There are so many different types of United States Air Force Survival Kits that it…it’s simply incredible. There are various types of ejection seat kits, soft kits, rigid kits, individual kits, vest kits – even a kit that is probably now obsolete – but it was a set of Chaps with all the pockets in/on the Chaps!
And the U.S. Army Aviation Units use some of this equipment as well. So, if I get something wrong in between the Army and the Air Force, just remember that this is not a historical site for collecting this stuff. I’m talking about using it!
I like talking about the developmental history of these sorts of things so you and I can experiment with our own Safety/Survival gear and get the best stuff we can.
There is no “best kit” and I don’t know what the “best” Military Survival Kit ever issued, was. It’s mostly opinion along with a dash of “where.” Where the Pilot/Survivor/Evader is, i.e., tropical, arctic, etc.
Just a note here, some of this sort of stuff is very valuable because it is old and very rare. There are some kits out there that should not be used because of this. Someone has to preserve this stuff. Another thing you want to consider is this, don’t eat old Air Force Chiclets and “CHARMS” candy! Do NOT use OLD water purification tablets. Use your head, if something is out of date, DO NOT USE IT!
CHARMS candy, for example, has been around since World War Two! I have some that are early 1990s vintage.
But the containers, compasses, firestarters and all sorts of things come in quite handy. A lot of thought and tax dollars went into the development of some of these things. Take advantage of it!
What we have right here is best described like this:
SURVIVAL KIT, INDIVIDUAL AIRMAN'S PACKET NO. 2 GENERAL.
LIST OF CONTENTS:
Flash Guard, Water Storage Container, Safety Pins, Tweezers, Chewing Gum, Candy, Signaling Mirror, Mosquito Headnet & Mittens, Compass, Fishing kit, Flexible Saw, Latex Gloves, Razor Knife, Casualty Blanket, Medical Instruction Sheet, Firestarter and Enerjet (NoDoze).
This is supposed to be “Packet No. 2” but on another website, I see it listed as “Part I.” No matter, one was a “General” Packet, which is what you are looking at right now, and the other was the “Medical” Packet.
This should be the proper description and NSN for this kit:
General Packet, Individual 4240-00-152-1578
This particular kit was manufactured by “Specialty Products and Services, Inc.” I do believe some of the earlier ones were made by FRAASS Survival Systems, Inc.
This article is not geared towards the serious collector of aviation/survival gear or anything like that. So, the stuff is going to be mixed and matched and nothing is going to end up “mint” or pristine. This is about information!
You have probably already figured out that I really do like this stuff and I’m more of a user than a collector. I think it is great that certain folks are going to pay outrageous prices for relatively rare survival kits and assorted survival gear/implements and then place them in a case along with flight suits, ejection seats and other stuff. There is a value in that, it preserves not only the equipment, but also a lot of ideas and mindset behind the equipment and I think that is simply great. I value the historical preservation of rare gear.
It really does not matter if I am talking about the Marine Corps “SK” or the Penrith Combat Survival Tin or this Airmen’s Survival Kit. I like to get the contents out as they should be and then show you how I tweaked everything. (If I tweaked anything at all!) Give you some ideas about how to tweak things, new container ideas, you know what I mean?
Modular “Pocket” System, etc.
Here is the General Packet (Survival Kit) fully assembled.
This is one large, green nylon pouch with a Velcro closure up top.
When you open that flap/top, you pull out another section that consists of two pockets; both of these have Velcro closed flaps as well. You can see the next section below.
When you open these two pockets, there is a “roll” of nylon material in each and that is in the next picture with a standard computer floppy disc for scale.
This next picture (BELOW) shows one of the rolls opened (unrolled). In that roll we find CharmS Candy, Chiclets, NoDoz and the red ring looking item is the cap to the water bag which is folded up! You will also see the row of Velcro “dots” for use in securing other items in the kit, etc.
In the picture below, you see the mosquito headnet and mittens, you might be able to make out the Derma-Shave folding razor and a few other items. This is where most of the kit resides. The survival blanket and SDU-5 Strobe IR Filter is visible in this picture as well.
In the next picture, you see the signal mirror/heliograph, latex gloves in a bag and the wire saw encased in a piece of folded and stapled cardboard.
Here is a picture of some of the contents with the basic numbering system.
#1 Bag of latex gloves.
#2 Mosquito headnet and mittens (they are black, you cannot see them in this picture).
#3 Water bag, old FRAASS Survival Systems bag, folded up.
#4 Wrist compass, no manufacturer markings on this one.
#5 Tweezers. Made in India. Pretty good ones though.
#6 Derma-shave single edge razor blade. A folding scalpel, basically.
#7 Emergency Fishing Kit. This has its own NSN as well. It is a small, flat piece of plastic with two fishing hooks. Monofilament line is then wrapped around the two hooks and then the NSN label wrapped around all of it.
#8 Casualty Blanket, it’s a type of space blanket. Different from the other “Casualty Blanket” in the USMC Kit.
#9 Metal Match. Old FRAASS Survival Systems again! (Leaning up onto the survival/space/casualty blanket.)
#10 Signal mirror, different NSN than the Starflash mirrors. Has instructions as well as Morse Code on the back. Two piece unit, a Heliograph.
And by the way…some Collectors have kits that have painkillers like Morphine and Codeine as well as Amphetamines in them. I would suggest you ask these folks to take these items out before they are shipped to you, etc. You could get into a lot of trouble by having them shipped to you, receiving them and then possessing them.
I don’t even think you could use the defense that it was “Collectible Militaria” or something. I don’t think you could use the defense that it was not safe to ingest/inject, it’s just dope to the authorities, so don’t screw around with that stuff if you get some surplus survival kits, complete, partial or components.
Also, as I stated at the beginning of this article. Don’t eat the old candies. Would Chiclets or CHARMS candies that are slightly out of date kill you? I honestly don’t know and let’s leave it at that!
Would expired water purification tablets kill you? I don’t know, I do know this, if you treat dirty, filthy water with them, they might not be as effective and that water might kill you!
But definitely stay away from out of date, i.e., expired ration foods like canned survival rations, C or K rations, old bar rations, even old MREs. These things might make you sick as a dog and yeah; they might very well kill you. So, don’t screw around with that stuff.
If you need a fire and you cannot make it, you are in deep trouble. I don’t mean you “want” to have a fire, I mean you need to have a fire. There is a difference.
Compared with the Tropical Survival Kit, this Survival Kit addresses the need for reliable firestarting much better.
In the Tropical Kit that I have, there is a book of matches not unlike those found in MREs today. A pack of paper matches, green in color “book.” In the Tropical Kit, they are sealed in a plastic bag, good thing too or they would be totally worthless.
This Airman’s Kit, however, has the FRAASS Survival Systems “Metal Match” which is a much more reliable firestarting device than a book of paper matches which is basically – totally inadequate, especially when you consider the U.S. Military at that time had Metal Matches and they had Match Safes as well.
As far as I know, FRAASS has been out of business for years. This Survival Kit was dated January 01. There must be warehouses full of old FRAASS equipment from years ago! Here is a picture of the Metal Match resting on its (once sealed) foil packet. You will see in the inset I created that the butt of the grip/handle is clearly marked “FRAASS.”
There is some type of preservative coating down the length of the Metal Match firestarter as well.
My wrist compass in this kit got a bit moshed and has a cracked crystal. It still works though! And, it is really quite accurate when you consider what it is. It is a very simple compass but performs well.
This is it in the picture below next to a quarter for size comparison.
The older wrist compasses in these kits were probably either Stocker and Yale or Waltham Watch Co. I have seen both types. This one in this kit is much more inexpensive. The construction is cheaper as well. The Stocker and Yale as well as Waltham (and others) are extremely well-built and accurate compasses, much more than this one.
This compass has luminous markings but not tritium like older Waltham and Stocker and Yale compasses, etc.
But, this one will do in a pinch!
These little folding razor blades have been around for quite some time. There was an old one in the FRAASS Tropical/Tactical Aircrew Kit I have, that one has some spot rust on it even though it is sealed in plastic (residual humidity in bag caused that I guess).
This is a handy little razor blade to have.
If you look closely, you will see FRAASS marked on the label of the sealed blade in the package. The Derma-Shave folding razor from THIS kit, the one you are reading about now, is partially open. The other razor in the plastic is from the FRAASS Tropical Aircrew Kit.
A blade like this would come in handy for any number of things. You could keep it clean and only use it when you had to dig splinters out of yourself, etc., or you could use it for cleaning small game and fish. It would be best not to use it for both.
If you took good care of this little blade and did not demand too much of it, it might last you quite a long time in a survival situation.
I have mixed feelings on the way this kit uses Velcro to hold various items to a rolled up piece of nylon with the matching piece of Velcro on it…
I really can appreciate how they attempted to make a “modular” type of kit…I just don’t know that it was better than kits that came before it.
They even supplied additional Velcro “dots” with adhesive backing for use on other items that you might want to place in your kit! At least they really put some thought into this whole modular, stick-on concept of using Velcro!
Here you see the water bag folded up with a small portion of Velcro on it.
Just above it in the same picture is the wrist compass inside the original plastic bag with the small piece of Velcro on the outside of the bag.
I intend on using mine in some capacity in the future, as a lift-out modular portion of a backpack – perhaps. I have not decided just yet.
I also have Government Issue Survival Gill Nets as well as Tourniquets that are issued to Pilots and other Personnel in need of them.
Above you see the packaged military tourniquet and another picture below that shows the tourniquet opened. Below is a picture of two Gill Nets.
Both the Gill Nets and subdued (camouflage) tourniquets are issue items in various Survival Vests but NOT in this particular kit.
Pictured below is a World War Two issued tourniquet, little has changed. These were common in the 1970s as well, my Dad carried one, I cannot remember the manufacturer but they were exactly the same except the commercial ones he had in the 1970s were white.
This particular wire (flexible) saw differs greatly from the garbage that was sold in survival kits and knives in the 1980s. It falls short of being as good as the one issued in the USMC Survival Kit, but it still much better than most commonly available “survival wire saws” marketed to the public.
Commercially, this wire saw is usually sold under the name “Varco Wire Saw.” It is the cadmium-plated wire saw used by the U.S. Military in Survival Kits, etc. I have a couple of them that were issued with two (2) split (key) rings but in THIS kit as well as the older FRAASS Tropical/Tactical Aircrew Kit, they are supplied in folded and stapled pieces of cardboard with green cord for “handles” instead of keyrings.
It’s a good piece of gear, just not as good as the other type, in my opinion. There are many different types of wire saws – the actual wire saws are entirely different when you look at this type, the other one issued by the U.S. Government and then examine the BCB/British wire saws. The cadmium plated “Varco,” as I stated before, can be issued with split rings or cordage, the BCB/British saws are usually shipped with split rings and very large, brass fishing swivels. Then the other type has its own handle assemblies and non-split rings.
This is a good little signal mirror, I re-tied the cord and trimmed it up after I removed it from its packaging. The directions are right on the back of the mirror and it also has Morse Code right on the back (as you can see in this “front and back” picture below…).
There is not a lot to say about this. I have to take it out and test it head to head against one of the Starflash mirrors. I would not feel uncomfortable if this particular mirror was the only one in my pack!
Again, this is not really for historical purposes, it is for ideas. For you, how to design, develop, whatever terms you choose, your own kits. I hope you enjoyed it. I did not touch on everything because I feel as though I have addressed some of the other items in other articles, etc.
copyright 2004 DonRearic.Com
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