The Reinigungskette or cleaning chain was comprised of a rotating head patch loop and a pull though chain made of S-shaped steel links covered (at first) with aluminium barrells. The chain was aprox.107 cm long and had normally 65 links (+/- 2). It was used equally on all type of weapons and oficially never was introduced a short version of it for to use on pistols or Mpi's.
|German soldier at left introducing in the correct form the Reinigungskette in a Kar98 rifle, France 1940.|
The cleaning chain was made with a high quality and represented the 40 % of the total manufacture cost of a complete Rg 34. With the war going and the necessity to increase production several changes and simplifications in the chain were introduced. One of the first changes has to do with the material of the barrels which covered the links. Aluminum, that was a strategic material, was substituted by a zinc alloy and then later by steel. Also the sturdy patch loop was replaced by a simplified patch loop made from a simple folded wire. Another significant change at late stage of the war was the use of another pull through chain type made from twisted wire uncoated refered by collectors as "Kriegsmodell" chain type. These and other modifications were introduced gradually by the manufacturers althought not all changes were adopted by all makers and each producer had its own peculiarities, resulting in the existence of a lot of variants.
|A very early chain with the loop made of two rotating hooks. This style of chain is named as "butterfly chain" by collectors.|
This type of chain was used only in the very early kits and today are extremely rare pieces.
|The WaA94 found on the "butterfly chain" shown before, indicating manufacture by the HAWIG firm.|
|Another "butterfly chain" made by Mundlos AG. |
At least it is confirmed the manufacture of this type of chains by G. Appel, Mundlos and Hawig.
|A close-up picture of the Mundlos AG markings on the "butterfly chain".|
|Four chains with folded wire head. From top: links with covers from zinc alloy, first link from steel (blued) and the rest from zinc alloy, all from steel (first blued) and at the bottom all from steel (blued).|
Late war chain. Note the use of the regular patch loop only. The first link cover is from zinc alloy and the rest from steel (on top) and all are from steel (bottom).
|Another late war chain with the regular - non rotating - patch loop. The first, last and one more link - near the end - are from zinc alloy, the rest from steel. Very probably made -or assembled in the kit- by the Hawig firm.|
|Three late war chains with twisted wire. The upper two chains have the covers from zinc alloy and that of the bottom have the first from zinc alloy and the other two from steel.|
|In some late war chains the tolerance between pieces are bigger. Note the loop hole is machined too deep in the middle chain. On top a mid war chain.|
|Two very late war chains with the loop made from simple wire folded.|
|At the bottom, an old chain of general use with the same twisted wire design as the "kriegsmodell" chains but smaller.|
The cleaning chains were normally stamped by the maker on the base patch loop, at first with the firm's name and often also with the year of manufacture, and from 1940/41 with the code asigned to the maker. This stamping was omited progressively and in the last years of production in general do not show any stamp. Also up to around 1942 generally a Waffenamt stamp was present indicating Military acceptance of the chain.
|A late war "Kriegsmodell" chain type "cnx" marked, no Waffenamt.|
|An early "M" marked chain from Mundlos.|
|A close view of the markings of the chain shown above.|
|An "ab" marked chain with the two first links covered with zinc, the rest from aluminium.|
|"ab" marking, with letters one above the other !|
|A "Ky193?" marked two times on this chain.|
|A "Ky1941" marked chain.|
|An mid war unmarked chain. Note the two first coverings made from steel, the rest from zinc alloy.|
At first the cleaning chains were manufactured by the maker of the complete kit but with the increase of the production some manufacturers incorporated subcontracted made chains in their kits. I suspect also that at some point a large manufacturer might provide some cleaning chains to other firms.
Known subcontractors of the cleaning chain were:
- Aktien-Maschinenfabrik Kyffhäuserhütte (vorm. Paul Reuß), (Artern).
- Hahn & Kolb, Werkzeugmaschinen-Fabrik (Werk Sttutgart)
- Vereinigte Kettenfabriken GmbH (Stolberg/ Rheinland)
- Krafft & Schüll, Ketten und Drahtwaren (Düren)
|Chain made by Aktien-Maschinenfabrik Kyffhäuserhütte. Marked ayw 41 (faintly) and WaA225.|
|Another "ayw1941" marked chain, also with WaA57.|
|An "ayw42" marked chain with WaA225.|
|A "kcy" marked chain from Vereinigte Kettenfabriken GmbH firm.|
|The Waffenamt WaA195 present on the "kcy" chain shown before.|
|Another "kcy" marked chain, no Waffenamt.|