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Czech Republic

Military Boots of Czechoslovakia

Czech-made footwear is traditionally comfortable to wear and high in quality. During the times of the Soviet Union, the shoes and boots "Made in Czechoslovakia" were very popular, almost on the level of the "Austrian" and "Finnish" footwear," and this opinion was based on the strong facts.

In the Eastern Europe before World War 2, Czechoslovakia was in fact the only one democratic republic, surrounded by more or less strict dictatorial states. Czechoslovakia was also the most industrially developed country of the Eastern Europe, so it was a good reason for Hitler to choose this country as his first victim in 1938. The seized industrial enterprises of the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia", which was established on the former Czech territory after the separation of the "puppet" Slovak Republic, had reinforced considerably the military and industrial potential of the Third Reich. And even much later, Czechoslovakia was one of the most advanced and industrialized countries of the USSR-led Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the "Warsaw Pact".

There is still settled opinion in the West, that the USSR used to control its "Warsaw Pact" allies very tightly, up to the smallest details. However, apart from political and economic issues, the satellites of the Soviet Union were free in their own development of such "little things" as uniforms, footwear and other equipment.

Czechoslovakia was probably one of the most developed countries of the Eastern Bloc. In particular, in terms of quality, design and comfort of wear, Czechoslovakian combat boots type M60 (adopted in 1960) were actually not worse than, for example, French military boots BMJA Mle. 52 or BM65 ("Rangers"). The trend of transferring from high boots to the high-laced boots was very noticeable at that time, and the Czechoslovak developers showed very quick reaction on this idea. The Armed Forces of Czechoslovakia had been using both high boots and high-laced boots with the same tread pattern of the out-soles, but since the year 1960 they switched to high-laced boots almost completely.

Besides M60 model army boots, Czechoslovakian military introduced the "stroke"-type camouflage pattern (called sometimes "rain"-pattern), similar to the well-known type of camouflage used in the National People's Army of the GDR, but with slightly different pattern and colour.

Just like the French "Rangers"-type military boots, the Czechoslovakian boots featured laces and belts with buckles. The lacing system consisted of six pairs of round eyelets, above which there were leather cuffs with double buckles.

The leather of the boots was very durable, but not stiff, and after "breaking-in" it was surprisingly soft and comfortable. The boot's counter was reinforced with extra leather layer.

The shape of these boots is anatomically correct, repeating all the natural curves of the ankle and foot, thus providing comfort of wear.

For some mysterious reason, this simple rule was almost always ignored for the Soviet Army soldier's high-boots. In my opinion, an absurd exultation that too massive production of soldiers' high-boots did not allow to provide high quality of them is absolutely groundless, and the only one reason was deep disrespect of the USSR leaders to their army and its soldiers.

The buckles system was more complex than, for example, in the French boots, and in the Czechoslovakian boots there were provided special leather "pockets" to secure the ends of the straps.

The buckles system was not standardized, and there were different variants of them. Unlike the contemporary French boots, the belts of the leather cuffs were not cut from a single piece of leather, but were riveted individually.

The out-soles of the Czechoslovak army boots model M60 were made of solid and durable vulcanized rubber, glued and stitched to the leather mid-soles by "Goodyear welt construction" method. The heels and toe of the out-soles were additionally reinforced with boot's mount screws. The outer sides of the heels feature longitudinal groove that served to reduce the weight of the heel and, at the same time, to fix the skis mounting accessories. 17 years later this feature was used in the Norwegian M/77 military boots, which are still widely used today.

The tread pattern of Czechoslovakian army boot differs from the "patterns" of other countries and is very easily recognizable.

One can assume that during the development of this tread pattern the Czechoslovak footwear designers were certainly influenced by:

- "Tractor"-type tread patterns of tires of the American "Firestone" jeeps,

- Tread patterns of the German paratroopers' boots of the 1930s.

In those years the German Third Reich was a pioneer in the creation of high-laced boots for paratroopers, and the first experimental model of such boots featured the tilted side-lacing located on the outer sides of the boots, and the out-soles were made of natural caoutchouc (rubber resin). Further on, the tilted side-lacing system proved to be impractical, and the second model of the Luftwaffe paratrooper's boots featured usual straight lacing.

In the early years the Czechoslovakian M60 boots had light red lining inside (as the early French black boots BMJA 65 "Rangers"), later they were black inside.

Very often inside the leather cuff there was marking with the size, manufacturer's info, serial number and other data. The most famous manufacturer of Czechoslovak army boots, of course, is "Prabos" company, which is active even nowadays.

The main colour of the Czechoslovak army boots was black, but brown boots were produced as well, though in much smaller batches.

To preserve and protect the waterproof features of the Czechoslovakian leather boot it was recommended to apply special boot polish, based on the composition of natural and synthetic waxes, and this Czech-developed product was not worse than any Western one.

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