October 25th, 1983, the United States invasion of Grenada began. Due to internal strife in the People’s Revolutionary Government, Maurice Bishop (former Prime Minister of Grenada) was executed after his arrest. A preliminary government was formed (Revolutionary Military Council), with Hudson Austin as the Chairman. The US invasion began just shy of a week after the death of Maurice Bishop and the invasion resulted in the establishment of an interim government, which was followed by democratic elections in the 1984. Many political prisoners who were freed during the invasion were elected into said government during the elections.
While history is important and interesting, I will not dwell further in it but rather go on to the kit that is the main gist of this post. Many units took part to the invasion, but I will concentrate on Delta Force for the time being, as it is a trend at my blog currently. The kit portrayed here is not a perfect representation and it has been collected with the mindset of how I personally would setup my kit. All the pieces of the kit can be seen used in photos of the operation, though there are not that many available of Delta Force during Op Urgent Fury. We make due with what we have, however!
The RDF woodland master race
While regular M81 woodland BDUs were beginning to make an appearance during Urgent Fury, many units still preferred the OD Jungle Fatigues over them. The reason for this was the heavy weight fabric used in the early M81 BDUs, which was uncomfortably hot in tropical climates. For example, Rangers were still using the OD Jungles and the 82nd Airborne switched over to the Jungles just days into the invasion. Some units, like Delta Force, had access to the RDF woodland, which was more lightweight than the new M81 woodland fatigues. The patrol caps they used were OD, however, most likely the Korean War vintage M1951 Field Cap, which can also be seen used by Rangers.
In addition to the vintage M1951 caps Delta Force can be seen using, another interesting item came up from the image posted above. If you look closely, you will see the operators (visible especially on the operator at the far left) using WW1 vintage M1911 pistol magazine pouches on their LBE. I found this to be an interesting choice, considering there were other alternatives available at the time. In the image below, we also see another pistol magazine pouch, which looks different from the WW1 one. Most likely this is a private purchase leather magazine pouch.
I want to note that once this small nuance came to light, I noticed similar things in other images as well, especially from Operation Eagle Claw, 1980. The WW1 pistol magazine pouches can be seen there as well, in addition to Vietnam War vintage ones and custom made ones. This goes on to show how varied the gear can be from operator to operator and from operation to operation. While we have picture evidence from one, it does not mean that the other was not used. If you want to go the safe route, go with images, of course.
As for Load Bearing Equipment, the ALICE harness is a good choice here and I went with that as well. In the first image, you can also see the 7-pocket bandoliers being used to carry additional magazines. These can fit a 20-round STANAG magazine well, but the 30-round magazines stick out, as you can see from the image. I have one of these as well, but I opted for a 4-pocket bandolier, which can hold the 30-round magazines securely. I snagged this off of Ebay years back for a few euros and it has seen extensive use and abuse. Naturally, tightening the 7-pocket bandolier close to your body will help in keeping the magazines secure. If you look at the image below, you can see that the operator there has a 7-pocket bandolier on his waist. I would not be surprised if these bandoliers were modified somehow to allow ease-of-use for the user.
The M653 carbine seems to be the most favored choice in weapons during the operation (according to the images I have seen, at least) and that is the choice in airsoft replicas for me as well for this particular kit. The replica is made by G&P and I have a separate blog post about it as well, here. I have had the replica for years now and I am unsure if they are still available from G&P today. If you do find one, I can recommend it fully. It is a great replica, which fits into so many kits from the Cold War era.
As for sidearms, I have opted for the M1911. It was around during that time and was most likely used by Delta as well, but I have no evidence of that. For holsters, I am currently looking at getting a private purchase leather holster for it. The Bianchi will be replaced with that once I acquire one.
My LBE consists of an ALICE Y-harness setup, with a foam pad strip that has been cut from a USGI foam mattress. This adds a lot of comfort to the belt setup. All the ALICE keepers are secured further with paracord onto the belt. I have two ammunition pouches as well as two canteen pouches attached to the LBE. In addition to these pouches, I can add a radio pouch if needed. Two compass/First Aid pouches are attached on both ends of the belt.
For clothing, I have aviator gloves, an OD patrol cap (not the 1951 cap I mentioned earlier, though) and RDF woodland BDU. For boots, I use regular Jungle boots, which can be seen in the image below.
In essence, that is the kit I currently have for an impression of Delta Force during Operation Urgent Fury. There are not that many “good” gear reference images out there and the few we have do not necessarily show everything that was used. Nevertheless, the kit has a cool factor to it, as always is the case with old school kit. One more cool image from the operation below. Notice the large US flags on their shoulders.
There is always something to improve on. But, I have recently taken the fun/cool factor into account when doing these kinds of kits. So remember, we are only doing things based off of images and there will always be something that is incorrect. If you are having fun doing things, keep doing it! And always have rope… You never know when you are going to need that stupid f**king rope!