MAY 2010- A rarely seen and interesting insight to the flightgear as used by the RAAF in its 25years of Mirage operations is shown below.
RAAF MIRAGE JET FLIGHT GEAR – 1960s – 1980s
The French designed fighter interceptor – the Mirage IIIO was introduced into RAAF service in 1963. Initial use of the Mirage was with French Gueneau helmet along with other French/RAF/RAAF flightgear mixed in. Soon after entering service 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 revision of the HGU-2A/P helmet, incorporating a revised visor design was introduced in the late 1960s / early 1970s. This helmet was called the HGU-26/P , it had a lower profile via housing a twin visor setup – one visor clear and one neutral grey above the helmet shell. These were activated by 2 sliding locks – 1 on each side of the visor.
The RAAF used a life vest preserver called the RFD model. It was based on the RAF Frankenstein 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 initially in yellow and then later on in a dark green colour.
These jackets were tight fitting and not liked by some aircrew. Tho by being a tight fit they ensured they weren’t easily lost in ejection.
The initial G-suits used were CSU-3/P model from the US military stocks. The 1970s also saw a improved G-suit introduced. The CSU-12/P – which was an improved CSU-3/P design and stronger materials.
Thru out the 1950-70s flight helmets were mainly painted white and could be seen from long way off thus negating the effectiveness of aircraft camouflage.
A new life vest was introduced into the RAAF fleet to replace the RFD model.
The Secumar vest (German designed but made under license in Australia) has a H style harness that clips together and holds a basic life vest and emergency supplies. The vest has a horse collar neck preserver to keep the pilots head above the water.
It has a automatic/manual pull tab on the right side of the collar to activate the life jacket inflation. This type of life vest is extremely rare to acquire anywhere.
The vest is still in current use today by the RAAF in various aircraft.
The Mirage units 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-26/P style helmets with a pair of “T” shaped bayonets to slot into the oxygen receivers.
Shown below are some RAAF Mirage pilots and their various flightgear sets.
(Photos sourced over the years – credit to the various unknown photographers, if can provide credit please get in touch with me.) Click on photos for larger images.
1960s era Mirage pilots wearing HGU-2Ap helmets, CSU-3/P gsuits, RFD life vest, and P oxygen masks.
Before flight all aircrew test their oxygen masks to ensure they are functional.
Shown on the left, is a RAAF Mirage pilot checking his P mask before flight. He is seen wearing a LPU-10/P life vest rather than a RFD vest.
Shown on right, wearing the High Altitude helmet is Garry Cooper- well known later on due to his flying skills as a FAC in the Vietnam War while with the USAF. This HA flight gear was photo was taken when Garry was 23 and flying Mirages in the early 1960s, on high altitude flights using specially made French helmets and suits.
<img style="width: 276px; height: 241px;" src="http://www.alsfitt.com/images/stories/high-altitude-suit.jpg" title="75SQN Mirage pilots tests his high altitude pressure suit before flight…." alt="75
Shown below is the late 1970s/early 1980s, the German designed and made Secumar vest. This vest was easier to put on and was more comfortable for the pilots.