US Air Force Watches: Type A-1 to A-17A plus…

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US Air Force Watches: Type A-1 to A-17A plus…

Post by koimaster » October 21st 2020, 4:00pm

As with other items such as the famous Type A-2 flying jacket, the US Army Air Corp (1926-1941) / US Army Air Forces (1941- 1947) / US Air Force (1947 - ) had Type Designation Sheets for watches. Type Designation Sheets covered watches from the late 1920s/early 1930s (Type A-1) until the early 1960s (Type A-17A & DTU-2A/P). The following seeks to provide an overview of watches covered by the Type Designation Sheets for watches*.

Type A-1

The Type A-1 watch was designed for use with the ground speed drift indicator. The Type A-1 was standardized (adopted as standard issue) in March 1930, after initial testing commenced in June 1926. The Type A-1 was declared limited standard (meaning that only replacements for in-service units could be ordered) in March 1936 and was declared obsolete in January 1944 (stocks were exhausted well before this date).

Type A-2

The Type A-2 was a Swiss Wittnauer watch set, adopted as a limited standard in January 1932, after six months of service testing. The Type A-2 was a master timepiece from which the air crew could set secondary timepieces. The watch set consisted of one solar and one sidereal watch mounted in a wooden case. The Type A-2 was declared obsolete in November 1943.

Type A-3

The Type A-3 was a Wittnauer wristwatch (sweep second hand) adopted as a limited standard in January 1932. The Type A-3 was used with a sextant for astronomical observation and incorporated an inner dial with minute markings. The Type A-2 standard was declared obsolete in November 1943.

Type A-4

The Type A-4 was adopted as a limited standard in October 1934, after 18 months of testing. It consisted of one Waltham solar and one sidereal watch with a white face, mounted in a wooden box, and could be rotated for record setting. The Type A-4 was declared obsolete in March 1942.

Type A-5

The Type A-5 watch was a George H. Adamson product with a Waltham movement. It consisted of a black 24-hour dial, and indicated in arc and time. It was service tested from April 1934 and was placed in in-active status in July 1937 (later re-worked into the Type A-9).

Type A-6

The Type A-6 was designed as a master timepiece to keep the solar and sidereal time during navigation missions. It consisted of two standard white face railroad grade watches, mounted in a vibration-proof wooden case, which incorporated a window to permit observation. It was similar to the Type A-4, except that the second-hand setting position was obtained by use of a secondary stopwatch. A limited procurement was made in August 1934. The Type A-6 was changed to a limited standard in May 1940, and declared obsolete in November 1943.

Type A-7

The Type A-7 was designed as a secondary timepiece or hack watch, the time being set from a master watch. It could be attached to the wrist with a brown leather strap, or carried in the pocket. The Type A-7 originally had a white dial but was changed to black by 1940. A button incorporated in the crown allowed the watch to be started, stopped and reset. A limited procurement was made in October 1934, and possibly another in the late 1930s. It was made a limited standard in May 1940, and declared obsolete in November 1943. Type A-7 ‘Avigation’ hack watches were produced by Longines, Meylan and Gallet to military specification No. 27748.

Type A-8

The Type A-8 was a navigation stopwatch designed for timing ground speed meters for determining the velocity of aircraft relative to the ground. One revolution of the Type A-8 hand was equivalent to ten seconds. The dial was white on early Wittnauer Type A-8 watches and black on Waltham watches produced from 1940 onwards. Elgin produced a Type A-8, 15 jewel, black dial stopwatch under military specification no. 27749. Waltham, the Federal Television Corp. and Aristo Import Co. manufactured Type A-8 stopwatches under military specification MIL-W-6510 (specification published in August 1951 and superseded No. 94-27749A published in July 1945). Under MIL-W-6510, continuous running movements were required to have not less than 15 jewels and the non-continuous movements were required to have not less than 9 jewels.

Type A-9

The Type A-9 was based on the Type A-5, however the dial was marked 24-hours and a sweep second hand was incorporated. The 24-hour movement could be stopped (‘hacked’) to permit setting. The Type A-9 was adopted as a limited standard in May 1940 and declared obsolete in November 1943. A Longines Wittnauer Type A-9 was manufactured in accordance with military specification no. 27783.

Type A-10

Type A-10 was believed to be an experimental design in 1937 that was not adopted.

Type A-11

The Type A-11 is the best known “Type” watch, being first tested in October 1937 and standardized in May 1940. It was a navigation ‘hack’ wristwatch with a minimum of fifteen jewels and a sweep second hand. Early Type A-11 watches had white dials, while the later more common Type A-11 had black dials. The best known type A-11 watches were manufactured by Bulova, Elgin, and Waltham. Type A-11 wristwatches were manufactured in accordance with the following military specifications:

27834 – published in 1940
94-27834 – published in 1941
94-27834A – published 1942
94-27834B – published 1943
94-27834C – published 1944

Type A-11 white dialed ‘Weems’ were produced separately by Longines-Wittnauer and LeCoultre under the early 27834 specification.

Type A-12

Type A-12 was placed in service test status in September 1938 and was adopted as a limited standard in May 1940. It was declared obsolete in November 1943. The watch was a hack wristwatch with a 24-hour dial.

Type A-13

The Type A-13 was a master navigation watch, similar to the Type A-9 except for incorporation of a start/stop feature. It was tested from September 1938 and standardized in May 1940. Changed to a limited standard in October 1941, and declared obsolete in November 1943. Longines-Wittnauer manufactured a Type A-13 GCT navigation watch in accordance with military specification 27968. Elgin manufactured a Type A-13 in accordance with military specification AN GG-W-108.

Type A-14

The Type A-14 designation was not assigned.

Type A-15

In June 1943 the USAAF initiated a project to test a new pilots’ watch developed by the Bulova Watch Company as a Type A-15. The Type A-15 was described as an elapsed time wristwatch, being a chronograph type incorporating a rim accumulator providing sixty minutes total elapsed time. Type A-15 was designed by Buolva as a replacement for the Type A-11 and was required to meet the specific requirements of pilots navigating by radio aids, dead reckoning or pilotage. All service tests on the Type A-15 watch were completed by 1 May 1945, and it was decided by the USAAF Board that there was no military requirement for the Type A-15. However, Air Technical Service Command instructed some locations after testing that the Type A-15 could be issued to pilots on the same basis as the Type A-11 hack watch. Around 500 Bulova Type A-15 test watches were manufactured.

Type A-16

The Type A-16 was designated as a substitute standard in March 1945. It was similar to the Type A-11 designation, except the temperature-rate tolerances were doubled and luminous markings and a 24-hour dial was added.

Type A-17 & 17A

From 1950 until the early 1960s the Type A-17 and 17A designated wristwatches were manufactured by Waltham, Elgin and Bulova in accordance with specification MIL-W-6433 and MIL-W-6433A (the specification was amended in August 1960). The Type A-17 (17A) were navigation hack watches, with cases made of stainless steel, the dial included 24-hour markings.

Type DTU-2/P

The Type DTU-2/P designation appears to have become a standard in the mid-1950s, as watches manufactured under the designation were produced in accordance with MIL-W-3818A published in March 1956. Elgin produced a wristwatch under the Type DTU-2/P designation, which included 18 jewels with a stainless steel waterproof case.

Type DTU-2A/P

Benrus produced a wristwatch under the Type DTU-2A/P designation in accordance with MIL-W-3818B specification (published October 1962).

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