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SRU and OV-1 butane lighters

Started by Mashsig , Aug 17 2013 06:27 PM

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#1 Mashsig

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 06:27 PM

I saw my first OV-1 butane lighter in Brigade Quartermasters - Catalog #10 back in the 1980s.  (These were contract overun pieces.)  Shortly after that my friend gave me my first issued OV-1 lighter.

 

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered later that there was an earlier Air Force butane lighter - the SRU-21/P lighter.

 

SRU-21P Firestarter Butane.png

Note: This photo is copyrighted

 

Now interestingly all of the butane lighters were assigned the same NSN: 9920-00-999-6753 from the Viet Nam War until the Army finally cancelled the OV-1 lighter. 

 

Note:  I was never able to find the contract numbers for the various lighters and the "SRU-21/P", "OV-1" and "Hybrid" designations are mine so that I could distinguish between the types.

 

From research for an ebook that I helped my friend put together on these unique pieces of SRU equipment - I determined that the SRU-21/P lighter came first.  It was made by a sole source for the Air Force.  Then at some point the Army started using the OV-1 fire starter Butane in both the Army Vest Kit and the OV-1 RSSK kits.   Then there was a third company that made what I call a hybrid lighter - it was small like the SRU-21/P but it had an OV-1 type cap.

 

The SRU-21/P lighter was made by K-Whit tools and apparently when the Air Force cancelled the SRU-21/P lighter in 1979 - the principles of K-Whit tools filed for a US patent.  IMO - the SRU-21/P fire starter butane is the best - though it is the more difficult to refill.

 

The Army continued to supply the OV-1 lighter in the OV-1 RSSK kits up until the NSN was cancelled in 1985. 

 

Unfortunately most people only have experience with the faulty "hybrid" fire starters that were made by a third company in CA from ~1980 to ~Jul 1981.

 

You can also see a definite drop in quality between the early issued OV-1 lighters and the later issued OV-1 lighters.

 

These butane fire starters were never intended to be refilled or re-flinted by US Army ALSE personnel during the Viet Nam war.  They were replaced by ALSE upon failing inspection.  I have not been able to obtain the information as to whether or not the Air Force performed these depot level repairs in Viet Nam.  After the war - this policy changed and TC 1-62, Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) reflects the change in budget constrants - the lighters were not considered disposable.

 

The SRU lighter ordered by the Air Force as a replacement for the starter fire NP3, M2 was a well made quality piece of gear.  In my collection the SRU-21/P lighters do not leak.  I can not say the same thing for the late model OV-1 lighters nor the Hybrid lighters. 

 

More photos to follow.

 

 

 

 



#2 Mashsig

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 06:34 PM

Here is a photo of the OV-1 lighter that was issued in all three (overwater, cold, hot climate) of the OV-1 RSSK (seat) Kits during the Viet Nam war:

 

OV-1 firestarter butane.png

Note: This photo is copyrighted

 

The OV-1 lighter is larger than the SRU-21/P lighter. 

The gate from an OV-1 lighter will not fit into an SRU-21/P lighter tank.


Edited by Mashsig, 17 August 2013 - 06:36 PM.


#3 Mashsig

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 06:43 PM

Here is a photo comparison of the Hybrid lighter and the SRU-21/P (in the middle).  The one on the right is the infamous lighter made by Gene W. Goble and Associates of Escondido CA that was the most common butane lighter issued in the US Army 2 part Hot Wet Environment Survival Kit.  (More on this lighter in another post.)

 

Hybrid lighter.png

Note: This photo is copyrighted

 

Interestingly the gate from the Hybrid will not fit into the SRU-21/P tank.

 



#4 mohawkALSE

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 06:30 PM

I've always been pretty knowledgeable about OV-1 survival gear since its always been a favorite aircraft of mine and realm to study since most people don't seem to know about the Mohawk and the valuable service it provided over the years.  I am thrown on this lighter since I never recall reading about them being carried in the OV-1 specific kits.  Unfortunately since I just moved, I have almost none of my collection with me here, its back in storage at my families home so I cant access my references.

 

 I have an original nam era OV-1 survival kit manual for the Hot Climate kit and I do not recall a mention of the butane lighter.  The 1981ish manuals def. do not mention it at all, just the magnesium bar and even sparklites (early 90s manuals) as it became SOP for Army kits to have 2 fire starters.  Perhaps I overlooked the butane lighter the last time I looked in the Nam era seat kit manual.   The RSSK did not exist during Vietnam, they had soft kit bags with I believe a rigid OD green plastic insert. That laced and strapped inside of a nylon pack that was attached to the seat lap belt assemblies and the seat pad.  The old J5A and B ejection seats had this odd setup.  The RSSK was developed for the later J5D model ejection seat which came around in 1974.  Id be curious to find an un changed Army Survival Kits manual from the mid to late 70s and see if it might be in that.



#5 Mashsig

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:41 AM

MohawkALSE, I was just getting ready to respond to your post #34 on the following topic:

http://www.usmilitar... survival vest

about the OV-1 "soft" kits. Where to begin...

First do you have access to the 08Aug1975 Organizational and DS Maintenance Manual including Repair Parts and Special Tools List For ARMY AIRCRAFT SURVIVAL KITS (TM 55-1680-317-23 & P)? ((This manual superseded the 26Sep1972 manual.)) In it the new RSSK seat kits and the OV-1 vest are covered.

The fire starter, butane (lighter) is included in the parts lists for all three RSSKs!

I have been a quest to find the 26Sep1972 23&P ever since my friend gave me his 1975 23&P.

In the earlier soft kits - you are correct the OV-1 lighter would not have been issued - it would have been the Air Force's SRU-21/P fire starter, butane. Both have the same FSN and I believe that the Army continued the project with another manufacturer after the Air Force cancelled the SRU-21/P lighter with the original sole source contractor. Which explains why the Army's version is larger, without interchangeable parts, OD green, and not as nicely finished.

The OV-1 operator manuals were all changed after the Army cancelled their version of the lighter in 1985. These manuals were all printed on the new water proof (plastic like) "paper". And yes - the fire starter, butane was removed from all three RSSK Operator Manuals.

I have the earlier RSSK operator manuals and checklists and the fire starter butane is listed in all of them - which I expected they would be because of the earlier 23&P depot level repair manual.

I will respond to your desire to put together a "soft" kit on the other topic.

#6 Mashsig

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:46 AM

PS - the book that I helped to produce and am getting ready to help the author update is available on Amazon Kindle. I would advise waiting until after the update - because a new source of information has come to my attention that is a game changer for this ebook and a significant impact for other collectors and other survival systems.

I will talk to the Moderators/administrators about offering this ebook for sale in the USMF Bookstore for USMF members. I should think that if the majority of the sale proceeds went to help fund this site it might be a done deal.

#7 mohawkALSE

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 03:45 PM

The only 75 dated 23P manuals I've seen I believe included changes up into the 80s so I never bothered to get one.  I want to find one of the early 20 series survival kit manuals to show better diagrams of the earlier survival kits for the J5A and B seats.  The -10 for the OV-1 Hot Climate Kit shows the container and bag but its small and Black n White so the quality isn't great.  I guess Ill have to get one of those 75 manuals regardless.

 

 I re read your post from the J5B ejection seat thread,  I recall discussing kits with you I believe in the past. The outer kit bag was a para raft kit style, thats the bag that strapped to the underside of the orange seat pad and then to left and right hand lap belt fittings that had the sticker clips that locked into the ejection seats seat pan.  The lap belt had a "survival kit lanyard" that clipped to the survival kit retention straps that were attached to the old ejection seat parachute harness for the OV-1.  The whole thing was a very strange setup, the RSSK was a much better idea though if you have ever had access to one, its a pretty heavy fiberglass container.  I cant imagine ejection with that hunk of fiberglass under my bottom. 

 

The checklists I have for the RSSKs are 81 dated,  I know the -10 for the Vest and RSSK is the plastic version you mention dated 1988.  My 23P Survival Kits manual is 86 dated but changed up til 1996 so it covers OV-1 stuff to the very end,  thats why it shows the OV-1 vest having a sparklite and magnesium bar to the late Army spec.

 

I think I saw the ebook you have mentioned, I almost bought it when I was considering buying a butane lighter I saw.  I ended up opting against the lighter since I hear they're a pain to make operational again.



#8 Mashsig

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:14 PM

MohawkALSE - I think we are saying the same thing. The 75 23&P changes are the addition of the RSSK and the OV-1 vest which was not in the '72 23&P.

Roger that! Nor can I.

My 26Mar1987 23&P has changes up to 1989.

I think I know which lighter you may have considered buying. And if it is that lighter - it was an SRU-21/P and they always work. There have only been two offered on eBay in the last two years. I was snipped out of the one mentioned. I have a photo of this lighter somewhere. The other one was an OV-1 lighter and I did not bid.

The ebook contains information on how to refuel all of the lighter types (the butane can nozzle adaptors you need) and how to re-flint the lighter - which for the SRU-21/Ps that are in my collection - I have not had to do. In fact the patent taken out by the original SRU-21/P lighter manufacturer covers the ease of refuelling the lighter with "commonly available" butane adaptor kits that were available in the middle to late 1970s - not so any more.

#9 Mashsig

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:20 PM

I just remembered (as I pulled it down off the shelf to check my '87 23&P) have you seen FM 1-302 Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) for Army Aircrews?

It has changes to 30April1984! And it lists the butane lighter in only two RSSKs - the Hot and Cold kits. Which I think may be a typo because my OV-1 RSSK manuals confirm the 75 23&P and lists the lighter in three kits.

In addition one of the eBay sellers who sold me 4 OV-1 lighters confirmed that in 1985 his ALSE officer gave him a hand full as he was headed out to the dumpster - because the word came down from on high that all Fire Starter Butane lighters were to be immediately disposed of. And this pilot told me that these lighters were only available in the OV-1 RSSK survival kits. Apparently this was when the very expensive DOD hammers were in the news.

Oh well at any rate the OV-1 kits are very nice.

#10 Mashsig

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 01:59 PM

Error! A typo in third sentence of my post number 7 in this topic:

"I think I know which lighter you may have considered buying. And if it is that lighter - it was an SRU-21/P and they always work. There have only been two offered on eBay in the last two years. I was sJapaneseped out of the one mentioned. I have a photo of this lighter somewhere. The other one was an OV-1 lighter and I did not bid."

The third word in the forth sentence was supposed to be "swiped" - not what is shown above in post # 7 - "sJapaneseped".

I was adding this topic to my "follow list" and this error caught my eye as I scanned down the page.

If this error has offended any of our members or anyone happening to view this topic - please accept my sincere apology. I meant no offence.

I was trying to tell MowhawkALSE about my last bid on eBay in which the practice of certain bidders is to wait until the item up for sale has seconds left on the clock and they make a very large last second bid. I was told by other collectors that this practice of last second bidding had a name that refers to the action a long range shooter would do in the course of dispatching a target. I also realize now that in the context of the sentence the word (which) the system is changing after I save it) is not a proper English word. I do not see how what I intended to type could have morphed into what is shown.

Edited by Mashsig, 27 August 2013 - 02:07 PM.


#11 Mashsig

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 02:10 PM

OK now I know how the word that refers to US long range hidden marksmen - with an "ed" on the end becomes "sJapaneseer-ed". The system does it! Must be a virus in the server!

Before I make this post - I will try to fix my apology post one more time.

This is really weird - I tried to write the word that refers to the marksman and the system changed the word to what is shown above. So I shall remove the word and replace it with swiped and see what happens.

OK that seems to fix it. Has any one else observed this phenomenon today?

#12 Survival

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 10:51 PM

I think I have photo resizing figured out on my new windows 8 computer so I will try to add some info to some of the survival and medical related topics. The butane lighter in the second panel of this topic is probably post Vietnam war.  Maybe even from the 1980s.  You can just make out the FSN number has the extra two digits of a post VN NSN.  Here is a picture of possibly one of the earliest butane lighters issued in a survival kit.  It was issued in one of the first versions of the two part Hot Wet Kits.

 

 

 

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