1941 Pattern Mae West Floating Light and Battery Housing
The RAF 1941 Pattern Mae West was first introduced in July 1941 and whilst it evolved as the war continued it remained the standard 'waistcoat, lifesaving, stole inflated' pattern until well into the 1950's. One of the improvements made occurred in July 1943 when two cylindrical pockets were added on the lower right hand side designed to house a floating lamp and attached battery pack. The example we have on offer here is such a lamp, issued against stores reference 5A/2728. This is the correct item for display with a '41 vest as opposed to the more commonly seen 'Easco' lamp which is not. The cylindrical metal battery container retains most of its original blue paint and carries a clear Kings Crown, A.M. and the stores reference number detailed above. What lifts this one above the norm is it still carries its original paper label which clearly states made by G.E.C and is described as 'Floating Light Life- Jacket'. Below is a photo of an airman wearing a Mae West and carrying the lamp followed by instructions for us. The base of the battery housing carries a metal seal and the instructions indicate 'In emergency ONLY break the seal by pushing base sharply upwards and turning to right'. The seal on this example remains intact. A final detail is the label is marked 'reprinted March 1943' so is an early production example when stocks were clearly being prepared for the introduction into service in July '43. The floating lamp is made from wood and metal and the lamp cover and bulb remain in place. The base is marked' Made in England, L 611, G.E.C' and a patent number. The one issue with this set, which is apparent on most that we see, is the the wiring insulation is hardened, cracked and perished. It would be possible to replace this with appropriate modern wiring for display purposes but we prefer to leave it in its current original condition. These are now getting increasingly hard to find and other than the wiring issue is a really crisp and wartime dated example.