"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
The Lucky Bag 
Our loyal reader "Goz" has added some new late-war items to his ever expanding collection and is kind enough to share them with us here. 
His latest acquisition is a Navy contract AN6519-1 life vest made by Firestone. The complete date stamp is not visible, but the last character, a "4" is, so our best guess would be that it was manufactured in late 1944. As was common practice, the owner's name and rank has been stenciled on the front. It is attributed to LT. A.C. Gauthier. "Goz" is hoping a little research may provide him with some information on this aviator, his squadron and station. In addition to it's clean and complete condition, this vest has the added bonus of rigger-made interior pockets for hand smoke signals (see our 'Chute Shack article). Not only that, but they are constructed entirely from parachute pack canvas, so there is no fear of them turning hard or cracking as many of the rubber pockets have been known to do after sixty seven years. 
For a temporary display, "Goz" is using his new vest on a Type Z anti-G suit and has spruced it up with some other late-war items. Tie-ons include a life vest shark chaser and two of the late style "three grommet" dye markers. A working penlight and a pair of dark brown summer gloves complete the ensemble. Very well done indeed!
As part of his late-war theme, "Goz" is using another of his AN-6542 summer helmets, this one is from contract number N288s-27405 and was manufactured some time between December, 1944 and May, 1945. It is fitted with an ANB-H-1 headset, and Navy M-1944 goggles. The oxygen mask is the familiar A-14, seen here with mask microphone and a 3' cotton lanyard (as used with whistles, pocket knives, the matchbox compass, etc.). Some pilots preferred to suspend the mask from a lanyard when not in use, rather than leaving it attached to the flight helmet, where it might abruptly slap them in the face during a catapult launch or an arrested landing. The hose could be tucked under the chest strap of the parachute harness for additional security. Completing the picture is a nice set of private purchase amber sunglasses for improved vision on hazy days. I sense a mannequin coming together here in the near future.
Some new life vest accessories just in from "Goz". Both are variations on the standard attachable signal light. First we have a stock light that has been improved by the addition of what appears to be an approximately 18" length of the 3-foot cotton  lanyard that was supplied with the survival kit compass/waterproof match case, whistle and jack knife.

Next we have another BMG light that has had the inside of it's plastic lens covered with dark red paint. This is only the second example of this practice we have seen. We can only speculate that this may have been done for improved signalling at night. Clearly, this was done in the field and is not a factory modification.