December 2010 – This is a 4 part special on flightgear used by the USAAF/USAF from 1940s-1960s.
In a 4 part article i have been working on for a while, i have managed to sort throu an extensive group of photos from the LIFE magazine archives showing USAF flightgear in action in late 1940s, Korean war, 1950s, 1960s and Vietnam war periods.
This was the age when flightgear developed from a canvas cap to custom protective hard shell helmets and more.
My aim of the articles is to help people become more educated to what USAF aircrew wore inservice over the 25year period and to help assist in learning the different equipment designation names/models/setups etc that was used for flightgear purposes.
PART 1 – 1940s – POST WW2 ERA
After WW2 the development of flightgear took off quickly with much technological benefits from WW2. With the introduction of jet powered flight, new methods for protecting the pilots had to be devised due to the high speed of flight being stretched every year. At end of WW2 the average speed was 480mph with propeller aircraft, the first jets took it to over 550mph. By the end of 1948 Mach 1 was being broken.
The gap was reached mainly by combining American, German and British jet technology.
The USAAF used the ANH-15 and A-11 cloth/leather helmets in WW2 and experimental fibreglass hard hats had been examined by end of WW2/1946. Meanwhile the early jet pilots had to create or design their own flightgear.
The new jet transitional helmets were a mix of US Army tank crew helmets clipped onto ANH-15 helmets/A-11 helmet. Examples are shown below.
The pilot below is shown wearing a B-8 goggles on helmet along with a A-14 oxygen mask.
A B-8 parachute harness is worn over a A-4 flight suit from WW2. In the background is a P-80 Shooting Star.<img style="width: 638px; height: 783px;" src="http://jetpilotoverseas.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/adce9e65f1a1e67f_large.jpg?w=949" class="attachment-949×9999" alt="
Another variant of the Tanker helmet and a A-11 helmet combined with a A-14 oxygen mask and rather odd Royal Air Force MkVIII flight goggles from WW2.
Another pilot with a P-80 Shooting Star. He is wearing a A-11 helmet with a A-14 Oxygen mask and a B-10 parachute harness. He is wearing a K-1 green flight suit and a pair of yellow possibly Navy gloves.<img style="width: 666px; height: 779px;" src="http://jetpilotoverseas.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/e73fb50203172079_large.jpg?w=949" class="attachment-949×9999" alt="e73
USAF Red Devil display team pilots, Las Vegas 1949. They are flying F-51D Mustangs. Note the pilots in customised nylon / shiny flight suits. They are wearing first generation P-1 flight helmets with black edgeroll.
USAF ANG pilot in 1948 preparing to take off. He is wearing a K-1 flight suit and B-15A flight jacket. He is holding a A-11 leather flight helmet/ B-8 goggles and A-14 oxygen mask. He has possibly a AN- or a S-2 seat type parachute harness .
The pilot’s son gets to farewell his father.<img style="width: 642px; height: 642px;" src="http://jetpilotoverseas.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/6c5dcfb6fc6edadb_large.jpg?w=949" class="attachment-949×9999" alt="6c5
B-36 Peacekmaker crews in 1948 showing wearing a largely transitional mix of old and new gear. The crews are wearing WW2 crusher caps, B-8 parachutes, HS-33 headsets, K-1 / AN- type flight suits. The photos shows that the new era of flight gear had yet to reach this B-36 unit. <img style="width: 646px; height: 652px;" src="http://jetpilotoverseas.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/4b79253fc84a9eea_large-jpg.jpeg?w=949" class="attachment-949×9999" alt="4b79253