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Thanks very much.

The rolls posted look very much like a olive green or drab, so they could be for military-related use I argue? 100 mph tape (161 km/h) is not a huge speed, so it could be not necessarily related to aviation things. At least so I image.

 

It looks like such a green(ish) tape, if cut to narrower stripes and attached to a helmet could pretty well fit the color photos of Maj. Kilgus as for the first-look appearance.

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Hi Franco,

Sorry the term duct tape threw you off. It was used all over in Vietnam. You see it used to tape M-16 clips together and on equipment like rucksacks to secure loose ends of straps from catching on jungle bushes. Here is one usage as a quote by a chopper pilot :

When he was an Army flight engineer during the Vietnam War, he used duct tape to repair his Chinook, nicknamed "Easy Money." The helicopter's blades were regularly hit by gunfire when the crew took it out on a mission, which created a loud whistling sound. That could be dangerous in a war zone, so crews patched the holes with duct tape whenever they stopped to refuel.

"Everybody carried a roll of duct tape in Vietnam on the helicopters," said Huddleston, of Columbus, Ga.

Mitch

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Thanks Mitch for your kindness.

 

Yes of course now that I knows what it is, can pretty well state it's available here as well, coming in a silvery-metalized color and 2" wide (anglo-american measures have been kept as standard even through the UE). A bloody sturdy and sticky tape ideally suited to repair small holes in piping carrying water - as long as it doesn't get too warm or under great pressure.

Franco.

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I've looked through quite a few photos over the last few days -- looking for helmets with camo tape. I did save the link to this photo but I can't find the parent website for it. I thought it was captioned for Vietnam in 1972? I don't know enough about F-4's to see if there are any characteristics to date this photo later (mid-70s+).

 

The second photo is unrelated but shows a nice shot of a camo painted helmet (pilot on the right)

 

http://0.static.wix.com/media/9d5721_4075b7525c576ae1f00d935180e30d26.jpg_1024

 

140113-F-DW547-032.jpg

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FtrPlt a intriguing photo in my opinion - I went among dozens color pics when at the time I was working on at least two mannequins timeframed in Vietnam (USN F-4B and USAF RF-101) but this one is perplexing at least.

 

* helmet at right looks indeed like a camo taped one.

 

* one of them does carry a .38 revolver thus, I believe, should be wartime photo. Even if would be the latest stages involving F-4 operations (summer 1973) but, definitely not post-1973.

 

* but even more so, very strange the flight suits are three old, unmistakable K-2B and the remaining (I believe) a CS-FRP/2. Much unlikely it's a "new" CWU-27/P, at least the early ones were not such a decidedly greenish hue. Rather, almost a drab one. this 100% certain.

 

So, if pushing the envelope to the extreme (summer 1973) just to have plausible a camo-taped helmet in Vietnam, we conversely have four very obsolete suits by then. The opposite, if we go back to 1969-70 (helmet could appear to be out of place?).

Just a a bit of "detective exercising" on my part, to have some things well clear in my mind - of course not the absolute truth.

Franco.

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In the first photo (pilot/WSO in the F-4), the pilot potentially has a taped helmet. The WSO likely has a painted helmet. I wasn't able to see any lines from tape strips. At first I thought the helmet had a cloth cover but on closer inspection does nott

 

The second photo (4 pilots standing), the helmets all appear painted. The one on the right appears to have a second, darker color painted on to form the camo pattern. Again, this appears painted to me

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Have downloaded the 2nd photo, thus enlarged even if quality does suffer slightly. Under magnifying the helmet on the right shows its rubber edge, covered in green paint - was left unmasked during a painting job. Thus, not a camo taping (I'd have sworn it was).

So photo could pretty well date comfortably back in time, I believe pre-1970. Judging also from those noteworthy hardware of their PCU harnesses, unique to USAF F-4 aircrews from that period - fully different from the classic snap hook + triangular ring type wich shows up in many pics of 1970-73.

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Here's another interesting photo. Caption:

Weapon system officer Capt. Jeffrey Feinstein, 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, scored his five MiG-21 victories between April and October 1972. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

This is definitely a taped helmet -- interesting that the tape covers the edge beading. Also that this appears to be the ERDL/Woodland pattern tape and not the duck-hunter pattern.

 

My question on this photo is when it was taken? The grey box on the ground is marked 432nd MMS -- which was at Udorn AB in Thailand. The problem is that the unit was there until 1975. If this photo was taken in 1972, then it would support this pattern of camo tape being much earlier than believed. If it was closer to 1975, then it might be part of the PACAF test and/or early adoption of camo tape. This would technically make the camo pattern ERDL rather than Woodland (Woodland was a development of ERDL).

 

Captain Feinstein received a vision waiver and became an F-4 pilot, retiring as a LTC in the 1980s. We can't see his nametag so unable to determine if he was a WSO in this photo (making it wartime) or pilot (making it postwar)

 

All of CPT Feinsteins victories occurred between April and October of 1972.

 

021002-O-9999G-010.jpg

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FtrPlt, we've been able maybe in narrowing the crucial timeframe.

 

Cpt. Feinstein was actually in the 432nd TFW until March 1973, not afterward anymore. An important detail, photo shows under G-suit's hose the double row eyelets of a standard soldier's hip belt wich, in my opinion could almost certainly carry a holstered handgun on right-side. I'm pretty certain of this.

Altough not 100% comprovable we can add this thought to the jungle boots and a clearly full-combat look, I'd best place in the true timeframe of fighting the Linebaker. But even if possibly taken in early 1973, matter wouldn't change as long as our research is related.

 

Yes a much enlarged view of this reveals helmet to be camo taped, down to the edge beading. Think this a good step forward in (almost) proving the camo taping of helmets was underway by 1972.

B) well done... B)

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I think the information provided by Croc gives us a pretty reliable source for camo tape not being present prior to 1972. If the camo test was started in early 1972, there must have been some delay to get camo film designed, produced, and distributed to PACAF units participating in the test program.

 

The Feinstein photo strongly suggests that both the ERDL and duck-hunter pattern films existed together rather than one preceding the other.

 

As you suggested, the Feinstein photo date is really not relevant since the date really has to be 1972 or 1973, at the latest -- again suggesting use was somehow either part of the PACAF study or very early in the adoption of camo film for widespread USAF use -- assuming there was widespread use.

 

Fun research project. I'm curious to see if any photos surface with earlier dates or if photos with the duck-hunter pattern will turn up.

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Yes if we want to be "prudent", Feinstein photo could be pushed to February -March 1973 at latest, after wich he wasn't in the 432nd anymore. But, a very stretched one.

If instead we prefer see in that a very genuine combat-like look and give it a same plausible timeframe (if not a bigger one) he could pretty well be near his F-4 as early as summer 1972, why not (but also, not after November 1972?).

 

** Another thought on my side: maybe it isn't other than a snapshoot like hundreds and hundreds do exist of US aviators, or maybe it has been taken after he somehow became known widespread for his air victories - if so, we can remember there were 4 kills by late July 1972, wich could (maybe) account for a good posed photo of him battle-ready?

If so, in turn, using operationally a camo-taped helmet in mid-1972?

 

A good reason to think in either instances, he really was wearing (even if, possibly, an experimental way) that top interesting camo pattern on his helmet in combat flying - good possibility does exist that date is surprisingly earlier than we could expect.

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So, we have established that the ERDL camo pattern appears in 1972/73. This now leaves the question of the duck-hunter pattern. The single photo reference I have is dated 1975 but I have not yet found any photos of this pattern in use other than possibly this helmet. The image appears very dark and the tape pattern is very difficult to make out. I don't see the long black segments which appear unique to ERDL:

http://www.flightgear.ch/USA_HGU_26_P/usa_HGU_26_p.htm

 

Use of camo tape after Vietnam but prior to 1980 appears limited. Possibly the peace time USAF went back to white as a matter of safety -- downed pilots easier to spot with white helmets?

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Yes that lighting doesn't help, I too have difficulty in spotting any real black colors. The darkest ones are very dark drabs or similar.

 

White helmets another matter as for higher visibility, Navy even started toward mid-'80s to have HGU-33/P and -55/P shells covered with reflective white taping.

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this topic could indirectly bring answer to a my old (yet ingenuous) question, why not to try here - was it really so much felt in those days the need for helmet camouflage, whatever paint or tape? To better put the thing, was really a useful thing at least to crews of fast-moving jets?

I do mean, as long as you are in cockpit it won't be that white helmet the critical spot to wich enemy will aim his gunfire, SAMs or AAA... the huge airplane is the target.

 

If downed and still alive, suppose you (if not already without helmet because blown off upon ejection) will discard it while moving in a tropical forest - needless being on the head, neither useful (in my opinion) carrying it with you just to put inside it anything more useful, pretty well a wrong sort of container.

If rescued and comes back to the air base, you will have a new helmet for your future missions.. or at least, so I hope. Least concern a helmet's cost, after a fighter-bomber was lost.

 

A good question this one, or 100% ingenuous?

Franco.

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Finding a copy of the actual PACAF test document would probably answer your question regarding camo use on helmets. There must be some realistic rationale since the Army has used green helmets since the 1960s (I think they used white APH-5's very briefly but all were painted OD within a short period).

 

My assumption is that the camo film/tape was developed to allow it to be removable so the helmets could be returned to white with minimal effort vs stripping/repainting or reissuing new helmets.

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yes could be an interesting reading, even tough I mainly wondered about the (more generally) use of camouflaged helmets by Air Force aircrews other than the helicopters ones.

 

Simply put I found somehow exhaggerated this supposed need to have them in subdued colors, for those "pragmatic" reasons I wrote above. Either while flying a mission or down on the ground trying to make it toward a rescue, could realistically the white or colored helmet be seen as source of troubles? Figured myself out there walking through a forest or on mountain ground, with all my needed survival stuff available to me and strategically placed on the person.

Just personally speaking, helmet -camo, or not- would be more of a hindrance than anything else even if it was not lost upon ejection. No longer use for it, I wouldn't have it on my head - just if I'd think about saving it for future missions, could this be the case of carrying a dangerously white helmet across the forest?

 

After all, I noticed an endless photos of Navy jet aviators who kept using the white/bright colored helmets (often reflective striped starting about late 1971) through the war, didn't they bother on this matter apparently?

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I'm not sure of the official reasons but I suspect the Navy uses white because the majority of their flying time is over water and a reflective white helmet would be more easily seen in the water.

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could that be a rather valid one, in the case of Navy flyers.

And, in case of Army's helicopter crews, the supposed one that (so I had read somewhere) while flying very low and very slow, a enemy sharpshooter could have no hard time in aiming at white helmets so much visible inside the cockpits. Could be a reasonable explaining maybe.

 

It remains the matter about Air Force's crews of very fast-moving (and often high-flying) combat jets. While flying a fighter-bomber mission it doesn't matter helmet's color.

And, if still with you after coming to the ground you won't need it as a survival item, be it white or greenish or whatever.

So maybe just the "need" to keep a camo helmet (almost invisible if compared to white) once downed and awaiting the rescue, so that you'll have your own helmet for future missions. More reasons I cannot see.

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I believe the USAF used white flight helmets because they reflect sunlight and are cooler to the wearer. Camouflage tape/paint added for combat use. Post Vietnam War, probably USAFE and squadron preference units used camouflage taped helmets. Use of taped helmets covers up cracks in the shell and visor housings and can hide potential failures in the fiberglass and plastic parts. I have only heard of one or two in service helmets using the desert camouflage tape pattern-USAF.

 

I had an early-mid 1970s HGU-2A/P at one time with T positioned bayonet fittings. This helmet had the duck hunter pattern tape on the entire helmet. Also had some HGU-26/P helmets with offset J bayonets and side actuated dual visor assy's. They were from a C-130 unit from the early-mid 1980s. Most of the camouflage taped ones had the ERDL/woodland style camouflage tape, with the others having both duck hunter and ERDL/woodland style tape on a single helmet.

 

Could there be a third ERDL/woodland style pattern that we are looking at in the Feinstein color photo?

-Duck hunter camouflage tape as seen in the 1975 dated package.

-ERDL/Woodland with greener greens (Feinstein photo)?

-ERDL/Woodland with a dull sage green as one of the greens-last pattern to exist.

 

The color photo of the four F-4 Phantom II crewmen appear to be pre 1969. They are wearing OD painted HGU-2A/P helmets without gull wing cutout visor housings; PCU-3/P torso parachute harnesses; CSU-3/P anti-g suits; SRU-21/P survival vests with snap closure pockets without added additional radio pockets; K-2B and possibly an OG 107 flight suit; pre 1968 knife sheath without metal tip guard; full back pad with personnel lowering device installed.

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Yes I wrote before "pre-1970" og that great photo but, could comfortably date even of 1967-68.

 

That exclusive hardware fittings to their harnesses I still noticed in pics dated 1970 so I knew Phantom crews (at least, some of them) used it in 1970 but, absolute lack of even one CWU-27/P suit pretty well pushes back to, better, 1968 or even 1967.

(btw), that "forbidden dream" of PCU-3/P harness for us collectors - at least, talking about me in those back years... when managed eventually to get one it stayed not more than a few months 'cause soon after I used it to bargain with a full, complete BA-18 parachute (1963). No regrets..

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northcoastaero: Yes. There are variations of the ERDL camo sheets. I have one with the duller colors you mentioned. I'll post a photo later this morning. I assumed these were just manufacturer variations rather than completely different versions.

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Interesting topic. I have seen many of the ERDL camo sheets for sale with the duller colors. All of these sheets seemed to be dated in the mid 1980s. Also had one or two of the duck hunter sheet sets dated 1975 as pictured. The Feinstein photo shows a PCU-3/P harness. These harnesses were used well into 1972 and possibly later by F-4, A-7, A-1 (Yankee Escape System USAF), B-57 (ESCAPAC seat),

OV-10 aircrews. Had a PCU-3/P dated in the mid 1960s at one time with the Koch chest, leg, and riser fittings.

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