Australian flightgear collection

Collecting flightgear for preservation purposes, display and reenactment is a growing trend worldwide. This is reflected in a almost constant demand/supply operation as seen on ebay and military / flightgear dealer websites.

In Australia there are a few people who collect flightgear. One such collector has allowed us an insight to their flightgear collection. They has brought and acquired some interesting flight helmets, with a large RAAF heritage connection.


HGU-26/P left, Alpha 400 right


RAAF “Roulettes” team  HGU-55/P left,  HGU-26/P right


HGU-55/P left, HGU-26/P right

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HGU-26/P left, HGU-55/P right

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MK1 helmet with G liner and H oxygen mask left, SPH-4 right

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AFH-1 left and HGU-26/P right

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HGU-2A/P duval visor left, SPH-1 right

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Alpha 400 left, HGU-55/P right

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HGU-26/P visor covers high vis left, HGU-26/P low vis visor covers right

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MK3 flight helmet



H-3 left, H-4 right

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P-4 left, P-4B right


Mk2 left, Mk3 right

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P type oxygen masks as used by RAAF, RAF, RN

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MARCH 2014 pilot photos

WW2 era USAAF P-51D Mustang pilot climbing into his aircraft. Interesting to note other helmet on cockpit dash… He wears a B-3/4 LPU, tan flight suit, ANH-15 flight helmet and AN-6510 gogles.

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P-51 Mustang pilot wearing tan flight suit with a B-8 parachute on his back. B-6 flight helmet maybe?

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L – ANH-15 with B-8 goggles on left and same on right with B-3 flight gloves? , R – B-15 flight jacket, ANH-15 flight helmet, B-8 goggles, B-3 flight gloves

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L – AN-31 flight suit?, B-8 goggles, ANH-15 flight helmet, B-8 parachute harness, A-2 flight jacket, ANH-15 with B-8 flight goggles.

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L – AN-31 flight suit?, B-8 goggles, A-11 flight helmet, B-8 parachute harness, B-3 LPU. R – Pilot wearing An-31 flight suit with shoulder harness. Note AAF decal on suit.

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1950s –  L – B-36 Peacemaker crew – black flight caps, B-15C winter jacket, L-1A flight suit. R – Nuclear test F-84 pilot hopping out after a test using forklift. P-3 flight helmet and B-5 LPU and K-2B flight suit?.

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L – Pilot going to Korea War with 45th TRS  Polka Dots as per patch on A-2 flight jacket..i sell these patches replicated – , R – AN-31 flight suit, B-3 LPU, S-2 seat parachute harness.

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L – AN-31 flight suit, ANH-15 flight helmet, A-14 oxygen mask, B-3 LPU and S-2 seat parachute harness. R-  A USAAF B-17 bomber crew?.. A-4 and AN-31 flight suits, B-3 LPU and various parachute harness, some QA types.

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F-104 Starfighter pilots wearing K-2B flight suits, HA MA-2 flight suits, G-3 g suits, L-2B flight jackets.


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Rathmines Catalina Festival Nov 2013 – WW2 gear display

Recently at the Rathmines Catalina Festival, at former RAAF vase Rathmines, NSW, Australia, I went along to educate and show people what the aircrew of WW2 wore in the flying boats such as Catalina, Mariner and Sunderlander. Many people were impressed and veterans were glad to see someone at least trying to carry on their service heritage aspects as a reenactor.

I wore a original 1941 flight cap, a replicated set of 1936 black wool lined flight boots, replicated tropical flight shirt and shorts with a sewn RAAF pilot wings and rank slides and a replicated Mae West 1941 type life preserver.



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Late 1950s or early 1960s F-104 pilot sitting strapped in wearing L-2B flight suit and P-4B flight helmet covering the on cockpit gun site.


Korean era USAF pilots wearing tan K-1 and dark blue K-1A flight suits, with a L-2A flight jackets with patches.


Late 1940s F-80 shooting Star pilot donning his immersion suit for over water flight.


Late 1940s F-80 pilots gathered for a briefing prior to flying wearing L-1 flight suits, B-5 LPU with garrison caps.


2 USAF pilots wearing L-2B flight suits and MA-1 flight jackets run through some notes.


Norwegian or DutchF-104 Starfighter pilots with P-4 / P-4B flight helmets, MS22001 oxygen masks, flight suits and backpack parachute harnesses.


USAF F-105D Thunderchief pilot in Germany with K-2B flight suit, HGU-2/P flight helmet and MBU-5/P oxygen mask.


YF-105 pilot with Toptex fight helmet


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Photos of pilots June 2013

Korean War era photos showing left to right –  F-86F Sabre pilot in L-1A flight suit, B-5 LPU and backpack parachute – and 2 pilots from 90th FBS wearing B-15A flight jacket left and B-15B or C flight jacket on right with unit flight caps.

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L – 8th TFW F-4C Phantom Mig Killing pilots surround Col Robin Olds in 1967. All wear K-2B flight suits – note Robins suit is soaked… CSu-3/P g suits, SRU-021/P survival vest, PCU-15/P Mk7 ejection seat harness, HGU-2A/P flight helmet and MBU-5/P oxygen masks, B-3 gloves and unit caps and garrison cap. R – NB-52 USAF B-52 Stratofortress and crew wearing L-2B flight suit, MA-1 or L-2b flight jackets and flight caps.


L – F-102 pilot wearing MA-2 flight helmet and MC-1 high altitude flight suit. R Late 1940/early 50s USN FJ Fury pilots wearing flight suits and Mk-2 LPU.


L – Korean War USAF 36th FBS pilots L-1A and K-1 flight suit, L-2A flight jacket, B-5 LPU and flight cap/garrison cap. R – USAF Korean war pilot with garrison cap and tan dress uniform.

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L – Altitude training oxygen chamber with pilots wearing P-1A flight helmets with visor modification and MS22001 oxygen mask. R – USAF aircrew and ground crew checking F-84 Thunderjet out. B-15 flight jacket worn by man on ladder.

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Pilot photos April 2013

A early version of the USAF high altitude MA-3 flight helmet and associated flight suit is seen under test in the 1950s.


USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt pilots wearing RAf C type flight helmets, AN-BH-1 receivers (USAAF) , A-14 oxygen masks, RAF Mk 8 goggles, B-8 parachute harnesses and A-2 flight jackets.

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US Navy pilots of WW2 huddled in a circle for a photo



A US Marine Corp or US Navy pilot is seen fitting a Mk2 Anti G suit to his legs in the 1960s.



A early 1950s USAF pilot with international orange flight suit, P-3 flight helmet ,MS22001 oxygen mask and a T-33 model aircraft.


A B-29 Superfortress flight engineer working the panel wearing a HS-38 headset, tan flight suit and a parachute harness.


A 1950s USAF F-51 Mustang pilot with P-1A flight helmet with visor modification, A-14 Oxygen mask, B-5 LPU and maybe a A-2 flight jacket



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The USAFE Europe Acrobatic team the “Arcojets” showing their F-80 Shooting Star with nose art. All have special wool L-1A style flight suits and P-1A flight helmets with visor modification to P-3 standard. Note large squadron patch on right chest location on suits.


A USAAF WW2 P-51 Mustang pilot is shown wearing ANH-15 flight helmet, B-8 goggles, A-14 oxygen mask, tan K-1 flight suit maybe and a parachute harness.


A USAAF P-51 Mustang wearing ANH-15 flight helmet, A-14 oxygen mask, AN-6510 goggles, seat parachute harness and A-4 flight suit.


A USAAF pilot with a B-8 backpack parachute, C-2 life raft kit and a padded seat pack walks out to a P-51 Mustang


Another view


A USAAF P-51 Mustang pilot wearing A-4 flight suit and a S-2 parachute pack.


A US Navy pilot wearing a nylon flight suit maybe?, a QAS parachute harness, B-4 LPU, AN goggles and a M-450 flight helmet.truesdale2

A F-104 Starfighter pilot wearing K-1 high altitude flight helmet, backpack parachute and blue flight suit.


F-86 Sabre pilot wearing L-1A flight suit, backpack parachute harness, P-3 flight helmet and MS22001 oxygen mask.


F4U Corsair US Navy pilot wearing a H-4 flight helmet with goggles and boom microphone, tan flight suit and yellow flight gloves.


F-51D Mustang pilot holding a first generation P-1 flight helmet with artwork, sits on a seat parachute pack and wears a A-2 flight jacket.


US Navy pilot with a modified H-4 flight helmet with goggles, MS22001 oxygen mask and a MK2 LPU. He wears an olive green flight suit and is strapped into a parachute.


Korean War artwork showing a F-84 Thunderjet and pilot. Pilot has a P-1A flight helmet, B-5 LPU, backpack parachute harness and a green flight suit with red unit cap.


F-84 Thunderjet pilot wearing a P-1 flight helmet (original type from 1947) modified with external chinstrap, A-13 oxygen mask, backpack parachute harness and K-1 flight suit.


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One of the many USAF display teams in the late 1940s wearing P-1 flight helmet with specialised artwork and not so fire proof nylon (shiny) flight suits. These nylon flight suits MELTED into the skin in crashes causing HORRIFIC burns for many of the pilots until changes to cotton flight suits were reintroduced.


US Navy F9F Panther pilot wearing H-4 flight helmet, M-1944 goggles, and MS22001 oxygen mask.


A US Navy pilot with a sqaure coloured APH-5 flight helmet with black oxygen mask receivers. A MS22001 oxygen mask and orange Beauero flight suit is seen.


A 36th FIS Sqn USAF Korean war photo showing 2 flight crews in L-1A dark blue cotton flight suits used in mild/colder weather.







A late USAAF WW2 B-29 Superfortrtess crew wearing a mix of gear -from B-4 life preservers , tan flight suits, tan service dress, Crushers flight cap, early issued 1945 B-5 Life preservers, A-4 flight suits, B-2 flight caps and QAC (Quick Attachable Chest) parachute harnesses are worn by all aircrew.



A rather worn out H-4 flight helmet with M1944 goggles, tan flight suit and US Navy seat parachute harness is worn by this 1950s US navy training pilot climbing into a T-6 Harvard for a flight.


A USAF T-33 Shooting Star crew wearing K-1 flight suits, P-1A flight helmets, MS 22001 oxygen mask and backpack parachute harnesses.


A USAF training F-80A Shooting Star pilot at Williams AFB, Arizona with P-3 flight helmet with early visor , MS22001 oxygen mask and seat style parachute harness.


An artwork seen on a old Australian stamp showing a Australian RAAF pilot in a Winjeel trainer wearing a MK-1 flight helmet with a H type oxygen mask , Mk 8 Frankenstein LPU, cooton light green flight suit and white cotton flight gloves.

Winjeel pilot

A US Navy F-8 Crusader pilot in a tan flight suit, MA-2 harness, holding a APH-5 flight helmet with a MS22001 oxygen mask.woodyjetA

A USAF Korean war B-29 Superfortress crew in action over North Korea wearing cold weather gear. The pilot wears a B-15B flight jacket , a  personalised flight cap as was regularly done in Korea before “standards” were applied, a HS-38 headset, backpack parachute harness. The other crew member next to the pilot wears a garrison flight cap, B-15C flight jacket maybe and a backpack parachute harness.



The X-15 used a pilot with high altitude flight gear – requiring very specialised gear at the time. This type of flightgear was designed to be heat resistant incase of high altitude and high speed bail out. The silver suit was a MC-2 and the MA-2 flight helmet were state of the art in mid to late 1950s when designed. This 1960s view shows a another USAF pilot wearing K-2B orange flight suit and a L-2B flight jacket.


The USAF tested a B-36 which carried a nuclear reactor onboard in 1950s. Here we see that brave crew in the XB-36H. All wear tan company flight suits, backpack parachute harnesses and P-1A flight helmets with MS22001 oxygen masks. Some have visors on helmet, others have B-8 flight goggles and some have microphone booms instead of MS masks.xb-36h xb-36h-crew

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RAAF F-111s go to museums and a review of RAAF flightgear

October 2012 saw the Australian Federal Government finally release the eagerly awaited for preferred recipients for the remaining of the once tip of the spear RAAF strike force – the F-111 fleet.

Since December 2010 when the F-111 37year old fleet was retired from active service, museums and heritage organisations across Australia have been eager to acquire a slice of the RAAF’s history, providing they can meet the necessary OHS and stringent conditions placed on display which can include glass wall panels to keep people away from the aircraft as seen already at RAAF Point Cook Museum.

Various other demil processed have to be done to meet the required US military enforced display status, such as removal and destruction of the TF-30 engines due to concerns that Iran could acquire the engines for the F-14 Tomcats which still fly.

Sadly for all Pig fans, most of the RAAF’s F-111 fleet was buried underground in November 2011 near Amberley, in a large scale operation which saw RAAF F-111G (former SAC FB-111A Nuclear bomber then USAF F-111G strike bombers) and RAAF RF/F-111C airframes forever buried.

They were buried effectively as “waste” due to defence treaty conditions and costs/hazards associated with storing such a large number of the F-111s.

Over the last 2years a very public campaign driven by many aviation museums across Australia to see more F-111s be preserved and saved was started and the Federal Government relented eventually and approved so far, 6 airframes for public museums and others to go to RAAF bases.

At RAAF Amberley on the weekend of October 14 2012 on display was a unique event, where the public was allowed to view 3 of these refurbished Pigs basking in glorious warm southern QLD sunshine for one last time before they go their separate ways…..

The appointments of 6 airframes to the public museums will mean the public can see up close across Australia now a variety of different F-111s.

The aircraft which have been allocated for museums are reported as A8-109, A8-113, A8-129, A8-134, A8-147 and A8-148.

The successful organisations which were given an F-111 to display include:

  • Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory, NT
  • Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association, NSW
  • Fighter World, NSW
  • Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, NSW
  • Queensland Air Museum, QLD
  • South Australian Aviation Museum, SA
  • The Australian Flying Corps and Royal Australian Air Force Association – WA Division Inc WA – is reported to be given an F-111 crew capsule/module for display.

So far the RAAF has kept a few F-111s for their air bases with Point Cook displaying an F-111C and F-111G, Amberley has a F-111C and RF-111C on display, while Wagga Wagga has an F-111C and Edinburgh has an F-111C allocated these 2 Pigs are not yet publicly displayed.

Some of the preserved aircraft have in last 2yrs been repainted in their original 1973 South East Asia camouflage scheme of Dark Green, Medium Green, Tan and Black with full high vis colour markings, while others are retained in their overall gunship grey scheme from service and one was repainted in a special ARDU test/trial scheme.

The airframes which have been loaned to the aviation museums and historical organisations are expected to be delivered from early 2013 once all the display conditions can be met which will include controlling people access to the cockpit, housing the aircraft in a completely enclosed building or display area and preventing unauthorised access to specific wing areas and the internal weapon bay.

(All F-111s photos above credit to Chris Jamesson)

The RAAF F-111 crews used over the 37years, a variety of flightgear but in a general view, the equipment didnt change too much just improved versions.

When acquired by the RAAF in 1973 the crews were using HGU-2A/P flight helmets with Type P oxygen masks. Crews wore CWu-27/P nomex flight suits and  under arm LPU-10s. (I own this rare HGU-2A/P in 1970 RAAF taped colours and was allowed special access to the 6 Sqn Life Support to take the rare setup photo shown further below)

By the 1980s the HGU-26/P flight helmet came into use and the Secumar LPU was issued.

By the 1990s Green and grey P type oxygen mask combinations were seen and the introduction of the HGU-55/P flight helmet was implemented. The HGU-55/P was low viz and less weight than  a HGU-26/P helmet. (below is seen the HGU-55/P on left with the HGU-2A/P on right for a comparison of 30years of flight gear development.

By the time retirement came in December 2010, the HGU-55/P and P type oxygen mask was still in mainstream use by 6 Sqn.

The final tribute goes to the men and women who flew and maintained this superb strike machine for 37years. On the last day of flying Dec 3 2010 – RAAF aircrew from the first F-111 operations in 1973 posed alongside the last flight crews who had gathered at RAAF Amberley. The RAAF aircrew wore CWu-27/P style flight suits with RAAF patches.The “Pig Tales” was a unique event and one never to be repeated on such a scale with so much emotion.

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Australian Army Aviation UH-1H Huey helicopters retired to museums 2012

First flying in the mid 1950s and became a common sight in the 1960s, as operated in combat over Vietnam, the UH-1 Iroquois otherwise better known by its nickname as “Huey” has become in its lifetime an iconic helicopter. Noted by its distinctive, “whoop whoop” blade sound as it slices through the air, this note was always the first signature anyone would hear of the approaching helicopter. It has served well and become a dependable helicopter in both military and civil operations around the world.

Lasting in service for over 45years in serving the nation, the Australian Defence Force operated 3 different models of the Huey – UH-1B, UH-1D and UH-1H. Originally operated by the RAAF from 1960s until 1989, the Hueys (along with other types such as Kiowas, Chinooks and Blackhawks) were transferred to Australian Army Aviation (AAAVN) control, where they flew right up until their retirement 18years later in 2007.

The Hueys were placed into storage in at Damascus Barracks, Queensland after retirement awaiting an outcome. The Hueys were retired as by the mid 2000s, they had become old airframes and newer technology would be replacing them in the form of the MRH-90 and Tiger helicopters.

The Australian Hueys were used in 2 versions in active service (within Australia or overseas), as either a transport or “slick” variant which conveyed troops into battled and armed with only M-60s machine guns at the doors manned by door gunners for defensive fire. The other variant was an upgraded Huey operated as an airborne weapon platform as a gunship. These were callsign assigned as “Bushranger” and were modified and packed a considerable punch being armed with 4 x 7.62mm M-60s machine guns (later versions having MAG-58 machine guns instead), 2 x 7 tube 2.75inch FFAR rocket launchers and 2 x GAU-2/A 7.62mm minigun systems which can spew out between 2,000  to 6,000 rounds a minute. The Bushrangers work in Vietnam saved many Australian troops’ lives with their impressive firepower.

The pilots and aircrews on the Hueys over 45years were brave people and took their jobs seriously. Some paid the ultimate price sadly and were killed on flying operations. After the Vietnam War, Hueys were used in Australia and around the world taking part in civil aid programs, flood relief operations, military exercises and overseas UN deployments stretching from the Middle East, South East Asia to many  Pacific Islands. The Bushranger model was retired in 2004 with the weapon kits stripped and these were then used as “slicks” instead.

The Australian Government has now 5years after the retirement of the Huey fleet, in October 2012, released six Hueys to various organisations across the country, so that the Huey can go on public display. The museums locations where the Hueys are going to include the Australian Flying Corps RAAF Association Western Australia Division, Vietnam Veterans Associations of Australia Mitchell Sub-branch Victoria, Caboolture Warplane and Flight Heritage Museum Queensland, Port Pirie RSL Sub-branch South Australia, Merredin Military Museum Western Australia,  Scottsdale RSL Sub-branch Tasmania. A few more have also been put on display at RAAF Amberley, Singleton Army Museum and RAAF Point Cook Museum. Another is stored for the Australian War Memorial.

According to reports some of the Hueys have also been released for RAAF base training airframes at RAAF Wagga Wagga as ground training aids for new personnel. The remaining few still in storage may still be sold off to a private overseas operator.

(All Huey photos credit to Chris Jamesson and taken at the Oakey Army Aviation Museum October 2012)

Examples of the AAAVN Huey operations can be seen and the final AAAVN flight 2007  –

Aircrew have worn over the year cotton and nomex flight suits, cotton and nomex gloves, APH-5 , Alpha and HGU-56 flight helmets. All helmet types were fitted with microphone booms and in later years as technology advanced, were upgraded to take state of the art NVG packs. Shown below is some example of flight helmets as worn by Australian crews over the years.

APH-5 type as used in 1960s

SPH–4 type 1960s-80s

Alpha type as used in 1990s-2000s

HGU-56 type as used 2000s

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