What is it?
Congratulations on a great Gyrojet find! The top package contains MBA Model 201G (G=Global, for use anywhere on the globe, hot or cold) replacement 13mm red distress Gyro-Signals (flares). The bottom package contains a complete kit with the flares and an MBA Model 207 launcher. The flares were also referred to as the A/P-25S-5A (and 5B). The aluminum launcher could obviously be used to fire a lot more than 7 flares, which is why replacement flares were also provided without the launcher. The sealed packages were sized to fit a pocket in a U.S. military flight suit. The flares have only two nozzle ports (holes) in their bases because MBA discovered that two were enough to get the rocket more or less straight up … accuracy was not an issue, and the 2-port nozzles were cheaper to make. There’s also a red-dyed seal on the nozzle around the standard small pistol primer called “humiseal,” dyed red so quality inspectors could visually confirm that it had been applied.
These flares were adopted by the U.S. Air Force and Army, but not by the Navy. They were also adopted by foreign governments. They were designed to penetrate the thick jungle canopy in Viet Nam. (They had about 480 foot-pounds of energy at burnout, 3 seconds after launch.) Depending on how much foliage they had to penetrate, if any, they could reach a maximum height of about 1,300 feet. The burning magnesium or aluminum cases (“cups”) added to the pyrotechnic display. The U.S. Air Force only wanted red flares, but foreign buyers also used other colors like green and white.
The pyrotechnic displays began about 650 feet above the surface after a delay train burned through, and this is why the U.S. Navy did not adopt them. The Navy needed a flare that began burning on the surface of the water at launch so the exact position of a downed pilot or man overboard could be determined. There’s not much foliage to be penetrated over the South China Sea off the coast of Viet Nam. There’s a 20-page chapter in my book that covers the complete history and development of these flares, which were one of the few Gyrojet products that were profitable for MBA. They are still being made by Security Signals in a suburb of Memphis, TN.
You got a neat thing.
Great items!!! We had those included in our flight vests on flights in both Vietnam and Thailand-at least they looked like these. I brought back about a dozen packs that had aged out and were dumped. Long gone in trades, unless I still have a launcher stuck away somewhere. As far as I know all flight crews carried these in the late 1960s in SEA.
Mel and Lew, thank you for the information. I was very surprised to see these at a gunshow. The bags are still sealed too.
I forgot to mention that the “MBA 5 - 14” markings are the lot number, and the “9 - 76” indicates the month and year of manufacture, September 1976. I have at least 50 variations of these, including smoke flares and colors other than red.