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The HGU-7/P "FAC Helmet" controversy


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#26 MattS

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 04:14 AM

Here's how I came to be an Honorary Raven: http://www.usmilitar...etnam/?hl=cross

 

I did FAC work as an Aeroscout in the Army so the group took pity on me and invited me in for helping to honor one of their own. In fact, Indiana is renaming a stretch of highway near Chuck Engle's hometown to honor him, a project I am proud to have helped with along with his wingman Raven 25: http://kicks96.com/local-news/303175

 

Anyway, I don't think applying what the Ravens wore in Laos is helpful because they did indeed wear whatever they wanted to wear, but just about all of them started off as FACs in Vietnam. If I hear any more about the use of these helmets from them, I will pass it along. 



#27 FtrPlt

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 04:41 AM

Matts: Thanks for your comments. I concun. My interest here is to simply find out whether the helmet was actually issued to FAC pilots vs a very small handful acquiring one to wear one. Conventional wisdom would have the collecting world believe these are "FAC Helmets" based upon a very small number of photos. The overwhelming number of photos depicting O-1 crews suggests that the HGU-2 series was the standard helmet used.

I fully agree that any photo showing Raven personnel wearing an HGU-7 doesn't contribute much to proving/disproving USAF issuance of the helmet to pilots assigned to in-country TASS squadrons. My earlier point was exactly that: the gent in the video wearing the USAF flight cap is wearing the regulation HGU-2. I can't make out enough detail of the second pilot (IP?) with the HGU-7 to tell if he is also a USAF officer. He likely is but also equally likely he is a Raven given the complete lack of US markings on both aircraft.

 

Kudos for getting the section of highway named in his honor!

I did scout track (OH-58A's and C's) when I was in flight school but went attack helicopters upon graduation. 


Edited by FtrPlt, 13 May 2017 - 04:48 AM.


#28 MattS

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 04:59 AM

Kudos for getting the section of highway named in his honor!

I did scout track (OH-58A's and C's) when I was in flight school but went attack helicopters upon graduation. 

 

Thanks!

That's traitorous, going the gun route! Aeroscouts, unarmed and unafraid!  :lol:

Thanks for your service.



#29 FtrPlt

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 05:04 AM

MattS: It's far worse than that. I was an Army sandwich -- USAF -- US Army -- ANG. Fortunately, serving in a Cav squadron gave me the skills to survive exposure to Big Blue for so long :)

Thanks for your service, too!


Edited by FtrPlt, 13 May 2017 - 05:11 AM.


#30 MattS

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 05:09 AM

Doubly traitorous!



#31 FtrPlt

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 05:19 AM

I didn't fly scouts but I served with guys that did!    :D



#32 FtrPlt

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 07:24 AM

Did some digging around yesterday and found some interesting info on the HGU-7. Specifically several revisions to the Mil-spec which indicate it remained in service until 1996. Kind of makes some sense as their is an example belonging to a retired general in the Air Mobility Command museum -- he was a C-141 pilot.

MIL-H-27856D (dated 8 May 1981) is an update to MIL-H-27856C (dated 2 Aug 1966). Document doesn't stipulate any changes but indicates it's still in use and on issue.

 

Next notice on the HGU-7
MIL-H-27856D NOTICE 1 (dated 27 May 1988) -- ML-H-27856 has been reviewed and determined to be valid for use in acquisition.

 

Final notice on the HGU-7

MIL-H-27856D NOTICE 2 (dated16 Dec 1996) SUPERSEDING NOTICE 1 (dated 27 May 1988) -- MIL-H-27856D, dated 27 May 1988, is hereby cancelled without replacement
 
So, the HGU-7 was cancelled in 1996 and likely explains the numbers of unissued helmets coming into surplus over the past years.


#33 MattS

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 01:29 PM

That and they didn't seem to be too popular given the whole "they tended to shear off the top of the pilot’s head" rumor. 



#34 FtrPlt

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:22 PM

Honestly, these things were around WAY longer than I thought. Improvements made in 1981 (Revision D)? And a "Hey, I'm still here" notice in 1988?

Gentex, Sierra, and Land Mfg all produced them. Trying to see if I can find the last actual purchase date.



#35 mohawkALSE

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 09:13 PM

SAC helmet?

 



#36 beezman

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 01:00 AM

captur11.jpg

 

Regarding the first film shown, this pilot is wearing a jungle jacket with a Major or Lt Col collar rank (black outlined in white or yellow). He is clearly USAF.



#37 FtrPlt

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 11:30 AM

Good catch on the collar. I think you're seeing the OD fabric surrounding the rank rather than outlined rank itself. The rank on the collar seems pretty small. Same as the guy in the b&w photo also wearing jungles.

Found this photo of the outlined type. Note the relative size difference. I'm not sure when USAF switched to subdued blue tapes and ranks? Early USAF was black on OD. Not sure why they opted to not use brown for the 2LT and MAJ ranks? 
post-214-1282264987.jpg


Edited by FtrPlt, 15 May 2017 - 11:40 AM.


#38 beezman

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 01:16 PM

There are lots of variations in size and style; it could also be direct embroidered, hard to tell. It could even be an outlined Lt bar?



#39 FtrPlt

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:33 AM

Wrote to a contact at Gentex (helmets) who pointed me to a group of retired life support/flight equipment guys. I started received replies to my enquiry (re: HGU-7's and who was issued them). None reference the Bird Dog but give us a starting to point to see who was issued them

"I was in B-47 and KC-97 at Lincoln AFB Nebraska from 1959 to 1966. We used them."

 

"HGU-7/P helmets were issued to C-130 crews in the early 70s but were transitioned out in the 72-75 time frame.  Normally C-130 crews only used headsets but when they had to go on Oxygen they would remove the headset and don the helmet that also had a headset and bayonet receivers for the oxygen mask.  

 
"The helmet were also issued to med evac crews (nurses, med tech etc...) that would fly on C-130s when the airplane was configured for med evac missions.  The use was the same as the aircrew.  Med evac folks would only don the helmet when there was a need to be on oxygen."
 
"I was stationed @ Pope AFB from Jan 64 - jun 67 in what we called "Personal Equipment" later Life Support with  C-130Es. Our crews used this helmet which was designed to be a "minimum protection system with communications." Most preferred to take the visor off since it tended to ride forward and pull the front of the helmet down. The cushion pads didn't stay attached very well either. As I remember no one liked it very much. In fact we had several crew members who continued to use their MB-3 leather helmets."

 


#40 MattS

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:11 AM

Good info! I guess the colloquial term "FAC helmet" in inaccurate after all.



#41 FtrPlt

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:02 AM

Looks like we can add C-141, C-123, and C-7 crews to the list HGU-7 users

 

My contact at Gentex suspects the reason the HGU-7 received improvements and remained on issue so long as that it likely continued in use with non-US forces for many years.

 

For USAF use, it appears the helmet started being phased out in the mid-1970s. The ANG/Reserves probably lagged a few years behind


Edited by FtrPlt, 18 May 2017 - 02:09 AM.


#42 flyboy53

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:55 AM

Just a couple of comments about FAC's using HGU-7/P helmets.

 

First, please keep in mind that pilots and observers for these O-1 missions were volunteers who came from other flying assignments. If you were any type of aircrew (meaning that I flew aboard HH-3s and HC-130s as something called "Mission Essential Aircrew") your helmets were built -- fitted for you -- by the aircrew life support guys at the unit of origin. That means that it is very possible that the helmet was not issued by the FAC unit  but brought with the pilot from his previous aircraft assignment.

 

So, I don't see anything unusual with seeing a FAC wearing a helmet normally associated with transport aircraft. 

 

One other thing, I struggled to try and determine the markings on the O-1 in the first video and couldn't determine the base. I'm wondering if the crews are flying from Bien Hoa Air Base and you are watching 19th TASS FACs performing their best during the Operation Delta insertion into Laos.



#43 Lee Ragan

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:58 AM

Add SAC KC-135 crews to that list. In the late '60's, I issued many of these helmets to crews from the 46th Air Refueling Sqd. They didn't like it much, but that's what we were ordered to do. Crews on planes without ejection seats were supposed to get these helmets.

I remember that didn't last very long.



#44 Ronnie

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 11:00 PM

I don't mean to hijack this thread but here is a photo of an HGU helmet in my collection that belong to Col. O.C. Nelson of Iuka, MS.
He flew in Vietnam. He flew wearing simple headsets with a mike attached and this HGU. He wore the HGU on special missions that he was involved with. The O-mask came with the helmet.
Thanks.
Ronnie

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Edited by Ronnie, 06 June 2017 - 11:01 PM.


#45 Ronnie

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 03:43 PM

I meant to say in the post above that he flew C130's in Vietnam.
RD

#46 RWW

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 07:37 PM

I saw this topic some time ago, but it stuck with me.  I was looking for something else when I ran across some material I had forgotten about. Below is the description and use of the helmet from a 1968 dated AFM 64-5 Handbook Of Protective Equipment.  The same description is also in the 1964 and 1974 editions of the manual.

 

 

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#47 BlueBookGuy

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Posted 09 January 2020 - 02:46 PM

In regards to that 20th TASS/1st MIBARS pic, did they have the 21/P vest in 66?  That the first year they issued those?

 

remember noticing the SRU-21/Ps in a photo dated late springtime 1965, being worn by F-4C crewmembers. Details were not easily discernible as for pockets' shape and size, but they were -21/P though.



#48 majormadmax

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 05:03 AM



I saw this topic some time ago, but it stuck with me.  I was looking for something else when I ran across some material I had forgotten about. Below is the description and use of the helmet from a 1968 dated AFM 64-5 Handbook Of Protective Equipment.  The same description is also in the 1964 and 1974 editions of the manual.


AFM 64-4 in Google Books....

https://books.google...epage&q&f=false

 

I recently acquired an unissued HGU-7/P and found this manual while searching for more info on it.

 

HGU-7P (1).jpg


Edited by majormadmax, 13 January 2020 - 05:04 AM.


#49 majormadmax

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:45 AM

FLIGHTGEAR

 

Most O-1 pilots and crew wore HGU-2/P and HGU-2A/P and HGU-7/P flight helmets in Vietnam. At times APH-5 were used. All had a boom microphone added on the left side and adjustable. Sometime was placed on the right side of helmet.

They also wore K-2B flight suits, SRU-21/P survival vest, backpack parachute, flight boots, flak jacket and pistol.

These photos show pilots wearing APH-5 and HGU-2A/P helmets. Note how white stands out and is easy to see. This was a problem for the pilot/aircrew as it made them easier to spot from the ground in some cases.

Source:  https://heritageflig...acs-in-vietnam/)

 




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