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Hand-Made REPROS Schemes on HGU-style helmets.

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Hello all,


maybe an unusual style of collecting this one, but at the time I was able in doing some airbrushing painting schemes on various HGU-2A/P and HGU-26/P helmets for myself and 9-10 collectors here in Italy.

Being virtually impossible in obtaining an original "Thunderbird" or "Frecce Tricolori" helmet I was getting brand-new helmets provided by collectors themselves and fully disassembled them thus proceeded in various basic coatings of their correct background colours. This was a basic white for the USAAF and ItAF aerobatic teams, gold for the Blue Angels, gold-reddish for the Italian 21th "Tiger" Squadron and so on.


Of course repros but made at my best following most precise guidelines for the more "technical" schemes and more "fantasy" tolerances as for tigerheads or similar.

Missing here the Blue Angels pics. Present are Thunderbirds, Frecce Tricolori and Tiger Squadron. A fearful amount of work hours and painful use of 1/8" masking tapes, pencils, callipers and re-fixing the wrong curves on schemes of Thunderbirds and Italian teams.

Of course the final touch was two top coats clear acrylics for protection and color enhanching - top delicate and impossible to repair in case of "accident"... but, from that on it was to customer's (or, mine) care.


Pics will follow


Thanks for watching. Franco.

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Now in my collection this HGU-26/P I choose to keep for me after proposing it to a couple pilots of 21° Gruppo (21st Interceptor Squadron) of 53rd Wing, Italian Air Force.

Later variant airbrush-made, as were helmets in early to mid-90s, opposed to raw brush-made in '70s - late '80s.

Maybe even a bit too colorful, I even did a couple helmets in "low visibility" scheme - light gray fur, dark gray stripes, pink tongue, green eyes.






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A trio of HGU-26/P dual visor these made for other collectors. Basically the heads could be 90% identical between them, of course impossible 100% but neither should be.

Being free-hand made with some tiny masking for eyes, fangs and wiskers, repeated until was enough. Errors were to be avoided as much as possible due to aggressiveness of nitro-based enamels, could have meant re-make half of painting..





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This, one of three-four "Thunderbirds" helmets made in past years, following at my best the enlarged photos taken here and there for the pattern.


One of the most "painful", in hand-cutting masking paper and spraying all 26 stars in three different sizes and the tiny F-16s, plus the crest. Free-hand word "Thunderbird" the weakest point, all the rest could be OK?




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To say the true, some of the tigerstriped and at least one of Thunderbirds helmets were average-used specimens with no particular stencils and/or paintings, being total white but sporting many scratchess and defects. Also some large areas of missing paint, leaving the naked resin-like material.


Work for repairing and making smooth the entire shell had to be added to the rest - in case of helmets having the more modern edgeroll (soft material covered with leather) it was impossible to remove and much care was needed in masking with particularly low-adhesive tapes.



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I have been much maligned by those who reproduce rare paint schemes on jet helmets. The thing is: I LOVE THESE Helmets as long as the owner does one thing: when they sell the helmet, TELL the potential buyer(s) it is a reproduction paint job. I know first hand just how hard it is to get a decent coat of paint on a helmet shell and anyone who has attempted this knows exactly what I am talking about. The helmet shape does not lend itself to precision detail painting. The amount of effort in these things is astounding and frankly, a reproduction isn't going to be cheap. The problem is, a real Blue Angels Helmet is easily identified as such and years ago, a number of us on the International Flightgear forum researched this very topic. Flight Suits Ltd made the Blue Angels helmets and they could spot the fakes in 30 seconds. Even the ladies working in the sales group knew the difference.

I applaud the craftsmanship and artistic talent of those who paint these helmets. Same goes for those who embellish a helmet with markings that aren't original to the helmet. I see nothing wrong with this as long as the helmet is identified as such.

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if yours were compliments, I thank you very much :) :) ..


of course customers who brought to me their own items were aiming for a "substitute" not having a chance to get the real thing... on the other hand, I could have made theorically even 100 of these schemes, but if adding my own expenses when buying a good complete helmet plus the working hours (almost all done by night due to some reasons) and the costly acrylic coats (not made by me, would be impossible without a real oven for body shops) I could have waited for eternally in hoping the customer would come to me...

believe me, amount of work and - also- mental and phisical effort was great indeed. And with no certainty the customer would have fully appreciated, but this applied usually to all my airbrush works like the motorcycles tanks.


..rather, the two-three instances I made them for a collector who also was dealer of Aviation collectibles, I'm not 100% sure he didn't sell them at Militaria events maybe proposing them as the real stuff. But this of course stood to his own seriousness.

And - let me tell, please - also to buyer's competency, given the money involved... fault is never one-sided in my opinion



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... and will add, if it's just for this matter: would you purchase a "real" Thunderbird helmet made by Flight Suit Ltd. brand new and never issued to any member of the team?? (already a great thing if I understand correctly)

So, where the ideal value?


1) in the mere fact the helmet has been made by Gentex Co. and decorated by Flight Suits Ltd. ? But if so, almost the same if you will obtain it from me... in either case your helmet never will fly aboard an F-16 being worn by a T-bird pilot, thus it never will be the "original" real stuff


2) in the fact you maybe will be able someday in getting one actually used by a T-bird pilot?? Yes in this instance I agree with you, helmet does have a real collecting value beyond the perfection of painting.

But until that day, you could get one more or less identical as personalized by BlueBookGuy and perhaps will get satisfied the same... and saving some money :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Do you agree with me?

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Maybe the most demanding one, more than the tiger scheme and Thunderbirds, this HGU-2A/P in the colors of the Italian Aerobatic Team - even if apparently not striking but both me and customers wanted 100% perfection altough no real helmet from the team I could have gotten in my hands.


Even available photos were so-so at the best, as for details. These really were a little more than for pure pleasure, as pricing couldn't go too much higher in case of helmets made for collectors. Too much demanding work and not much satisfaction.



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Very artistic


We have a local veteran who was a AF pilot on the late 1950s.A reserve pilot.He has a helmet he wore and is painted like a multi color bowling ball and was one he wore

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..

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  • 2 weeks later...

Making apologies for this naughty O.T - they're anyway Aviation-related subjects...

.. a couple pin-ups girls painted on metal sheets about 20" x 28", images inspired by the Vargas-style of the '40s.





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I love the artwork. Painted hard flying helmets have long been a favorite of mine. In years past I have done airbrush work and I certainly appreciate the effort you put into these pieces. Great job and thanks for showing!




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