January 2011 – This is a 4 part special on flightgear used by the USAAF/USAF from 1940s-1960s.

In a 3 part article i have been working on for nearly 1 year, 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.


Astronaut Scott Carpenter in a F-100F during weightlessness training 1960. The front seater is wearing a colourful artworked yellow P-4A helmet and possibly a MA-1 flight jacket or a L-2B flight jacket. Scott in rear seat has a Mk IV helmet and a high altitude suit on.


Gordon Cooper wearing a Toptex helmet and MS22001 oxygen mask with Hardmann mask cover/Xmas tree bayonet receivers while sitting in a F-106 Delta Dart. He is wearing a private made flight suit.39268b1873f5b079_large

1960s – F105D Thunderchief pilots readying for taxiing out. The pilots are wearing a mix of HGU-2/P flight helmets and MBU-5/P oxygen masks. Various helmet visor covers can be seen in gold and white colours.

Gordon Cooper seen wearing high altitude flight suit MK-IV suit.


A F-100D SuperSabre pilot in South Vietnam wearing a colourful artworked HGU-2/P helmet and MBU-5/P oxygen mask. He is wearing a BA-22 parachute.

Carl Richter, very famous USAF F-105D Thunderchief pilot, later killed in action over North Vietnam. Carl is holding a HGU-2A/P flight helmet with MBU-5/P oxygen mask. Helmet painted in camouflage for use over North Vietnam. White helmets made spotting pilots/aircraft from a long way off too easy. He wears a K-2B flight suit, BA-18 style parachute harness with CRU-60/P oxygen bracket, LPU-2 life preserver underarm model, CSU-3/P g suit and a rarely seen on waist – survival gear “chaps” holding essential supplies in case shot down.

Captain Devlin with F-105 Thunderchief 1963 – with a artworked HGU-2/P flight helmet , CSU-3/P g-suit, L-2B flight jacket, scarf and overseas cap.

SAC Bomber B-47 crews early 1960s – all wearing K-2B flight suits, L-2B flight jackets, unit baseball caps/overseas cap/ special baseball leather cap. Some have B-3A leather flight gloves on.

A B-47 crewman wearing a K-2B flight suit, B-15D flight jacket, overseas cap


Another B-47 crewman in a K-2B flight suit and overseas cap.


Idaho ANG unit T-33 Pilots early 1960s , holding P-4B flight helmets possibly and MS22001 oxygen masks, K-2B flight suits, K-2B flight suit (middle), CWU-1/P flight suit (right) – shiny material, MA-1 jackets, backpack style parachute BA-18 type?.

Early 1960s F-86L Sabre Dog pilot wearing K-2B flight suit, B-5 life vest, baseball cap, P-4 flight helmet and MS22001 oxygen mask and a parachute backpack style.

RB-66C Crew in France 1964 with P-4A flight helmets and HGU-2/P flight helmets, MS22001 oxygen masks, MBU-/P oxygen masks, K-2B flight suits, MA-1 flight jacket, overseas cap, B-3 gloves and backpack style parachutes.

T-33 pilot – 1961 wearing P-4A flight helmet, MS 22001 oxygen mask, seat parachute and K-2B flight suit.

F-104 Starfighter pilot with a HGU-2A/P flight helmet and MBU-5/P oxygen mask, CSU-3/P g suit, K-2B flight suit, overseas cap, scarf and backpack style parachute.

Col John Scott Maryland ANG, early 1960s with a F-86H Sabre jet. He has a HGU-2/P flight helmet, MBU-5/P oxygen mask, K-2B flight suit, L-2B flight jacket, overseas cap and backpack style parachute.
USAF pilots discussing flight details – K-2B flight suits and B-15C flight jackets are seen.


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