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D-Day type Life Belt?


Monroe
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Hello to anyone on the forum that can help me learn more about a life belt that I just acquired.

It looks like the type used on D-Day but I'm sure these were used all over the place both before and after June 6, 1944.

 

I tried to find a date on it and am not sure where to look. It may be unreadable or maybe stamped someplace not obvious.

I collect helmets so this kind of artifact isn't really my area of interest but it is neat in that it has some bulk, heft, a lot of nice wear and patina to its parts.

 

i will probably be selling it at some point because we can't keep everything we come across but I want to learn what I can about it.

I think the plastic red light fixtures are an extra add-on component but it looks like the belt was made with tabs to accommodate them from the start.

 

I'm attaching photos but can take additional photos if necessary. I'm not sure what is the important part to photograph on this.

Thanks in advance for any information you can offer in regards to what time period it is from and if there are other places on the web where I can learn a little more about it.

Mike

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P-40Warhawk

Standard inflatable belt worn by Navy, Army, Marine, and any other sea or amphibious personnel who needed a preserver, invasion or not. They are most iconic of 'the' D-Day landings on June 6th, 1944, but were not exclusive to them. The little lights are not original to it, and the attaching hardware are electrical wire clips (like an alligator clip) someone thought was handy to clip the lights on with it looks like.

 

Name on yours looks like it may have belonged to a sailor or marine based on font.

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I purchased a life belt back a ways but it only had 1 inflatable chamber rather than 2 ( but it was marked US Navy as I recall).

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P-40Warhawk

Sundance, that type was pretty much the standard inflatable belt worn below decks later in the war. It was to be worn at all times, and took the place of kapok jackets. It was orally inflated and lacked the cartridge system of the Navy 1926 model.

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Where does M26 or M1926 come from?

Its interesting how designations just seem to appear out of mid air. Has anyone actually seen any government publications or documents referencing it as the M26 or M1926?...probably not!

The life belt is a Bureau of Ships item and would have a Navy Department specification and can guarantee its not M26 or M1926..it would be something like 23P42 or something like that. If indeed it dates back to 1926 how come at least myself have never seen a pre-war dated example, has this occurred to anyone else? Its official stock number and nomenclature is 23-P-147 PRESERVER, LIFE, DUAL TUBE, BELT TYPE.

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P-40Warhawk

Where does M26 or M1926 come from?

Its interesting how designations just seem to appear out of mid air. Has anyone actually seen any government publications or documents referencing it as the M26 or M1926?...probably not!

The life belt is a Bureau of Ships item and would have a Navy Department specification and can guarantee its not M26 or M1926..it would be something like 23P42 or something like that. If indeed it dates back to 1926 how come at least myself have never seen a pre-war dated example, has this occurred to anyone else? Its official stock number and nomenclature is 23-P-147 PRESERVER, LIFE, DUAL TUBE, BELT TYPE.

 

By collectors, for collectors. :) I agree could be made-up, but it is so ingrained in collector lingo that to not refer to it by that label would prevent it from being distinguished from the other types of belts/vests. 'Spearheading D-Day'. for example, mentions that it was known in many sources of the time as a 'mae west'. If we called it a mae west, the aviation guys would have a fit. :D

 

Life Preserver, Belt, is the Army name though

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23-P-147 is the Federal Standard Stock number and would be the same for all services so the nomenclature you mentioned LIFE PRESERVER, BELT would not be referenced that way officially by the Army, it would be in the same order as mentioned above. Life Preserver, Belt does not conform to nomenclature rules. Possibly in loose jargon in correspondence it was called Life Preserver Belt Type.

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P-40Warhawk

Dustin, PS - Have any info on the prewar kapok pillow with straps? (not the mattress, but the pillow). Been looking but haven't seen much on it. Supposedly worn across front of the chest with one strap over each arm.

 

Thanks

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P-40Warhawk

23-P-147 is the Federal Standard Stock number and would be the same for all services so the nomenclature you mentioned LIFE PRESERVER, BELT would not be referenced that way officially by the Army, it would be in the same order as mentioned above. Life Preserver, Belt does not conform to nomenclature rules. Possibly in loose jargon in correspondence it was called Life Preserver Belt Type.

 

Dustin, not to argue it, but check the boxes. :)

 

Clearly it was known by two names.

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Dustin, not to argue it, but check the boxes. :)

 

Clearly it was known by two names.

 

Nope one name. The boxes utilize strait talk not nomenclature, boxes say ONE LIFE PRESERVER BELT this is standard grammar. You will not see this verbiage in stock catalogs nor specifications. Contractors by typical specification are required to mark boxes with contents and this just their application not Government.

I have no clue what your referring to the kapok pillow?

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P-40Warhawk

I can see the boxes being of looser grammer; I sure know the Army jeep manuals were loose and interchangeable on terms and nomenclature! haha, one was even backwards on how to assemble a piston. Seems like they needed more proof readers.

 

I should start a different thread on the pillows since this is Mike's thread, and I didn't mean to sidetrack it. I think the pillows were made at the navy yard in NY circa 1920s. I will have to check; I have a 1919 date if I remember correctly. Not the later pillows, but a pillow with a cloth strap at each end forming a loop. Supposedly, the pillow was placed on the chest, and each arm placed through the loop on the appropriate side to form an ersatz preserver; if that has any bearing in truth.

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do you have a picture?

I have a good summary of Navy and Merchant Marine regulations and such and they do not talk about a preserver of that nature. From WWI the US Navy principally adopted the coat type. Interested in learning a bit more.

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Thanks for all the information about this belt.

 

I can tell there are some very knowledgeable collectors on this site and I'm just scratching the surface with any Allied items I come across,

 

I had the feeling the red lights were added in a custom fashion. It seems like a good idea if you were liable to be floating around in the open water for some time.

Probably not a belt used by an Infantry man with those lights as somebody storming a beach probably had a lot of other gear that those lights could get in the way of

 

I was even considering that the lights could be post war. I don't know how rare colored plastic was in WWII.

 

Mike

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I had an epiphany and searched patents and low and behold pretty definitive proof these belts are not from the 1920's . Patent filed in July 1942 by two members of the US Navy.

post-56-0-31207000-1463259228.jpgpost-56-0-15159000-1463259232.jpg

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Monroe, there is nothing custom about these lights. The tabs they are attached to are standard applications to the belt. Your lights were manufctured by Colvin-Slocum Boats and introduced in 1942 and approved by the USCG also ultized by the US Navy. Red lenses were the international merchant marine standard for red lenses for distressed personnel along the same lines as pyrotechnics, red being the international color for Distress. The clips on these lights are as typical with the manufacturer. By 1943 life preserver lights were issued with each life preserver whether kapok or pneumatic.

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P-40Warhawk

Monroe, there is nothing custom about these lights. The tabs they are attached to are standard applications to the belt.

 

 

Just to clarify so we don't confuse Mike, the tabs you are referring to are the tabs which were integral to the belt; not the metal clips which were definitely added by someone and not ever used for that purpose.

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P-40Warhawk

Its official stock number and nomenclature is 23-P-147 PRESERVER, LIFE, DUAL TUBE, BELT TYPE.

 

 

How about this then, further proof they could not keep the nomenclature simple for us collectors. :lol:

 

 

From the "NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF COMMODITY SPECIFICATIONS: Classified and Alphabetical lists and brief descriptions of specifications of National recognition" Issued June 30, 1945.

 

"U.S. Gov., Joint Army-Navy Specification JAN-P-45; 1944. Preservers; Life, Belt, Self-Inflating, Dual-Tube."

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P-40Warhawk

Mike,

 

Dustin and I are just discussing the intricacies of academic minutiae arising from bureaucratic language of WWII; certainly not handy for us as collectors. Haha. As background, the 'M26' has been tossed around for at least a decade or more I think, as the alleged nomenclature of the belt. In the absence of firm information (or sometimes despite it) collectors will assign a descriptor to differentiate one item from another similar one. All of us have used the M26 name at one time or another so we could stay on the same page in a discussion (yes even Dustin http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/184370-brand-new-1944-invasion-belt/?p=1420599 ), but as noted, there is so far nothing to prove it was ever known by that name. However, you will probably find many references to it under that common term.

 

You asked about your belt, I have seen the nomenclature and date contracts (also inspection dates) stamped in a couple of places. It seems like the ink on some did not hold up to use, so your manufacturing date may be illegible. The Army Transportation Corps contracted for probably the majority of them ever made. I have yet to see very many in boxes with the Navy contract numbers visible, or on the belts themselves. If you can find the contract number on yours, it can help date it; if it was a Navy contracted belt, it would be worth a little more to the right people since they tend to be scarcer. The 3-snap belts like yours, were the design used before and after June 1944, so the date/contract stamping will be important if you want to know when it was made.

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Just to clarify so we don't confuse Mike, the tabs you are referring to are the tabs which were integral to the belt; not the metal clips which were definitely added by someone and not ever used for that purpose.

 

 

No, the metal clips are part of the desgn of the light and attached by the Manufacturer and are being used for their intended purpose on the belt. The tabs they are clipped to are interal to the belt and are part of the assembly and use of, these tabs look worn but they shopudl have a dome snap male/female on the ends. Life preserver lights come with two attaching methods a clip and lanyard with safety pin. Principally they are designed to secure to kapok or cork life preservers can be used on pneumatic types.

Here is an example of another light

post-56-0-51147100-1463263482.jpg

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P-40Warhawk

 

 

No, the metal clips are part of the desgn of the light and attached by the Manufacturer and are being used for their intended purpose on the belt. The tabs they are clipped to are interal to the belt and are part of the assembly and use of, these tabs look worn but they shopudl have a dome snap male/female on the ends.

Here is an example of another light

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Ok, what a weird use; wonder if the board that approved it's design stopped to think about it tearing holes in the inflatables? Reminds me of the vets who despised wearing the single tube inflatable belts aboard ship since they wore holes in them, which rendered them useless when needed. More proof the right and left hands weren't working together. :lol:

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Mike,

 

Dustin and I are just discussing the intricacies of academic minutiae arising from bureaucratic language of WWII; certainly not handy for us as collectors. Haha. As background, the 'M26' has been tossed around for at least a decade or more I think, as the alleged nomenclature of the belt. In the absence of firm information (or sometimes despite it) collectors will assign a descriptor to differentiate one item from another similar one. All of us have used the M26 name at one time or another so we could stay on the same page in a discussion (yes even Dustin http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/184370-brand-new-1944-invasion-belt/?p=1420599 ), but as noted, there is so far nothing to prove it was ever known by that name. However, you will probably find many references to it under that common term.

 

You asked about your belt, I have seen the nomenclature and date contracts (also inspection dates) stamped in a couple of places. It seems like the ink on some did not hold up to use, so your manufacturing date may be illegible. The Army Transportation Corps contracted for probably the majority of them ever made. I have yet to see very many in boxes with the Navy contract numbers visible, or on the belts themselves. If you can find the contract number on yours, it can help date it; if it was a Navy contracted belt, it would be worth a little more to the right people since they tend to be scarcer. The 3-snap belts like yours, were the design used before and after June 1944, so the date/contract stamping will be important if you want to know when it was made.

 

Yes I have been dupped or a victim or erroneous designations but have grown to be impatieint with farby designations as I have become much more educated on many subjects via physical research through government publications and documents. 10 years ago I had no reason to dispute the M26 nomenclature but as I dove into the chronicles of "real" sources of factual information many things have proven inaccurate. About face and baby step out we now know the stock number and nomenclature and you will never see or hear me use the term M26 or M-1926 in a direct reference to this pattern of life preserver belt again. Grow and learn.

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Ok, what a weird use; wonder if the board that approved it's design stopped to think about it tearing holes in the inflatables? Reminds me of the vets who despised wearing the single tube inflatable belts aboard ship since they wore holes in them, which rendered them useless when needed. More proof the right and left hands weren't working together. :lol:

 

 

You have to figure that these lights were primarily used with kapok jackets. however the next generation of standardized light for the US Navy deleted the clip utilizing the fixed safety pin.

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P-40Warhawk

 

Yes I have been dupped or a victim or erroneous designations but have grown to be impatieint with farby designations as I have become much more educated on many subjects via physical research through government publications and documents. 10 years ago I had no reason to dispute the M26 nomenclature but as I dove into the chronicles of "real" sources of factual information many things have proven inaccurate. About face and baby step out we now know the stock number and nomenclature and you will never see or hear me use the term M26 or M-1926 in a direct reference to this pattern of life preserver belt again. Grow and learn.

 

All of used it then; it would be interesting to know how someone came up with 1926 of all years?

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P-40Warhawk

 

 

You have to figure that these lights were primarily used with kapok jackets. however the next generation of standardized light for the US Navy deleted the clip utilizing the fixed safety pin.

 

 

Good points. If I had found myself in the water with only a thin tube of air between me and the sea, I think I'd be wary of anything that could poke holes in it. Better yet, grab a kapok and hope rescue is quick!

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