Beadon suit variations.....wartime or post war?

Beadon suit variations.....wartime or post war?

Joined: July 13th, 2008, 9:46 am

August 2nd, 2008, 5:52 pm #1

Hello to everyone. This is my first post on what everyone I am sure will agree is an excellent forum.
My query concerns the RAF lightweight survival flying suit or beadon suit which appeared towards the end of WW2. Does anyone know how to tell a wartime example from a post war one? I have been told that the position of the leg zips gives it away, inside leg for wartime, outside for post war, but does anybody know when this change actually took place and whether there are any other differences?
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

August 2nd, 2008, 10:39 pm #2

Hi Karl, welcome to the site

Its a little hard to determine wartime 'Beadon' suits, one reason being that they came in at the very end of the war, so relatively few were worn before VJ day. So to find one confirmed as wartime would be hard anyway. But there are a few differences between wartime and just after to those produced later in the 40s and maybe early 50s (I'm not exactly sure when the suit was abolished).

I'm not sure about the leg zips as there were pockets on the outside bottom of the leg, which would have to be removed or altered if the zips were placed on the outside. But those I have seen which date from the early period seem to be in a more green or khaki colour rather than the later grey. Also the shape of the belt buckle is different, the 'wartime' ones having one very similar to the service dress but in plastic (brass may have been used to). One noticable thing is the label, with the earlier ones bearing a 22c stores number (stores references with a 22C prefix indicates flying clothing). Wartime 22C numbers went up to about 1075 before the end of the war (eg 22c/1075) with the Beadon suit 22C/1047 to 1053 and 22C/1068 depending on size. There was a grey post war beadon suit on ebay in the last week which had the later stores ref on the label, which I believe superceded the 22C system, although the 22C suystem was used for a number of years after the war, so only narrows it down a little.

Some suits I have seen also have certain zip pullers which is another indication of an earlier suit, especially if the puller is AM marked as on one suit I have seen.

Its not a lot, and not conclusive, but might help a little.
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Joined: May 4th, 2007, 8:13 am

August 3rd, 2008, 8:27 am #3

Just though I would add to this, though it may not be much help! Just had another look at my Beadon suit. It has 22c/1049 on the lable along with a broad arrow mark. The zips are all the familiar dot type as found on other RAF kit, marked DOT in a cirlce surounded by made in England.The Leg zips are on the outside of the leg with the pocket above which hangs down inside the leg behind the zipper. The buckle is blakened brass same style as the SD tunic buckle. The poppers are unmarked and the colour of the fabric I would describe as dark grey. So is it an early made or late example? I do not know but I thought it might be useful to have a description of a suit to be going on with.

Incidently my suit has sufferd badly to moth on the woolen collar, anybody know where to get a repacement? Also in common with a lot of flying suits it seem to have been used as a boiler suit and has paint on it, any way to gently remove this?
Or is it something I am just going to have to live with?
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Joined: July 13th, 2008, 9:46 am

August 4th, 2008, 9:41 pm #4

Hi Karl, welcome to the site

Its a little hard to determine wartime 'Beadon' suits, one reason being that they came in at the very end of the war, so relatively few were worn before VJ day. So to find one confirmed as wartime would be hard anyway. But there are a few differences between wartime and just after to those produced later in the 40s and maybe early 50s (I'm not exactly sure when the suit was abolished).

I'm not sure about the leg zips as there were pockets on the outside bottom of the leg, which would have to be removed or altered if the zips were placed on the outside. But those I have seen which date from the early period seem to be in a more green or khaki colour rather than the later grey. Also the shape of the belt buckle is different, the 'wartime' ones having one very similar to the service dress but in plastic (brass may have been used to). One noticable thing is the label, with the earlier ones bearing a 22c stores number (stores references with a 22C prefix indicates flying clothing). Wartime 22C numbers went up to about 1075 before the end of the war (eg 22c/1075) with the Beadon suit 22C/1047 to 1053 and 22C/1068 depending on size. There was a grey post war beadon suit on ebay in the last week which had the later stores ref on the label, which I believe superceded the 22C system, although the 22C suystem was used for a number of years after the war, so only narrows it down a little.

Some suits I have seen also have certain zip pullers which is another indication of an earlier suit, especially if the puller is AM marked as on one suit I have seen.

Its not a lot, and not conclusive, but might help a little.
Thanks for the info, it all helps to know what to look for. The Beadon suit in "RAF vs Luftwaffe" book shows the zips on the inside of the leg, while the ones I've seen for sale have them on the outside so I am assuming that to be the later pattern.
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Joined: August 7th, 2006, 10:30 pm

August 5th, 2008, 4:20 pm #5

Just though I would add to this, though it may not be much help! Just had another look at my Beadon suit. It has 22c/1049 on the lable along with a broad arrow mark. The zips are all the familiar dot type as found on other RAF kit, marked DOT in a cirlce surounded by made in England.The Leg zips are on the outside of the leg with the pocket above which hangs down inside the leg behind the zipper. The buckle is blakened brass same style as the SD tunic buckle. The poppers are unmarked and the colour of the fabric I would describe as dark grey. So is it an early made or late example? I do not know but I thought it might be useful to have a description of a suit to be going on with.

Incidently my suit has sufferd badly to moth on the woolen collar, anybody know where to get a repacement? Also in common with a lot of flying suits it seem to have been used as a boiler suit and has paint on it, any way to gently remove this?
Or is it something I am just going to have to live with?
JB,

I have had a lot of luck with a product called "GOOF-OFF" I'm not sure what side of the pond you are on but in the USA you can find it just at just about any retail outlet that sells paint. It works remarkably well on acrylic paints and in many cases it will soften enamel paint to the point that you can peel / scrape it off. With enamel paint spots you need to let it soak for a few days and keep the spot(s) moist with the product. I have never had it discolor any of the fabric. You would want to keep scrubbing with a brush to a minimum though, since the scrubbing will sometimes smear the enamel deeper into the fabric. I have had my best luck removing enamel spots with a needle, picking and scraping the spots.

As a last resort I have used Lacquer thinner in the same manner on stuborn enamel paint spots, but have experienced discoloration of the fabric at times using it. I guess it depends on the dye in the fabric. I always test a spot that is not visible before using the Lacquer thinner.

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

August 8th, 2008, 12:31 pm #6

Just though I would add to this, though it may not be much help! Just had another look at my Beadon suit. It has 22c/1049 on the lable along with a broad arrow mark. The zips are all the familiar dot type as found on other RAF kit, marked DOT in a cirlce surounded by made in England.The Leg zips are on the outside of the leg with the pocket above which hangs down inside the leg behind the zipper. The buckle is blakened brass same style as the SD tunic buckle. The poppers are unmarked and the colour of the fabric I would describe as dark grey. So is it an early made or late example? I do not know but I thought it might be useful to have a description of a suit to be going on with.

Incidently my suit has sufferd badly to moth on the woolen collar, anybody know where to get a repacement? Also in common with a lot of flying suits it seem to have been used as a boiler suit and has paint on it, any way to gently remove this?
Or is it something I am just going to have to live with?
JB and Karl

These photos are of a 1949 dated Beadon suit, which is grey in colour, having a 'service dress' style belt buckle, and zips on the outer of the leg.

At the end of the war, jungle clothing was green usually, so it would seem logical that a flying suit designed for that theatre would be green too. The one in Mick Prodgers 'Flying Clothing' book, is green with leg zips on the inside of the leg, so its safe to assume that its an early 1945/46 vintage. In the post war era Brit flying suits were made in grey which would also tally with a later Beadon suit being in grey, and having the zips on the outside, probably changed through experience in use.

As this suit is dated 1949, that at least a marker for a change in both colour and the leg zips.

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Joined: May 4th, 2007, 8:13 am

August 8th, 2008, 5:33 pm #7

Thanks for that Alex, that is good enough for me to safely assume that mine must be a late forties early fifties example.
Jb
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Joined: February 16th, 2005, 11:34 pm

August 11th, 2008, 1:35 pm #8

Thanks for the info, it all helps to know what to look for. The Beadon suit in "RAF vs Luftwaffe" book shows the zips on the inside of the leg, while the ones I've seen for sale have them on the outside so I am assuming that to be the later pattern.
Just had a look at mine. Zips on the inside leg and suit is most definately grey.
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

August 11th, 2008, 2:36 pm #9

Thats interesting, be good if we can find something that would definately date the changeover from the leg zips inside to outside the leg. The colour might well have been just a manufacturing thing, especially as the suits were barely in use before the war in the far east was over.

Below is a photo of Flying Officer D A Baker who unusually wore one in 1945/46 in the UK whilst flying Lancasters.

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Joined: July 13th, 2008, 9:46 am

August 11th, 2008, 6:45 pm #10

Alex
I have also noticed a difference in the zip arrangement between the legs. The early type have the main front zip and then another zip going in between the legs and ending around the backside area. The later versions I have seen do not have that feature. Also the early versions I have seen have all been grey. I have some pictures showing the different types and typical labels but can't work out how to include them in the post.
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