Parachutes / Mae Wests
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WWII RAF Dual-Purpose Combined Pattern Flying Suit (Harnessuit) by Irvin Air Chute Co. dated October 1940.
The Irvin Harnessuit or "Combined pattern" flying suit, was developed to enable the parachute harness to be enclosed in a garment to prevent it from snagging on the aircraft, and to incorporate a floatation device into the same garment so that it was not necessary to wear the "Mae West" separately. To some extent it was successful although its use proved to be limited. It was produced in three variations: single purpose for a chest type parachute; single purpose for a seat type parachute; and this version, which is the more difficult to find: dual-purpose which allowed either a seat type parachute pack or a chest type pack to be attached. Though no pack is included, nor the harness, the suit itself is in excellent, unissued condition and displays well. It contains the separate button-in holder for the flotation stole which is often missing (note: stole not installed). All zips work fine (two fully separating DOT zips at the front and Lightning zips on the pockets). Zips are not a perfect match but they function just fine and retain their leather pulls. Great label and October 1940 date.
$675 / £550 / 615 email to secure this item
Easco brand life jacket light as issued and worn by Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilots and crews.
For years these Easco life jacket lights have been sold as RAF accessories. They were NEVER issued to RAF crews. They were however worn by RN FAA crews and for one reason: they featured a red light cover which sailors knew would stand out among the phosphorescent white caps at night far better than the white lights of the RAF issued floating lamps. The RAF lights were also built for a longer duration; sailors knew that survival depend on being found quickly and that a long lasting float lamp had little benefit. Easco lights were actually issued to all personnel on Royal Navy ships. Aircrew received the Air Mnistry issue float lamps but preferred the Easco type.
This light is in good condition, with some age and wear but totally intact.
$25 / £21 / €23 Email to secure this item
Very good RAF 1941 pattern life vest "Mae West" complete with correct stole/bladder fitted with inflation lever mechanism and kapok pads.
Lovely example of the RAF 1941 pattern life vest fitted with correct rubberized fabric stole (bladder), dated 9/44 and a further test date of Feb 1945. There are two small official period repairs to bladder, stamped with inspection mark. Also includes a set of correct original kapok pads, Air Ministry marked. Vest has a lovely Air Ministry label. Lever mechanism is intact and carries an engraved broad arrow and inspection stamp. Stole is perfectly pliable with good oral inflation tube and valve. Vest is in excellent condition, and is fitted with grab handles, floating torch pocket, dye pouch (dye removed but red stitching where it was sewn down remain) and accessory pocket to front for heliograph / skull cap. No connector for life raft is fitted, dating this as as 1944. Small snap fastener on accessory pocket is rusted shut and eyelet for attaching whistle has pulled through. Leg tapes have been removed - which was done by some crew members because they got in the way or could get tangled on aircraft controls. Large number 291 is stencilled to front. Could be a partial aircraft serial number or crewman's serial number. An excellent example of the mae west, overall clean showing light use and minor staining. Complete examples are becoming extremely difficult to source.
$1,295 / £1,025 / €1,160 email to secure this item
WWII US Navy life vest light.
These early, all metal body life vest lights don't turn up as often the later, plastic version. This example is in very good condition with minor paint loss and yellowing to the clear plastic dome. Pin is still affixed to the side and bulb is still present. Nice clear USN to base and BMG maker mark.
Getting harder to find.
£30 / $40 / €34 email to reserve this item
WWII or early post war period commercial life vest probaby for passengers on commercial flights.
Single chamber, blue grey rubberized fabric life preserver fitted with an auto-inflation mechanism as well as a top-up tube. Fastens by one webbing tape around the waist and one tie at the front. It looks like a cross between a German Luftwaffe issue vest and a USAAF issue B-5 but is marked Knapp and Monach, St. Louis, USA on the mechanism. No other markings that I can see. Lacks cartridge but in excellent, unused condition.
£56 / $75 / €64 email to secure this item
Kriegsmarine life preserver
Although this type of life preserver is often said to have been used by Luftwaffe crews - and that is certainly possible - it was primarily a Kriegsmarine issue vest. The Kriegsmarine did operate some aircraft and flying boats, despite not having any aircraft carriers, so there is peripheral cross-over with some flying kit - however, this is offered as a Km item. Sadly it is incomplete, though it is in excellent condition. The vest lacks it's waist strap and its inflation cartridge, though these could be easily transplanted from a similar vest in poor condition to build a really excellent display item. The rubberized fabric is totally soft and plaible, as is the rubber oral inflation tube which retains its stopper. It's possible this was used only as a training aid although it appears virtually unused. Some oxidation to the hardware and rust staiining to the straps but overall excellent. Fully restored would be worth more than double the asking price.
£190 / $250 / €210 email to secure this item
AAF Back Pack parachute "ripcord" comprising "D" ring and cable with release pins still attached.
Back Pack parachutes were used throughout the war, from 1942 onwards, by both fighter pilots and bomber crews, although they are thought of as somewhate scarce (and are certainly less common than either the seat pack or the clip-on chest pack). This ripcord comprises the D-ring handle with long cable and a series of 4 release pins, all of which are present. The handle is stamped AN 6571-1 with a W in a circle.
£20 / $25 / €24 Click to secure item