NATOs portable skisledge for all weather transportation
The Helper first aid sledge
The Helper first aid and auxillary sledge consists of a simple lightweight kit which converts an ordinary pair of skis and poles into a sturdy sledge, strong enough to meet every reasonable demand for driving performance and durability.
The kit rolls up into a tiny bundle which is easily carried on the outside of a rucksack, in a jeep, a wessel or a plane. Complete with towing rope it weighs onlyl 6 lbs or 2.7 kg.
The sledge, which is to be pulled by a skier, may be assembled from skis of any proportion. A minor modification of the supporting vrackets, which was done in 1988 to make them fit the Norwegian made Aasnes glassfiber skis, make both wooden and glassfiber skis fully applicable. The fact that ordinary skis are used has the advantage that the runners, possibly the most important detail of a sledge, are usually of better quality tahn those on ordinary sledges. This applies equally to both strength and to both strength and to the preparation of the gliding surface.
The framework of the Helper sledge is held together solely by straps, canvas and roping, and will therefore prove flexible in its movements in the terrain. By reasons of the method of assembly, and the use of strong alumunion alloys in the supporting brackets where the strain is the greatest, the sledge will stand up to a considerable load and punishment in use. Assembled from skis and poles of standard strength, the loading capacity can be put at 4 cwt (200 kg) but the sledge can easily be improvised to exceed this.
A military detachment on skis could hardly find a better way of transporting its reserve of skis using them as runners on the ski sledges they must bring. When a pair is required, a sledge is imply dismantled and the load therefrom distributed along those which have become lighter during the march or in action.
After action the Helper sledge may be assembled from the skis of the wounded so that their fellow soldiers can help in bringing the injured to heated First Aid Posts behind the lines as soon as possible. The chances of being helped - and helped immediately - will, especially when the frost is severe, prove of great value to the morale and fighting spirit of the men.
An infantry detachment equipped with light, portable snow sledges, would always be in position to solve its winter transport problems through rapidly mounting the number of sledges required for ammunition, food, weapons or wounded. In moving heavy bivouac equipment from motor vehicles etc. to the site where the tents are to be pitched, when snow conditions and enemy aircraft make it impossible for the motor vehicles to progress and in many other instances, a portable sledge carried as a part of the infantry pack (such as a spade or pick-axe) would prove invaluable.
As additional fittings to the Helper sledge, a special Snow Foil has been constructed, for use in loose snow. The foil is easily mounted below the ski tip, and will keep the front part of the sledge raised off the soft snow. The curved shape also makes it simple to fasten outtside the rolled-up sledge components by its own permanent straps. It weighs only 1.1 lbs (0,5 kg).
A container bag that protects the wounded or the load from wind or snow, and safeguards against losses should the sledge capsize, is also supplied to order. The container bag weighs 3 lbs (1,5 kg) and can, with simple aids, also be used as a ski sail.
Shaft traction is not in keeping with portable sledges. But as the Helper sledge is becoming more and more used as a permanently fixed means of transport (and as in practice the use of motor vehicles etc. can often be reckoned with up to the point from where the march is to commence) the special advantages of a shaft, as against the use of towing rope, have necessitated the construction of such a fixture. It consists of two separate poles which, in the event of having to dismantle the sledge, can easily be tied neatly against a pair of skis. Military units will find it advantageous to bundle a number of shafts together, for transport in or on the outside of a motor vehicle.