Sept 2010 – In a trip to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, something i haven’t done for 5years, i finally got to see a few new and interesting displays i had heard of for a while.
The AWM has a good layout for the military artifacts for the historian or enthusiast but some are hard to see or get within camera reach.
I did photograph the AWM collection extensively during the visit regarding items which i was interested in., tho I am focusing on the preserved flightgear for this article only WW2, Korea and Vietnam eras.
WW2 – RAAF – EUROPE AND PACIFIC CAMPAIGN – FLIGHTGEAR
The gear on display is mostly RAF supplied uniform and equipment. Flying boots 1936 type, Australian made khaki pants and shirt for Pacific campaign for P-40 Kittyhawk, heavy RAF winter flying gear – C helmet, Mk 8 goggles, flight suit, leather gloves, 1941 flight boots and parachute harness for Lancaster bomber,
Variety of paintings show off the flying gear –
The German Luftwaffe used the LKpW101 flight helmet and 10-67 on demand oxygen mask as shown in the ME-109 in its original paint scheme from 1945.
KOREAN WAR RAAF FLIGHTGEAR
VIETNAM WAR – RAAF FLIGHTGEAR
Australian military helicopters in the Vietnam War were flown by the RAAF aircrews- it wasnt until 1989 that the roles were transferred to the Australian Army. The typical RAAF Huey pilots wore standard US Army flight gear – APH-5/A (and later on SPH-3) flight helmets painted olive drab as the white colour originally used – present a too easy target but then conversely made it harder to find the aircrew if shot down, chest body armour and SRU-21/P survival vests.
A rather interesting but too high displayed i found was the RAAF Vietnam era Canberra bomber nosecone section with the bombardier/navigator on show. It does show how small the cross section of the nose was and tight fit for the bombardier was.
The display has a HGU-2A/P helmet and P oxygen mask with B-3 gloves. The bayonet receivers on the helmet should be white not black model.
My friend John Bushell did this very bombardier role in Vietnam while with the 2 Sqn Canberra bombers. The RAAF aircrews in the Canberras worked as a team and in doing do so, they acheived extremely high accuracy on the targets. They were keenly sought after by the US forces for bombing missions once their skills became well known in Vietnam. I am glad the AWM has given the 2 Sqn crews a display as a tribute to their mostly unique mission in Vietnam.