USAAF Survival Gear

  • move
Hearts & Minds and Body
How extensive was the survival equipment USAAF provided to its airmen? This display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (a.k.a., Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum) looks beyond life rafts, Mae Wests, and flare guns.

Unfortunately, these artifacts are displayed behind glass with lighting and reflective properties not conducive to photography. Sorry about that.
Survival Vest
I never knew USAAF had these in WWII. It is an Emergency Sustenance Vest Type C-4 with seven (7) pockets for survival items. Those pockets held:
    1. Emergency Signaling Mirror
    2. Spit
    3. Fishing Kit
    4. Emergency Parachute Ration Tin
    5. Medicine Kit
    6. Insect Repellent Can
    7. Hygiene Kit?
Perhaps other issued items were stuffed in the pockets. A separate emergency kit is the Flyer Trading Kit.
Kit, Flyer, Trading
Don't you just love the categorizing and labeling of military supplies? (I actually do.) I wish I had written down the text on the box but I presumed the photo would be clearer. So if the following has errors, please correct me. As best as I can read it from the photograph, this carton is marked with:
      Kit, Flyer, Trading
      Specifications No. 40685
      Serial No. 8300-559285
      Order No. 44-033 44-10111
      Company, MacDonald and Co.
      Air Force, U.S. Army
    INSTRUCTIONS This collection of trinkets is provided for Trading and Bargaining purposes in event of a Forced Landing in areas having a primitive population. Use these to obtain food, lodging, transportation and guidance. When it becomes necessary to use this packet destroy this carton and carry the ____ ____ ____ in your pockets.
Medical Kit
There appears to be five (5) glass vials, a glass bottle, a squeeze tube, and a bundle of Bandage, Gauze, Compress, from Guild Foundations, New York, N.Y. The containers appear to be:
    1. 14 ounce container of Ointment for Body And..., by Burke Drug Supply, Dayton, Ohio
    2. Vial: Atabrine, Burke Drug Supply, Dayton, Ohio
    3. Vial: Wound Tablets "-Use-When hit: take all tablets. Drink lots of water. If hit in the belly do not take tablets..."
    4. Vial: Salt Tablets. "Use salt tablets...cramps and exhaustion due to sweating. Add 2 tablets to...canteenful (1 1/8 pts.) of..."
    5. Vial: Amphetamine Sulfate - 8 MG , "These tables will relieve fatigue and enable you to stay awake. Do not take unless extremely fatigued or very sleepy. Take only in emergencies and when authorized by an officer."
    6. Vial: Water Purification Tablets.
    7. Puncture Medicine.
SPIT ASSEMBLY PARTS NO. SGA 43 - 2???: "The Spit consists of Spit Handle; Three Spit Extensions and One Spit Point. Ends are threaded so that they can be screwed together to form a Spit for use in Roasting Meat, Birds or Fish Over Open Fire. By using the Spit Handle and Spit Point a Short Weapon or Digging Tool is easily made. Spit Parts can be used with Gaff Hook Assemblies for Various Uses."
Fishing Kit
No information.
"Hygiene Kit"
The only item I can definitely identity is a box of razor blades. The other items look like bars of soap.
Emergency Parachute Ration
Contents are easily read from the photograph.

In the immortal words of B-52 pilot Major. T. J. Kong, A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all this stuff.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker
Included in the display are personal effects of Eddie Rickenbacker, Captain, Air Service, United States Army (Retired). They are from his epic 24 days adrift in the Pacific following a B-17 crash while on a fact-finding mission.
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move

About the Author

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...


That is really cool Fred. I really like the trading kit. Interesting that there was that much thought put into a pilot's survival inventory. Thank you for sharing, Randy
MAR 30, 2019 - 10:54 PM