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From WW1 thru the end of the 20th Century, there has been quite a change in the ability for soldiers to be able to work at night. During the last major US war, candles, matches & torches were the norm. As technology advanced, flashlights became more rugged, smaller, and more specific to their intended function. This is not meant as a complete list of all flashlights used by American soldiers, but rather a sampling of them.

WW1 - 1939

Flashlight used by a soldier in the 82nd Division in the AEF.
82nd Division Soldier's Flashlight

Beacon Army Light

Patented Nov 13, 1917

Leather strap uses a 1/2" US Army Brass button for closure

Beacon Army Light
Beacon Army Light

Officer's Torch

English Made Flashlight in Leather Case

Dataplate on Top of Flashlight:

406, STRAND,

WW1 Officer's Flashlight
WW1 Officer's Flashlight

Post WW1 Lantern

Wire handle can be used to clip on belt.

Stamp on back:

Made in USA
Patented Sept 9, 1919

(No Military Markings on Flashlight)

1919 Flashlight
1919 Flashlight



TL-122 Series Flashlights

The TL-122 Series was the most common Flashlight for the GI in WW1.

From Left to Right are the TL-122A (in use before WW2), TL-122B (issued Sept 1943), TL-122C (issued April 1944), and TL-122D (issued late 1944).

The TL-122A had a brass body & the TL-122B thru TL-122D were made from plastic. The last version, the TL-122D has provisions for colored lens storage in the base. I do not know if the 2nd lens ring is original on TL-122D flashlights... the plastic matches, so it may be.

For more info on WW2 flashlights visit Olive-Drab.com's flashlight page

TL-122 Series
Original box of 20 replacement lenses for the TL-122A
TL-122A Lenses
Original Upgrade kit to add spare lens storage & lens ring to earlier model flashlights.
(There are no markings on the box, and the rings match both the cap/ring on my MX-991/U and TL-122D flashlights, so I can not properly ID it's age.
Flashlight Upgrade Kit

"Experimental" Flashlight

This seems to be a copy of a TL-122 series flashlight using the Ethocel (transparent plastic) seen in experimental canteens made from 1942-1944.

Experimental Flashlight

English Made TL-122D

English Made TL-122D with filter container in base. (no extra lens ring on my example)
Switch has been repaired at some point. (new rivit in bottom of switch)

Stampings on bottom:


Stamp at neck of flashlight:


English Made TL-122
English Made TL-122

TL-122 Lens Hood

Lens Hood for a TL-122 Flashlight from the Minefield Marking Set, Set No. 2

Minefield Lens Hood

Other WW2 Flashlights

Here's a neat field created latern. It uses a WW2 .30 caliber ammo can & a jeep headlight to make a 6 volt lantern. 2 of the 6 volt lantern batteries fit in the ammo can. There's a toggle switch on top to turn the lamp on/off, and there's an odd plug connector on the front of the can. I do not know if this was made WW2 or post war, but I'm putting it here since the components are all WW2.
Lantern made from a .30 caliber ammo can & jeep headlight
Lantern made from a .30 caliber ammo can & jeep headlight
Army Air Force type C-3A, Grimes Signal Corp Model K-2 Lamp with fiberboard case (not pictured), and assorted colored lenses. Leads are designed to clip directly to vehicle battery terminals.
Signal Lamp

Navy Life Jacket Distress Marker Light

There is no switch on this flashlight. Tightening down the lens ring turns the light on

U.S. Air Corp Survival Light

This is a Type A9 "Hand-Energized" survival flashlight made by DACO-LITE of Cincinatti, Ohio.

U.S. Navy Map Lights

The lens on these flashlights are convex shaped. This gives off a soft light over a large area, not a focused beam of "normal" flashlights

Manufacturers from left to right are: Eveready, Niagra, Eveready, Fulton, Fulton.

Navy TB-8 Flashlight

This is a unissued Navy Map light with the convex shaped lens like the five above.

Homefront Victory Light

Bakelite flashlight with three interchangeable lenses. Lens is seen at bottom of photo. It attached to the flashlight by means of two clips on the lens & slots in the front of the flashlight.

WW2 Matchsafe

Waterpoof Match Box made by Foster Grant. There is a match strike strip on the base of the matchsafe.

Majestic Brand Lantern

This lantern has two bulbs and a two way switch. One bulb is mounted higher so it gives off a diffused light, the other is set into a concave indent to give off a more focused beam. Handle, and lantern body both pivot to allow aiming the light up or down.


Small Pertrix OD flashlight.

Seems I've got a German flashlight that somehow ended up in my collection. (DOH!) Oh well, I guess it's an example of a battlefield pickup item for a GI. =^)

Niagra brand Flashlight

This flashight seems to have been repainted OD before I purchased it. With the chrome handles, it was most probably not military, but is an example of a civilian flashlight that could have been put to use for the war effort.

British Electric Lamp #2

This lamp has a blackout shield, and a belt clip on the back. The switch is a press & turn switch located on the top of the housing.

British Map Light

This 3 D-Cell map light is wrapped in leather. The belt clip has a broad arrow & 1941 stamped on it.

British Torch




MX-991\U and similar Flashlights

The MX-991\U is the post WW2 replacement for the TL-122 series of flashlights. The "/U" in the name stands for "Underwater"...aka waterproofed. To the right is a comparison of three MX-991\U flashlights.

From left to right:
G.T. Price, no switchguard, (early, pre-1980's)
Brightstar, no switchguard, (early, pre-1980's)
Fulton, with switchguard, (late, post-early 1980's)

Note: this Fulton (and the early Fulton below) do not have the hole in the belt clip that the G.T. Price & Brightstar have.

Note: G.T. Price also stamps "U.S." above the model number. Fulton, USALite, and Brightstar do not stamp the "U.S."

For more info on MX-991/U flashlights visit Olive-Drab.com's flashlight page

MX-991/U Comparison

MX-991\U, Fulton Brand, without switchguards, 1981 contract, produced in 1982.

MX-991\U, Fulton Brand, with a light-stick/reflector lens attachment
TL-124 2-AA cell flashlight compared to a standard MX-991\U.

Yellow/Black Fulton MX-212/U, Yellow Fulton MX-992/U, Red USALite MX 212/U Explosion Proof Flashlights.

The photo of the lens shows the wire keeper for the bulb. The keeper serves to stop the bulb shards from penetrating the lens & allowing a spark to ignite in explosive gas environments.

G.T. Price MX-993/U 2-cell and MX-994/U 3-cell flashlights.


Unissued Fulton MX-993/U with traffic/signal cone attachment

Navy/Army Life Jacket / Marker flashlights. All three have metal clips for attaching ot uniform/gear.

From left to right:

USN light made by BMG

Tan light made by Fulton

No. D-31grey light with IR lens made by G.T. Price

Various Post WW2 Flashlights

Four U.S. Air Force Penlights

Top: Flashlight, Penlight Style, Pilots. Black lens bezel rotates for Red or White light.

2nd from top: Unmarked Penlight

Bottom two: Green & Yellow 1952 Pen Flashlights made by Justrite Manufacturing Co.

U.S. Navy, U.S., and U.S.A.F explosion proof flashlights. These have the same lamp keeper that the MX-991\U based flashlights have.

Navy Battle Lantern, Manufactured by The Roflan Company

Used for emergency lighting aboard ship.
Galvanized Electric Headlamp, Manufactured 1965, Made by G.T. Price Products.
U.S. Navy Headlamp No. 32N, Justrite Manufacturing
Pivot Head flashlight made by JustRite Manufacturing. note slot on belt clip for hanging lamp on a nail.

Minefield Marker Lights, Ace Electronics

These came with a fiberglass pole to mount the flashlight on. The light is a directional (you can see the shield in the photo) strobe.

Mortar Aiming Lights

These are used to illuminate the aiming stakes to allow aiming the mortar at night. The brass lamp (laying down) is probably WW2 vintage. The lamp standing up (missing angled light shroud) is plastic & probably 1980's vintage.

Brightstar model 451 flashlight with bore/inspection lamp.

Additional Info from Fred Newcomb: It was issued to Army Aircraft Mechanics as an inspection light. As far as I can remember, it came in the A-90 AVUM tool set (aviation unit tool room).

Light, Marker, Distress
1995 contract, produced in 1997

The Marker case could be laced over a harness strap, or sometimes seen sewn to a canteen cover or Load Bearing Vest.


Note: If you're looking to power one of these Distress Markers using easily obtainable CR123 batteries, visit PRC68.com

Light, Marker, Distress
1977 Contract, Produced in 1978

This Distress Marker was powered using two AA batteries. It has velcro on the front, a snap clip on the back, and a lanyard for securing the marker.

Flashlight, NSN 6230-0. Contract date 1991. Manufactured by Overseas Contractors Supplies (OCS). Also known as a mini-lantern.

Metal clip & velcro on the back for attachment. The red lens slides up/down.

Thanks to Johnny M. Lanctot the following information about this flashlight:

I was a C-130 Navigator and was issued one of these flashlights in 1985 or so.  The idea was it could velcro attach where your Military Airlift Command patch or name/rating patch was on your chest, or you could use the clip.  I didn't use it much -- the battery compartment cover broke pretty soon after I got it -- I may have kept it to try to fix it, but I'm thinking I ran across it a few years ago and threw it out.  

Having a flashlight that had a red lens cap for low level night flying was invaluable as a nav always had to look at his chart and flight plan, but it was a constant battle trying to find one that worked well.  Your hands were full carrying the chart, stop watch, etc while trying to hold on as you moved about the flight deck trying to keep your balance as you looked out the windows and monitored the pilots to make sure they were at the correct airspeed, on track and on heading.  This flashlight was an attempt to fill that need.  

Most navs ended up rigging up something that suited them.  I had a small, metal tube flashlight with a red cover that I tied some 550 cord to and just kept it looped around my neck.  It wasn't totally satisfactory, but I at least had a flashlight handy when needed.

From Fred Newcomb:

ARC light issued to helicopter crewchiefs and pilots. We hung them on the visor cover of the SPH-4 helmet, the survival vest  or you could put the opposite side Velcro on the visor cover and just “Velcro It” on. The red lens was for flying under Night Vision Goggles (NVGs).

Also, thanks to Eric Gustafsson for directing me to the NSN/contract info listed above.


This is a Infrared Strobe that attaches to the top of a 9 volt battery. These are used for IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe). The Infrared Strobe is not visable to the naked eye, but looks like a flashing strobe when viewed through night vision goggles.


From left to right:

WW2 era battery (expired Oct 1945)

BA-30 (D-Cell) battery, 1980 contract
(per Fred Newcomb: BA-30 was the equivalent of a Ray-o-Vac, BA-3030 was a Duracell)

BA-1574/U battery for a distress beacon, 1988 contract


Boy Scout Flashlight

Comparison between Boy Scout & TL-122A flashlights

While not a military flashlight, I've included the BSA flashlight to show how similar it is to a TL-122A flashlight.

Boy Scout Flashlights



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