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Life Preserver Lights


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A friend once had a pile of about twenty mae wests and all were different in some way the variations do not end so I tried to show the basic example from early to later designs and changes from both the AAF and USN, I tried to collect enough examples but four vest are on the list a ealry USN B-4 vest,B-4 cross,and AAF USN B-5 to round off the collection.

Now I would like to share accessories frist life preserver lights.The US navy began do play witht the idea of a light in late 1942 drawing up spec. M-567 for a water proof single cell light that could attach to a life preserver to be issued to all naval personnel for emergency puposes.A limited quantity was first distributed in april 1943 of a quantity of 10,000 under spec. M-567 lights.I have only pictures of this light

Up to this point the US navy only had two cell lights for rescue purposes and not waterproof and included only in large kits.This new design is adpatable for all activities

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these new lights proved satisfactory,this means awesome in miltary terms and the term satifactory is about excited as they get! :D

this light was a bit on the complicated side of manufacture and in late 1943 a new design was being developed under spec. 17-L-16 (small) designated LIGHT,ATTACHABLE. this light was made in the hundreds of thousands all under navy contracts and added to the list of pilots personnal equipment.Production began in april 1944.Most photos of them in use are in 1945 the early photos show the light pictured above.The AAF aslo used them and requistioned them from the navy and adoptying there own in late 1945 these are blue and stamped US.The navy lights are grey with USN.There are three variations I have discovered of these lights procured by the USN.It might be manufacturer but there were only two them being Bridgeport metal goods co.(BMG) and Fulton MFG. corp.The two most distinctive variations are of the safety pin attached one is of civilian baby diaper type and the othe of a thicker wire I believ the safety pin to be ealr and later changed to the thivker guage metal due to fragile safety pin which probably brkoe easily.

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  • 3 months later...

Gentlemen:

 

I picked this single cell survival light up recently on a trip to Virginia. It does not have a type marking on it, but having seen an earlier post by Dustin I think it may be a Navy WW2 M-567 Life Preserver Light. I understand that the M-567 was th earliest light adopted by the Navy in WW2.

 

This light is marked on its base "Taunton Pearl Works/MSL1263/Taunton, Mass USA". The attaching clip on the side is spring-loaded. Instructions on the side say "To Light Turn Top On/Off".

 

Can Dustin, Sgt. Brown, Jerry or anyone else tell me if what I have here is indeed an M-567? Thanks in advance.

 

Charlie Flick

 

 

M567LifePreserverLight028_resized.jpg

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Charlie:

 

The previous posts about life preserver lights were hidden in another thread so I have moved them here and made this our "life preserver light" thread. By the way, I found one reference on the web to your light also being used by the Army Air Force.


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Hi Charlie...

I saw one time this type of light from your photo on Ebay... It looks very close to

M-567... But one thing is different... You have red color "glass", from Dustin photo "glass" is clear??? or this is only illusion b/w photo???

 

I believe you find m-567 light:)

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Almost all of the Navy Life Preserver lights can be purchased in a commercial form at boating stores. I don't know which came first, weather the Navy adopted commercial designs or if the manufacturers are making navy designs for commercial sales. I am betting the clip on light with the red lens is a commercial one. Red and green lights indicate port and starboard and small boats like a Jon Boat that don't have running lights will often clip small battery operated lights on the sides when out at night. The coloured lens and lack of military markings only the manufacturer name lead me to believe this.

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Almost all of the Navy Life Preserver lights can be purchased in a commercial form at boating stores. I don't know which came first, weather the Navy adopted commercial designs or if the manufacturers are making navy designs for commercial sales. I am betting the clip on light with the red lens is a commercial one. Red and green lights indicate port and starboard and small boats like a Jon Boat that don't have running lights will often clip small battery operated lights on the sides when out at night. The coloured lens and lack of military markings only the manufacturer name lead me to believe this.

 

 

I don't know that lens color or lack of markings can automatically rule it out as a military item: the pre WWII stuff was kind of lax in the marking area. I have seen the more modern life jacket lights (with only the pin to attach them) with amber lenses and I found a UK site selling this one which they say is AAF and boxed:

 

mselight.jpg

 

Based on my boating and sailing experience, I do think the military was ahead of the curve in such things a life vest lights and that. Most boaters will buy only the Coast Guard required minimum and the comparative handful of boaters who cruised offshore were not a big market. Even today you will see boaters may put in radar, GPS, satellite phones and all sorts of gadgets but there life jackets will still be the plain old Type I, free of lights, whistles or other adornments:

 

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Forum Support:

 

Thanks for re-organizing this into a new thread. Makes better sense.

 

I was not aware of this being a USAAF item. I do know that Dustin has a lot of experience and literature on the subject, so maybe he will weigh in here and clear this up for us all.

 

Regards,

Charlie

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  • 5 weeks later...

there was two manufacturers of the style of life preserver lights in question

Taunton Pearl Works and Delta

 

 

Delta made life preserver lights contracted from TC (Transportation Corp) these lights were standard for all transport ships and merchant marines also USCG .The USCG used the USN light also, later on.The lenses are red as this is to identify person from equipment and equipment by a white light.This light is a metal body similar to the Taunton Pearl Works light buaer spec. M-567 except the TC light has a red lense and it activates by turning lense.Refer to FM-21-22 watermanship page 19 .Delta also made many other flashlight variants for the AAC and navy but all larger than single cell.Red lenses are for personnel the clear lense was provided on the M-567 for means of better signaling and better suited for general use in survival situations

Taunton Pearl Works did make life saving equipment before the war and had only limited contracts by the USN.Charlie has an interesting specimen, the manufacturer is correct for the M-567 but it lacks a clear lense and activates by turning lense.The M-567 light has a red button on bottom of light to activate

here is a photo of a correct M-567 note clear lense and red push button on bottom

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The light Bob (forum support) has pictured is most likely the Delta manufactured version.I would certainly like to see the box and/or with AC contract that the add claims.

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I would like to make an amendment I realized I made an error and after a little research the M-567 light does turn on by turning lense and the button on bottom is for signaling morse code.Sorry for the mistake and charlie's find is much closer to the real M-567 but void of signal button.I replied from memory and not from my paper work!

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this is a quote from a naval news bulletin febuary 1943 in reference to the M-567

 

"The signalling light is similar to that being used by the merchant marine and employs a small dry cell battery for furnishing illumination.A clasp is provided on the light case for attachment to life jacket and a cotton laynard also is attached to prevent loss.A keying button is on the bottomof the case so that the light can be used for signalling in morse code.Instructions for operating the keying button are stencilled on the case"

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Dustin

 

Is this a M-567 ?

 

It came in a group to a Naval Aviator that was KIA on the USS Franklin in 1945

 

 

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Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Yes it is Kurt! the all illusive M-567 they only made 10,000 of them

 

Thats awesome! I didnt know it was that rare, but I had never researched it.

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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They only made them as "Experimental" hence the low quantity first released at supply points in april 1943.These lights were also ment as life raft lights to replace the non-waterproof 2-cell types currently in use at the time.They were found favorable which led to further development into life preserver lights and ultimately the adoption on the typical ones we regularly find today with safety pin attachment available in mid 1944. The one thing I have not found is why they did not further procure lights from Taunton as the later lights were contracted from BMG and Fulton that is a hole I would would like to fill.

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