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USN/USMC aviators Rigger Made items


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Hi everybody,

I've noticed some interest by several collectors about Navy and Marine Corps aviation Rigger Made stuff.

I hope this discussion will provide to collectors some general and basic informations concerning equipements made or modified on the theater of operations.

Rigger Made items concern mainly shoulder holsters (38 and 45 caliber pistols), flight suits with added pockets, medical kits (pockets or shoulder kits) and ammo belts.


Before showing you some items, let's start by the components.

According to what I have observed, two types of twill were used to make or modify items. The first one is the impregnated grey twill used for parachute packs and M-592 survival back packs (see both photos showing front and back of this specific twill).

I haven't identified yet the provenance of the second twill which color is dark blue outlined by a white cotton of green color twill. See the photos hereinafter


In combination with the use of the twills abovementioned, parachute straps were also used to make shoulder holsters (pistol or medical kit). Parts of both parachute harness straps were used (totally white strap for Navy parachute and white strap with black thread in the middle known to be used by AAF, but widely used by USN/USMC parachute harness makers) See the photos hereinafter



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I've merged these two topics together. :thumbsup:


When adding to this topic please use the "Add reply" button located at the bottom right hand side.

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Here is a Rigger Made holster harness with additional pockets for ammo, survival items and pistol pockets.

Note the stenciled name of the pilot and the belt buckle to fasten the harness on the chest



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Charlie Flick

Hello Greg:


Thank you for starting this interesting topic.


I have noticed that wartime photos depicting the naval aviation rigger-made shoulder holsters and related gear are mostly from the early war (1942 to early 1943). I suspect that the prevalence of the rigger-made gear in that time frame was due in part to the Navy's failure to adopt a suitable holster for aviators until the M3 style came into service in 1943. Before that time what are usually seen are a variety of private purchase shoulder holsters and the rigger-made types. Your recent thread on the VC-38 scrapbook shows photos with several examples of the private purchase holsters in use by aviators.


I thought this photo might be of interest as it illustrates to good effect a rigger-made shoulder holster for the M1911A1 .45 pistol. In this instance it is being carried by Lt. J. T. Callahan, a USMC Corsair pilot.




Your comments on the source materials was instructive. How about the white canvas material as seen in use with Lt. Callahan's holster? Any idea what the source material was for the white canvas? (Sails?)



Charlie Flick

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Great thread Greg.


Thanks for those part of great photos with rigger made stuff!


I total agree with Charlie. The main thing is to understood why piltos made these rigger made items!


In early time of war(42-43) the shoulder holsters were'nt available( much comfortable than hip holster ) soo rigger made holster were very popular. The same thing was with first aid kit. Only the first aid stuff was with pararaft kit (early war pararaft kit early model - MKI, ANR-2, M524 ) stored under the parachute pack. But it was'nt enough soo also riggers made all kind of "first aid kit" sometimes also sewn together with the holster. I added some pics of rigger made holster, first aid kit ...



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Photos from 43 with rigger made "first aid kit" pouch and photo of VF-17. The first aid kit pouch is visible under the right arm... ( photo is late March 44.)


The big evolution and reply for requset of survival stuff was introduced a survival pack pad kit :

first "experimental" version, "orginal" pack pad kit and later M592 also in three variations. Kits included all kind of survival stuff: fishing kit, whistle, matches, signal mirror, flare, first aid kit, machete etc. Soo the problem of extra "first aid kit" was a little bit undone. These kits were used still with pararaft kit stored under the parachute pack.



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After the back pad survival kits were introduced ( 43-late 44 ) the source of first aid stuff/survival stuff was a little bit undone.

But it is not the end!

The very important things were fast and successful rescue mission. The time was very important and pilots needs quickly start to give a singal signs. All signal items(Dye marker, flares, signal mirror, M567 light and whistle) were stored in paraft kit and back pack kits. Soo they stared attached whistle, dye markers, M567 light to the mae vest. It was very easy but how to attached a signal flares or mirror to the vest ? They need another type of rigger made items or modification: rigger made pouch for flare, mae vest with mirror pockets, flight suit with extra cargo pockets or pocket for knife.

Attached a first photo with B-3 mae vest and rigger made pocket for signal mirror ( notieced a black snap at leather patch )


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Another shot of pouch for flare(very's shells). And great pics with cargo pockets sewn to the flight suit. M426 Navy suit have only two small leg pocekts at the bottom of leg.




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The critical were late 44/45 when Navy intoduced all kinds of new equipment:

nylon tropical flight suit/ late cloth version M668 with extra four pockets, new flares MKI MOD 0 which were carried in factory added pockets in AN6519 mae vest, new survival kits: E3A, Navy E3A, E-17 and also USMC aviators used a "jungle first aid kits", in late 45 : aviator first aid kit and M592 pack pad kit was repliced by small items also carried in flight suit pockets like: flishing kit M627, Jiant Jack Knife.


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