FLIGHTGEAR – ANZAC DAY SPECIAL

APRIL 25th 2010 – This day is a special day where Australian war veterans from all the wars, campaigns and peacekeeping missions that Australia has been part of- are given their due acknowledgement by the general public.

(The background of Anzac Day is outside the scope of the blog to fully detail but is close to my heart in many ways, as my relatives died in WW1 in France and Egypt, my grandfather served in WW2 in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, then Japan occupation force then 2 tours in Korean War. War is brutal is all i can say – damages people and destroys lives. Remembrance is the only way we can understand what has happened and to ensure it doesn’t happen again.)

This insight on Anzac Day is to review a piece of flying gear as used by the RAAF 77 Sqn based at Kimpo Air Base near Seoul , South Korea during the Korean War.
77 Sqn flew the CAC Mustang propeller fighter/bomber -an aircraft famous from WW2 use by the USAAF and later one of the first generation jets – the Meteor F.8 fighter, both these aircraft were used in providing air superiority and ground attack cover during the unit’s 3 years in Korea.

KOREAN MAP
Seen below (part of my extensive flying gear collection) is a USAF map from the Korean war dated 1950. This map shows the entire Korean peninsula that the RAAF was involved with and the North Korean airspace they flew into on a regular basis.
The famous “Mig Alley” is found in the top left of the map. Click the photo for more detail.

The E flight helmet was a key component of a pilot’s overall flying gear. The helmet protected his head from noise and offered limited protection from banging his head on the canopy. The helmet was combined with the H type oxygen mask to provide a safe and reliable piece of flying gear to protect a pilot in flying operations.

E HELMET DETAILS AND FEATURES
The E helmet was a 1943 WW2 era helmet design that followed the Type B, C and D helmets as used by the RAF. The D model flight helmet was a canvas type helmet material similar to the USAAF type ANH-15 / A-10 model.

The E type followed on as a new modified design with no neck cover, and was made from a mesh material called airtex. This allowed the skull cap area to breathe in the tropical/desert environment for which the helmet was ordered for. See the photos below for the mesh fabric – click for closer detail.

The E flight helmet was built and designed with the normal well made english earcup shapes, which cut down 20-30 decibels of noise. The earphones which are a quite complex piece of construction are inserted into the external section of the earcup housings.

The interior of the earphone are provided with connections for the electrical lead, 2 of which are catered for which then both run back thru the internal shell of the flight helmet to the back of the helmet. At this rear section, a cord from the left lower side of the helmet also joins. This cord is connected to the oxygen mask microphone connector.

All these cords then feed into a single tightly wrapped bundle and this is then the sole cord which runs down the side of the helmet via a snap clip to retain it close to the headset. This cord then connects to the aircraft as it was made to be very the long for moving the head around aircraft /cockpits with ease. The cord was normally due to its length of around 1.5m, shortened with a special trick procedure to make it less of a hazard to the aircrew. It ends in a single point bell type plug which plugs into the radio panel on the aircraft console.

My helmet is from what i have researched is a typical late WW2 period production helmet, so it was made in 1945 – and is 65yrs old in 2010.
It has been well maintained and preserved by me for the last few years.

H TYPE OXYGEN MASK
The oxygen mask which is a H type, has a microphone embedded into the nose of the mask which connects via a communication cord to the left side of the E helmet.

The oxygen mask has a strap connecting system on the left and right side to tighten the mask to the face of the user. The right side has a slide clip bar which slide over a metal hook and locks the mask into place. The left strap ends in a leather tab which has 2 snaps which connect to the flight helmet. These snaps ensure the mask can hang loosely away from face once the right side bar hook is disconnected and the mask is swung away to the left side of the face.

The oxygen hose is screwed into the oxygen mask and has a clip on bottom of the hose to clip to the relevant vest such as Mae West etc.

The combined setup of E flight helmet and H mask was a comfortable and easy to maintain item by aircrew and life support maintainers.

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