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 Author  Topic: Life Jackets
  Greg Matthews

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Greg Matthews   Send Email To Greg Matthews Posted on: Oct 15, 2008 - 7:03am
Hello all-


Just a quick question. Can anyone tell me what color are the life jackets that were issued on PT Boats. If they varied, I am particularly interested in the boats that served in the Philippines. I am only assuming that the jackets may have been a type of green or grey.


Greg Matthews

2nd Gen. PT221-RON 16


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Drew Cook

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Drew Cook  Posted on: Oct 15, 2008 - 1:42pm
Greg, all the vintage color photos and film footage I've ever seen of the standard World War II U.S. Navy kapok life jackets showed them to be blue.

Also, if you look at all the Hollywood movies that depict the U.S. Navy in WWII that are in color ("Crash Dive," "The Caine Mutiny," "Away All Boats," "PT 109," and many others) that used actual WWII equipment, the answer is, most definitely, blue.

The kapok life jacket color question was addressed here some months ago, and if I remember correctly, some members of the board were stating that they were gray, which I disagree with (then, as now).

Run some color WWII Navy documentary footage, or take a look at any of the movies I've mentioned above, and there's your answer -- blue. The original blue color may have faded on some jackets to a kind of "slate" blue, or a lighter, grayish-blue, but...they were blue.

BTW, the flat, aviator-type "Mae West" life vests seen occasionally worn by some Navy personnel on ships (I've seen photos of PT crewmen wearing them) were also blue in color.


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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Oct 16, 2008 - 12:01am
Hi Greg,
I agree with Drew, plus we obtained about 14 of these very same life jackets and they are displayed on board PT658 and every one of them is blue. They kind of turned blue-grey after the dye faded over the years. But if you still have doubts here is a color photo taken during WW2 on an LCI 20mm gun mount. I hope this helps. Jerry PT658 Portland OR



Jerry Gilmartin

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Greg Matthews

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Greg Matthews   Send Email To Greg Matthews Posted on: Oct 16, 2008 - 9:02am
Jerry and Drew-


Guys, you are a big help. I have a 1/20th scale replica of my Dad's PT221 and am striving to be as authentic as possible. Thank you very much. Ummmm. one more question if I may......I have figures on the boat with helmets painted grey like the photo you sent. I have heard that helmets were often army green. For RON 16 and others in the Philippines, could you guys comment on this? Thanx.


Greg Matthews

2nd Gen. PT221 RON 16


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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Oct 16, 2008 - 3:15pm
I think it is important to remember, that there were many manufacturer's during the War that were producing these Kapoc Life Vests. Because one photo shows a blue tint to a jacket, does not mean they were all made that color. Again, case in point. I had a brand new jacket in my hand stamped June 1944. The jacket never saw service nor for that matter the salt air, sun and other elements. It was grey, with a darker color strap.

I certainly agree that some were a blue tint color and that fading was certainly possible ( espcially on a PT BOAT ) Even the photo Jerry provided certainly looks more grey in tone then blue. Ok, Ok, lets not strat this discussion again. Just putting in my 2 cents..........


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