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CMU-33 question


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Was looking for some history on the CMU-33 vest -- specifically the distinction between the Type I and Type II vest as well the differences between the CMU-33 and CMU-33A.

 

I've found some online references to contradict each other vis-a-vis Type I for helicopters and Type II for fixed-wing and vice versa.

 

I purchased a new-in-the-bag CMU-33 from a local surplus store. It's a straight CMU-33, not CMU-33A. 1998 contract with a May 2000 production date. It came with a second sealed bag containing 7 molle pockets -- 5 x general purpose pockets, the radio pouch, knife sheath, and some extra webbing. No harness or provisions for attaching the harness. I didn't see any pathways/pass-thru's for risers unless these are cut by the ALSE techs?

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Was the vest itself sealed in the bag? The pouches sound correct for a Type I rotary wing vest with the harness. The other pieces of webbing were probably the flashlight keeper and the CBR/Oyygen regulator adapter strap.

 

Is there a small nomex flap at the upper right hand of the vest where your clavicle would be when wearing it? That would be where an opening would be for the harness lift strap and a small snap link would be stowed on the helo vests. The Type II fixed wing vests have 2 slits below where your clavicles are for the Koch fittings on the parachute ejection seat torso harness pass through.

 

I'm not sure exactly what the difference is between an 33 and 33A. The ALSE ETM from 2009 also includes joint Army/Navy AIRSAVE pubs in it that mentions a handful of different versions. Ill have to look it up, I do know they had a different designation listed in there for the fixed wing TACAIR version other than a 33 Type II

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I actually was just browsing ebay and saw one of the similar vests that you must have. Lacks the opening for the hoisting strap at the shoulder and lacks openings for a parachute harness. I think it may be an early Navy Type II vest but not positive. The one I saw had 2 more straps that are used in Navy applications and red dummy cord attached to the pockets which is usually used in Navy survival vests.

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Both the vest and pouches were in sealed bags. The additional straps include the H-shaped Oxygen/CBR Attachment, flashlight keeper, and two short straps with clips on them.

 

There are no loops within the vest to attach the harness and the zipper is a one-way zip very similar to that on the SRU-21 and SARVIP. Also no small flap for the lift strap.

 

There are some nylon strips on each side near the clavicles that could potentially be cut-points for Koch-fitting pass-throughs but the actual opening isn't there -- just a potential opening. I'll try and post some photos this weekend.

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These aren't the greatest photos but here are some close-ups of the upper left chest. They nylon strip is what I was describing as a possible pass-thru for the Koch fittings. Note that the underlying webbing hasn't been cut. First photo is the two strips of nylon on the exterior.

LeftCollarExterior.jpg

 

 

Second photo shows the uncut underlying webbing and the potential for this to be a pass-thru for Koch fittings.

LeftCollarExterior2.jpg

 

Last photo shows the nylon reinforcing on the interior side of the vest.

LeftCollarInterior.jpg

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Thats a good possibility that the Navy life support people would cut them. I believe the straps with the clips are for attaching to a Navy/MC torso harness. The pub says the CMU-36 which is what the Type II Fixed Wing Ejection Seat vest is now called includes straps for attaching to the PCU-33 and 56 torso harness. Also in the pub it noted that the CMU-33A/P vest has the extraction harness. I think the first AIRSAVE I got was an earlier vest as it didn't mention 33A but it did have the built in harness. I think its a 2000 mfg, not sure what the contract was on it. I also think it had been a reject, the tag said CWU-33 and the CWU was crossed out with pen and re written CMU.

 

Theres another crazy mod to CMU-33 vests that the Army seemed to use in Ft Rucker a few years back for a short time. They'd remove the rear mesh portion of the vest and install a mod kit that consisted of a waist belt and sort of an H harness to make it lighter weight. It was copied from the belt and rear harness portion of a ground pounder MOLLE II FLC. Some had been actually modified with woodland or 3 color desert MOLLE II FLC components. Check out ebay, someone usually has one of the contract mod kits for sale. I bought one a couple years ago hoping to convert one of my vests but I cant find any info or procedures to do it and I haven't found anyone familiar with how it was done either. A theory of mine judging by some of the hardware the kit comes with makes me believe it made the vest adaptable to Air Warrior over water gear such as the flotation collar and back raft. Really hoping to find someone one day that knows all the details about it. Only evidence of these mods were 2 vests I saw for sale once from the Rucker area, the actual mod kits for sale, and then videos on youtube of primary students at Rucker flying TH-67's wearing them.

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Thats too high for the Koch fittings, the regular helo vests have that seam tape up there too, but its where the metal loop lock is sewn in place for the hard body armor rear plate. I just noticed something between the 2 early vests. At the end of the part number, vests with the extraction harness end with AS302-1 and the style like you have end with AS302-2 so I'll assume that was the early designation between a Type 1 rotary wing and Type 2 fixed wing.

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Good catch on the part number! Mine is the AS302-2. I'm still curious who wore my pattern of vest? If the slots are too high for the Koch fittings and there's no provision for the harness, then it fits neither the helo nor fixed wing descriptors.

 

The 'slots' I photographed are at the same height on the vest as the right-side lift-point on the helo vests -- i.e. they sit right on the clavicles. There a row of Molle webbing on top of the shoulders

 

There must be a number of variations for these. I found a decent photo of what I thought was this vest configured for USN fixed wing use but there were quite a few additional snaps around the armholes.

 

I've seen the conversion kits you referred to. Same situation as you described -- the kits don't seem to include instructions for how to actually complete the conversion. It almost appears easier to just take an FLC vest and move the AirSave pockets onto it. I'm sure this probably defeats the whole fire-resistant aspect though!

 

 

 

Label.jpg

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Here's a Type I vest. The 'slot' on the right side is opened -- presumably this is where the harness left strap comes through? These access points are in the same place on my Type II. Image is from an eBay listing. Square clip just above the opening is the armor attach point you were referring to (not present on my vest)?

 

$(KGrHqJHJFUFI(clHQo2BSMi,jisQg~~60_57.J

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Correct, the small black rings are "loop locks" for attaching the rear hard PRU-61 armor plate for aircrew. Another metal loop goes over that and a small plastic clip snaps into the loop lock. It quick releases in the similar fashion to an ALICE pack should strap. The front snaps along the main zipper are also part of the mounting of the rear Armor plate. A nylon panel with a beaded pull handle snaps there and the quick release straps that fasten to the loop locks at the should snap down in front on that pull handle panel. Pull forward and down and it pull the clips out of the loop locks and off drops the rear plate.

The front plate just velcro's in place on the soft PRU-60 armor vest worn underneath the CMU-33 vest.

 

I'm still thinking your vest is a early fixed wing type II vest and Navy riggers modified them to be worn with a torso harness when issued. There are all sorts of mods you can do to these vests listed in the ETM, 2 of which are mounting options for the lightweight blowers used for Apache aircrew protective masks. Another one I saw that was Navy fixed wing related was making a cut to the vest to allow the mounting of the JHMCS harness bracket (Helmet mounted Queuing System) for fighter pilots. The electronic manual I have is current to 09 I believe so its years ahead of your vest and doesn't mention anything about it, it has the new designation of CMU-36 for fixed wing vests, no longer called a Type II.

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I was trolling the net for info on the CMU-36 and found a PP presentation which had quiz questions. One of them asked what the two configurations of the Airsave vest was and the answer was CMU-33 and CMU-36. It also had another question asking the windblast strength of the metal zipper on the CMU-36 and the answer was 600KIAS -- which explains the metal zip on the Type II and the plastic, two-way zips on the current CMU-33A vests.

 

Also stated the TACAIR configuration for the Airsave was 4 pockets

 

Here's the link, in case anyone was interested:

http://es.slideshare.net/AviansMommy/pr-stuff

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As in 4 of the Type II General Purpose pockets? I know they use the Type II radio pocket and then an oxygen regulator pocket.

 

The USAF is starting to try out a version of the CMU-36 for themselves in a tan color. The 509th Wing has been using them in the B-2s for a little bit now. I find it funny after all these years they want to go to a MOLLE type vest. Their pockets look like their own version too, but the base vest looked like a CMU-36 in tan. Also had a tan London Bridge Air Warrior style modular holster.

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Not really sure what was meant by the 4-pockets comment. Here's a cut-and-paste of the CMU-33 questions and answers

  • 1674. AIRSAVE VEST
    1675. The TACAIR vest has how many general pockets?
    1676. 4
  • 1677. The CMU-36’s metal slide fastener can withstand how much force during ejection?
    1678. 600 KIAS
  • 1679. What are the two configurations of the Airsave vest?
    1680. CMU-33 and CMU-36
  • 1681. The vest accommodates what torso sizes?
    1682. 5% female to the 95% male
  • 1683. In what 3 areas can the vest be adjusted for fitting?
    1684. Back center and under each arm
  • 1685. Tears in the raschel mesh fabric exceeding how many inches may not be repaired?
    1686. 4
  • 1687. The vest accommodates what chest sizes?
    1688. 32-57
  • 1689. The vest can be expanded to accommodate what maximum chest size?
    1690. 67”
  • 1691. The Airsave is compatible with what life preservers?
    1692. LPU-21, 23, 34, 36, 37
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