32 pattern mae west?

32 pattern mae west?

Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

August 30th, 2008, 11:02 am #1

This has appeared on ebay, seemingly a nice green 32 pattern mae west. But I am puzzled about the fact it has leg straps on, not a standard feature on the 32 pattern. I have only ever seen leg straps on one before, which is a green 'Feb 39' dated Canadian made green example.

Were the leg straps a later modification to the Canadian made ones? They were standard on the 41 pattern of course. The RCAF at home seemed to use the 32 pattern well into the war, initially in green and later in yellow (as evidenced by the many 'Dominion Rubber Company' examples that can be found, most with March 1945 dates). I am wondering if the RCAF incorporated elements of the 41 Pattern into their 32 Pattern (or maybe if they decided to add leg straps to stop the vest riding up, which were then incorporated into the 41 pattern). Any ideas?
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

August 31st, 2008, 3:01 pm #2


<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Here's the link:  </FONT><FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>http://http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/WW2-32-pat ... Item</FONT><FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif> </FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Alex in answer to your question, some pilots added leg tapes to their 'Mae West' for a more secure fit. I don't know if it was common practice, but I think it was done in a similar way that removal of the on/off disc on the type-19 microphone was done.</FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>I would be interested to know if Air Ministry orders were issued for this practice (addition of leg ties on the life jacket) or for that matter if they later issued the 1932-pattern with the leg ties as standard.</FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>With the canadian made examples, you may be correct about them incorporating elements of the 41 Pattern (and maybe even later models) into their 32 Pattern similar to the development of the e-mask.</FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Not sure if this is all correct, I'm no mae-west expert and I don't collect commenwealth items, so I'd be interested in other forum member's response. The thing that I'm finding at the moment though, is that this forum seems quite quiet recently-rather like the RAF market itself. </FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Anyway, my two pence</FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Cheers,</FONT>

<FONT face=geneva,arial,sans-serif>Ben</FONT>
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

August 31st, 2008, 8:31 pm #3

This has appeared on ebay, seemingly a nice green 32 pattern mae west. But I am puzzled about the fact it has leg straps on, not a standard feature on the 32 pattern. I have only ever seen leg straps on one before, which is a green 'Feb 39' dated Canadian made green example.

Were the leg straps a later modification to the Canadian made ones? They were standard on the 41 pattern of course. The RCAF at home seemed to use the 32 pattern well into the war, initially in green and later in yellow (as evidenced by the many 'Dominion Rubber Company' examples that can be found, most with March 1945 dates). I am wondering if the RCAF incorporated elements of the 41 Pattern into their 32 Pattern (or maybe if they decided to add leg straps to stop the vest riding up, which were then incorporated into the 41 pattern). Any ideas?
As I'm by no means an expert on Mae Wests I'm going out on a limb here; is this Mae West not remarkably similar to Steve Silburns's Mae Wests? What bugs me is the fact that the instructions and the zipper on the back aren't sprayed over.

From what I know the spraying of the Mae West was done on the individual pilots request. It was definitely sprayed AFTER assembly. That would make it rather odd that the zipper on the back hasn't been sprayed over. In fact, when you look closely, you can see that the fabric was sprayed yellow BEFORE assembly. Again, from what I understand that wouldn't have been possible.
Does anyone know if fabric was sprayed yellow before assembly?

As for the instructions, I've not seen photographic evidence that these instructions were covered before spraying leaving them legible after the job. But photographic evidence isn't everything, as I've found out on numerous occasions...

It would be interesting to see the label, if present. That could help verify if it's Steve's.

Cheers, Toine



Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

August 31st, 2008, 9:25 pm #4

Sorry all, I forgot to add the link when I made the first post. Unfortunately I couldnt access the link Ben put up but looking at the title I assume its the same as Ric has posted in another thread.

I dont have any photo reference for Steve's Mae wests, but it was more the leather tap on the neck zip, and the leg straps that caught my eye, neither standard on a '32 pattern vest to my knowledge (although like Toine Im no expert on them). I'd agree that its odd the zip is perfectly untouched by the paint which would be a neat job if sprayed!

They say the label is missing which is convenient! Could be costly to the buyer.

I dont think the Air Ministry ever issued orders to fit leg straps, they were used as is in the battle of Britain and the following year the new and improved '41 pattern started to come in, with improvements following over the next few years. If it was Canadian (I have photos of a nice green canadian one with label and leg straps) then any additions would come under AFRO - Air Force Routine Orders, the Canadian Equivalent of AMO - Air Ministry Orders.

Im not sure when the Canadian yellow version first appeared but it seems to have been worn until past the end of the war, with most of those that appear now having 1945 dates stamped on them (often overstamped with incorrect 1940 dates)
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 28th, 2005, 1:57 pm

August 31st, 2008, 11:01 pm #5

I have a 1932 Pattern Mae West that was made by Dominion Rubber that I know is original and it has the leg straps fitted. Mine appears to have been used in Canada by No.4 BR Squadron on the West Coast. When during it's usage it was outfitted with these straps I don't know.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 16th, 2005, 11:34 pm

September 1st, 2008, 9:02 am #6

Ref to Mick Prodger's book there's a couple of interesting pics. One modern studio photo shows a chap with an original painted 32 patt. The instructions are clearly visible with the yellow painted around them. Another wartime colour contempoarary photo shows a couple of erks. One holding up a mae west and the other spraying it yellow. There doesn't appear to be any masked areas.
My opinion on the ebay item is that it's been brush painted and not sprayed, I can see the brush strokes. But the colour isn't quite right, too pale and not a chrome yellow. It's been said before but if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. I would give it a wide berth.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

September 1st, 2008, 9:47 am #7


This is very interesting...

I'd like to have Neil B's opinion on this matter-he owns both an original and Sefton Mae West and so he&nbsp;might be able to determine whether or not this one is real.

IMHO, I'm not sure. I've seen Sefton's in person and don't remember it having a lightning zip, or for that matter a leather pull tab. I've seen real Mae Wests that have kept the instructons clear, the one in Mick's book as Shide said. Innteresting is that the one in Mick's book comes from the Air Ministry's references-the photos are staged.

With this one, I agree with shide, I think it's been brushed on. It can't be a Pegasus as the pegasus ones have three instruction on the bladder side wheras the Sefton one has two.

Bidder bids with caution...
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

September 1st, 2008, 10:00 am #8

Also, the original Sefton mae west doesn't have leg ties-so why would this one? The seller might have added them and painted the mae west to later flog it as a real one, but I think that if it has been painted with a brush-it would explain why the zip is untouched, hence this could be the real deal.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

September 1st, 2008, 10:55 am #9

Out of interest Rob, is yours a yellow or green version?

It seems to be that alongside the RAF, the RCAF used the green '32 Pattern Mae West until about 1941, when in Britain the '41 pattern came in, incorporating many improvements. It was made in the higher visibility yellow, and had the leg straps to prevent it riding up. As time went on it had a torch pocket added, a whistle, the flap (which wasnt a great success), dinghy line, self inflation leaver, etc.

Meanwhile back in Canada, they seem to have perservered with the '32 Pattern, incorporating some of the improvements like the yellow fabric, probably around the time the '41 Pattern was making its appearance in Britain. The leg straps are not a common feature on the many 1945 dated yellow ones that you see, so it seems they were not a factory fitted feature (although any vest, Brit or Canuck, '32 or '41 Pattern could and were altered in the field to personal taste).

With the example in question, I'd agree its probably brush painted (which doesnt neccessarily make it less authentic) and would explain the neatness around the zip, but I also thought there was something wrong with the colour. The '32 Pattern vest of James Nicholson VC which is preserved at Tangmere is a good example to look at, with the paint thick and much more a golden yellow.

Its a pain (or a telling sign) the lable has been removed, but it makes me wonder who made it, if it is a repro. The RAF Museum have one on a mannequin with a beautiful typed label on the back.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: January 29th, 2004, 1:59 am

September 1st, 2008, 11:38 am #10

If I`m not mistaken, when the 41 pattern first appeared, it to had no leg straps, these were only added in retrospect.
Quote
Like
Share