"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
          AN-Aero. Standard
Above:  Our background image of the AN-V-18 is from the "Manual for Aviation Equipment and Survival Officers".

To avoid any confusion before moving on, we should mention the Navy-specific QAS parachute. As Naval Aviation rapidly grew, new problems arose which needed quick solutions. Due to the confined and hazardous conditions encountered by aircrew manning their planes on the deck of a busy aircraft carrier, an expedient was needed to relieve the airman of the cumbersome burden of lugging his parachute pack across the flight deck. Picking up on the already well established concept of a quick attachable chest parachute, existing stocks of seat parachutes in use by Navy carrier air groups were converted to a "QAS" configuration that allowed the parachute / raft pack to remain in the plane's cockpit with the flier wearing only his parachute harness. Many AN seat parachutes had already reached the fleet by the time this conversion began, so you will see both Navy Standard seat and AN-6510-1 seat parachute harnesses converted to the new Quick Attachable Seat type when viewing period photos. Detailed instructions were issued by the Bureau of Aeronautics in a July 1943 Technical Note, so squadron parachute riggers could make this conversion. In the meantime, new specifications were passed along to the parachute manufacturers so that factory made quick attachable seat parachutes could be produced in numbers sufficient to meet the Navy's demand. Standard seat parachutes remained the norm for land based Navy and Marine squadrons throughout the remainder of the war.

Below, left:  1st Lt. George L. Newkirk of VMF-224, on Roi-Namur in 1944, shows us the attachable raft /parachute pack of his QAS 'chute. We can tell by the webbing it was modified from an AN-6510-1. Lt. Newkirk's example to the contrary, as stated above, the majority of land-based fliers continued to use a standard seat parachute (or QAC) rather than the QAS.

Below right:  Rarely seen in vintage photos is how the seat pack attached to these original "field-modified" QAS harnesses. The standard "V" ring of the chest strap became the attachment point for not only the harness chest strap snap hook, but also for both snap hooks from the seat pack attachment webbing. At some point, official instructions were given to weld a "lobe" to the chest strap snap hook to accommodate the snap hook from the left seat pack attachment strap, relieving some of the crowding on the "V" ring of the harness chest strap. This was a feature found on all factory made QAS parachutes.
Above:  The AN-6531-1 Flying Sun Glasses, as worn by this VT-4 torpedo plane pilot, saw widespread use by both services and in all theaters of the war, becoming a fashion icon.

Below:  Some survival kit components, life raft accessories and other auxiliary items achieved AN standardization as well.  The sampling shown here includes the AN-6521-1 (AN-S-34) raft sail (54" X 54"), the AN-W-5b drinking water cans, AN-6505-1 parachute bag and the AN-6522-1 (AN-K-2) fishing kit.
Below:  For all its practical potential, the standardization effort was short-lived. Once the fortunes of war turned in favor of the Allies, both the Army and the Navy quickly resumed their individual efforts to develop functionally and technologically improved clothing and equipment for their aviators. Below is a table showing the AN standard items featured in the first two pages of this article, what items had preceded them for both the Army and the Navy and lastly, what was adopted to replaced them, all in the short span of time between December 7th, 1941 and VJ Day.

 Item  Navy  Army  AN Standard  Navy  Army
 Summer Helmet M-450  A-9 AN-H-15/AN-6540  AN-6542 A-10a
 Earphones TH-37 R-14 ANB-H-1  ANB-H-1a ANB-H-1
 Goggles  MK-II B-7 AN-6530 M-1944 B-8
 Oxygen Mask MSA D A-10 A-14 A-14 A-14
 Flight Suit M-426a A-4 AN-6550 M-668 K-1
 Life Vest Mk-I B-3 AN-6519-1 MK-II* B-5
 Seat Parachute Navy Stan. S-1  AN-6510-1 QF Seat**  S-6 
 Life Raft M-524 None AN-6520-1  PK-1  C-2 
Below:  Several other AN Standard items saw Navy use in the Pacific Theater, although they are not worn by our mannequins here. In theory, the Army A-2 and Navy M-422a jackets were replaced by the Army AN-J-3 and Navy AN-J-3a (AN-6552).  In fact, the Army moved on from leather to their B-10 / B-15 fabric jackets. The few minor changes made to the Navy intermediate flight jacket spec. included the replacement of its painted "USN" with "US" under the collar, a newly worded label and a brown rayon lining.
Below:  Intermediate weight leather, and winter fleece, flight helmets were not extensively used in the PTO, but can be seen on occasion. They were especially appreciated by some exposed rear gunners of dive bombers. Marine 1st Lt. Maynard Kelley, of VMF(N)-533, poses in the cockpit of his F6F-3N at Engebi in 1944. He wears either an AN-6540L or AN-6540W helmet, with ANB-H-1 ear phones, AN-6530 goggles, AN-6531 sun glasses and possibly an AN-6552 flight jacket. The winter AN-6553 jacket and AN-6554 pants will not be covered here.
Right:  As seen hanging from the oral inflation valves of the life vest worn by the Marine aviator at right, above, his pair of miniature boxing gloves is probably being used as a good luck charm. They were sold as a souvenir, or novelty item, back in the States.

Below:  The four pocket summer jacket, labeled AN-J-2 / AN-6551. This style continued in production after the war and can be found labeled as M-716 with an N383s prefix contract number. It was never used by the Army, despite its AN designation.
Below:  Aboard USS Yorktown, on May 1, 1945, Major Leo F. Tatro, USMC, at left, is greated by the ships' Air Officer, Commander R. "Sandy" McPherson and others. The occasion was the successful landing of the Major and two of his fellow Marine pilots (at far right and 4th from right). As recounted in the ships' log, the Major and his companions were flying Corsairs of MAG-33, out of Kadena Airfield Okinawa, became lost and were too low on fuel to return to Okinawa. Vectored to Yorktown by another ship from Task Force 58.3, they were given permission to attempt a landing. Quoting from the ship's log, "None of the three had ever landed on a carrier before. The first one cut his throttle prior to receiving the signal from the landing signal officer and caught the third arresting gear wire. The second was high but refused to take a wave off. He landed hard and damaged his tail wheel. The third one obeyed all signals and made a very good landing." After being refueled, they were catapaulted off and returned to Kadena. 

The Naval officer, second from right in this photo, wears an AN-6551 (AN-J-2) summer flying jacket. Although given an AN Standard designation, this improved version of the similar Navy Spec. M-421a, had no Army equivalent. In fact, some jackets made to this pattern will be found labeled as Spec. M-421b. The "Manual for Aviation Equipment and Survival Officers" from March, 1945, describes it as follows: "This jacket is fabricated from khaki cotton cloth. It is a shaped, loose-fitting, unlined style extending to the wearer's hips. Bi-swing back and underarm gussets provide freedom of movement. There are three pockets, a half-belt in back and a turn-over collar. Jackets purchased under Spec. AN-J-2 (dated 1 May 1943) have the breast pocket outside and the patch removed from the sleeve. No functional differences exist." The third, and final, wartime Navy summer flight jacket, with a rounded collar, four outer pockets and a left sleeve pencil pocket, can also be found labeled as AN-J-2. No doubt, collectors today have noticed that the progression of the three wartime Navy summer flight jackets parallels that of the three Navy summer flight suits, M-426a, AN-6550 and M-668 and are literally equivalent to the top half of these suits with two lower pockets added and the full waist belt removed.

Some additional details in this photo are of note. The Major, at left,  has had a thigh pocket added to his AN-6550 flight suit. The Marine pilot, fourth from right, wears an M-421a jacket and double-buckle combat boots, while the pilot at right carries a .45 cal. pistol and two items of field equipment issued to all  Marine officers, not just those in the infantry, a brass whistle and a lensatic compass with water-proofed belt pouch.
* The Navy Mk-II vest did not see service before VJ Day, but had been designed, tested and was in production. 
** The Navy Quick Fit (QF) Seat parachute harness eliminated the need for each individual's harness to be custom fit and tacked in place. A new ratcheting type adjustment buckle on the leg and lower body straps resulted in a "one size fits all" harness so the entire parachute assembly could be left in the cockpit. It was in production before VJ Day and may have seen very limited service use.
Left:  LT Richard T. Schaeffer, with VBF-85, flying from USS Shangri-La, in a photo taken 6/14/45. He wears a factory made QAS harness, with "lobed" chest snap hook, as mentioned earlier. He has also attached an AN-5731-1 (AN-C-101) compass / match safe, as found in the M-592 kit, to one of his dye markers. It would probably serve as a "standby compass", as outlined in more detail on page 3 here:   http://pilotsmanyourplanes.com/Page_68.html
At this late stage of the war, in all likelihood, his air group would have probably replaced the M-592 kit with the Model A Pararaft or PK-1 kit, but apparently had not been provided with the new wrist compass as yet. Sadly, LT Schaffer did not survive his attempt to ditch his battle-damaged Corsair 46 days later off the coast of Japan.

Below:  The AN-5731-1, in place in an M-592 kit. The similar AN-5731 had no lanyard.