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Russian and Ukrainian snorkels

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    This thread must have been the hardest to research because no snorkel manufactured in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine has ever qualified for a model name other than "Дыхательная трубка", Russian for "Breathing tube", which is still the normal term for "snorkel" in the Russian-speaking world. Although Soviet diving manuals provide ample information about varieties of mouthpieces and valves used in snorkels around the world, they seldom focus on snorkels retailed within the domestic market and often venture into "do-it-yourself" territory to satisfy Russian and Ukrainian spearfishermen who clearly enjoy tinkering, repairing and even building things from scratch.

    Anyway, I thought I'd begin with the cautionary message above because I've had to speculate more here than I'd like because of the paucity of evidence available. I'm going to begin with two snorkels, one Russian and one Ukrainian, that are, or were, sold during the contemporary era. My first posting will concern a snorkel manufactured, I believe, by the Yaroslavl Plant for Rubber Technical Products (Russian: Ярославль – Резинотехника) 150 kilometres northeast of Moscow, the same factory that made the wonderfully retro Laguna, Neptun and Nimfa diving masks discussed in the "Post-Soviet Masks: Russian models" thread.

    YaRTI Snorkel
    06048 b.jpg
    This L-shaped side-mounted snorkel consists of a straight tube with a single 90° bend at the bottom and a removable lateral mouthpiece.
    Colour: Tube — blue or yellow. Mouthpiece — blue.
    Material: Tube — plastic. Mouthpiece — food-grade rubber.

    On a general snorkel design point, L-shaped snorkels eliminate the usual depth of tubing below head level. A shallow draft reduces water drag, cuts down resistance to breathing and makes snorkel clearing easier and faster than with traditional J-shaped snorkels. During the early 1960s, diving equipment manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic embraced the “L” design, introducing the Beuchat “Tubalux”, Cavalero “Tuba L”, Dacor “Model LST”, Spartan “L” and US Divers “Snork-L”. East German and Soviet diving equipment manufacturers were also early adopters of the “L” design in the 1960s when developing commercial snorkel models for their recreational markets.

    The first Soviet L-shaped snorkels (below) came with metal alloy or plastic barrels:
    322877410_5_1000x700_trubka-dlya-podvodnogo-plavaniya-dayvinga-dnepropetrovskaya-oblast.jpg The first Soviet mouthpieces (above) could not be easily removed.

    Soviet Amfibiya (Russian: Амфибия; English: Amphibian) snorkels (below) were made with plastic barrels in a Leningrad rubber factory.
    Amfibiya mouthpieces (above) were embossed with the brand name.

    Earlier Yaroslavl snorkels (below) came in a range of different barrel and mouthpiece colours.
    pic 096.jpg
    Yaroslavl mouthpieces (above) were similar in design to Amfibiyas.

    The next posting will focus on a J-shaped snorkel made by Kievguma in Ukraine.
  2. iamrushman

    iamrushman Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    very informative and well written...thanks for sharing this information.
    David Wilson likes this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Thanks for the thumbs-up, iamrushman. And onwards to the snorkel manufactured, I believe, by Kievguma of Ukraine, the same factory that made Akvanavt masks and fins.

    Kievguma Snorkel
    $_58a.JPG trubka-dlya-plavaniya-ukraina_8d9349c683b5812_800x600_1.jpg
    Typical retail description:
    Practical, stylish design. Excellent value. Intended for sea, pool and open-water swimming, this classic tube is mainly used for snorkelling and freediving. The standard straight tube section is made of elastic material. The lower part of the tube is connected with a smooth bend to the mouthpiece, ensuring superior ventilation and easing water removal. The soft rubber mouthpiece can be rotated to adopt a natural and comfortable position. A very popular tube for swimming and breath-hold diving.
    * Accreditation: Russian Specification TU 89-223-75 (Breathing tube for sports swimmers).
    * Tube material: Plastic. Tube colour: White.
    * Mouthpiece material: Rubber. Mouthpiece colour: Red, orange.

    The first underwater swimming breathing tubes in commercial production in the early 1950s around the world came with a 180-degree U-bend at the bottom. Such snorkels resembled a letter “J” in shape. Diving equipment manufacturers in the USSR were early adopters of the “J” design and the Kievguma rubber goods company in the post-Soviet republic of Ukraine has continued to manufacture a model in this style.Soviet diving books published in the late 1960s show awareness of the disadvantages of the “J” design, particularly the tendency for water to remain in the U-bend even after the tube is purged. They also stress the importance of correct dimensioning and angularity to reduce air resistance and to accommodate facial profiles (below):

    Earlier versions of the Kievguma snorkel were available not only in other colours but also in other materials. The images below show versions with grey mouthpieces and aluminium barrels:
    $_61c.JPG 393252218_1_1000x700_trubka-dlya-nyryaniya-sssr-zaporozhe.jpg

    In my next posting, I intend to move on to breathing tubes from the Soviet era and no longer in production.
    John C. Ratliff and iamrushman like this.
  4. Fuzzmex

    Fuzzmex Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: The Netherlands
    I love those old skool orange colours; they should bring those back.
    These days black is the new orange, it seems...

    Excellent thread btw.
    David Wilson likes this.
  5. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    I remember these hard plastic and metal snorkels in the early 1960s, from USA manufacturers. As a safety professional now, I would point out that falling face-first with one of these in your mouth is quite a hazard to your teeth. While I like seeing these in a historical perspective, I would point out this potential hazard.

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Orange is certainly a rarity as a choice of hue for snorkel mouthpieces.

    Orange was never a particularly popular colour for diving gear in the UK, although Britmarine of Kent, which only manufactured basic snorkelling gear, released some colour-coordinated articles during the 1970s:

    Nowadays, orange fins imported from Malaysia for swim training are fairly readily available here in England.

    In Turkey, where old-school basic gear is, or recently was, in production, most rubber snorkelling fins are still manufactured in orange:
    Adalılar Kauçuk ve Plastik Ürünleri İmalatı San. ve Tic. Ltd. Şti.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
    iamrushman and Fuzzmex like this.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Point well taken, John, and a fitting reminder that vintage gear should only be used by people who are fully aware of its constraints as well as its benefits. It's often forgotten that safety was an issue back in the mid twentieth century too. At my university sub-aqua club, nobody was let anywhere near an air tank before first completing a course of rigorous snorkel training, including retrieving and donning gear at the bottom of the pool.

    My first snorkel was made of aluminium by the UK's biggest diving equipment company Typhoon. The firm included snorkels in that metal in their breathing tube range right up to the late 1970s:
    John C. Ratliff likes this.
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    OK - moving on back to Soviet-era snorkels, which are no longer sold but may turn up now and again on Russian and Ukrainian online auction sites such as Avito and Olx. Here's a J-shaped breathing tube with a chunky mouthpiece:

    Soviet J-shaped Breathing Tube #1

    The pictures above show this J-shaped model on its own as well as with a pair of Amfibiya fins. The third picture has a close-up of the mouthpiece.

    This snorkel appeared in late 1960s and early 1970s Russian-language books and articles about underwater swimming. Here are a couple of illustrations from this literature:
    The picture above of a man with the snorkel in his mouth is simply captioned:
    Russian: На рис. даны широко используемые спортсменами простейшая маска, с овальным стеклом в резиновом фланце-обтюраторе и ремешком для крепления на голове и дыхательная трубка с U-образным изгибом, снабженная резиновым мундштуком-загубником.
    Rough English translation: The very simple mask commonly used by sportsmen in the illustration features an oval lens sealed in a rubber skirt and a strap that attaches to the head. The snorkel comes with a U-shaped bend and a fitted rubber mouthpiece.

    The image above shows the way the mouthpiece attaches to the barrel as well as the snorkel's dimensions, namely a total length of 30-35 cm with an internal diameter of 18-20 mm. It may be of interest here to reproduce a table I posted recently on an SB thread about snorkels:
    It's a summary I made of all the national and international standard snorkel specifications I've found while researching basic gear. As you can see, the measurements provided for this Soviet J-shaped snorkel are very similar to what is prescribed for adult model breathing tubes in (West) German Standard DIN 7876 (Tauch-Zubehör; Schnorchel; Maße, Anforderungen, Prüfung. Diving accessories for skin divers. Snorkel. Technical requirements of safety, testing), which appeared in February 1980, suggesting a degree of consensus existed back then on both sides of the "Iron Curtain" when it came to basic diving equipment design.

    I'll proceed to showcase a discontinued L-shaped Soviet snorkel in my next posting.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  9. tridacna

    tridacna ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: New Jersey
    Fascinating stuff. Thanks!
    David Wilson likes this.
  10. iamrushman

    iamrushman Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    very informative..i am enjoying these lessons in sub aquatic history from across the Atlantic....thanks to you for your hard work.
    David Wilson likes this.

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