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PNEUMATIC LIFE PRESERVERS

Started by dustin , Feb 13 2007 05:17 PM

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#21 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 08:01 PM

another vest I would like to touch on is what the collecting world calls the "B-4 cross" or transition vest.This vest shares both the characteristics of the MK-1 and B-4.IT has the same material used as the MK-1 but has the B-4 shape.Most say they used up materials from thr MK-1 to B-4 spec.s and I believe this to be true.
from observations my MK-1 has the the same contract number as the B-4 cross pictured and has all the same markings but with an addition of the marking "style 5648" on the B-4 cross.I think since the B-4 was adopted in mid production of the last MK-1 contract, but instead of cancelling the order they changed production to B-4 spec.'s and dubbed it style 5648 ,they both share the same contract number.the B-4 cross pictured was on ebay some years back

My MK-1 for reference

Attached Images

  • b_4_cross.jpg
  • b_4_cross_spec.jpg
  • mk_1_spec.jpg

Edited by dustin, 16 February 2007 - 08:02 PM.


#22 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 08:11 PM

these next two vests are interesting as not documents have surfaced about them.they are made from neoprene and are blue in color and all US navy contracted.By the contracts they are not buaer procured but by accounts and aupplies and other which leads me to believe they are ment for naval personnel in general issued aboard vessels for several more reasons they are made more cheaply than the B-4 there is only a waist srtap no crotch strap,inside the horse collar there are two d rings which a starp feeds through and under one's armpits.I have sen many pictures of men aboard deck wearing these vests and also submariners.I believe these vest were to supplement the kapok life vests you can store a half dozen of these vest where you could store one kapok especilally abaord subs were space is tight.There are two variations the first variation has the oral inflation tube between the baldders made from neoprene and cenmented in place

Attached Images

  • neoprene_blue.jpg
  • neoprene_spec.jpg
  • neoprene_oral.jpg


#23 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 08:13 PM

the other variation has the inlet valves like the B-4

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  • neop_rene_type_2.jpg
  • neoprene_type_2_spec.jpg


#24 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 08:26 PM

the last vest adopted by the AAF was in dec. 1944 desiganted the type B-5.It was constructed with an outer yellow cotton fabric with a neoprene rubber bladders which are removable for repalcement.This vest provided better bouancy and icluded pockets for a dye marker and signal mirror.The US navy also procured the B-5 under one contract in sept. 1945 which is unusal since the MK-II vest was also under procurement.The markings are identical except the stock numbers and contract number pertain to the service nomenclature.These do turn up occasionally.The B-5 saw little service during WWII and probably only in the PTO.Most pictures you see of them in use are with B-29 crews.
there were two contractors for the B-5:
General tire & rubber co.
united states rubber co.
seamless rubber co.

Willis & geiger took over production post WWII era.
this picture of of a B-5 is from an ebay auction and and absolute excellent example of a WWII piece

Attached Images

  • b_5_vest.jpg

Edited by dustin, 16 February 2007 - 08:27 PM.


#25 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 08:30 PM

The last vest developed by the US in WWII was the US navy's MK-II.This vest incorperated all the lessons learned to include pockets for the flares tapes for attachments and a harness which allows rescue from lifting from water via ships or helicopters.This vest was not a WWII used peice but a develoment of the war and was first distributed in nov. 1945.The vest pictured is of WWII contract sept. 1945
this is as far as I go on the life vest evolution as I know nothing of 1950'-60's development

Attached Images

  • mk_2.jpg
  • mark_2_vest.jpg

Edited by dustin, 16 February 2007 - 08:33 PM.


#26 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 09:24 PM

the other accessorie is the dye marker packet developed by the US navy in 1942.
In 1941 the navy was researching new compounds for dye markers that used no critical materials the dye in service at that time used aluminum powder.The adopted fluorescein for thier dye under spec. M528 and under this spec. it recommended research into a packet that could attached to the life vest later adopted under spec. M-566 in nov. 1942 disrtubuted in nov. 1942 along with TO 77-42.When the dye is distributed in water it leaves a yellowish green color creating a 25ft diameter field that can be seen for miles on a clear day and last up to 1-3 hours depending on currents.The packets are made of two parts an oter waterproof vinylite coated fabric and an inner puorus bag with dye.The marker when opened looks like a giant tea bag.The edges are either sewn or cemented.The early M-566 packet had a 24" cotton tape on the outside to tie to vest with a tab on bottom to pull and release die.A later amendment M-566A changed the design of the outer packet witht he pull tab on top and allows a better grip to pull down instead of to the side which is easier to open again a later amendment M-566B changed the construction and material types and looks very similar to the AAF dye marker.When these packets wer first ditributed only one per vest was issued and sometime in the middle of 1944 two were added as standard.
pictured are the M-566, M-566A and M-566B from left to right.
These packets are still in use today and are very highly effective in search and rescue only the technology in materials have changed such as nylon in place of cotton tie tapes which is the major distiguishing feature between WWII and post war packets

Attached Images

  • packets_dye_usn.jpg

Edited by dustin, 16 February 2007 - 09:26 PM.


#27 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 09:33 PM

the AAF adopted the dye marker packet in 1943 under spec. 40616.The construction materials are the same between the navy and AAF packets except the AAF packet has no tie tape and is cemented to vest with only one per vest which never changed.The attchment of the packet is outlined in TO 13-1-5 dated aug. 1943 and placed between bladders on wearers left.Often on most vest you will see remanents of the packet either the rubber cement of the ytop of the torn packet.The top of the packet shall be place 12" from bottom of vest.
Another accesorie is the shark repellent or chaser.This chaser was developed in 1944 and was distrubuted in limted quantities in the ealt part of 1945 and really was not avaiable in quantities till the end of the war, i do not have a WWII type packet to picture.there are two types both are cunstructed the same but the AAF version cements on wearers right and the navy version has cotton tie tapes.

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  • aaf_dye_marker.jpg


#28 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 09:35 PM

this ia na interesting piecean original issue box for the B-4 life vest.Occasionally these turn up from a fella in aussie land and I have not forked out the doe for one yet

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  • life_preserver_box.jpg


#29 dustin

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 09:47 PM

one thing I would like to add is that I have been seeing sellers advertising the AN inspectors stamp as denoting "AIRBORNE" use complete hog wash it is simply an inspector stamp from the joint ARMY-NAVY procuremnt board.
They made around 2,000,000 B-4 life vests from 1942-45 whcih should mean they are common pieces and there are! consistantly a half dozen or so are on the ebay but they seem to get close to $200 or more it kind of blows my mind.

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  • an_stamp.jpg


#30 dustin

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 09:56 AM

another variant that I have been seeing is an AN-6519-1 vest made by United States rubber co. contract 33-083-ac- 5883.All these contracted vests have the oral inflation tube between the bladders like the blue neoprene and only seems to be this contracted vest.Why just this one run of vests? maybe a shortage on the metal inlets or just an experiment?!
this one is currently on the ebay

Attached Images

  • b_4_variaant.jpg
  • b_4_vari.jpg

Edited by dustin, 17 February 2007 - 09:57 AM.


#31 dustin

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 06:39 PM

some new information has come to light that the vest pictured above might possibly be the type B-4A. A discription of life vests outlined in TO 13-1-13 describes vests B-3, B-4, B-4A and B-5 and discribes a vest similar to this one with oral inflation tube between bladders it is uncertain as there is no pictures in the tech. order.
This is another borrowed picture of a better loom at the oral tube

Attached Images

  • inter_oral.jpg

Edited by dustin, 28 February 2007 - 06:40 PM.


#32 Sgt Brown

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 07:05 AM

these next two vests are interesting as not documents have surfaced about them.they are made from neoprene and are blue in color and all US navy contracted.By the contracts they are not buaer procured but by accounts and aupplies and other which leads me to believe they are ment for naval personnel in general issued aboard vessels for several more reasons they are made more cheaply than the B-4 there is only a waist srtap no crotch strap,inside the horse collar there are two d rings which a starp feeds through and under one's armpits.I have sen many pictures of men aboard deck wearing these vests and also submariners.I believe these vest were to supplement the kapok life vests you can store a half dozen of these vest where you could store one kapok especilally abaord subs were space is tight.There are two variations the first variation has the oral inflation tube between the baldders made from neoprene and cenmented in place


Dustin,

My info is right in line with yours. I had read, however, that toward the end of the war some Zoomies "liberated" these blue vests from ships stores and wore them on flight operations. The Japanese had taken to strafing downed pilots in the water and these guys didn't want to be so obvious floating along in a bright yellow vest. I have seen at least one photo of a pilot wearing the dark blue version.

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#33 dustin

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 03:40 PM

Dustin,

My info is right in line with yours. I had read, however, that toward the end of the war some Zoomies "liberated" these blue vests from ships stores and wore them on flight operations. The Japanese had taken to strafing downed pilots in the water and these guys didn't want to be so obvious floating along in a bright yellow vest. I have seen at least one photo of a pilot wearing the dark blue version.

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Tom, I happy to here someone else sharing my opinion on these particular vests as it seems to be the only logical explaination for them to exist but some say they are for camouflage in line with your statement on liberation from "zoomies".The problem with stafing was known since the "canal" so if they were to actually make a camo life vest they would have made the changes then. The funny thing about the zoomies is that the japanese would probably already know where they went down so a yellow or not life vest would make no difference.I have read accounts of survivors where planes have flown right over them at a fairly low altitude and not been spotted and they were in life rafts.Even in todays standards the coast guard states that there is only a 78% of being rescued at sea with good search conditions and even when known of approximent location.

#34 Sgt Brown

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:48 PM

Dustin,

Here's my second posting of this. The first one apparently gave its life during the Great (computer) Crash of 2007! Glad things are back on line!

I have seen a number of photos of regular swabbies wearing the navy inflatable vest instead of the kapok vest. I have also seen at least one photo of a aircrewman wearing one. Unfortunately time and CRS disease prevents me from giving specific references.

In any event, I would not have any qualms about dressing a mannequin of a late-war sailor in denims, talker helmet and the blue mae west. Conversely, I would have no qualms about dressing a mannequin in late-war flight gear and the blue vest.

Here's another item no self respecting mae west would be seen without. Not sure, but I suspect this is post-war. However, shark repellent fell into disuse pretty quickly after the war.

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Attached Images

  • shark.JPG


#35 dustin

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 11:37 AM

sgt brown, I agree with your statemnet about the blue life preserver
"In any event, I would not have any qualms about dressing a mannequin of a late-war sailor in denims, talker helmet and the blue mae west. Conversely, I would have no qualms about dressing a mannequin in late-war flight gear and the blue vest."
As for you shark repellent it is a post war version,the givaway is the red tie tape this is represented well in early 1950's publications.The derrent was used till about circa 1960 then finally dropped after considered useless.
WWII packets are blue with yellow lettering official nomenclature for the AAF "packet,shark derrent ,for use with life vest" stock number 8300-623748 and available for both services by febuary 1945 in limited quantities (2500 for both sevices)"life jacket shark chaser" nomneclature for USN stock number R37-S-75.the issue will be to one person on flights over water with temperatures greater than 65 degrees or between latitudes 45 degree N. and 45 degree S.the AAF version does not have tie tapes whereas the USN version does either yellow cotton or dyed blue.Large quantities were not available till around august 1945 along with USN technical note 87-45 on proper use of packet.
Testing for the shark chaser was conducting from april 9 1943 to july 1 1944 from the naval research laboratory the packet accepted was made in the form of an envelope from vinyl-copolymer-coated fabric with an internal cake made from nigrosine black dye and copper acetate and can be reused.
attached is a vintage picture of the shark chaser. note: domed snap on top for opening and reclosing packet aslo attached is picture from USN equipment catalog note: tie tapes for attachement to life vest the AAF vesion was cemented between bladders an wearers right

Attached Images

  • shaek_chaser.jpg
  • shark_chaser_2.jpg


#36 Sgt Brown

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 05:31 PM

sgt brown, I agree with your statemnet about the blue life preserver
"In any event, I would not have any qualms about dressing a mannequin of a late-war sailor in denims, talker helmet and the blue mae west. Conversely, I would have no qualms about dressing a mannequin in late-war flight gear and the blue vest."
As for you shark repellent it is a post war version,the givaway is the red tie tape this is represented well in early 1950's publications.The derrent was used till about circa 1960 then finally dropped after considered useless.
WWII packets are blue with yellow lettering official nomenclature for the AAF "packet,shark derrent ,for use with life vest" stock number 8300-623748 and available for both services by febuary 1945 in limited quantities (2500 for both sevices)"life jacket shark chaser" nomneclature for USN stock number R37-S-75.the issue will be to one person on flights over water with temperatures greater than 65 degrees or between latitudes 45 degree N. and 45 degree S.the AAF version does not have tie tapes whereas the USN version does either yellow cotton or dyed blue.Large quantities were not available till around august 1945 along with USN technical note 87-45 on proper use of packet.
Testing for the shark chaser was conducting from april 9 1943 to july 1 1944 from the naval research laboratory the packet accepted was made in the form of an envelope from vinyl-copolymer-coated fabric with an internal cake made from nigrosine black dye and copper acetate and can be reused.
attached is a vintage picture of the shark chaser. note: domed snap on top for opening and reclosing packet aslo attached is picture from USN equipment catalog note: tie tapes for attachement to life vest the AAF vesion was cemented between bladders an wearers right


Clear till the 60"s? I though they gave up on shark repellent long before that. Ah well, at least the dingy whistle in my photo is dated 1944!

Yesterday the postman delivered a VERY nice M426A flight suit I bought off of eBay for a song. It had been buried under the category "Men's Clothing > 1965-76 (Mod, Hippie, Disco) > Coats, Jackets, Sweaters". Hippie? Disco? Ye Gads!! But it just goes to show that even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally!!

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#37 dustin

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 07:08 PM

Clear till the 60"s? I though they gave up on shark repellent long before that. Ah well, at least the dingy whistle in my photo is dated 1944!

Yesterday the postman delivered a VERY nice M426A flight suit I bought off of eBay for a song. It had been buried under the category "Men's Clothing > 1965-76 (Mod, Hippie, Disco) > Coats, Jackets, Sweaters". Hippie? Disco? Ye Gads!! But it just goes to show that even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally!!

Tom http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

Sounds wierd! but I have a 1963 naval aviators guide and it has a shark chaser packet pictured in the group of individual equipment.

I do ot even wan to know what you were searching in that section on ebay

#38 Sgt Brown

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:55 AM

(Snipped)
I do ot even wan to know what you were searching in that section on ebay


Actually, it popped up on the keyword "USN". Or maybe it was the search phrase "WWII Leisure Suit"!!! :lol:

To you and anyone following this thread, Jeff Warner's two latest volumes in his five-book series on WWII USN uniforms and equipment are out this month. Just got my copies two days ago. First is the long-awaited volume on WWII aviation uniforms and equipment. The second is on uniforms and equipment of beach landing units. Both are coffee-table size and about 1.5 inches thick and continue the excellence of his first volume on "sailors in green", USN medics and others serving with the USMC.

I have no interest......, etc. Just want to let the gang know there is FINALLY some great books on USN gear and uniforms coming out.

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#39 Sgt Brown

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:57 AM

PS to my post above. Surprisingly, no mention of the dark blue mae wests - at least in the aviation book. Haven't been all the way through the other volume yet.

Tom

#40 dustin

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 10:29 AM

PS to my post above. Surprisingly, no mention of the dark blue mae wests - at least in the aviation book. Haven't been all the way through the other volume yet.

Tom

Tom, how is the aviation book? I suspect these volumes are not really a study of USN equipment but more of a reenactors staged photo shoot(a picture book) such as the World War II in color book that came out 10 or so years ago though tastefull and with some added photo descriptions.I have seen the sailors in forrest green and there was nothing in there that was really NEW especially if you own a copy of Grunt Gear all that gear and clothing is covered there in detail.


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