In 1934, a Navy plane crashed into the ocean while performing military maneuvers. The Pilot apparently died because, he was unable to survive the elements of the sea long enough for the rescue ship to reach him. He had no life raft equipment...
Several years later, in 1939, Fred F. Patten, brother of the lost airman, joined the US Rubber Company and the Navy to pioneer the development of the life raft to save lives where his brother's had been lost. Soon after Pearl Harbor and our declaration of war with Germany and Japan, the Navy, Bureau of Aeronautics, and the Army Air Force adopted Patten's prototypes. The Navy soon commissioned Patten as an officer, responsible for engineering and development of inflatable lifesaving equipment. He went to work with US Rubber to develop his designs. He was awarded several patents.
In late 1942 he was advised by the U.S. Army Engineer Corps of their interest in an inflatable rubber decoy aircraft. This prompted him to design and build, at the U. S. Rubber Company plant, a rubberized fabric structure that when inflated simulated an actual size B-26 bomber.
The Army Engineers provided U. S. Rubber Company with drawings showing the outline and general design of the products to be simulated. Top management at U. S. Rubber authorized Fred Patten to devote full time to the project. He designed the inflatable rubber tank, an artillery piece and a 110 ft. landing craft.
Patten’s contribution to the D-Day Deception Decoys.
During his active duty, Mr. Patten was also the initial project engineer for the development of the inflatable decoy deception force that confused the Germans, before and during the D-Day invasion. Products ranged from full-scale landing craft, troop carriers, tanks as well as B-26 bombers.
Following the war, Fred Patten went out on his own as a consultant to help businesses get into the life raft manufacturing business. Several companies that make rafts today were helped by his consulting. It wasn’t long until he started Patten Co., Inc.
Patten awarded LRU-36/A 20-person life raft design and engineering project.
Patten designs and engineers flotation collar for NASA Orion space capsule.
Patten Products, LLC formed.
Patten Products, LLC awarded first contract; a high-volume cut & sew manufacturing project for a large DoD prime contractor.
Patten awarded contract by NASA to design, engineer and prototype 4-person life raft for Orion space capsule.