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Collection from Italy: #6 F-104 Pilot, Italian Air Force


BlueBookGuy
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Noticed ofted, in many a photo, civilian test pilots dressed in these particular "partial pressure" suits for high altitude who are wearing simple, very low-ankled shoes like those for ordinary everyday life.

Evidently, not a real need for serious protection of feet themselves - suppose there are no important blood vessel inside them, wich could call for what the pressure gloves do to the hands?

 

Franco.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gone again to check on USAF's official Use/Maintenance book of the MC-3 and MC-4 Partial Pressure Suits, no special protection for the feet was contemplated - neither could have been, in effect, made available.

So a good pair of strong combat boots was worn, this unique type of high-altitude outfit after all was intended solely as a "get-me-down-quickly" one, in case of emergency. Be it an operational 9-hours mission in the U-2C, or a 45-minutes check flight in the F-104A, it was made in a pressurized cockpit while wearing the MC-3 suit fearfully tightened on the body like an actual outer, second skin - but anyway in still its uninflated form. for as long as flight went OK.

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  • 2 months later...

Got a bit spare time, so back again to my earlier It.A.F. F-104 pilot timeframed in about 1963 - of the two, the one 100% dressed and equipped in USAF style.

 

As already written some items are Italian-made on license, other had been provided straight from USAF to some N.A.T.O. countries employing at the time US-made machines. The BA-18 parachute, and "spurs" for the C-2 ejection seat are from the latter pieces.

Here a best view of them once taken away from feet. They only differ from those worn aboard TR-1 and SR-71 recon planes, by having two seperate straps each with its buckle.

Spurs for SR-71 aircrews do have a different design in straps - they come seperately from under the sole, then become sewn together in one upper strap having its buckle.

 

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Here still worn by the older F-104 pilot, well visible the two nylon fabric straps of earlier design. A nice and rare-to- find items, if wishing them in good shape.

 

post-151851-0-15034900-1417627452.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally!!

After just writing of them, I 've been able to find out a reasonably clear pic of SR-71 aircrews' "spurs". Please compare them with the above photo of my F-104 pilot, a couple detail are different.

 

post-151851-0-39116700-1418399956.jpg

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As shown in post #78, flight boots look maybe a bit "vintage" by current standards, they're Italian-made and original from about late '50s. Actually a pattern used by pilots of other planes as well, like F-86 and F-84/RF-84.

Lined in wool, they have laces + double straps & buckles but no zippers.

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Relating to post #69 of last July,

here three more photos from different angles, of that MC-3A partial-pressure suit previously being worn on a "temporary" mannequin.

 

post-151851-0-11839200-1418853414.jpg

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Removed the infamous "spurs" just today from the older F-104G Italian pilot, it automatically switches to a F-86K or F-84F pilot while staying 100% correct as for ALL the rest of items. Plenty of photos showing they are "interchangeable", really that pair was the difference. Moreover the whole assembly could be normal for a F-86K pilot of It.A.F. in about 1960-62 timeframe, much less usual (though not uncorrect) for a F-104's.

 

Will have them for sale - always not a common item available for collectors.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...
BlueBookGuy

just one collector here has contacted me after viewing my "old" F-104 pilot in another forum. According to him the guy could be more accurate and period-wise correct if being a F-84F or F-86K of our A.M.I. (Italian Air Force) in the same timeframe, wich thing I did by removing the "spurs" a few months ago. This, because a P-series helmet even if improved but still without the so-called "Hardman bayonet" fittings, couldn't be good for a F-104 pilot.

 

Any true and valid reasons he wasn't able in giving me, however, and of course I do not believe the mere being a F-104 pilot (very high-performance machine) is a good one for stating that. The "Hardman" system is generally believed to have come out starting in mid-1958 in the USA, and not necessarily they did immediate modifications within a short time to all the "old fashioned" P-series (P-4 and P-4A primarily).

Thus even truer in my opinion, for the Italian instance. After all, who knows how many USAF F-104 pilots flew F-104As in 1958 through, possibly, 1959 while wearing unmodified P-series helmets - those too, were F-104s, without posing the matter to themselves. An AMI pilot in 1963 was not a true error if rebuilt in mannequinn form while equipped with the old P-4A, but without the Hardmans.

 

But no ways to have him reasoning about this. patience.. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
BlueBookGuy

Offered last week nothing less than a so-called BA-15, the first true "modern" pattern of high-performance back parachute wich was standard equipment since about 1956 and replaced by the BA-18 maybe in 1962, or so. It was among an unsold grouping being brought back home from a Militaria event here in Italy.

 

If not for the missing canopy (and even so, a very high price) it could have been kind of forbidden dream for us collectors - BA-15 is that much sought after model having just one "Capewell" fitting for canopy's quick release, at the left shoulder. The later BA-18 is the more widely known model (mine is dated 1963) and so much seen in hundreds photos all through the '60s and early '70s - it sports the two Capewells fittings, of a different shape.

I had anyway the chance of looking toroughly at it and compare the two 'chutes for any other differences, but must say there are virtually none. In both of them, back of the pack does have the same unmistakable, roughly octagonal-shaped central "flap" (actually cut in two by a vertical opening zip), a more or less "deformed" octagon - more elongated in vertical sense.

BA-15 was missing the MD-2 oxy. emergency bottle from the built-in inside pocket (forward-looking, right side) wich instead my BA-18 does have. Altogether a great-looking specimen but, as said, less the canopy. It would seem that the most difficult to find is one being 100% complete, but this applies to the BA-18s as well.

Anycase, price was somehow startling even for a not complete piece.

 

 

The single, "T"-shaped quick release Capewell of the BA-15 model:

 

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Different shaped Capewell of the BA-18 model (two on each parachute):

 

post-151851-0-27575100-1432387301.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Back of parachute is 100% identical in either models, this is the BA-18:

 

post-151851-0-05478900-1432387407.jpg

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BlueBookGuy

And again 100% the same for the source of emergency oxygen, a green bottle (MD-2 I guess) its hose going up and over the right shoulder.

Identical in either the BA-15 and BA-18.

 

post-151851-0-78364400-1432387840.jpg

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  • 3 months later...

Again modified some my plans, so instantly got this "MR-506" survival radio when found out yesterday at a more-than-ridicolous price. Along many years didn't find the correct sub-variant to go into 'Secumar's proper pocket, and this coupled with high prices prevented me from doing it.

 

As mfg. by a German firm Becker, this beacon/survival radio equipped through about 30 years the survival vest of the Italian F-104 pilots.

 

Radio pocket is the next one to left arm:

 

post-151851-0-65841600-1442760673.jpg

 

post-151851-0-68598300-1442760762.jpg

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post-151851-0-70960600-1442760839.jpg

 

 

Plastic yellow "switch" is actually a lock for the folded up, side-placed antenna in transceiver mode. By rotating 180° it does free the whole antenna assembly and allows it to go up and unfolded.

Visible the small jack for the beacon cable proper, wich automatically starts signalling upon ejection:

 

post-151851-0-43737000-1442760871.jpg

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In transceiver mode the Becker MR-506 operates on frequency 243.0 MHz. In emergency beacon mode it sends twice a second the signalling tone varying between 300 and 1,000 MHz. frequency.

An useful range is about 60 miles for a searching airplane flying at 10,000 feet.

 

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post-151851-0-71579400-1442761514.jpg

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  • 5 months later...
BlueBookGuy

Just got (although many years late) an original paper item, navigational purpose, for this guy after bargaining with a fellow collector.

Here a couple shots, together with the Italian-made kneeboard.

 

post-151851-0-26522900-1457305550.jpg

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BlueBookGuy

Kneeboard is made of grey hard plastic - very similar in shape and dimensions to the classic metal sheet, U.S.-made kneeboard. Here the back side:

 

post-151851-0-67397600-1457305654.jpg

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  • 1 month later...
BlueBookGuy

Very recently got a bit more infos about these classic Italian-made flight gloves so widely used at the time - of course this at pilots' choice, given the fact those US-made (initially) and issued gloves in GS-FRP style were more than available to NATO Air Forces from mid-'70s through the whole '80s.

 

No precise date of introduction, but evidence shows them at least since first half of '70s - maybe even earlier. Apparently patterned very much after the classic US-made B-3A with same stitching procedure and short elastic band on wristlet's inside, but wristlet itself is decidedly longer.

Very sensitive touch and first-quality all-leather construction. Dyed a nice sagegreen hue, but this time a real sagegreen indeed... given that even too often this term is used about many aviation items (particularly, modern or recent ones) having however little, or nothing of the true sagegreen. B) B) .

No precise nomenclature for them, at least this brand new pair doesn't have any labels.

 

post-151851-0-74284900-1460141049.jpg

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BlueBookGuy

must say the color may vary depending from lighting, sometimes even more a very light aquablue - but still a more pleasant hue of super-light bluish sagegreen rather than that more generic greenish, lighter or darker, by now so much widespread on aviation items (from SRU-21/P to G-pants, passing through flight suits) wrongly labeled IMO as sagegreen .

 

Will post a photo of inside construction and different color, reminiscent of the 'fireproof' GS-FRP/2 wich are however two-material (leather + Nomex/aramid fabric)

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BlueBookGuy

No wonder should it someday turn up they're the Italian copy of the USAF B-3A.

The greyish/sage flight suit is labeled K-2B, and the older 'Aerostatica'-made B-5 Life Preserver was this called being it a more or less copy of the US-made B-5. The same for the 'Giusti'-made G-4 Bis - a licensed-made David Clark G-4A.

 

post-151851-0-80453700-1460152267.jpg

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BlueBookGuy

wristlet folded up so it's easy seeing separation between leather's different portions.

Just a visual similarity between these and the US-made GS-FRP, 'cause here it's all-leather construction. The white fabric does cover about half of glove's inside (more precisely hand's back) but it is anyway just added to leather itself.

 

post-151851-0-71529900-1460152515.jpg

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