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US Army Aviation Life Support Equipment


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I've decided that I would start a topic related to US Army Aviation Life Support Equipment. I have collected a decent number of different survival vest, harnesses, kits over the years so Id like to share some pics of these items with everyone. Also Id love for other to chime in and show their stuff in their collections or what they may be using currently is serving presently. Id preferably like to keep it Vietnam era to present but heck Id be curious to see if anyone has anything that was or would have been used by Army pilots during the Korean conflict.

 

I'm going to start it off with one of my latest acquisitions:

 

US Army Air Warrior Survival Equipment Subsystem. Original green vest when Air Warrior developmental tests were being done 2001-2002. My vest is a mix of serial numbers/date of manufactures as the pieces of the vest were made to be easily replaceable such as the left hand and right hand pockets. Missing from the vest is the small tourniquet pocket and a few other odds and ends that I'm hoping to acquire.

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hi mohawkALSE....i to really enjoy U.S. military survival equipment myself nothing special just odds and ends...thier are also a few more guys here that collect survival kit...i was a Infantryman but i knew the value of having good survival items and would hit up the Div. aviation ALSE N.C.O to get items of kit....any way glad to have you and can we see pic's of the items that go in the vest..thanks ahead of time...vince g. 11B Inf...

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Some of my vests are fully stocked minus firearms and flares, others are missing components or empty. If I have the components I will either post them with the vest or separate in other post if I take pics at a later time.

 

Next up is the Air Warrior Generation 1 setup. This has some similarities to the AW SES developmental vest and other components of the initial Air Warrior system. The vest assembly was re designated the Primary Survival Gear Carrier (PSGC). The PSGC still consists of a Left Hand and Right Hand pocket assemblies. The LH contains the safety restraint tether and the medical platform, while the RH holds the signal pouch. Tourniquet pocket is worn on the left above the LH pocket. For this vest I also have the matching floatation collar and over water gear carrier (OWGC) which contains an inflatable life raft assembly as well as means for carrying a SEA Mk 2 underwater breathing device (UBD).

 

PSGC:

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PSCG with floatation collar and OWGC mounted:

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Rear showing back of OWGC and the UBD pocket on the right:

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Flotation collar:

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Some components of the system:

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Shown are:

The signal pouch which would contain a strobe light, signal mirror, whistle, compass and pen flare kit.

Medical platform (first aid)

Safety restraint tether

Non pneumatic tourniquet

EE Pouch

ASEK knife

Blower pouch

UBD mouthpiece cover

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I worked in our unit's ALSE shop in the early 90s when we wore sage green flightsuits, SRU-21P vests, and SPH-4 helmets. The Apache pilots had IHADSS helmets but that was the only difference in flight gear between them and the scout and Blackhawk pilots. I managed to acquire a few little pieces and finished them off with surplus store finds. This is pretty much the same set up I flew in over a Nomex light-weight jacket and the issued aircrew M9 in a shoulder holster.

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I will start throwing my two cents in. This is a picture that another forum member sent me of a friends son. It shows the Multi Cam flight suit that is now being issued with the guys wearing the Air warrior flex armor.

 

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The flight suit is the same as the one in ACU, just in OCP. No difference in design, and no difference in material weight or feel that I can discern.

 

The OCP vests are made from what looks to be a better-wearing material, the same stuff used to make the pouches on the ACU vests that come back from reset. Same with the armor carrier.

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Varangian, Do you have any pics of the Multicam Air Warrior items? They seem to slowly but surely appearing. Saw a handful of good ones on the Army.mil images section.

 

MattS, that's an interesting pocket setup on your 21/P. Was that a piece you got for the ALSE shop or a surplus store? Ive never seen the PRC-90 pocket mounted on the right side. Years ago I bought a new 21/P that was made by one of the contractors but was not a military contract made piece that came all setup as yours but the PRC-90 pocket was not sewn on nor the leather 21/P type holster. Wondering if this might be one of the same as I have.

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This vest was a surplus store find. I seem to recall the PRC-90 pouch being on the left too (I carried a camera in mine) but I'll have to review some of my old photos. I have almost everything in the pockets except the pen flares and the radio. Here's the tag:

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It may be for a helicopter pilot in some instances, same would go for the fast mover pilots too. I am only guessing. I have a dozen or so SRU-21/p gear and vests from Vietnam. I have about nine of them fully loaded with the proper components in the pockets and wore it around the house a few years back and it became quite comfortable. In addition to the vest you cannot forget the pan kit. It is an addition and not a substitution. I have three of these fully loaded too. The great things about the Vests and the seat kits are that they can be placed in the back seat of any vehicle. The seat kit would be one of three types. Fall-Winter, Spring, and Summer. You can use the same kit cover and add anything you want for different weather conditions. There are also some very good Civilian Items out there like a GPSS and other small items. I will tell you this though. THERE ARE A LOT OF CRAPPY devices in the civilian world that will end up getting you hurt. Military specification items have been well tested and proven in actual combat so they are guaranteed to work when the world does not like you. On these items you will get the most use from them too.

 

Mark

"MACVSOG "living Historian"

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As far as comfort, the vest wouldn't give you as much trouble as a poorly fit helmet. Anyone who has experienced "hot spots" caused by a helmet can relate. Once you put on the vest, you're strapped into a 5 point harness in the aircraft so it's not like you're moving around a whole lot. Typically, I would put on my vest on in the hanger before walking out to the aircraft (because you have enough to carry with maps, manuals, checklist, water, log books, helmet, etc.) and then took it off after the mission was over. It's not something that was worn while running through the woods (unless the mission has gone VERY wrong) like a LBE, so comfort isn't a big concern. They do adjust with ties and Velcro because you don't want it so loose that it is falling off or getting caught on door handles and such.

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Let me say a little about the SPH-4 flight helmet. The original version had an interior webbing suspension like the M1 or Kevlar helmets. Each pilot has their own helmet that has to be custom fitted. Improper adjustment of the webbing would cause "hot spots", a feeling of intense burning on your scalp caused by the weight of the helmet being concentrated on a small area. It was very difficult to get the fit right with the old webbing. I was working in the ALSE shop when the improved TPL (Thermo Plastic Liner) became available to retrofit into the helmets. I immediately stripped the webbing out of my helmet and replaced it with the TPL, which is basically layers of what looks like bubblewrap covered in a black fabric. You could add or remove layers of plastic until the helmet fit comfortably. When flying with NVGs, a counter-weight (in my case 3 rolls of pennies wrapped in 100 MPH tape) had to be attached to the rear of the helmet. The black pouch also held the 9 volt battery for the "lip light" attached to the mic boom.

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Another counter-weight option was to attach a brick of lead weighing several pounds to the helmet with Velcro to the square patch on the rear of the helmet. This weight belonged to a friend of mine who gave it to me when he got out.

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MattS, Awesome pics of the SPH and the different local done mods for the counterweights. These are just the sort of posts we need on this topic.

 

Macv, I got the pics you sent me and will upload and post them later today.

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A different item you usually wouldn't think of as Army: Ejection seat harnesses. The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk was unique to be an Army fixed wing aircraft with ejection seats. I like to collect items from the Mohawk as its not really discussed much and played a vital role to US intelligence gathering from 1959 til 1996.

 

Rare original Vietnam era OV-1 Mohawk adjustable ejection seat torso harness for the Martin Baker Mk-J5A and J5B ejection seats. Ive only seen pics of this harness and never another for sale or on display. Maybe someone will amaze me on here and turn up with one. This is the original style Mohawk seat harness, August 1967 dated with the Rocket Jet Engineering fittings (RJE fittings) for the parachute risers and the survival kit retention straps at the front.

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This is the later variant of the adjustable harness used with the Mk-J5D ejection seat. Similar in the basics but uses Navy style Koch type quick release fittings for the chute risers, and utilized a free floating lap belt which has Air Force style riser Koch type quick release fittings attached at the harness quick release rings. This lap belt was for the new Rigid Seat Survival Kit (RSSK) used in the J5D seat. J5D seats were upgraded from the older J5 Model seats by the US Army starting around 1973-1974. Also note the CRU-60 bracket attached.

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This is the fitted type seat harness used in the Mk-J5D ejection seat. They came in 8 different sizes and were fitted to crewman using a formula of your height in inches plus half your weight. The sum of that number was matched to a chart and the size was selected. The harness has fabric loops for the lap belt attachment to the harness. Also note the rescue V ring and the chest strap is fastened with a Navy style mini Koch type quick release fitting. The base harness assembly is very similar to that of a US Navy MA-2 harness.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well Ive been away on vacation and I see this topic has slumped a bit so I'll raise it from the dead. Common guys! Post your ALSE collections!

 

My next piece is my OV-1 aircraft survival vest. This vest as you can probably tell is a cross breed between a Navy SV-2 and Air Force mesh net SRU-21/P. The vest also features cut outs in the mesh at the shoulders for the riser fittings on personal parachute/ejection seat harness. This vest is complete minus a S&W Model 10 M&P .38 special revolver, extra .38 ball and tracer ammunition and the gyro jet flares.

 

Vest's general overview with the LPU-10/P water wings. The 10/P harness is cut off and the containers are mounted to the vest via the LPU chest belt or the alternate method of using zip ties:

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Left hand side of vest showing the knife and pen flare pocket which behind the 2 is where the pistol is stored in its removable holster. The pen flare bandoliers were cut into individual covers and flares stored in the elastic webbing. The left hand main pocket has the medical packet of the SRU-31/P survival kit as well as a Sparklite fire starter and removable bandolier for .38 cal ammunition:

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Right side main pocket view. This has the general packet portion of the 31/P survival kit, SDU-5/E strobe with flash guard, whistle and signal mirror:

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Right front pocket is the radio pocket. This radio pocket would have contained an ACR/RT-10, URC-68 or PRC-90 survival radio, displayed is the PRC-90 as this is a later era vest. Also in this pocket was a magnesium fire starter and the MC-1 shroud cutter/pocket knife:

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The following pubs were a great help assembling this vest:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Figured Id bump up this topic again with a couple of pics.

 

Here are 3 types of survival radios used by Army Aviators from the Vietnam era til 90s

 

Left to Right: ACR-RT-10, AN/URC-68 and AN/PRC-90:

 

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Just a side note to radios, only the pilot carried a PRC-90 when we flew. As an aeroscout observer, the front rectangular pouch on my vest held a camera for taking photos like this as an Apache flew formation with our OH-58C:

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We used to only carry one radio per aircraft as well, but for no reason other than we didn't have enough for everyone. I would always make my pilot wear it and our crew brief consisted of. "Pilot, if we go down, your responsibility is to get the survival radio up and running, I will get my cell phone out and call someone. When the rescue aircraft arrives, throw the radio out for a LZ marker in hopes they will land on it and crush it." Hated the PRC-90, pain in the Blutarsky to test and set.


Visit my eBay store: http://stores.ebay.com/crustyw4scorner/

 

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We used to only carry one radio per aircraft as well, but for no reason other than we didn't have enough for everyone. I would always make my pilot wear it and our crew brief consisted of. "Pilot, if we go down, your responsibility is to get the survival radio up and running, I will get my cell phone out and call someone. When the rescue aircraft arrives, throw the radio out for a LZ marker in hopes they will land on it and crush it." Hated the PRC-90, pain in the Blutarsky to test and set.

 

I got to give you the love on that one Hawkdriver for that sound like a plan that one could only come up in the middle of a war zone

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