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USN flashlight by USA Lite


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Fixbayonets!

I recently picked up this flashlight made by USA Lite. It has a nickel plated body with a black steel head & end cap. The body is stamped U.S.N. and the switch has a patent date of 1921. I tried it out with 2 D cells and it works! I looked around but could not find anything on this particular model. I am thinking it dates to the interwar period, 1920's - 1930's? Just curious if anyone else has one or has any information they could share. Thanks!

 

Rob

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Definatley a pre-WWII flashlight type. A variabe of types of flashlights were standard stocked item in all Navy Departments, available from all supply depots. The US navy procured lights from companies such as Winchester, Usalite, Bright Star and Eveready, to name a few.

The metal bodied two-cell types were being phased from service being replaced by celluloid bodied types.

Flashlights were maintained on most all vessels and aircraft, to include fixed ground stations. Think of flashlights as an emergency tool stored near fire extinguishers and first aid kits in any area were blackouts may occur. Flashlights were such a staple and very common.

Example: Here, on the USS Hancock, personnel are attending a wounded individual below decks. To assist in low light conditions, Battle Lanterns and a flashlight is being used to assist. The light is similar, maybe same brand, Usalite made a whole lot of different body patterns.

 

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Thanks for the reply dustin! It certainly is an interesting variation, has in my opinion an art deco look about it. I have put together a collection of working U.S. WWII era flashlights over the years and this one will make a nice addition.

 

Rob

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There are some flashlight musuems online, created by enlightened enthusiasts. They don't have exact dates rather era of the lights. Nothing definitive but good grounds to make a general assessment. I think in this case, it's safe to assume your light dates to the 20's-30's primarily based on the patent of the switch.

In my opinion, any metal bodied two-cell light with USN dates to pre and inter WWII. By 1944, the entire Navy Department switched to the celluloid flashlight (below) in which they produced millions of them by wars end.

Considering the array of manufacturers and their changes of patterns through the decades, I'm sure there are many "variations" to be had.

 

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Since I primarily mingle with the aircraft side of things, here are a couple images of flashlights fixed in aircraft. A typical feature for most all pre-war naval aircraft included flashlights in brackets. A two-cell is seen here on a mock-up in the cockpit of the TBF Avenger in its design phase. A larger cell light is fixed inside a Martin PBM Mariner, placed at various locations throughout the aircraft. These applications could be translated in compartments on submarines and all surface vessels.

 

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Dustin, thanks for providing some period photos of how these lights were stored in aircraft, not something often seen. During my rounds of researching flashlights on the forum I have come across posts showing your collection of lights, very impressive I might add. Over the years I have put together a small collection of working USA, USAAF & USN models. I did not go out specifically looking for them, they are just some of the examples that came my way that I kept. Here is a photo of what I have thus far. They all work with the exception on the AAF A-9 hand energized flashlight and I am not sure about the smaller USN float light as I think it takes a funky battery that I do not have access to.

 

Rob

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Very nice collection of lights. I recently got one of the larger float lights very reasonably, I can't find much info on it. Can someone fill me in?

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You are right, there is not much info out there about them. I think they are man overboard marker lights. The light is removed from the bracket and thrown overboard to help mark the position for rescue.

 

Rob

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I have a dedicated chapter for electric lights in my Volume Two that addresses all those lights you have pictured except the parachute identification lamp.

 

The floating lanterns were a required item on all life raft and life boats of ocean and coastwise vessels. They were addtionally carried in patrol aircraft and airships. They were designed as a continuous lighting source for a duration of about 22 hours for the sole purpose of locating survivors adrift. If you note, there is a ring attached to the body for a laynard that would attach to the life boat or raft. There were approved BuShips and USCG types, about 6-7 variants maybe more. The earliest I could trace their origins is to 1942. They effectively replaced traditional methods of road type flares and oil burning lanterns. Electric lights were safer and not as problematic under wartime conditions. Calcium igniting lights were also abandoned.

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Here is a visual reference. A typical type lifeboat showing some of its authorized distress signals. Note the oil burning latern, you could imagine it being somewhat sensitive and fragile. the flaoting lanterns were a much better alternative. When adrift, this lantern was to be constantly lit as a beacon, effectively repalced by these flatong lanterns. You'll also see the retangular box that contained the flares and also canisters of smoke. The war demanded an increase in safety. You can also see the can of oil, highly combustible

 

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Learn something new everyday, I have only seen those float lights described as man overboard lights. In my photo, the smaller light was made by sculler dated 1942, the larger light is made by Delta dated 1943.

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The second light down has a decal, does it say USCG Approved?

 

The top light is that approved by the US Navy Buships referenced under Specification 17-L-11

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The second light down has a brass band, not a decal. It is marked "Approved by Bureau Marine inspection and navigation".

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Rob,

Here is a view of the floating light at the top of your group photo, in service use. They were installed in the cockpits of the TBM Avengers flown by Night Torpedo Squadron Ninety (VT(N)-90), flying from USS Enterprise in 1945. These lights had an internal Mercury switch and were to be employed if forced to ditch at night.

Regards, Paul

 

P.S. Dustin's books are a top level reference and should be required reading.

 

 

 

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-Jerry and Pararaft are unpaid spokespersons-



I had to look up this department, Bureau Marine inspection and navigation. Interesting background and in 1942 its responsibilities were primarily transferred to the USCG. With that in consideration and that light having a brass data plate would suggest in quite early at the beginning of hostilities. Does it have a date on it?


I've only ever seen them with USCG Approved then a date of approval.



Now that is cool, Paul. I was not aware of that unique application. Thanks for sharing that image.



Here is another variant.



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Pararaft, thanks for posting that great photo of the float light in the cockpit.

 

Dustin, the float light in question has a manufacturer date 1942. The reverse of the instruction tag has an ink stamp that the battery expires in March, 1944. Here are a few photos -

 

At the advice of your unpaid spokesmen I will have to look into your reference books!

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