P-1A FLIGHT HELMET WITH ARTWORK
Recently i acquired a rare flying helmet with artwortk – a P-1A korean era USAF flight helmet
I spent the past weekend restoring it internally and decided to leave the exterior artwork and paint chips untouched, so as to not ruin the heritage value of this rare item.
Beneath are images of the helmet as restored currently.
UNDERSTANDING THE P FLIGHT HELMET SERIES
The P-1A is still relatively common to find in auctions still. The hard part is spending the time to restore the helmets. I own 15+ P-1A to P-4 type helmets and it is extremely long term work to restore the most damaged and ruined shells back to brand new status.
Alot of parts are nowdays impossible to find and more will become not available in next few years as world demand consumes all the parts currently stored.
I am lucky that i have myself being able to hand make new parts and also have contacts who have reproduced other spare parts. This new parts greatly assists in restoring the helmets.
One the keyproblems facing a restorer, is understanding how to work around the complex structures of flight helmets from the 1950s, in which the helmet manufacturing lines were at the time, quite intriciate and did much detailed work with small parts.
The key components that are problem isuses in restoring a P series helmet are the rubber edgeroll, internal foam, leather headsling and leather oxygen tabs – all of these items become (unless the helmet was stored brand new off production which some have been) fragile from expsure to sun/rain/dirt etc, break down from use in service or get ruined somehow and cant be saved.
The scale of output of the P helmet series was large – as over 100,000+ helmets (estimated) were produced from 1948 thru to mid 1960s.
60years on, it is still amazing how well they were made and produced. It does also reflect on how some were stored after withdrawn from use. Some have been well stored and havent aged. Some are virtually ruined thru exposure to environmental issue.
Rare flying helmet such as P-1 from 1948 the very first type, can fetch upwards of $5000 (Aus) if in unrestored and near complete status… down to P-1A or P-4 broken or damaged shells for $20 (Aus).