This multi-purpose U.S. Navy suit was named after the American diver Jack Browne, part of the original three-man team that founded DESCO in 1937. Desco was a Wisconsin based corporation formed under the name of Diving Equipment and Salvage Co. They would be influential in the development of diving equipment and breathing apparatus for commercial and military diving. Jack Browne would set a new deep-dive record in 1945 to the depth of 550 feet of seawater. The evolution of diving equipment has held equal fascination tour as how flight clothing progressed over the early part of the 20th century, with both areas facing a lot of the same challenges in regards to keeping highly-trained specialists fit and well in the most extreme conditions.
The suit is made of a medium weight rubberised twill canvas and is sometimes referred to as a “bunny suit” as the diver’s face was squeezed by the rubber face seal, apparently giving the impression of a child’s face in a bunny suit (though we haven’t tried this out yet). When worn, the back opening would be bunched together and tied around with a cord or clamp, folded back onto itself, forming a rather crude and untidy yet watertight seal.
The suit is supposedly based upon the British Sladen Suit, which has the awesome name “Clammy Death”.
This suit is featured in the remarkable book “Diving Helmets and Equipment through the ages” by Dive Master Anthony Pardoe. If you can find a copy, we strongly recommend this two-volume tome.