U.S. Army Flashlight

U.S. Soldier in Grenada, with anglehead flashlight on LBE suspenders. 1983
U.S. Soldier in Grenada, with anglehead flashlight on LBE suspenders. 1983.

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U.S. Army Angle Head Flashlight TL-122

Flashlight Anglehead TL-122B World War II

In World War II the standard Army flashlight was the TL-122, with a 90 degree angle head. There were four versions, TL-122A through TL-122D:

  • TL-122A. Brass body flashlight in service before World War II. Painted olive drab with blackened metal screw caps over the lens and the base. TL-122A fits armored vehicle flashlight brackets.
  • TL-122B. First plastic flashlight, issued September 1943, OD color (photo, left). Problems with early plastic formulation that smelled bad and had a waxy compound on the surface.
  • TL-122C. Improved plastic, moisture proof design, issued April 1944.
  • TL-122D. Extended base containing lens filters in blue/red/clear plus spare bulb. Issued late in 1944.

The model number was stamped in a circle above the switch. Marked on the base with one of four manufacturers: USA Lite (United States Electric Mfg. Corp. of New York), Bright Star, GITS Molding Co. and Micro Lite. Belt clip on the back and a ring on the base. Metal slide switch on the side of the body with a button above the slider for Morse Code. The light is powered by two "D" cell batteries.

U.S. Army Angle Head Flashlight MX-99/U MX-991/U

In the Vietnam era an improved plastic flashlight was introduced, the MX-99/U later upgraded to the MX-991/U. These flashlights were similar to the TL-122D, waterproof design with spare lenses and bulb in an extended base. Most of these are marked with either G.T. Price or Fulton as the manufacturer.

Flashlight Anglehead MX-991/U Markings

The MX-991/U continued in use with the nomenclature "FLASHLIGHT: electric, hand, 2-cell, w/lamp and lens filter, w/o batteries, type I class A (21108) MX991-U" with NSN 6230-00-264-8261. Sometimes it is just called "Flashlight, plastic" or "Flashlight, anglehead". At some point a switch guard was added to the design.

Lens filters are available in blue, green, amber, red, blackout and diffusion to adapt to different conditions. The screw-on base, below the battery compartment spring, holds a spare bulb and below that spare lenses, in two sections that join together with screw threads. The flashlight is 8 inches long by 3 inches across the angle head. The tube diameter is 1 3/4 inches. The light is powered by two "D" cell batteries.

The photo to the right, above is an MX-199/U manufactured by G.T.Price with a pistol lanyard attached to the base ring.

Straight Line Flashlight

Flashlight Wand MX-993/U

The Army and other services use straight-line (or wand) flashlights in a number of different models. The most common is the MX-993/U made by Fulton, pictured left. It is issued in olive drab (Army) and gray (Navy, USAF, USCG). It is a waterproof design with rubber seals top and bottom. Like the anglehead, it comes with lens filters and a spare PR-6 bulb in a compartment at the base. Length is 9 inches, diameter 2 1/4 inches. The light is powered by two "D" cell batteries. Nomenclature is "Flashlight, rough service, waterproof" model MX-993/U, Type I, Style 1, Subtype E, with switchguard. NSN 6230-00-270-5418. Specification is MIL-F-3747.

BA-30 Battery

BA-30 battery manufactured by Sunlight, a Greek company

Most military flashlights, as well as other common equipment, use the BA-30 battery. This is the exact equivalent of the civilian "D" cell battery, 1.5 Volt Carbon-Zinc. For cold weather conditions, the BA-3030 is used (NSN 6135-00-930-0030 for BA-3030/U or NSN 6135-00-120-1020 for BA-30/U).

From World War II through the 1980s, BA-30 was a military supply item made under contract by Ray-O-Vac, Eveready and others. Although the exact dimensions and electrical characteristcs of a D-cell, they were olive-drab with black lettering, an obvious military item. Today, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) batteries are used to fill orders for BA-30. If you open a military flashlight you may find the same batteries as you buy at any civiliarn store.

The image to the right is a BA-30 battery manufactured by Sunlight, a Greek company.

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