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Protection Incorporated HGU-2A/P Flight Helmet - Combat Worn or Stateside Issue?


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#1 rtepak6

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:47 PM

Thought I’d ask this here to see if those knowledgeable in USAF flight helmets, specifically Protection Incorporated helmets, can help me resolve a question I’ve had about this particular PI made HGU-2A/P flight helmet that has been in collection since 2004.

 

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At the time, the USAF Colonel who owned it happened to live in a neighboring city, and the information below was obtained over a few afternoon coffee meetings, one in particular where he signed a book and handed me his helmet bag complete with this flight helmet and mask.

 

His background: After attending Wild Weasel Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) training at Nellis AFB, Nevada, his first assignment was with the 6010th Wild Weasel Squadron (WWS) at Korat RTAFB, Thailand. There he flew 112 F-105G Thunderchief combat missions, 90 over North Vietnam, 20 in Route Package (RP) VI.

 

During this tour, his USAF issued flight helmet caused “hot spots” during long missions, so once his first tour was complete, he had a flight helmet “made to order” from Protection Incorporated (then, based in Pamona, CA) which was individually molded to his head, etc. The completed helmet was originally covered in camouflage tape to avoid detection on the ground in the event of a bailout.

 

He wore this “new” helmet during his second tour with the 8th TFS / 49th TFW, flying out of Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, in the summer of 1972 in support of Linebacker I. During this period, he flew 143 combat strike missions in the F-4D, 45 over the North, 40 in RP VI.

 

Returning for yet another tour lasting from October 1972 to January 1973, he went TDY from Okinawa to Korat RTAFB with the 67th TFS / 18th TFW, back in the Wild Weasel SAM suppression role. Flying in the F-4C for 58 combat missions over North Vietnam, 48 of those missions were in RP VI mostly at night in support of the B-52s during Linebacker II.

 

All told, he said this particular flight helmet accumulated 201 combat missions, 103 over North Vietnam, 88 in RP VI.

 

Returning stateside to Homestead AFB, Florida, he recalls the helmet was sent back to Protection Incorporated where it was completely stripped of the camouflage tape, and “updated” to conform to Tactical Air Command (TAC) standards.

 

Each Protection Incorporated helmet was individually fitted and assigned to the user, and there is a small blue and silver tag affixed to the underside of one of leather headset assemblies … this one is located beneath the right side headset. The tag is type printed in black with the owner’s name, an assigned liner number, helmet model, and provides space for a date of manufacture. Although somewhat worn and hard to read, in this case the tag appears to indicate a handwritten manufacturing date of 01/74.

 

So here’s the big question: could the 01/74 dated tag reflect the date the 201 combat mission helmet was updated to TAC standards upon return from SEA and, presumably, when a new updated tag was installed in place of the old tag to reflecting the modifications date, or, as memories begin to fade, is this in reality not the 201 combat mission helmet but the date this particular EWO actually had a new helmet constructed for him for flight use on returning Stateside?

 

Two additional points: one corner of the silver and blue Protection Incorporated tag is loose, so I can look beneath it and determine it was not placed over an old tag, and the Sierra Engineering MBU-5/P mask assembly is dated 74/75/76 showing it is a postwar replacement to his original. 

 

Dale

 

 



#2 mohawkALSE

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 12:18 AM

No honest way to tell but I think it was a new helmet from after his combat time.  They might have very well reused the custom fitted liner but I think the shell and everything else was part of a new helmet from that 74 tag.  I highly doubt they would just re-tag it.



#3 Ultra Hog

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 12:57 PM

I have never heard/seen shells retag. Why do it ?

Clearly his post-war shell with no combat use.

#4 FtrPlt

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 06:53 PM

I can't vouch for the 1970s but in the early 80s, I never heard of anyone buying their own helmets. 'Hot spots' are a fit issue and have nothing to due with the helmet itself. ALSE tech's were well versed with adjusting the fitting pads to alleviate the hot spots. As new 'stuff' was made available, upgrades were common. USN EEK visors were popular as were gull-wing cuts to the standard visor cover, etc.

Also extremely odd that anyone would send their helmet to the manufacturer to remove camo film. ALSE tech's were versed on this, as well.

During my time, there were fitting pads, poured liners, percentile liners -- all provided for free.

#5 mohawkALSE

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Posted 03 February 2018 - 11:37 AM

Note sure on AF stuff but I would imagine it similar, Ive seen a couple of APH-5 style or AFH-1 helmets from a 1967 Army contract made by Sierra that used a brand new custom fit liner as well as the leather "elephant ear" ear cups like what can still be found today in some HGU helmets.  Didn't seem to take off for the Army as Ive literally only saw those 2 examples which were also named to the individuals they were fitted to.  The AF TO for the HGU-26 mentions the various types of liners used in them from the 70s til the end of their use, again not sure when exactly they started using custom fit poured liners for them in the AF.  That TO actually shows how to fabricate the leather cover pieces for the ear phones and such.   When did those Navy style HGU EEK single visor housings come out like on this helmet above?  Gull wing cuts seem to be more common for AF helmets in the 60s and 70s and as such the AFTO shows how to cut those as well.



#6 rtepak6

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 10:35 AM

I finally had the opportunity to sit down with the USAF vet who originally had this helmet. After discussing with him some of the answers here, he acknowledged this was “most likely” the helmet he had manufactured by Protection Incorporated immediately upon returning stateside, as opposed to an actual refit/rebuild of his original combat helmet as initially thought … unfortunately, no idea where that original combat worn gem went.

 

Thanks to all who provided opinions about this.

 

For those who might be interested, this particular helmet assembly is currently being offered in the FS Helmet & Accessories section here on the USMF.

 

Dale




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