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Camo flight helmets -- Desert Shield/Storm?

Started by FtrPlt , Feb 04 2012 07:55 AM

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#1 FtrPlt

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 07:55 AM

Back in the early 1980s, most TAC pilots (myself included) were wearing woodland-camo-taped HGU-26s. I see the odd example for sale every once in a while.

My question: I see 6-color (chocolate chip) camo film sheets for sale on a pretty regular basis. They're identical to the woodland camo sheets I referred to earlier. Does anyone have any evidence of a desert camo flight helmet? I realize the change to the HGU-55 occurred years before Desert Shield/Storm. I'm just curious if the desert film was ever applied to a helmet?

Personally, I've never seen an HGU-55 in anything but grey. I'm not sure of the HGU-26 soldiered on into Desert Storm? I've never seen a desert camo HGU-26 either.

#2 hink441

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:21 PM

I was part of a an A-6E Intruder squadron during Desert Storm. Our Aviators wore chocolate chip cloth covers over the helmets. The cloth was held in place by velcro tabs. We were mainly using HGU-55s then. I remember more than a few of the old timers still had the older HGU-26 helmets with no cloth covers applied. Hope this helps.

Chris

#3 hawkdriver

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 01:26 PM

I was "told" that the guys quit using taped helmets in the desert because the excessive heat would cause the glue of the tape to melt and ooze out between the seam and cause a gloppy mess. Don't know if there is truth to it or not, but makes sense. When I was in Iraq during the summer, I made the mistake once of taking my gloves off and then trying to take my helmet off. I hooked my thumbs under the earcup and fingers on the outside and literally scorched my finger tips from my helmet baking in the heat from the direct sun through the green house.

Edited by hawkdriver, 04 February 2012 - 01:29 PM.


#4 FtrPlt

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 01:57 PM

I forgot about the USMC cloth camo covers.

My question was more towards permanently camo'd helmets using the 6-color chocolate chip sticker/film. I see a lot of kits for sale on eBay but have never seen it used. Probably bench stock from the 70s/80s which was intended for use like the woodland camo but was never used. Again, I've never seen a USAF HGU-55 in anything but grey.

I've spent time at DM and Nellis -- both pretty hot in summer. Never had an issue with the camo on my helmet. Certainly you could get things pretty hot if you left them in the sun, though!

Edited by FtrPlt, 04 February 2012 - 01:59 PM.


#5 boxerdogi

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 02:16 PM

I've never seen a helmet or a picture of a helmet with the Desert camo film on. I have seen plenty with the cloth covers though. I'm not sure the desert film was ever ment to be used on helmets. It may be a cooked up idea in order to sell off some old stock??...Tom.

#6 FtrPlt

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 03:54 PM

I've never seen a helmet or a picture of a helmet with the Desert camo film on. I have seen plenty with the cloth covers though. I'm not sure the desert film was ever ment to be used on helmets. It may be a cooked up idea in order to sell off some old stock??...Tom.


The film is exactly the same as the woodland stuff -- 12x12 squares. I've only seen the woodland used on flight helmets and ancillary stuff the life support guys would have.

The cloth covers are a USN/USMC thing -- at least prior to Desert Storm. My US Army flight helmet was OD green -- no cover used -- and my USAF helmet was the aforementioned HGU-26 with camo tape. I never saw a cloth cover during my USAF time.

I think the film likely came about at the same time the chocolate chip pattern was developed. I saw it being used in Egypt in the early 1980s. I suspect the desert film was stocked for potential desert ops? I'll see if I can find some packaging with the spec tags still on. Likely 1980s production stuff.

#7 boxerdogi

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:59 AM

I know Flighthelmet.com has these sheets. The serial number he shows makes me think his are around 2001. I've just never run into a helmet with it applied......but that doesn't mean they're not out there....Tom.

#8 FtrPlt

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:39 AM

The film is exactly the same as the woodland stuff -- 12x12 squares. I've only seen the woodland used on flight helmets and ancillary stuff the life support guys would have.

The cloth covers are a USN/USMC thing -- at least prior to Desert Storm. My US Army flight helmet was OD green -- no cover used -- and my USAF helmet was the aforementioned HGU-26 with camo tape. I never saw a cloth cover during my USAF time.

I think the film likely came about at the same time the chocolate chip pattern was developed. I saw it being used in Egypt in the early 1980s. I suspect the desert film was stocked for potential desert ops? I'll see if I can find some packaging with the spec tags still on. Likely 1980s production stuff.

Just wanted to clairfy that my above statement (in red) was referring to the (then-new) chocolate chip uniforms and not the camo film.

Production in the 2000s would be interesting. I don't think any US branches were still wearing the 6-color desert??

#9 boxerdogi

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:52 AM

You are right....the number I saw was a NSN number, not a DLA number.

#10 mohawkALSE

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:01 PM

Raising this from the dead. I have a USAF HGU-26 helmet that I just recently cleaned up. It came with a custom woodland camo cover specifically for the 26/P style dual visor housing. One would probably first think it was a USMC thing but anytime I've seen a helmet cover or the helmet already setup for one the Marines seem to always glue 1 half of the velcro in numerous spots around the helmet along the edge roll and visor housing area. The cover that came with this helmet has 6 grommets which allow it to be installed on the helmet using the nape strap screws, chin straps screws and the lower LH and RH side visor housing screws. I cant say I've seen another cover like this.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g419/mohawkALSE/A-6.jpg
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g419/mohawkALSE/E-4.jpg
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g419/mohawkALSE/F-2.jpg

When I got the helmet it originally had the cover on, and also had a standard single plug headset cable which would lead me to believe this might have been a helmet used by a USAF FAC guy having the boom as a primary mic but the ability to mount a O2 mask. Could also have been potentially used by a USAF rotary wing crew member. The comm items were early 80s dated. I restored the inside as the original soft ear cups were destroyed from age, and then I changed it to a dual Boom/Mask ICS cable. I wanted to have it setup how some US Army OV-1 Mohawk crew members had in the 1980s

#11 FtrPlt

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 04:22 AM

Interesting helmet and fun research project. You can probably rule out USMC. I don't think they used the HGU-26 and, if they did, likely would have had a production quality camo to go with it. Along those lines, I'd look into when the USMC cloth covers started being used. I suspect a case of "cover envy" by your helmet's original user!

The visor housing has been cut back to allow better upward vision. This was a popular modification within the fighter community. I suspect this mod wasn't bothered with by the bomber and transport folks (then FB-111 excluded).

Not sure about FAC use. Other than the O-2 Bird Dog, I think everything else used for FAC work would have used helmets with masks. I'm not sure about USAF helo helmets. I'm sure they used the boom mic setup but I would have presumed they wore camo-taped helmets like TAC aircrew.

#12 northcoastaero

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 03:47 PM

The HGU-26/P helmet with camouflage cover could also be from a USAF loadmaster such as C-130 aircraft.
I have also seen Army OV-1 pilots wearing HGU-26/P helmets. Flightsuits Ltd. (now Gibson & Barnes)
did sell single and dual visor helmet camouflage covers with the grommets at one time. The helmet
covers were originally secured with grommets through the chin strap screws. I believe it was during
the late 1980s when the USN/USMC started securing the covers with velcro so that the cover would blow
off during ejection/bailout so that the reflective tape underneath would be visible for search crews
to spot the aviator(s). I have also seen video from Desert Storm of an A-7E Corsair II pilot wearing
a helmet that was painted desert tan over the reflective tape instead of using a camouflage cover.


#13 FtrPlt

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 06:12 AM

Looking at the cover, I'm wondering what the slits in the sides are for? Does your HGU-26 have the strings coming out the sides which pull the earcups back?

Edited by FtrPlt, 15 October 2012 - 06:14 AM.


#14 hink441

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 12:58 PM

I think those slits in the cover are used for sliding either the tinted or clear lens down and up.

Chris

#15 mohawkALSE

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 01:31 PM

The slits in the side of the cover are for the dual visor actuating levers.

This helmet doesn't have the older style hard ear cups with strings and velcro. It came with custom white leather "elephant ear" soft ear cups. Those were destroyed from age so I replaced those with some grey ones I had in a spare parts box. I've never seen the white leather ear cups, only grey or black. Other weird thing is the custom molded liner is also white which I've never seen. On older helmets its usually a black or dark brown and newer ones had grey.

Its very possible the helmet cover was bought from Flight Suits many years ago if they did sell them. It seems like a limited production item vs a rigger made piece. There is also a small white tag sewn inside it with an L for large, no other markings.

Obviously I have no proof of who used it but if I was to take a guess Id say a USAF O-2A or OV-10 Bronco pilot perhaps.


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