"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
U.S. Navy A-14 Oxygen Masks

  The reason we qualified our comments about molded-in mask markings in the previous statement is due to the actual existence of two A-14 mask variations that are, in fact, "U.S. Navy" marked. A word of warning though, finding one of these is truly like “finding a needle in a haystack.” By their features (leather tipped adjusting straps and narrow hook fitting), it appears that one variation is early production while the other is late production, although we have been unable to uncover any original information on them. A best guess would be that original Navy contract masks were marked with "BU-AER U.S. NAVY" on the left side, but that to speed production, this was quickly eliminated and the bulk of Navy contract masks shared the typical left side A.A.F. markings which included a date of manufacture. Someone in the Navy’s Bureau of Supply must have eventually objected to an item of Navy equipment being marked with the name of a rival branch of service and saw to it that when initial contracts had been filled, and after production requirements had slowed later in the war, that the manufacturer was instructed to remove the offending A.A.F. markings from the left side of future Navy contract masks. This was done in a rather crude manor; it would appear by the use of a grinding tool. “BUAER U.S. Navy” was then impressed into the right side of the mask’s face and the letters were given a red tint. Another change was the inclusion of a new instruction sheet with text and photos specifically tailored to Navy users. I can’t emphasize enough that either of these “U.S. Navy” marked A-14 masks are a rare exception and that the vast majority of A-14 masks that saw service during the war with Navy and Marine pilots were not “U.S. Navy” marked. Please examine any A-14s you have in your collection. If you’re lucky, you may already have a Navy marked example without being aware of it.

 
Our thanks to "Goz" for allowing us to use photos of his rare early production "BU-AER U.S. NAVY" marked mask, as well as his large-ring push-to-talk switch shown on the preceding page.
Does the VF-11 pilot at right have a Navy marked A-14? Unfortunately, we will never know.