USAAF Flak Vest / Apron, A.I.D Marked
Flyer's Armor Vest M1, and Armor Apron M3. Intended for use by gunners, navigators, bombardiers and radio operators, whose duties involved standing or moving around the aircraft. The M1 vest was armoured to front and rear and constructed from overlapping manganese steel squares sewn into pockets within an heavy brown canvas covering. This was backed with a soft brushed cotton for comfort. In order to protect the groin area the M3 Apron was attached to the lower front edge of the vest using lift-the-dot fasteners linked to a quick-release strap. Indeed they were constructed such that a quick tug on this strap would enable the entire suit to fall away from the airman in case of emergency. The apron is constructed in the same way as the vest but of a rounded triangular shape. Flak suits were issued from a 'pool' prior to missions and returned at the end of the 'Op' for use by outgoing crews. They were developed as a direct result of injuries sustained by 8th AAF crews flying from England. Initially there was considerable resistance and objection to wearing them but it is estimated that they reduced flak and bullet fatalities by 50% & injuries by 70%. Early development suits were manufactured by Wilkinson Sword in the UK but production suits were manufactured in America. This example has British A.I.D marks and the War Dept. broad arrow. The RAF used flak suits in limited numbers and it is possible that this is one of those. Condition is generally very good to excellent. There is no damage the suit has some soiling and fading marks. It should be noted that the Apron was constructed using a lighter coloured canvas - this was never the same colour as the Vest in this instance. Superb display piece. Extremely heavy and may, in some circumstances require postal costs over and above those quoted by the 'online calculator'. Stock code M15368.