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German cross  Accessories and equipment for Die LeuchtpistoleGerman cross

Part I: The standard accessories

A smiling Gebirgsjäger in Lappland 1943, carrying a matching set of flare gun holster and flare cartridge pouch in Preßstoff

The standard equipment for the flare gun included a holster with a carrying strap and an ejector rod, as well as an ammunition pouch that holds up to 18 cartridges, with the same type of carrying strap. There were also other items manufactured, but these were only used with the flare gun in special configurations or by the maintenance organization and will be covered in part II.

Holster (N4003 Tasche für Leuchtpistole)

The holster was of a standard design and made of black leather. It did not really alter from the basic design, apart from the length, from the start of production in 1926 until the end in 1943. The earliest dated example
observed until now was made in 1928. The lid was held in the closed position by a leather strap threaded through a metal loop. An external cup at the bottom of the holster held the head of the ejector rod, while a small leather strap with a buckle held the handle to the front of the holster. The back was fitted with standard belt loops and two D-rings for the carrying sling.

The four models of the holster. The long model (Photoshop only) in leather, the standard holster in leather, holster in Preßstoff with full lid, holster in Preßstoff with hinged lid.

With the transition to a short barrel in 1935, the holster was shortened to fit the shorter flare gun. Most of the existing long holsters were also shortened to fit the flare guns that had been modified. Because of this, the early long holsters are now extremely rare.

A standard length holster, but manufactured in 1934 as a long holster.

The evidence of the shortening is clearly visible here. The lower part of the holster has an uneven stitching,
and the bottom shows the dyed end of the ejector rod cup, while the rest is undyed, raw leather.

The stock number in the supply system did not change, so from the "decisive moment" the long holsters no longer existed, and had to be shortened to "fit". Probably there are no more than a handful of these left worldwide. I myself have only seen 3 altogether. The standard (short) leather holster was manufactured for the Wehrmacht until 1940. In 1940 the production changed from leather to artificial leather (Preßstoff), when leather became scarce. The new holster was given the official title "Leuchtpistolentasche Ausfertigung B (Kunstleder)". The artificial leather, however, could not replace real leather in all areas, so belt loops, the closure strap and the strap for fastening the ejector rod were all retained in leather. The curved “sidewall” could be either real leather or
Preßstoff, depending on manufacturer.

Rear view of the holsters. Leather, Preßstoff with sewn on lid and Preßstoff with leather-hinged lid.

Preßstoff, also called "cardboard leather" is artificial leather made of laminated and impregnated paper fiber. It can be cut and stitched, and has much of the same qualities as leather when used as "static" material. On the other hand, it withstands movement and extended exposure to moisture less well than leather, and is therefore not suitable for some areas where leather is superior, such as belts, straps and footwear. Preßstoff can’t be stretched and flexed, especially in cold weather. Due to this the users soon dicovered that the flare gun holster in Preßstoff had a weak point; the lid that had to be bent up and down each time the flare gun went in and out of the holster. This usually meant that the lid broke off in the area of the seams where it was sewn to the holster. In 1940-41 the production changed, and the lid was no longer sewn to the holster. Instead, a strip of leather was riveted in between the casing and the lid to act as a hinge.

In Heeres Verordnungsblatt dated 18 April 1941, orders are issued to repair all the holsters of artificial leather in use with this damage in the same way. The job was to be done by the "Truppenwerkstätten", the good old Waffenmeister.

A early 1940 manufactured
Preßstoff holster with sewn lid that has been converted according to the regulations with a riveted leather-hinge.

The new version made from Preßstoff with a hinged lid remained in production until (early) 1944. The only change during production time appears in 1943. The production of the holster is simplified by replacing the seams of the belt loops and the small leather strap of the ejector with rivets.

A 1944 dated holster with belt loops and the cleaning rod strap riveted on. The typical late war square WaA stamp can only be found on the last specimens of the holster.

Rivets could also be used for repairs. The ones above have replaced the stitching that is underneath the folded over leather loop that also holds the D-ring in position.

The flare gun holster was marked according to the model and branch of the "user". The leather holster was manufactured for the Wehrmacht from 1926 to 1940 and had the makers mark and WaA applied to the rear between the belt loops most of the time.  If not present here it will be found
inside of the lid, most of the time to the left side, but it could be all over the inside of the lid. The leather holster was manufactured until 1943 on Polizei contracts.

The positioning of the markings seems to be depending on the manufacturer. Most markings found on the inside of the lid will be very hard to locate and read.

A complete list of all known makers & years is not within the scope of this article, but here are those I have recorded until now:
-A. Waldhausen Köln 1939
-Karl Barth, Waldbröl 1937
-Lederwarenwerk Curt Vogel, Cottbus 1936
-Carl Busse, Mainz 1937
-C. Weiss Braunschweig 1939
-Kern Kläger & Cie (Berlin) 1939 / 1940 / 1941 / 1942
-A. Fischer Berlin C.2 1937 / 1938
-Robert Larsen, Berlin S.W.48. 1934 / 1938

The police holsters have a Polizei property mark instead of the WaA, either a starburst, a stubby-winged eagle or the improved stick-wing eagle that appeared in 1942. The two first ones was normally found on the rear, the last one on the front under the lid. (Photo courtesy of Greg Baker)

The Polizei holsters were manufactured both in black and brown leather.

The Preßstoff holsters were all marked to the inside of the lid (on the right side), with one documented variation. Production of this holster model started in 1940. From the start of April that year the three-letter code system was introduced, so most of the
Preßstoff holsters are only marked with a three-letter code, year digits and a WaA.

-Gustav Buchmüller. Lederwaren-, Koffer- u. Sattlerfabrik, Stuttgart
-Carl Weiss, Lederwarenfabrik, Braunschweig
-bdq. Erhardt & Kirsten, Koffer und Lederwarenfabrik, Thüringen
-dla    Karl Barth Militäreffektenfabrik, Gelsenkirchen
-fsx    Albin Scholle Lederwarenfabrik, Zeitz
-fuq   Cottbusser Lederwarenwerk Curt Vogel, Cottbus
-jvf     Brand, Wilhelm, Treibriemenfahrik, Heidelberg

Again, probably not a complete list, but the most often encountered makers and codes.

An interesting variation. bdq. 41 above is the same maker that stamps his full name and address in 1942. Both have a WaA.

Both examples shown above have had the leather lid hinge installed per regulations after breakage occurred.

Three makers made the
Preßstoff holsters in 1940 and marked them with their full company name. The first maker above is "Buchmüller, Stuttgart, 1940" (code gna, never observed on any holsters), the second one is C. Weiss Braunschweig 1940 (code cww, never observed on any holsters). Incidentally, these two are also the only holsters I have ever seen from these makers made of Preßstoff. The third maker was Curt Vogel. He initially marked his holster in an oval with the full name and address, but later changed to his designated code fuq.

(Picture courtesy of Miguel at ersatzmilitaria.com)
The exception! Pouches manufactured by dla (Karl Barth Militäreffektenfabrik, Gelsenkirchen) in 1944 were marked
with the maker's code and WaA to the tip of the tongue of the locking strap to the front.

Some holsters were also painted with the unit's name, to keep them in the "right hands". The one above is sadly not legible anymore.

A dream-team! Holster and cartridge pouch both marked with a tactical unit symbol as "property marking".

Carrying strap (N4816 Tragriemen)

The carrying strap for the holster and the cartridge pouch was made of leather with either a roller pin buckle or a friction lock to adjust the length, and a carbine hook in each end. As a general rule, they were issued with the holster or pouch and had manufacturer and year markings that matched them.

The first model was made of two parts, with the carbine hooks sewn to the leather at each end. This sling could be split in two parts. The earliest sling I have found was 1928 dated, but the hardware was identical to the ones manufactured until the end of the war.

This picture is from the H.Dv. 409 from 1935 and shows the first type of strap used with the cartridge pouch.

The second model was slightly easier to manufacture, as only one of the two carbine hooks were sewn on, and it had a better construction with no loose end.
As the war moved on the supply of hardware must have taken a turn for the worse. In 1941 fuq (Cottbusser Lederwarenwerk Curt Vogel, Cottbus) manufactured the standard sling (above), but a variation of the sling can also be found with the same marking (fuq 1941), but with different hardware (below).

Over the years, several flare gun holsters have shown up with different varieties of the carrying sling.

The one above utilizes hardware that obviously doesn't fit the prescribed width of the sling,
and the roller pin buckle has now been substituted with a friction buckle.

Yet another variety.

These 4 are the most common types of carbine hooks. Note that number two is a late war production sling that has been riveted

Ejector rod (N4005 Wischstock, Stahl)

The ejector rod was constructed from several parts. The rod had a handle to ensure that the operator got a firm grip, and a cylindrical piston at the opposite end. This piston was at first made of brass, and later it was made of pure aluminum, which both are softer materials than the steel or Duralumin barrel, to avoid wear to the barrel. This piston was either used to clean the barrel or as a manual ejector if a case got stuck after firing. The ejector rod will often be referred to as a cleaning rod. A small carbine hook was stitched to the handle with a leather loop. This would prevent the loss of the cleaning rod if it was issued with a flare gun without a holster. The user would then clip it to the D-ring on the bread bag or onto a separate D-ring on his belt.

The first version were of course in full length, matching the long barrels used up until 1935. When the barrels got their
length reduced the same happened to the ejector rods; they were cut, shortened and soldered together. The brass piston was either soldered to the handle or screwed on.

early ejector rod that has been shortened and soldered back together. Note the serial number (of the gun), piston head made of brass and the non swiveling hook that will reappear in 1942.
It is not known when the transition from brass to aluminum took place, but most certainly prior to 1936
(Photo courtesy of Greg Baker).

The handle was welded on and shaped with a file up until 1936, when it was soldered to the rod
instead. The ejector rod then remained unchanged in production until 1942.

First model. Full length, with welded handle (Photoshop picture).

Second model. Reduced length, with welded handle.

Third model. Soldered handle.

This is by far the most common model to find today.

Fourth model. J42, One-piece, shaped handle.

In 1942 it was simplified by shaping the handle from the same piece as the rod just by bending it.
In 1942 a special new non-swivel carbine hook was used by the manufacturer "J". This also required a broader leather fixture.

Fifth model. G.L.43. No carbine hook. Alloy used for piston.

The leather loop and the carbine hook were omitted from production in 1943, and the aluminum piston was replaced with one made from an alloy.

In regulations issued in July 1943, it was announced that the ejector rod would no longer be procured and that existing stocks should be consumed. As an alternative, the user should make an improvised rod out of wood to remove the cases and to clean the barrel.

The ejector rod manufactured from 1936 and onwards for Wehrmacht were all marked the same way. The ones ordered by the Polizei had a Polizei property eagle on the thinnest part of the aluminum piston. In early 1936 the company "Gerhard" stamped their production on the lower arm with "Gerhard 1936". Note the welded handle. The same year the company G.L. marked their ejector rods on the upper arm, but with the WaA on the flip side. Note the soldered arm/handle. The final position of the maker's marking was then established in 1938 as the upper arm, with the WaA on the same side as the company initials.

All known maker marks from 1936 to 1943 on ejector rods manufactured for the Wehrmacht. Note that J42 can be found on both the standard and simplified model.
G.L.43 can only be found on the simplified model, without the hook.

German soldier in France, summer 1944. The flare gun is carried in a standard leather case suspended from the correct strap.
To prevent the holster from moving, he has clipped the small carbine hook on the ejector rod to a D-ring in the belt.

Ammunition Pouch (N4004 Tasche für Leucht- u. Signalpatronen)

The ammunition pouch came in two main models, the longer version replacing the shorter version in production around 1941. 
It had two belt loops at the back, and D-rings at the sides for attaching the carbine hooks of the same type of carrying strap as used with the holster. The lid was closed using two leather straps that were snapped on two buttons attached to the front of the holster. Inside, the holster had room for 18 cartridges, with a separate pocket for each round. 

Model 1

Note the tactical symbol, painted to both the lid and the rear.

The first model was made of leather and had a flat bottom. This pouch has been found marked as early as 1926, and it is the pouch shown in all prewar manuals. Pouches manufactured up until 1937 had brass buttons on the front. 

It could take 18 rounds of which only 6 could be of the long type. This was due to the flat bottom and the sloping lid. On older specimens the maker's markings will be located on the outside front of the lid, between the closing straps. On the newer pouches the marking will be inside the lid. In theory, a model 1 ammunition pouch in Preßstoff could exist, but I have never seen one.

Model 2

Model 2 made of Preßstoff

Just like the flare gun holster, the shortage of real leather also forced a transition to artificial leather (Preßstoff) or canvas/web for the ammunition pouch. It was redesigned with a sloping bottom, allowing the long cartridges to fit in all the pockets. 

Model 2 made of

This way there was no limit to the number of cartridges of each type it could hold. Apart from the sloping bottom the design remained unchanged. The marking on this pouch was either placed on the left outside panel, viewed from the front (bdq. 41) or inside the lid.

Model 2 made of Preßstoff

One interesting observation is that the makers of these pouches are the same makers that made the Preßstoff flare gun holsters, with one exception: 

cqr. Lederwerk Sedina Joachim Schell, Sportartikelfabrik, Finkenwalde, Stettin 

It is also worth noting that this model of the holster was never made in leather during the war, but got a renaissance in the NVA (DDR's army) after the war, but were then always manufactured in leather.

Model 2 made of canvas/web, 3 different makers

The second model was also manufactured in canvas/web from 1941, so it appears that the manufacture of the long version started up in both Preßstoff and canvas/web at the same time. 

Belt loops and straps were manufactured in both leather and webbing, and were available as both sewn and riveted variants. 

To stiffen these and protect the cartridges, one or two strips made of wood were riveted into the bottom of the pouch.


The carrying straps for these pouches were made of webbing with various editions of carbine hooks

No distinction was made between the different models of the cartridge pouch in the supply system. Both models of the holster had the same article number; it didn't matter if it was long or short, made of leather, Preßstoff or canvas/web

The canvas/web pouches were marked the same way. Either inside the lid, or on the left side panel. The one pictured above of special interest; fuq. This maker made the flare gun holster in P
reßstoff and the flare gun ammunition pouch in canvas/web simultaneously in 1941 and 1942. (Photo courtesy of Greg Baker)

In 1935, by the release of D. 409, the proposal for the filling of the Tasche für Leucht- und Signalpatronen was as follows:

6 light cartridges (front row)
2 single star flare cartridges in each of the following colors; red, green and yellow (middle row)
2 double-star flare cartridges in each of the following colors; red, green and yellow (back row)
With this setup, the holster weighs 2.1 kg.

The content probably changed significantly as new flare cartridges were developed during the war.

Another variant of the leather holster was kidney-shaped, and only accommodated 12 short cartridges. 
However, this was only manufactured for the Polizei and is thus not covered by this article.


A Fallschirmjäger in Tunisia with a Leuctpistole on a lanyard. The lanyard in use is in fact a standard binocular strap.
Also note the M1928A1 Thompson held by the Fallschirmjäger next to him.

Despite the fact that the flare gun was fitted with a lanyard ring, a lanyard was never manufactured. (Yeah, I know; plenty of fanciful variants out there for sale claiming to be).
Contemporary images show various improvised solutions used as a lanyard, such as a piece of string, ropes and leather straps. 

Denckler Verlag's educating pamphlet states that if the flare gun is not issued with a flare gun holster, the user must do the following: Take the bread bag strap (assuming the bread bag is attached to the belt) and attach the carbine hook at one end to the lanyard ring on the flare gun. Hook the other end to the D-ring on the bread bag. The strap should go over the shoulder. The flare gun is then carried between the belt and the tunic. If you do not have a cartridge pouch for the flare cartridges, these must be carried in the bread bag. 

For tactical use, all the different flares (apart from the white light) had a meaning, or "sent a message". But this was also a fact that the enemy knew, so the codes in use had to be switched often to avoid interpretation by the enemy, or even worse; used by him. So for every operation and order a new set of codes had to be handed out.

This note in Sütterlin script was found inside a flare cartridge pouch (model 1) that had seen 40 years of postwar use in the Norwegian Home Guard, without the note being removed! The transcribed text on the right is self-explanatory. Note that the last item is not a flare cartridge, but the handheld orange smoke generator.

Click on the picture to view a larger version.

In the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine the flare gun signals had more permanent "value". The chart above is printed on rubberized canvas and is a predefined chart for flare gun signals relating to seaplanes and their contact with other aircrafts and ships. This chart was discovered inside a photo album that once belonged to a Lw seaplane pilot. I assume it is very rare....

Part II: Special equipment

As mentioned, the flare gun was used by all branches, all with their special needs for accessories. For example, this model was used extensively in the aircrafts of the Luftwaffe, which resulted in their own ammunition containers for aircraft installation, ammunition bandoleers for flying personnel, fixed ports for shooting out of aircraft etc. However, the focus of this article is limited to Wehrmacht Heer and their use, so the range of equipment is somewhat limited. According to H.Dv 398 N5 the special accessories was limited to the two sets described in this part.

As far as the Kleine und Grosse Werkzeugkasten für Waffenmeister table of contents shows, there was no special tool for repairing or measuring the flare gun. All repairs and measurements were made with standard tools (Handelsübliche Werkzeug).

Spare parts box for flare gun (N4028 Vorratskasten für Leuchtpistolen)

List of contents for the spare parts box

This is the spare parts kit used by the Waffenmeister to replace broken or damaged parts, or replace lost ones. According to the table of contents, the box weighed 7.5 kg, and on 15 April 1942 cost the net sum of 101 Reichsmark and 50 Reichspfennig. In comparison, a Leuchtpistole without accessories cost 25 Reichsmark and 75 Reichspfennig. The kit contained everything needed to build 2 complete flare guns out of parts, as well as some extra wear & tear parts. In addition, it contained two spare carrying straps for the flare gun holster or the cartridge pouch (N2816). Frames and barrels were without serial numbers, but otherwise marked as usual with control and manufacturer markings, but the parts did not have the "Beschussamt" (Pressure-proofing) markings. 

The kit contained no tools. The wooden box was lockable with a key in front and of a very simple design to the exterior, but with a relatively complicated interior.

The aforementioned "subgroups" of parts had custom seats at the bottom of the box, such as the complete hammer spring rod, trigger bar with the hammer pin guide, and the locking lever with rod and latch. Barrels and frames were ingeniously held in custom-made holders. The removable tray on the top contained a number of square compartments for the various small parts.

Mounting kit for the flare gun with pouch (N4027 Einspanneinrichtung zur Leuchtpistole, in Tasche)

Mounting kit for vertical firing of the flare gun. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ødemark)

This is a kit for mounting the flare gun on a tripod or object (a tree, a railing, a table, etc.) in order to fire a single shot vertically. The kit consists of a clamping piece, a threaded & jointed screw, a water level, a pull cord and a canvas carrying case. The first edition of the kit came in a transport box instead of the canvas holster, but these boxes were already "out of date" in 1935 and were supposed to be "used up". The kit had to be used when shooting the Messpatrone (M-Patrone, measuring cartridges) used for field measurements for artillery units. The M-Patrone has the odd property of glowing from the start and outwards, thus "drawing a bright line" from the barrel and vertically upwards in the sky. Thus, observers from other positions will easily be able to reset their instruments from the illuminating line and then measure angles with that as a zeroing point. To get a vertical flight path, the M-Patronen is constructed with a very powerful propulsion charge, which in turn gives powerful recoil. Due to this it was not allowed to shoot M-Patrone from a handheld flare gun, as the recoil will cause injury to personnel, and it would be very tricky to get that perfect vertical shot.

A box of M-Patronen. Note the warning "Patronen dürfen nicht von Hand verschossen werden".

But the mounting kit was also used for other purposes by other units, although not necessarily required. It was used for the R-Patrone (Rauch, smoke) for simulation of artillery fire. The R-Patrone shoots a small explosive charge that explodes after 70 meters, leaving a small cloud of smoke. It is recommended shot vertically from the tripod, but can also be shot from the hand according to D. 409.

For use in the regular weather service, it could be used to launch the Fallschirm cartridge to calculate wind direction and wind speed in the mean air layers. It was then a part of the Bodenmeßgerät, Satz b. The kit contained a flare gun with accessories, a mounting kit, a tripod (Gestell 40) and 70 Fallschirm cartridges. The parachute cartridge could only be used in daylight, as it contained no light source. The cartridge has a container that shoots up to 70 meters in height, where an ejector charge releases a red parachute with a 1 meter long white tape that hangs underneath.

It was also part of the more specialized "Wettergerät für Nebeltruppe", where the wind was of great importance for whether the smoke would be effective or not. In this kit the number of the Fallschirm cartridges was doubled to 140.

The preferred method was to mount the flare gun in the clamp piece and the clamp piece on a tripod. The tripod provides much better options for alignment and stability than the jointed screw, which was really best as an emergency solution. The tripod was of a standardized type that was used for several types of optics, such as the aiming circle and the battery binoculars.

The Einspanneinrichtung zur Leuchtpistole mounted on a Leuchtpistole, shown with M-Patronen.

The kit consisted of five parts: Abzugleine, Einspannklaue, Libelle, Doppelgelenkbaumschraube and Tasche aus segelleinen.

The Abzugleine was a simple rope,
1 meter long and 5mm thick, and simply used to remotely pull the trigger as shown in the manual pictures above. It was threaded through the finger guard and then anchored to the tripod or Einspannklaue. The rope was then placed lying on top of the trigger and simply pulled downwards to fire the flare gun

The Einspannklaue was machined from one piece of steel, and had two butterfly head bolts. One to hold the flare gun attached, and one to attach the clamping piece to a tripod or the Doppelgelenkbaumschraube.

The Libelle was made from an alloy, and had a water level in a separate housing. The Libelle was slipped over the barrel and tightened with a butterfly head bolt. This water level ensured that the barrel was pointing straight up. It was not necessary to remove it prior to firing.

Doppelgelenkbaumschraube (Double-jointed-woodscrew) could be screwed into any wooden object (a tree, a railing, a table, etc.) to hold the Einspannklaue and the flare gun. By adjusting it at the joints it was possible to get the flare gun totally vertical.

This screw is often mixed with the "Baumschraube" (the lower of the two above), that was part of the Scherenfernrohr 14z kit. The Baumschraube was not suitable for this use though, as it was single-jointed and much more "lightweight", with an alloy head that wasn't designed to take the beating.

Here the situation is the otherway around. A "Reynhardt Heidrich" artillery observer in a tree-top in Finland is using a Doppelgelenkbaumschraube instead of the prescribed Baumschraube for his Scherenfernrohr 14z.

All parts were stored in the canvas bag, which had its own pockets for each part. It was fitted with a carry handle on the top and belt loops on the back.

The kit was primarily used for field measurements and indirectly for the weather service in the field artillery, and due to this it is relatively rare. It weighed a total of about 2 kg and in April 1942 it cost 27 Reichsmark and 40 Reichspfennig through the supply system, ie only a little more than a flare gun without accessories. This kit was also offered on the prewar civilian market along with the flare gun, but only as separate parts, and without the canvas bag and libelle.

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