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jonesy1275

USAAF flak vest

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It's likely there is further info to be found, but to locate it would take a lot of research effort. I'd start with the RAF Museum, AFHRA and Wilkinson archives.

 

Matt.


Collecting WWII and pre-war Air Corps items-Unit Histories,Uniforms,Medals and Groupings.

*Seeking Pre-WWII Air Corps Officers and Enlisted Dress Uniform items!*

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It looks like nobody else can shed any light on the matter of these particular sub-variant Flak Vests. When I'll have my camera working again, will take some pics at the true Wilkinson-made early vests.

Anyway they're on pag. 126 of G. Sweeting's book, "Combat Flight Equipments".

That was the photo I was going to scan Franco , to show the difference between the vests

 

LB


WANTED : RAF 1940 PATT FLYING BOOTS

WANTED : DINGHY TYPE K ,TYPE A

" ALWAYS WANTING USAAF ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING "

"WOULD ALSO LIKE 487th FS AND 515TH BS RELATED ITEMS "

"Illegitmi non carborundum"

 



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Carl, can you message me the scan from the book. I'd be interested in seeing it.


All Airborne Troop Carrier items wanted especially uniform groupings and unit history books. Anything considered!!

 

Collector and researcher of IX Troop Carrier Command. Visit my Facebook page to see the research and collection.

 

http://www.facebook.com/IXtroopcarriercommand

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According to G. Sweeting, here some infos available among others:

 

* U.S. procurement of the very first 10 Flak vests by Wilkinson to be used experimentally, was approved as early as mid-October 1942;

* production by Wilkinsons Company was very slow, and the firm completed its full contract of 600 sets not before late August 1943;

* US-produced M-2 Vest + M-3 apron was standardized in mid-October 1943.

 

It might be safe to guess these Flak Vests owned by me, Carl, Neil, and many more collectors should be US-made at this point. Keeping aside for a moment what the reason for modifying its back side (from unarmored, to armored) it's really clear all the remaining (construction, shape, material, dimensions, details) are of the true M-2 vest.

Plus of course, the M-3 apron.

But decidedly, nothing to do with the M-1 vest.

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If its US made why do they have the English broad arrow?


All Airborne Troop Carrier items wanted especially uniform groupings and unit history books. Anything considered!!

 

Collector and researcher of IX Troop Carrier Command. Visit my Facebook page to see the research and collection.

 

http://www.facebook.com/IXtroopcarriercommand

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not all sets do have that marking. Mine is in pristine and virtually new conditions inside, absolutely clean. And just a shadow of dirty outside, more likely from dust/handling than from actual using.

Suppose a marking well printed in black ink (should be inside the "fold" of apron's upper corner, if remember correct from personally seeing other sets), in that "protected" spot shouldn't go away if the rest does stay in such conditions. Also think of those pics of 100% identical vests/aprons but in a dark green color - pictured being worn by USAF aircrews.

Could those, be US-made just because they are in green color (a thing so often related to US-made pieces) and still be absolutely so identical to the other tan-colored ones (British-made) in all remaining details?

 

Must admit however, until more in-depth infos will surface I'm far from having the last word.

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here are some docs that may help, I don't know what's wrong when I post but could a MOD adjust the images up right...thank you.

Note in the June 43 document it states that the outside canvas should be Khaki colored.

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the image out of Sweetings book

 

 

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WANTED : RAF 1940 PATT FLYING BOOTS

WANTED : DINGHY TYPE K ,TYPE A

" ALWAYS WANTING USAAF ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING "

"WOULD ALSO LIKE 487th FS AND 515TH BS RELATED ITEMS "

"Illegitmi non carborundum"

 



donation2013.gifdonation2014.gif

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G. Sweeting's book is from a bit more than twenti years ago, yet it cannot considered somehow obsolete if speaking about flak vests - as it was suggested by a friend collector just last year.

Before selling them, he had got a complete set M-1 Vest/M-4 Apron and kept along some years.

In his opinion a matter like these particular kind of equipments couldn't reasonably have been in still some secrets as late as 1989-1992, so a relatively important detail like the British manufacture of M-2 Vest + M-3 Apron must have been elsewhere recorded and covered by historians.

 

Or, the sets we talk of are actually from that 600-piece contract by Wilkinson? In this case:

1) virtually all of them have survived the early period of use by heavy bombers' crews, and they turn out today as being so widespread among collectors (the most easy pattern to be found out, I'd say..),

2) the very first 10 sets commanded in October 1942 were experimental ones, and as such were different from the following sets,

3) this would explain for the Broad Arrow being visible at least, on many of them.

 

but even so I'm wondering how can they be so numerous there around - really it seems they're more available than the dozens of thousands pieces of true M-2/M-3 pattern in dark green as made in USA.

That's why I'm doubtful of their provenanca.

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Note in these documents it states that a procurement would be made to supply 300 crews so 300 x 10= 3,000 vests. Also note that they are calling out they are to be khaki. Also note they are referencing the Britisha made vests as M-1,2,3 & 4 prior to US manufacture. This June-July 1943 and Wilkinson Sword Company is called out as the present manufacture.

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ok im getting confused now !

 

firstly ,

 

When we are talking about the M1 M2 etc , are we talking the dark green variant ?? that is labelled as such ?

 

LB


WANTED : RAF 1940 PATT FLYING BOOTS

WANTED : DINGHY TYPE K ,TYPE A

" ALWAYS WANTING USAAF ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING "

"WOULD ALSO LIKE 487th FS AND 515TH BS RELATED ITEMS "

"Illegitmi non carborundum"

 



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Thanks Dustin.

Unfortunately these docs do not shed more light on what the vests/aprons (as British-made in summer '43) looked like. Nor is it 100% clear whether the ones in Sweeting's photo are experimental, or standard production.

What could actually mean "the original British-made flyers' body armor.."? Of no help to us, in this context.

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I would disagree, I don't think you absorbed the information there. It clearly states in short that a sufficient quantity of armored vests will be manufactured by Wilkinson Sword Co. to supply 300 bombardment crews and the external surfaces are to be khaki.

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Hello All,

It looks like the documents from Dustin answer all of the questions that have been asked here. To summarize, a first prototype appeared in November of 1942, as seen below, which included a helmet and shin guards also made of 2" square plates. From the photos, it seems there was no provision for "quick-release" of the vest. I have read elsewhere that the shin guards were deemed too bulky and dropped.

 

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Note in these documents it states that a procurement would be made to supply 300 crews so 300 x 10= 3,000 vests. Also note that they are calling out they are to be khaki. Also note they are referencing the Britisha made vests as M-1,2,3 & 4 prior to US manufacture. This June-July 1943 and Wilkinson Sword Company is called out as the present manufacture.

 

I think being they called M-1, M-2, M-3, M-4 (typical US way of giving nomenclatures) these pattern must be necessarily US-designed, but this is not helped by that photo from Sweeting's book - just captioning them that way is somehow confusing.

 

Moreover, the official document clearly states the M-2 is only front-armored. We collectors have got specimens wich are exactly M-2 shaped, but also have armored backs.

 

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Note the "quick-release" on these early vests and the attachment method for the sporrans differs from later production vests. I think these are the "600" that Sweeting mentions.

Below, a B-26 crew with these vests, but no longer white.

 

 

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Thus, these should be the 600 sets expected to arrive by March-April 1943. The quantity 600 pcs. often is reported in many sources.

Discrepancy still is why the M-2 is expected to be (both when British-made and subsequently US-made) only front-armored, and such described in official papers. Not so, in our instances?

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Do Sweeting or other authors not cite their sources?.


Collecting WWII and pre-war Air Corps items-Unit Histories,Uniforms,Medals and Groupings.

*Seeking Pre-WWII Air Corps Officers and Enlisted Dress Uniform items!*

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gif

 

 

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Now the vest in question shown by the original poster. These were the first official production versions ordered from Wilkinson by the 8th AF. Over the years, I have owned two sets and seen several others. They were all ink-stamped with the broad arrow, as would be expected, considering their manufacturer. They do not have labels, but Dustin's documents refer to them being "full vests", "half vests", "tapered Sporrans" and "full sporrans". It also states they are to be made of "Khaki" material.

They could be configured to suite the crewman's position in the aircraft. For example, a radio operator in a B-17 would be seated, so would have a tapered sporran attached to a full vest since his seat did not have an armored back (unlike a pilot's seat). Meanwhile, the tail gunner in a B-17, for example, would wear a full vest, but not use a sporran due to his position where his legs were tucked underneath him and he had armor plate in front of him.

 

These "British-made" vests are easily distinguished in vintage black and white photos by the use of bright-finish L.T.D. snaps, white quick-release cords and the "pinking-shear" cut of the red felt sewn to the release pull.

 

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As stated in the documents, to meet the quantities demanded, the U.S. Ordinance Dept. became involved in production. Eventually, quantities became available that allowed distribution to not only the 8th A.A.F., but other air forces in the ETO, MTO, PTO and even the U.S. Navy.

These are the familiar M1 and M2 vests and M2 and M4 aprons. The majority appear to have been made with dark OD fabric, but they were also made in light-shade OD as well. Note the black L.T.D. snaps, OD cords and straight edge to the quick-release pull.

 

 

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Thanks Paul. Some of these pics I was familiar with, some other are new.

Any chance to know the reason of that difference between the M-2 as we have got it, and the intended original M-2 (not M-1, differences are too evident) wich was going to have only its front armored?

Franco.

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