Life Preserver

Item

Title

Life Preserver

Description

The 1932 pattern life preserver is synonymous with the Battle of Britain and is the original garment which earned the nickname "Mae West" by which life preservers have been known ever since. It required oral inflation for buoyancy and aircrews were encouraged to wear the vest partially inflated and stuffed with kapok pads in the event of a water landing.
This 1932 Pattern life preserver was made in Canada by the Dominion Rubber Company for use by both the RAF and RCAF and labeled with nomenclature for both air forces. The pattern was identical to the British made types and many were made of drab, green rubberized fabric like the British made version, this example was constructed from bright yellow material.
The life preserver can be seen here worn over a Service dress uniform jacket, often the preferred choice for Battle of Britain fighter pilots rather than bulky flying suits.

Date

c. 1939-1940

Identifier

021.500.012

Medium

Fabric, rubber, metal, canvas

Provenance

Mae West was an American stage and film actress, playwright, screenwriter, and singer. The "Mae West" nickname originates from the stuffed and inflated front lobes of the life preserver, which were said to bear a resemblance to the well endowed movie star.

This item features the name SPRATT written inverted on the outer right hand side.

Rights Holder

2021 Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada.
2021 Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada.

Item sets