|Carley floats or rafts were pretty much commonplace on warships during World War 1 and World War II and in the period of peace in between. They were designed by the American inventor Horace Carley, who was awarded a patent in 1903 after
establishing the Carley Life Float Company of Philadelphia. The Carley float was formed from a length of copper or steel tubing, ranging from 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm) in diameter. The tubing was bent into an oval ring which was divided into
waterproof compartments with vertical baffles. The tubing was surrounded by a buoyant mass of kapok or cork, and then covered with a layer of canvas rendered waterproof via painting or doping. This construction made the raft very rigid and
remain buoyant even if the waterproof outer covering was punctured. The floor of the raft was made from a wood or webbed grating. Boxes containing paddles, water, rations, and survival equipment were lashed to the floor grating. Some rafts
were square rather than oval in shape.
Carley floats could be stored just about anywhere of a ship. They were easy to deploy as they were lightweight and could be cast overboard without special equipment or hoists. The floats were also durable. Men could either sit around the rim of the
raft, or, if in the water, cling to rope loops strung around its edge. The largest model could accommodate up to fifty men, half inside the raft, and the others in the water holding onto the ropes. However, the men were exposed to the elements and
there have been documented cases where men who had survived a ship sinking had succumbed to exposure or hypothermia. Nonetheless, many sailors owed their lives to Carley floats. Carley floats were eventually phased out and replaced with
more modern rigid or inflatable designs. Black Cat Models line of 3D printed accessories has Royal Navy Carley floats in three different sizes: Pattern Number 16, which measured 12 feet x 7 feet with a capacity of 40 men. Seven (7) rafts come in
a package. Pattern Number 18, which measured 14 feet x 9 feet with a capacity of 67 men. Seven (6) rafts come in a package. Pattern Number 20, which measured 10 feet x 5 feet with a capacity of 20 men. Seven (7) rafts come in a package.
Each style of raft is printed of a bar with tabs on each end to protect the individual rafts. The rafts have very thin attachment points which make removal from the bar a breeze. Each raft has open slat bottoms and the hand ropes along the raft edges.
Having the open slats is a substantial time and effort saver as you will no longer need to hollow out a plastic or resin floats to insert photo-etch flooring. The 3D printed rafts are also a marked improvement to solid white metal fittings that are
provided in some kits.