The fakes

Military antiques from the third reich has become so desireable it has created an blackmarked with fakes, reproductions and altered items. Fakes come in many forms from new items made to look authentic to altered items sold as authentic. Misleading ads, left iout information is getting very common. It is sad to see collectors selling their own mistakes. If a fake, altered item is detected, learn from it and share your knowledge, DO NOT sell it to others. Buying from wellknown dealers is not a guarantee for autenticity. Most of them have a returnpolicy, some have a guarantee that states "we do not thrust other experts then ourselves and 75% back". The latter is from a well known dealer.

One rule: know what you are collecting, study the items and counterfeit versions of the same.


Misleading Ads

A very common issue id the misleading ads. Sellers try to describe the object as little as possible and leaving out pictures of certain details. Often these are collectors that sell their mistakes to others. It is often very trasnparent that they know what they are hiding. The above picture is a softshell p38 holster sold as "100% original, perfect condition and har to upgrade". It can be easy to miss it but this one is an altered object. The small dots concealed in the leather is from the US-conversion of the holster. Ehen asked for pictures of the inside, the seller says its to difficult as the lid closes knowingly admitting he is selling something that is not what its described as


Picture above from an add selling "100% autentic Y-straps". They are about 60% authentic. This seller sells uniforms, visor caps and several high end items. Collection such should give the seller knowledge to see these are partly fake objects. 

The devil is in the details

At the first glance an desireable item looks good and the urge to aquire might arise. Knowing the development history of the items, knowing their postwar heritage and details of similar items used bby other countries is a must. The best is to handle and inspect autentic items. Learn to spot the autentic, not the fakes.  Picture above from a "100% autenthic y-strap". The details of the holes in the backstraps gives it away as a austrian postwar. This page is about hint & tips regarding items not to aquaire, but it could be mistakes in here as well. The sections underneath are linked to by the field gear selection.

The Y-straps or Koppeltragestell

Faking the A-Frame

Breaking your own golden rule - The fake gasplane

Kleines schanzeug und klappspaten

The german Y-straps

One iconic backbone of the german field gear, it is also one very often faked object. This section is a tips & tricks section regarding the german Y.straps or "Koppeltragestell"- Above is a picture of the markings of an original Y-straps well documented. Always compare what is considered against a documented original, scarce but they do exist. When looking for Y-straps it is a good idea to make a checklist with the most encountered alterations/fakes.

Offered on a european well known dealers website are these "tropical"  webbing Y.straps. There is something wrong in this picture. Look at the condition of the hook.that is well rusted and worn. Compare it to the bluegray stitching.  If this y-straps has been stored in the same conditions as the hook, why is the stitching so well preserved? With all that rust, there would be moisture involved an discoloration of the seams should be present. It doesnt match up. Picture right shows 2 types of thread used to attach the loops to the D-rings. There were shortages of materials at the end, but it is doubtful the producers would change thread type and color from one loop to the next. Often seen on repaired/restored items.

The czech variant

Under communist control, materials and resources were scarce so there are y-straps made by the czechs post war from german ww2 material. They exist in many variations so the clue is to compare to an original one. The czechs then continued production of the german ww2 look a like Y-straps. The main difference is the use of pebbled leather and different metal fittings. Some are also seen with brass D-rings. At the end of ww2 the germans started making casings of steel so brass is not a material they used for D-rings. Picture left above shows Zcech post war y-strap. 

The zcechs also made a canvas version. The stitching and hooks are very different from the authentic german ww2 version. The type of webbing used by the zcech are also easy to identify.

Picture of the web version to the above right. Many of these czech has been shoepolished black on the front and had original ww2 german hardware attached. But the pebbled leather on the inside is not easy to remove or hide. Be aware that some czech y-Straps also have smooth leather. The fakes are often blackened with shoepolish. Picture to the left is a czech Y-strap altered to be original german ww2 issue. The pebbled or fish scale leather is a typical zcech feature.

Picture to the left shows czech "reworked" y-straps sold by a dealer(Bevo) as original wehrmacht afrikakorps from british webbing. above how they look as original czech before they reworked them. Note the kind of webbing and the distance from the leather O-ring reinforcement to the first D-rings. On originals this should be significantely shorter. These modifification is often done for re-enactement. Above right are Y-straps with Czech backstrap, these are often misisng and replaced by Zcech as they are cheaply availeable. Note the pebbled leather.

Picture above left shows original "teardrop holes" on the Y-straps. To the left iis details on an austrian or zcech strap.The "hole & sli" type of hole is also apparent on the modifed y.straps further up. 

A common fake encountered

A common fake encountered is the czech reworked Y-strap. The pictures above shows "100% original german Y-straps" offered at a online marked for militaria. One can see a good example of the czech pebbled or somethimes called fishscale on both the backstrap and the leatherflap for the metal o-ring. Also the stitching is wrong. The backstraps are, as mentioned, often missing and beeing replaced by czech or austrian ones but these Y-straps are different. The pebble leather are on the oustide of the czech straps. So what they do is to flip the entire strap around so the outside becomes the inside. The smooth, now outside, are dyed black. On thise example it can olse be seen as the hook on the backstrap is the other way around.

They just keep coming...

Update 09.sept.24. Another Zcech remodified for the re-enactors. Sold at a site as original german Y-straps. Upon the logical question "Where did you buy it?" the answer isa almost always the same in international context: "I bought it from a serious big collector". Asked the name of this "big collector (or hustler)" the sellers always becomes suddenly silent. They know its fake because they made the mistake themselves and try to sell their mistakes to others. Accept the loss an learn from your mistake. Compare these pictures to the zcech and do not do this mistake. 

The austrian variant

The austrians continued production of the Y-straps in leather after the war. The main difference is that the austrian used padding. The backstrap end was also different. "backstrap replaced, wartime repair" occurs when they try to sell it off as authentic. The traces of the removed padding can also be seen. They had double D-rings on the back for the battle pack. If one has been removed, it will show that the leather loop for the D-ring is to wide. The stitching on the back of the y-straps are made in a square on the austrian version. Often original german ww2 Y-straps with austrian modified backstrap can be seen. The austrian backstrap is very similar but doesnt have the same teardrop holes. Some has circular holes with a "slit". Pictures above of a postwar austrian Y-straps- Often modified for use in re-enactment

Another tips & Tricks

Looking ath the wide shoulder straps on late war model, the stitching is visible. This feature came after 1943. If an Y-strap marked with other year or makers mark other than R.bnr, be aware and flash the red light.

Be aware that leather is a living material. Picture left shows inside of an original Y-strap. It can be mistaken as pebbled leather, but compare to the picture if czech pebbled leather further up. This leather to the left is not pebbled, but dried up and cracked.

Faking The frame

Picture above left is an authentic A-Frame, or sturmgepack as the original name is, found locally. A known original is a good comparison. You can tell a fake by handling the original. Picture right is a poorly made fake. 

Much of the gear left by the germans at the end of the war was sued by the armed forces of other countries, som found its civilian use. 

The A-Frame had less use after the war and is therefore a bit scarcer item fetching a high price making it worthwhile for crooks and scoundrels to make fakes. The repro ones are also getting very much closer to the original. Most of the fakes are easy to spot, but others almost demands you have studied an original (not on the internet) to spot as a fake. Tha fake above right is a bad one. The first giveaway is the webbing wich is clearly not german ww2. It is more likely to be a zcech webbing. The widht of the midtstraps are wrong and they have seams in the middle. Also look at the hight the holders for the zeltbahn straps. The width of the top leather is also wrong.

Comparison of the top part of the A-Frame. Often fakes uses autentic hardware to deceive.

Comparison of the hooks on the lower left side of the frames. The difference between ww2 german and zcech webbing is again clearly visible

Top left corner of the A-frame showing the difference in construction, stitching and hooks. The siderings are often rounded on the fake ones, but that is changing. The fake looks old, and its probably an old fake made in the eighties or ninethies. Again todays reproduction are more close to the original.

Above left original A-frame with equipment. To the right a suspected fake wich is much better (if confirmed fake) than the zcech webbed further up. The detail creating suspicion on this is the metal D-ring wich are higher than normally seen. Sadly no more detailed pictures to determine 100%

Breaking your own rule - the fake gasplane

First note the yellow dirt on the black part of the gasplane. At a fellow collector seeing a gasplane you might suddenly think that this is just what you need. Breaking your own rule of not buy anything without proper research, you buy it. 6 months later you think about gasplanes and start researching the maker and there is the big surprise:-)

Entrenching tools

A different entrenching tool doesnt necesseraly mean it is a fake. The germans utilized a lot of captured equipment and captured materials in the production. But a lot of ET from other countries or even postwar are remarked or altered to make them look as authentic as possible.

Picture above left showing a klappspaten with cover. One small detail makes it differ from an authentic german period klappspaten. The german spaten was designet so the shovels handle wouldnt bounce against the wearers hip. To make this happen the metal where the screwcap securing the spaten in locket position was angled. The spaten on this pictures looks very like an authentic period one, but as can be seen, there are noe angle cutout. This is a ducth klappspaten. Often found with period german, but postwar applied, markings. Picture to the right showing the "cutout" on an authentic period klappspaten. The dutch version, similar to Norwegian postwar reissued spaten, is often painted in green. Look for remants of green paint (UV light is a very helpful tool). If they are black painted, check the paint very careful.

ANother main difference is the design of the rivets in the shovelhead. On authentic period they are sharp edged, on the dutch variant it is more rounded.

When it comes to detect changes in paint or former painting, UV light is a helpful tool. ABove pictures showing a pre war german entrenching tool. Looking at the blade and handle in natural light, there are no traces of former paint. At the picture to the right the handle is exposed to UV light exposing the former paint quite clear. This is a period shovel used by the norwegian army and repainted after the war. Leaving the surplus it has been stripped for paint.

Pebbled leather on fake covers