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photos copyright ©2006-2017 by Ed Nored, used by permission
Flight Gear 1944-1945 / F-3 Heated Suit Headgear / Oxygen Masks / Boots Flak Vests / Helmets / Misc
Parachutes 1943-1945 "Little Friends" Fighter Pilot Gear Dressing for a Mission
(5-1) Above are two examples of navigator cases. The hats in top row left to right are the B-1, the short billed HBT cap and the B-2 leather with shearling cap. Next row L-R the A-3 mechanics cap, overseas cap and the officers crusher cap. All hats except the leather B-2 can be seen in the Middlemas Crew of the 360th. The B-2 can be seen on all of the 5 men kneeling in Lead Crew Mission #191.
(5-2) Above are two examples of the B-2 cap. The left one is the most common one issued during the war and found today. The one on the right is very rare and is an earlier "redskin" with name tag sewn in.
(5-3) Above are two examples of the B-6 helmet. The one on the left is how most B-6 helmets were issued. At some point earcups were added to hold the receivers. Snaps also had to be added to fasten the oxygen mask.
(5-4) Here are two more examples of the B-6, each shown with 2 different types of receiver cups. There is a third method of mounting the receivers to the helmet. The same large rubber ear pads used on the headsets were also sewn onto the A-9 helmet (not shown) and the B-6. Examples of the B-6 helmet with rubber ear pads sewn on can be seen on Lead Crew Mission #65.
(5-5) These helmets are the same ones shown previous, with a better shot of the left helmet's leather name tag and the AAF decal applied to the one on the right.
(5-6) Shown above is a typical 8th AF crewman. This man wears the B-6 helmet withrubber cups attached to hold the receivers. His B-10 has no AAF symbol applied to the shoulder. His A-3 harness looks brand new. The goggles are either the B-7 or AN6530 type.
(5-xx) Shown above is the A-9 helmet. Ear cups for the receivers have been sewn on. The goggles are the type 1021. The oxygen mask is the A-9 "short". Spec. no. 3125 dated 1-42. Its use peaked in 1943.
(5-xx) Shown above is the A-10A spec. # 3134 oxygen mask. The goggles are the RAF MK VII. There's quite a few crew members shown wearing these goggles in 1943. See lead crew # 21. Many still had the flip shields attached. The use of both peaked in 1943. The use of the B-6 marches on into 1944.
(5-xx) Shown above and below: On the left is the A-11 helmet. On the right is the more rare AN-H-16. Because they are so similar the two helmets can be easily confused or hard to identify in photos. The best example photo I came across here at the 303rd site is the 360th Christian Crew (Max A Christian). Two of the crew are wearing the AN-H-16 helmet. The other man wears a RAF C type helmet. Note the differences in the helmet. The interior shot below shows the shearling interior. The small "brow" bill was either shearling or chamois leather (shown). I would issue this warning to beginning collectors who obtain the B-6 helmet or AN-H-16 helmet. If it has snaps for the O2 masks I would urge you not to snap your O2 mask to it. The snaps will eventually pull out of the helmet.
(5-7) Shown above on the left is the RAF C type helmet. On the right the American A-11 helmet. An A-14 O2 (oxygen) mask lies in front. To see an example of a crew member wearing the C-type helmet, see Lead Crew #159 and the 360th Christian Crew.
(5-8) Shown above is the headset HS-38. This headset is found with two types of ear cups or cushions. They will either have the small black cushions or the larger type, brown in color, shown above. The ones shown above were also sewn onto the B-6 helmet (shown above) and the A-9 helmets to hold the receivers. Refer to above photo (5-6) to see them sewn onto the outside of the B-6.
(5-9) Shown above is a very rare Army Air Corp B-5 helmet. The example above is an early version issued without the polyacrylate lacquer finish applied. My example is dirty. This helmet, in a cleaner condition, would reveal a cream colored leather that contrast beautifully with the darker brown leather. In the Lead Crew photo for Mission #33, T/Sgt Charles Zipfel is wearing the early B-5 helmet.
(5-10) On top are the AN-6530 goggles with green lenses and single pads. Center is another pair of 6530's with amber lenses and equipped with the most commonly found single piece eye pad or cushion. (They make excellent reproduction pads now that look identical.) The bottom goggle is the USAC Goggle Type B-7. This is the much more sought after goggle since it was issued in the Air Corp days and before the 6530's. The head straps are found in white, gray or black
(5-11) Shown above on the left is the early wartime A-8B oxygen mask with the post war version on the right.
(5-xx) Shown above is a great pair of A-6 boots made by the Hood company. I have to worn you to take great care in working the zippers up or down on these old boots. Corrosion and Rot has taken its toll on these boots. Consider them for display only.
(5-12) Here are a pair of A-6 boots made by the U.S. Rubber Company. Some boots have the Army Air Force logo or decal on them and some do not. Of all the A-6 boots I've seen, only about half have the logo. Often the rubber soles have turned hard as rock.
(5-13) Above on the left is another A-6 boot made by the U.S. Rubber Company. It has a different zipper then the pair above and the rubber sole is manufactured differently, possibly from a sub-contractor or change in manufacturing. The other 2 boots are late 44-45 A-6A boots made by the Converse Company. The straps were added in response to the problem of men losing their shoes as a result of the opening shock of a parachute during bailout. A leather name tag is also shown on one of the A-6A boots.
(5-14) Always a great find for any collector, a mint pair of A-6 boots in the box. On the right is the same pair shown previously. Both pairs are identical, including labels. The only difference is the straps have been added to the one. Both pairs made by the U.S. Rubber Company.