable gathering/dispensing, manual hand crank handle.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The field-grey painted, tooled, tubular steel construction, backpack cable layer with canvas and leather fittings consists of a roughly, 20 1/2" tall, 12 1/2" wide, vertically rectangular, opened, back pack frame with a roughly, 12 1/2" x 17 1/2", horizontally extended, opened, triangular, spool retaining frame to the obverse. The upper portion of the back pack frame has a field-grey canvas panel, stitched around the top and bottom frame bars with a tan leather reinforcement strip to the top edge. The top bar of the frame also has dual, roughly, 29" long, tapering leather shoulder straps stitched and rivetted in place with a pronged, steel roller buckle and eight corresponding length adjustment prong eyelets. The straps are looped at the bottom edges with an inserted steel "D" ring to each. The hinged, bottom portion of the back pack frame has a large, tan leather back rest panel stitched around the bottom frame bar with an internal padding to one side and a leather pouch with a fold back top lid with two vertical leather closure straps and corresponding, leather reinforced, pronged, roller buckles on the front of the pouch body. The padded leather back rest panel was designed to rest against the carrier’s lower back for comfort and the hinged bottom portion of the back pack frame was designed to be folded upwards into the top portion for transit or storage. Each side of the lower portion have two steel hooks designed for securing the shoulder strap "D" rings. The shoulder straps appear to have had additional auxiliary straps with a single rivet to the center of each as evidence. Each side of the horizontally extended, triangular, spool retaining frame has two, semi-circular cut-outs with hinged pressure locking clips that accommodate a central, tooled, sheet metal wire retaining spool and a screw threaded, wire dispensing bar. One side of both the wire spool and the wire dispensing bar have cogged, sprocket wheels designed for a drive chain but the chain. Original chain is complete. The sprocket ends of both the wire spool and the wire dispensing bar are squared off with central depression designed to secure hand cranks. One of the two tooled steel hand cranks with carved wooden handles is still present. The wire dispenser bar has a unique, wire controller with a raised, cut-out section with three, roller wheels and an extended guide arm to the bottom edge. When the wire dispensing bar is turned the wire controller moves back and forth, activated by the screw threads and held in the proper position by the guide arm. One side of the back panel has a hinged, hand activated, brake with a narrow, leather, pull strap, designed to stop the rotation of the central wire spool as required. The wire retaining, spool consists of a roughly, 9 1/2" long, central, horizontal, steel cylinder with a roughly, 10" circumference. The central cylinder has ten, evenly spaced, cut-out, elongated ovals, presumably to reduce weight. Each end of the central cylinder has a roughly, 10 3/4" diameter, tooled steel wire retaining wheel, secured in place by five large, dome headed screws. One of the screws is a replacement. The wire retaining wheels each have a rolled in, outer edge and numerous, assorted sized and shaped cut-outs. The center, outer edge of each wheel has a small, extended steel rod, with one having a cogged gear wheel. The extended rods were designed to fit into securing brackets on the backpack and the cogged gear wheel was designed for the manual hand crank. One of the wire retaining wheels has a small, screw threaded, alloy nut that appears to be intended for a ground wire. The frame and wire spool are in overall very good condition and retains about 90% of their original field-grey paint with numerous small scrapes and scratches to the base steel with minor surface spotting. Well marked with an impressed manufacturer’s code "ebn 1941" and a faint waffen-amt. The code is for "Gesellschaft zur Verwertung chem, Erzeugnisse m.b.H. Werk Ebenhausen". Interesting, essential piece of field communications equipment. Nice example.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $729.00

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