January 2011 – 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 through 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 forflightgear purposes.


Harold Fisher USAF pilot 39th FIS / 51st FIW Korea 1953. He wears a P-1B helmet with a visor introduced in 1952/53 service use, MS-22001 oxygen mask, parachute backpack style, B-5LPU and maybe a blue K-2 or green K-2 flight suit.

B-36 Peacemaker bomber – all the crew wear a L-1 flight suit and officers or baseball caps.

F-86 Sabre pilot in the ALSE room gearing up with their flight gear to survive flight. Closest man wears a L-2 jacket, K-1A flight suit and boots while donning his G-3A gsuit.

The pilot next to him wears a green flight suit K-1A?, B-5 Mae West LPU, P-1A flight helmet and MS-22001 oxygen mask, backpack parachute and flight boots.

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Once ready they leave the building and go outside for their flight line truck….meanwhile they are watching flying above them..The first thing you see is all wear backpack parachutes but are all different harness and model types. They wear L-1 flight suits and possibly L-2 jackets. B-5 LPUs are present on all.

The pilot smoking on left side, has a survival pack under his parachute. His parachute is a WW2 B-10 type.

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98th Bomb Group B-29 Superfortress crew planning and loading up for a mission over North Korea. The crews wear a variety of gear which was common for Korea – not like today standardised clothing. Anything went to Korea and anything was worn. B-15, B-15A and B-15C jackets can be seen. Flight caps and baseball caps are prominent. L-1A flight suits maybe worn.

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Before each flight all bombers crews lined up their gear for inspection and checking. These photos show how the checks were done. Parachutes,LPUs, flight helmets and other gear is noted. B-5 LPU , backpack style parachutes, seat pack parachutes, B-15A and B-15C jackets, K-1/L-1A flight suits, baseball caps and A-1 flight boots feature.

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Each crew member before flight checked each other members parachutes to ensure they were ok to use. This is team work at work. Note the reserve parachutes on ground.


The bombardier wears a WW2 era HS-33 headset.

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18th FBW F-51D Mustang pilot in Korea wearing a B-15C jacket, B-10 parachute, P-1A flight helmet, A-14 oxygen mask and B-5 LPU.


T-33 in Korea for flight crew training and squadron hack aircraft. Crew are climbing into the cockpit. Note the backpack parachute on rearseater. Crew chief is handing the front pilot his P-1A flight helmet and MS22001 oxygen mask.


Col Bruce H Hinton, Col John C Meyer and Lt Col Glenn T Eagleston in Korea 1950 – Hinton was the first F-86 Sabre jet pilot Mig Killer in Korea. Hinton wears a warm jacket a N-2A rarely seen in Korean war photos by pilots… this means he was cold!. He holds hisartworked black and white striped P-1A helmet. He wears a backpack style parachute.

Meyer wears another artworked P-1A flight helmet, B-10 parachute, B-5 LPU and B-15A flight jacket. He wears cold weather gloves. Eagleston wears a B-11 parka.


Some close up photos of Bruce and John…

USAF pilot Korean 1950 – John C Meyer#gallery-10 { margin: auto; } #gallery-10 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-10 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-10 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; }

Col John C Meyers P-1 flight helmet used in Korean war.


Bruce Hinton – first USAF F-86 Sabre jet Mig Killer pilot in Korea December 1950.

Lt Col Glenn T Eagleston,USAF 4th FIW, in Korea 1950. In this photo he wears a rarer P-1 flight helmet and MS-22001 oxygen mask with a special oxygen bail out connector added to the hose. He is looking quite cold anddoesn’t want to be there.. in a B-11 parka. He is wearing a B-10 parachute.

B-26 Invader crew preparing for a mission at night time..Korea 1951. The crew wear B-15C jackets, HS-33 headsets, caps, Backpack style parachutes, reserve parachutes , A-11 cold weather pants and work boots.

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Once at the B-26 Invader the crew ditch their work boots for A-1 fur lined cold weather flight boots.

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Another rare scene showing a N-2A fur hood jacket… indicating its very very cold. 2 of the crew wear their B-5 over the N-2A jackets and B-15A jacket.

Korea has nasty cold winters strong wind and snow… kill people quick if not protected well.

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These next 2 photos show the crew around the Invader and preparing for the mission. All wear backpack parachutes, B-5 LPU, caps,, A-11 flight pants, reserve parachutes, HS-33 headsets, B-15 and N-2A jackets and cold weather gloves.<img style="width: 640px; height: 640px;" src="" class="attachment-949×9999" alt="e28d5

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You can see how the hood of the N-2A was a warm hood but it also restricted movement of the pilots head in the tight B-26 cockpit.

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The bombs are hoisted onto the wing pylons of the B-26 Invader.

The crew member’s A-11 flight pants show up well in this photo – note how baggy they are.. The B-5 LPU, N-2A jacket, work boots and gloves also feature.

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Capt Joseph P McConnell Jnr – the leading USAF Mig Killer in Korea – 39th FIS, 51st FIW 1953.

He wears a L-1A wool flight suit, light blue P-1A flight helmet, B-8 goggles, MS-22001 oxygen mask, B-5 LPU, scarf and backpack parachute.


39th FIS pilots leave their ready room and walk out to their F-51 Mustang aircraft. Each wears a P-1A helmet and A-14 oxygen mask. They wear A-11 cold weather flight pants B-15C flight jackets. Cold weather gloves are worn.


Col Warford and Davis Jnr – Korea 1954 . Korea was noted for its amazing colour and designs on the P-1/P-1A flight helmets. Here Davis holds his very colourfulartworked helmet with a MS-22001 oxygen mask. He wears a L-1A flight suit, G-3A gsuit, backpack parachute, B-5 LPU and is handing over a pistol.

Warford wears same gear except his LPU is the common US Navy Mk2 vest which worked it way into USAF use in Korea because of better floatation or gear holding abilities. He also has a distress light marker on his right shoulder chest area.

A series of photos capturing a group of USAF F-51D Mustang pilots from 39th FBS / 18th TFW USAF preparing for a mission.

All the pilots are wearing P-1/P-1A flight helmets/B-8 goggles and A-13 / A-14 oxygen masks are seen discussing mission details. Note the artwork a white 4 leaf clover on a red shell.

All wear either backpack / B-10 or other types of seat parachutes and B-15C jackets.

Mission map discussion for the flight crews.




USAF 39th FIS pilots walking out and crewing their F-51D Mustangs for another mission into North Korea.6741a951d6ea4c5f_large

Pilot talks to crew chief about issues.


39th FIS pilot conducting a preflight of his F-51D Mustang


A series of photos showing Col James Jabara famous USAF Mig Killer 1951. He wears a P-1 flight helmet and MS-22001 oxygen mask. L-1A flight suit and a backpack style parachute with B-10 quick bang box release mechanism.abf121be2fe1768b_large




AT-6G Harvard FAC crew readying for a mission. Crew wear B-15C jackets, HS-33 headsest with large earpads, caps with ramk badges, A-11 cold weather pants, seat type parachute and A-1 flight boots.

Earl Wisecarver Korea 1953 wears a B-15c jacket, backpack parachute, P-1A flight helmet and MS-22001 oxygen mask, B-5 LPU and B-3 gloves. He has a oxygen bottle or a rescue radio under his right arm.

Col Vermont Garrison Mig Killer Korea 1953 , wears a K-1A flight suit , B-5 LPU, G-3A g suit, P-1A flight helmet and backpack parachute.

Major Van Chandler Korea 1953, wears a overseas cap with major rank, L-2 jacket, B-5 LPU, P-1A flight helmet and MS-22001 oxygen mask.

Lt Col Ben Emmert, 335th FIS, Korea 1951, wears a P-1 helmet, MS22001 oxygen mask with bailout adaptor added, cold weather flight gloves, B-11 parka, and B-10 parachute.

Two USAF F-86 Sabre pilots walking wearing the anti exposure suit which provided essential protection in cold Yellow and Japan Sea if they had to eject. Both wear baseball cap with their flight “A” marked on it. The black rubber boots were part of the exposure kit. They wear B-5 LPU over it. Overall this is a snug and tight fitting suit.

This is before the rest of their gear…. DO you really want to be a pilot eh?

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