They were designed and issued to YPA (Yugoslavian People's Army) in the beginning of 1970s as a replacement for previous model (today unofficially known as M55 - Model 1955), and were firstly recorded wearing by their officers during Sloboda 71 (Freedom 71), the largest military exercise of YPA, held in October 1971.
The reason why they were officially designated only as the heightened shoes lies in fact that they did not feature eyelets above the ankle (due to featuring side buckles) so that they could be referred to as being true boots by YPA terminology. However, in practice that official designation was almost never used and is actually very little known so they were and are always widely being known simply as JNA čizme (YPA boots).
Overview & historyEdit
Although the SFRY was never a member of Warsaw pact, it was still a classic Communist country which generally and naturally followed practices from Warsaw pact and rest of the Eastern bloc rather than from NATO and the West and these boots were a prime example of such, since the double buckle combat boots were worn only and by many other Eastern bloc countries which were under USSR influence, the Czechoslovakia (their vz. 60, vz. 62 and vz. 72 boots) and Poland (their Opinacz wz. 58 and Opinacz) in the first place, from which the YPA took the idea.
These boots are no doubt most inspired and most similar to mentioned Czechoslovakian vz. 60 (vzor 1960) worn by ČSLA (Česko-Slovenská Lidová Armáda - Czechoslovakian People's Army) from 1960s to 1970s as well as to Polish wz. 58 (wzór 1958) combat boots worn by LWP (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie - Polish People's Army, and later also briefly by Polish Army) from 1950s until 1990s.
The sole USSR also copied and used similar boots, which were, however, in their case worn only by some minor Specnaz (special forces) units as well as GDR (East Germany), where the double buckle boots were used only by 40. Fallschirmjägerbataillon Willi Sänger (40rd Paratrooper battalion, in 1986 expanded to regiment size Luftsturmregiment 40 - Air assault regiment 40), the only paratrooper unit of NVA (National Volks Armee/National People's Army). The original idea was actually copied from World War II era American M43 (Model 1943) service boots which were the first boots of such type (double buckle) in history and which were, however, soon after the war replaced in the US Army with classic all-out laces boots.
So, these YPA boots, like all boots of such design, can also track its roots in mentioned M43 boots; France, as an example, also copied the M43 for their Mle. 65 (Modèle 1965) boots, which are even still today used by the FFA (French Foreign Legion) and which are exactly due to that often commonly nicknamed Rangers, since their appearance clearly reminds of M43 boots which were, among other US troops, probably most notably worn by US Army 2nd Ranger battalion fighting Germans in France during WWII.
In contrast to their mentioned predecessor (which were made out of smooth calfskin leather) the Cipele sa povišenom sarom were also always made exclusively from highly durable, double layer of genuine leather, however, not a calfskin anymore, but pig leather instead (recognizable by its distinctive longitudinal pores on surface), in combination with either three or four layers of glued, stitched and screw reinforced sole (twin wooden at the upper part with a single/double rubber one), depending on model, featuring twin chrome plated aluminium buckles at the side, either ten or twelve eyelets and bolted with either eleven (later models) or nineteen (earlier models) reinforcement screws underneath the sole, also depending on the model. They feature a thin cotton lining between two layers of leather as well as partially inside.
The soles were directly glued to each other and internally, between the layers, were also stitched for additional reliability, the leather is also glued to them and the eyelets were made out of aluminium, just like the buckles (but not chrome plated, however). Even the insoles were also made out of genuine leather and are easily removable.
Like in vz. 60 case, their characteristic, screw reinforced soles are of completely original (domestic) design and were thus never used by any other boots before or after (only the Croatian army used existing supplies through a short time in 1990s for manufacturing of their own combat boots during the Yugoslavian wars, which were basically YPA boots only with buckles removed and replaced by slots for laces until the upper end of the boot - something like the Czech vz. 90 boots), however, they were directly taken from previously used model, so the soles actually originate back from 1950s.
The buckles were chrome lined in order to protect them from rust (which explains their silver appearance - exactly like on vz. 60 and on similar Soviet Specnaz boots) and the wooden parts of the sole were painted with black protective coating, not just in order to accomodate to rest of the boot's color (black) but also with reason to prevent them from rotting. The soles were fully and very reliably reinforced, featuring no more or less than even nineteen screws underneath (at least on earlier variants), which most probably makes these one of, if not the fullest sole-reinforced combat boots ever made.
The inside leather layer could vary in colors; from orange (which was the most common), to brown, yellow or even white (which was the rarest), depending of year and place of manufacturing. Depending also on manufacturer, some models had protective steel cap installed inside on toes and heel part (mostly the ones made at Limka and Kombinat Peć), the other had just reinforced (hardened) leather on the same parts. Due to using four reinforced layers of hard sole (with double wooden layers) they are relatively heavy for a piece of footwear - every boot weighting almost three kilos, depending on size and manufacturing, however.
They were manufactured in several factories through the former SFRY, most notably Borac (literally; Fighter) from town of Travnik in SRBIH (Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) which carried the most production (around half altogether), then Kombinat (Combined factory) from town of Peć in then autonomous province of Kosovo and factory Limka from town of Prijepolje in SRS (Socialist Republic of Serbia). Like all other pieces of YPA equipment, every single pair (except Militsiya models) had markings sewn inside which, among the size (length and width, in centimeters) also had year of production and one of the mentioned places of manufacturing inscribed.
The soles, however, were made by other factories, (since the mentioned ones were not producing rubber and wood materials) and they also had size, width and length engraved underneath and sometimes also places of manufacturing (most commonly the PIS Zagreb, BVB, Zlatar and rarely Borovo Vukovar - on earliest models). In contrast to their already mentioned preceding model, they were actually never manufactured by SFRY's largest footwear industry, the Borovo from the town of Vukovar, which was most probably contributed to the fact that the Borovo was refitted for manufacture of classic leather shoes for senior officer's parade and service uniforms, while the manufacturing of combat boots was then taken by other and above described factories through the country.
These boots were in production for around 33 years (1971-2004), making them one of the most produced military combat boots in history, right after their Polish counterpart, the Opinacz which were being produced for exactly 35 years (if counting the first and earlier model, the Opinacz wz. 58 along with them).
They were produced from 1971 until 1991 for YPA, however, they were continued to be produced for Army of Yugoslavia (in 2003 renamed as Army of Serbia and Montenegro (Vojska Jugoslavije/Srbije i Crne Gore) for a long time even after the dissolution of SFRY (until 2004, since the latest ones which can be found today are marked with that year of manufacturing), but by their factories (such as Gepard from town of Novi Sad, Sandra Corpico from Požarevac, Mile Dragić from Zrenjanin, Borovo Boreli from Sombor, D&S from city of Beograd, Progres, and others), since the original ones were either in Bosnia or Kosovo, as mentioned (except Limka, which was however, either closed, renamed or refitted for making someting else soon after the breakup of SFRY due to the fact that there are no post 1991 YPA boots marked with that place of origin, despite the fact that it was located in Serbia where they were continued to be manufactured). In the Army of Montenegro, they were starting to be replaced in 2006 when Montenegro gained independence from Serbia and are now completely disused.
Macedonian army still officially used them during first decade of 2000s, as they were extensively seen during 2001 clash with Albanian insurgents, but replaced them with newer, Goretex models near the end of that decade. They are even still today rarely seen used only by Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as by Serbian Army, (mostly by conscripts and eventually, reservists) although they are now formally being phased out in favor to more modern, Goretex combat boots M10 (Model 2010), introduced in the same year together with their new, digital pattern uniform of the same designation.
For the first few years (until around 1976) they were worn exclusively by officers (while the rest of the army still wore their already mentioned previous model), since they were not available in larger numbers yet and which is why they received their most popular nickname Oficirke (loosely translated as Officer's boots), a nickname which was also continued to be extensively used even after the rest of the YPA started wearing them and are even still today sometimes referred as such. Other nicknames included Pešadinke (~Infantryman's boots), which was actually the most often used, then Prašinarke (~Duster's boots - since they were intended for Dusters; Prašinari, a YPA nickname for infantry), eventually Remenjače (~Belt boots - since they featured twin belts for buckles) and rarely Preklopnjače (~Overlappers - since they featured the recognizable overlapping part above their eyelets).
Also, they are relatively often incorrectly colloquially designated as M77 (Model 1977) boots, although they were actually never formally designated as such and as already stated, they in fact appeared much earlier than that - already in 1971 (the previously mentioned YPA military exercise Sloboda 71, seen on the photo to the right, is probably the finest proof of mentioned). So, they could eventually be unofficially designated as M71. The mistake is most probably due to the fact that YPA terminology was much confusing due to using the one and the same designation (M for Model, followed by year abbreaviation) for literally every piece of equipment, including even vehicles and weaponry.
Moreover, their uniforms and equipment in general had only size, production site and year of production markings, but never an official designation label, which is why it is relatively easy either to confuse or not knowing the designation at all and these boots are prime example of that.
There were some exceptions however, when older and discontinued equipment (which was still in service) received that Model-year designation only in order to be properly differed from the new and recently introduced one, as it was case in YPA uniforms or backpacks, which received such designation exactly due to that. But, these boots were an exception of this since they were officially clearly differed from the preceding model, due to the fact that they were designated as the Heightened shoes while the previous model were designated as the actual boots, that is, as Vojničke čizme (literally; Military boots) so there was no need for other, specific designations in order to be properly differed from each other.
Perhaps the only noticeable disadvantage of these boots was its sloppy production and finishing process, despite their reliable design and good choice of materials, since the Yugoslavian footwear production generally lagged behind most of Europe due to the fact that it was somewhat slow and sometimes sloppy since almost everything was exclusively handcrafted, (sole thing that was not being made by handcrafting was sewing, which was being done using classic sewing machines) what also practically means that almost every single pair is literally of its own manufacturing - not a single one is symmetrical to the other one (in rarer cases, even one boot is not completely identical to the other one).
So, the models could vary from high quality, meticulously and accurately manufactured to relatively sloppy and unreliably made. For instance, some models are made completely symmetrical and feature very hard and sturdy made rubbber on soles (like they are made out of steel or concrete), while the other ones feature much softer and lighter, almost as they are hollowed inside.
Also, the thickness of the sole and leather could also vary, for insance some models can feature even two centimeter thick (wood & rubber) sole, while the other ones could feature almost as twice as thinner, what also greatly affects not just quality and durability of the boots (more sturdy and solid made models have longer sole life, due to simply fact that sole much less flexes and is thus, much lesser chance for it to become weaken and detach), but also the weight (44 size model as an example, with such thick and hard made rubber on soles featuring steel cap on toes and heal could weight as many as three or more kilos - 6,5lbs, while the same size with thinner soles and without cap can weight well under the same kilos).
Leather thickness could also vary; from only one and half up to even three milimeteres thick, as well as its firmness; some models feature really soft and easily overlapping leather while the other ones feature sturdy made one, which overlaps barely.
Later however, yet after the breakup of SFRY and during late 1990s, this manufacturing problem was ultimately solved when automatized production featuring machines was finally introduced, which became much more meticolous as it could now manufacure the boots with much greater presicion, so all those later production models never featured sometimes inaccurate and sloppy finishing process, as the models before.
These boots were also often being infamous for receiving feet blisters, especially among YPA conscripts when using the brand new, factory condition ones for the first time during their approximately year long conscript service. However, despite common, stereotypical thoughts that this was due to sole boot design which is a pure myth, that problem actually had absolutely nothing to do with the sole boots but was exclusively a size problem; the soldiers would, due to lack of boots or boot sizes in army stocks, often receive totally inadequate size which was sometimes smaller that the one actually used (received size 42, as an example, instead of 43 or larger). Moreover, the problem was even greater due to one other thing in same context - they were one of very rare boots in general where its width (Širina, as written inside on markings) could vary completely independetly of the size (Građa/broj) itself, that is, of length (Dužina).
As an example, there was a size 43 (which was always 27,5 centimeters in length, as clearly seen on model presented in Gallery section), but the width of that size could vary from just eight to even eleven centimeters, (which is a really great difference) so the size as such refereers exclusively to mentioned length, but not also the width. This was deliberately made and was actually an advantage so that the boots could easily accommodate to literally anyone's foot - if the one has chosen its exact right size, of course. However, that feature was, unfortunately, often unnoticed by almost everyone among YPA personnel, so even the one picked or received its actual size, there was a relatively great chance that it picked the wrong width (nine instead of eleven centimeters, as an example) and due to that, again received blisters due to its boots being too narrow, despite being enough in length.
This is very useful information to have on mind when picking or buying these boots, because the one must then pay great attention to width (Širina), not just the sole size (Građa/broj) itself, which only reffers to length (Dužina) in their context, to evade possibility of receiving the unwanted foot blisters.
There is another common myth often present, also mainly among ex-YPA and Serbian army personnel, about reportedly poor waterproof of the boots, which again does not have much to do with the sole boots and is actually a very relative case - it depens almost entirely on their user, to be more precise on their user's build. If the boots could be tightened to maximally and reliably hold the leg together with pants in place (without chance of pants to fall out from boot or even to slightly drag out) and if the laces were correctly put (straight, so that they can close the gap between the two sides and not crossed in 'X' shape over each other, leaving the gap always opened - like in case of Czechoslovakian boots, as an example) excellent waterproof is guaranteed (especially when looking at the fact that they feature only few holes for laces in contrast to most other combat boots as well as the fact that there are not any kinds of hole openings above the ankle, in contrast to classic all out laces boots).
However, they really featured one minor defect in that context, in contrast to other simililar boots types (double buckle ones); although the upper buckling part naturally ensures far more reliable and stronger fixing of ankle along with better tightening of pants inside the boot (the buckles, in contrast to laces cannot unbrace or become loosen with moving) as well as much easier and faster dressing than usual all-out lacing boots, the upper (buckling) part on these boots was always made a bit far too wide, which is not suitable to reliably fix the ankle and properly tighten the pants in boots of someone lighter than at least 75 kilos (165 lbs) in weight, even in relatively smaller sizes (41, as an example) and despite the relatively thick (wool made) pants of their combat uniform.
So, many soliders which were not of higher body build experinced a, sometimes serious, problem with pants falling out from boots and having poor waterproof along with it due to the fact that they simply could not tight the buckles as much as they wanted and needed to, but only as much as the last hole on the straps allowed and that was still not enough (the issue can be at least half solved with putting additional pair of socks - double or even triple if needed, depending on their thickness).
Exactly due to this, the theory about weak waterproof appeared and spreaded among many Army personnel. Others combat boots of such type generally did not share the same problem, especially French Foreign Legion's Mle. 65 as an example, whose buckling part was, in contrast to these, often made so narrow so that literally anyone can reliably fix its ankle and tighten the pants inside as much as it wants and needs, even the one of relatively weaker body build.
1971EditFor YPA, these boots existed in three main models. The first one was in production for eight years; from 1971 until 1979 and it is visually easily recognizable by combination of twelve holes for laces (six by six), nineteen reinforcement screws on four layers of sole and slightly different buckles compared to later ones (thinner, somewhat smaller and square from all sides) which were sewn to the boot inside, between the two layers of leather (although models from 1977 onwards already switched to newer buckles). Due to the fact that this model (as being the first one) was firstly worn exclusively by YPA officers, there is an often myth present that this model was being made to be used only for officers which is actually wrong, since it was only the first model which was soon used by others and later discontinued and replaced - even for officers.
1979EditThe second model was just a short lived transition model produced for only three years; from 1979 until 1982, due to which today it is relatively rare (hard to find), because the mentioned model was, as already stated, actually just a gap between the first and third one, since the production facilities firstly had to spend the existing stock of old nineteen reinforcement screw soles before they could continue with new eleven screw ones (probably the best evidence for that is the fact that the post 1978 soles with holes for nineteen reinforcement screws never existed; even 1981 dated boots have at least 1978 dated soles or even earlier). This was mainly done to speed up the production and make it slightly easier, since the YPA had lack of new boots for conscripts in the end of 1970s and since Yugoslavian footwear production was generally somewhat slow and sometimes sloppy, as stated before.
The mentioned model is recognizable by combination of ten holes for laces (the upper two were removed; so five by five now), different buckles (larger, thicker and rounded on back side) which were now sewn directly onto the outside part of the leather, making them much firmer than previous. The upper two holes for laces were removed since it was noticed with time that those previous twelve hole models had sometimes problem with hindering the ankle when even slightly trying to move the foot upwards, which was due to the fact that lace junction on upper two holes sat exactly on the spot between the shin and foot, thus making it considerably harder to walk or climb uphill and sometimes even to operate vehicles. As already mentioned, the sole remained the same however, with four layers (upper two wooden + lower two rubber) featuring nineteen reinforcement screws on each one.
Ironically enough, although being just a stopgap short lived model, this was probably the best of all three models, since due to its combination of ten holes for laces and nineteen screws on soles, it did not share previously mentioned defect with hindering the ankle with the first model (due to twelve holes), nor even the greater one with sole reliability (due to only eleven screws), which troubled the last one. However, this model is, as stated already, very rare and real challenge to find today, due to being in production for only two years.
1982EditThe third or last model was in production from 1982 until the end of SFRY (1990), however, as previously mentioned, it was continued to be manufactured for Serbia and Montenegro by their factories as far as 2004, when they were finally discontinued and later, largely replaced (today used only by their conscripts). That model was recognizable only by combination of ten holes for laces like the previous one, but now combined with only eleven reinforcement screws (eight less than on previous models) on each sole, which were also triple now; heel was together a part of the last - third rubber sole, in previous models the heel part was the individual, fourth or last layer of sole.
This was, as mentioned before, done only to achieve easier and thus, faster production, however, in the same time this also created a serious defect since the soles were now lacking crucial reinforcement due to the fact that eight crucial screws were removed, which naturally resulted in relatively easy and quick detaching of lower (rubber) sole from upper (wooden) ones, even after slighter use on harder terrain. Despite this drawback however, this model was, somewhat ironically, continued to be manufactured not just until the end of SFRY, but also for a long time even after the breakup, making it far the most common and produced model of YPA boots (22 years of production).
Although, the mentioned fault was not as noticeable in fresh and brand new, factory condition boots as it was in those which were kept in storage unused for at least ten or more years (the ones which can, unfortunately, mostly be found today), since the glue on soles pressed by handcrafting naturally becomes weaker with time much faster than soles glued automatically, by machine pressing.
Also, as mentioned before, the quality also greatly depended on precision of manufacturing which is, due to lacking of screws on soles, especially noticeable in case of the last model. For instance, the higher quailty made models - the more sturdy and less flexible ones, with very hard made rubber on soles and featuring protective steel/metal cap (at least on toes) had much less chance for detacing of sole than lower quality ones with relatively soft made rubber on soles and which featured no metal cap, since those softer made models are much more elastic and easily flexible, which naturally results in much greater and quicker wearing of the sole. However, those sturdy models are also somewhat unconfortable to wear and use due to the fact that they feature little to none elasticity and thus, foot flexibility.
That does not, however, apply to first (1971) and transition model (1979) since those two featured reliable, full screwed soles without any chance of detaching, so the quality (hardness) of the sole manufacturing and elasticity of the boot with it did not actually matter in their case. Later however, this problem was relatively marginalized when, as already mentioned, during late 1990s, automatized production featuring machines was finally introduced, which could always manufacture hard and sturdy soles and which could now reliably glue them on much higher pressures than former manufacturing which exclusively depended on mentioned handcrafting. So, those post-SFRY models which were made in Serbia for their and Montenegro army had more reliable soles than pre 1990s (YPA) made ones.
There was also a special model for NM (Narodna Milicija - Yugoslavian Militsiya) which was used by its repression forces. Early models were very similar to Army's first models; they had combination of twelve holes for laces and nineteen reinforcement screws, the only difference that tell them apart from Army models was the fact they they always lacked, that is, never featured markings (for size, production site and year of production) sewn inside, because the mentioned was the Army regulation for uniforms and equipment; the Militsiya ones had only size number engraved into the inside leather layer.
Later models are easily tell apart from Army models, since they feature a combination of twelve holes for laces (like the first model for Army) and eleven reinforcement screws (like the Armys's third/last model) on the soles underneath, a combination in which Army models never existed. Due to mentioned absence of markings inside, it is not exactly known from which year does the Militsiya model originate nor for how long it was being made (however, it was probably being made for a relatively short time and not after the breakup of SFRY, due to the fact that those models are very rare today).
Militsiya also had an extremely rare model featuring fourteen holes for laces and slightly different design, which is today almost non existent anymore (even on ex-SFRY territory) and what also indicates that it was being made very briefly and was probably their very first model (or was maybe a some short lived model briefly made somewhere during the Yugoslavian wars).
- ↑ https://picclick.com/Infantry-Leather-Boots-M-77-Unworn-Yugoslavian-people-153206056853.html
- ↑ http://frame.goglasi.com/frame?eid=141681073&q=%20JNA%20cizme%20pesadinke
- ↑ https://www.mycity-military.com/Pesadijsko-naoruzanje-municija-i-oprema/Vojnicke-cizme_157.html
- ↑ https://sites.google.com/site/yugoslavianpeoplesarmyjna/footwear
- ↑ http://www.paluba.info/smf/index.php?topic=16353.0
- ↑ http://frame.goglasi.com/frame?eid=129513272&q=%20JNA%20cizme%20pesadinke
- ↑ https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yugoslavia-Army-JNA-PROTOTYPE-Model-1971-winter-parka-jacket-EXTREMELY-RARE-NEW-/264088312346
- ↑ http://jna-sfrj.forum-aktiv.com/t181p825-virtualni-muzej-jna