RAAF FLIGHT GEAR OF THE 1960s – 1980’S
In the early to mid 1980s, the RAAF were flying the French designed Mirage III-O interceptor as the primary fighter interceptor after been retired from serivce, the new the F/A-18A/B fighter bomber.
Both these planes used similar flight gear, even tho the 2 planes are from completly different eras and designs.
1960s RAAF MIRAGE FLIGHT GEAR
The French Mirage was introduced into RAAF service in mid 1963.
Initial use of the Mirage was with French Guinease helmet along with other French/RAF/RAAF flightgear.
Soon after the HGU-2A/P single visor US type flight helmets were introduced into the Mirage fleet along with the RAF style P type mask – as already used in Canberra and other RAAF aircraft. These helmets were padded and customised to suit each pilot head shape.
The P mask were connected to the HGU helmets with single slot bayonets that fitted into oxygen receivers that were screwed to the helmet exterior.
A revised HGU-2A/P helmet visor design was introduced in the1970s, called the HGU-26/P , which had a low profile twin visor setup – one visor clear and one netural grey.
The RAAF used a life vest preserver called the RFD model. It was based on the RAF Frankstein life vest that had been in service for a while since the early 1950s.
This design was similar to the Mae West jacket of WW2 fame.
The RFD life vest was made by Dunlop Australia, an Australian company. These vest were made initally in yellow and then later on in a dark green colour.
Below are photos of a 1966 dated RFD life jacket with the ultra rare gas bottle installed.
These jackets were tight fitting and not liked by some aircrew. Tho by being a tight fit they ensured they werent easily lost in ejection.
The Mirages were able to use G suits due to the high gs the planes could pull in flying. These G suits were imported from overseas from RAF stocks and modified to fit to the Mirage.
1980s ERA FLIGHT GEAR FOR F/A-18 HORNET
In late 1970s the Mirage was begining to get worn out and troubled by increasing issues relating to engine failures.
The RAAF was seeking a new fighter interceptor for the 1980s. After much trying and research the F/A-18 Hornet was chosen as the replacement. This was a US Navy based plane and was interesting to see this chosen.
The RAAF continued to use the existing flying gear, now modified for use in the F/A -18 along with some new equipment that was introduced in the 1980s.
A brand new helmet called the HGU-55/P was brought into service. This was a lightweight style helmet able to allow the pilot to pull more Gs in combat.
It was painted low visual colours to ensure it was harder to see. Thru out the 1950-70s helmets were mainly white and could be seen from long way off thus negating the effectiveness of aircraft camoflauge.
The new era also saw a new Gsuit introduced. CSU-13/P – which was an improved CSU-3P design and stronger materials. A new life vest was introduced into the RAAF fleet to replace the RFD model. Called the Secumar vest, it was a H style harness that clipped together and held a basic life vest and emergency supplies. This life vest is extremely rare to get nowdays anywhere.
The Mirage and Hornet use also saw the limited introduction of the MBu-5P oxygen mask. This is a US designed oxygen mask dating from late 1950s and still in use in 2009.. The design is liked by some and not by others. It was fitted to the HGU style helmets with a “T” shaped pair of bayonets to slot into the oxygen receivers.