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1970 contract AFH-1 size small


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Im trying to find some information to validate the actual military use of this particular model of the

AFH-1 family of headgear.

I have owned numerous copies of the AFH-1 over the years and all of which follow the same

basic shell contour design as their HGU/APH counterparts throughout the size range.. The 1970 Sierra Engineering size small differs from the rest in that the earcup area of the shell has a distinctly different shape than that of the earlier size small from (for example) General Tire and Rubber, which I have owned in the past. The General Tire helmet looked almost identical in shape to the standard APH/HGU

size medium shell. Here is my question.

Since the SPH-4 series was well into production by 1970, could it then be assumed that the Army stopped taking orders of the Ballistic AFH-1, and if so the Sierra helmet never actually made it to the flight line during the war (question explained) which also explains why many examples of this helmet are available for sale on line "brand new in the box".

I have personally never seen a photo of a pilot or crew wearing a helmet that looked like the 1970 design version of the size small AFH-1.

Any one out there old enough to provide some feedback on this issue.?

pics show the data tag and a side view of the shell earcup area.

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I wish you could show the differences in the shell. Never noticed it but Ive only had 1 AFH in my collection so nothing to compare. I wish I could be more helpful for the topic of 1970 contract. If It was just use of the AFH I have a number of pics of other pilots from my fathers unit wearing them in 1969 time frame before they got SPH-4s. My father had a APH-5 till either Dec 69 or early 70. Before that switch guys in his unit had APH-5s or AFH-1s. You can always tell by the color of the shell and the comm cord of the AFH. Now Ive seen AFH-1 helmets go all the way in to a 1974 contract if I recall correct. Id doubt those helmets were being sent to Vietnam but they most certainly could have been used state side like the 70 contracts and such. All the brand new gear was like a rapid fielding initiative being sent to Vietnam like the 2 pc nomex flight suit, nomex gloves, SPH-4 etc. Maybe at times there werent enough SPH-4s to be issued and the newer AFH-1s might have been sent in place. I wish I had proof of that but it would certainly make sense. I do know because all of the brand new and latest stuff was being sent to Vietnam that when my father rotated back CONUS he had all sorts of old gear again. He was back to wearing K-2B flight suits and the B3A grey flight gloves and had a APH-5 again. They actually kept his SPH-4 in country and reissued it to someone else. Wasn't until he ETSd from the active and went into the ARNG in the early 70s that he got nomex and a SPH-4 again. That was also the first place he was ever issued a SRU-21 survival vest.

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mohawkALSE Quote: Now Ive seen AFH-1 helmets go all the way in to a 1974 contract if I recall correct. Id doubt those helmets were being sent to Vietnam but they most certainly could have been used state side like the 70 contracts and such. All the brand new gear was like a rapid fielding initiative.....(end quote)

 

This may explain it.

I wish I still had an old example of the helmet to show you the side by side frontal comparison with the Sierra copy.

and an older General Tire helmet. Maybe I'll get lucky and unearth an older photo from the files.

I have never seen a size small in an earlier date except for General Tire and again it followed the same

look as the Medium HGU/APH shell. Perhaps this particular helmet was Sierra's late and only offering of a size

small shell and had to create a new master mold to fill the order.

Probably an insignificant topic, but I think it's interesting to note this design anomaly with the AFH-1 product line.

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  • 2 weeks later...

post-173754-0-09261700-1514822873.jpgpost-173754-0-01678100-1514822886.jpgHere's an early Navy (originally) APH 5 that I'll be restoring shortly. It has the later style APH6 cups & discs and later Navy H-158 speakers.The shell is in need of some glass rework but still in good overall condition. I plan on installing the Hardman Oxygen mask retention kit for an MS22001 as per Navpers 10358C instruction. The rubber edge roll has been scavenged off of another shell in much worse condition and the original 3 pc styrofoam liner is gone so Im looking for a suitable replacement, possibly to using an HGU liner if absolutely necessary. visor assy with be the original first generation, metal side visor tracks

fiberglass and with metal visor lock tracks.

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sanding thru the old green paint is a job but necessary to get to clean gel coat to apply the adhesive for the replacement edge roll.

Notice the whitish area around the earcups (inside) where this shell had been Bondo'd at one time.

I never use Bondo around anything fiberglass, only resin mixed with a solid filler (ground glass fibers) paste or E glass and resin for repairs. This build will be no exception.

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Whats the date on that Navy pub? Id love to find an 80s dated one. One both topics of AFH and then helmet resto, I have a AFH-1 that I was restoring but put on hold for a bit that had O2 mask receivers on it at one point. Had the holes drilled for em. I was going to put the black self adjust Sierra receivers on it but I think I might go to an early mfg adjustable cast receiver. I don't think anyone was using the self adjust that late in time around 68-70ish etc. Id almost think that helmet of yours might have had the Sierra self adjust receivers vs the Hardman seeing it had a later earcup setup. I have seen some Navy APH-5s using them. Should be a fun resto on that one.

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I'd rather have the self adjusting Sierras as they would probably more in line with when the APH5 was upgraded with newer components but right now I have only a set of Hardman receivers. I have owned an AFH1 with O2 receivers a few years back but no way to qualify its originality or authenticity. I'm reasonably sure that the OV crew(s) at some point used O2 capable Ballistic helmets however. Wartime

always seems to produce exceptions to the " house rule" now and again.

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Yes, the 36 was a ballistic fabric shell, but based on the same dimensions and shape (physically) as the fiberglass or later Kevlar fabric shell of the standard HGU type of helmets. The Sierra Engineering AFH-1(small) in question has a notable shape difference in the ear cup area unlike any other US made flight helmet, which suggests that a stand alone master mold must have been made to make the helmet. Earlier size small AFH-1's (ie; General tire and Rubber) were physically the same size and shape (basically) of a medium APH/HGU helmet. If one could get a hold of the original TO specs on the Sierra 'small' model, I think the info would be interesting regarding the design mold shape and why it differed from earlier examples of small AFH-1s.

Bottom line, it's just an odd feature on one helmet that makes it stand out from all of the rest of the same basic product line,

and although that information probably does exist somewhere on the planet, the chance of finding it is right up there with

learning the factual top speed of the SR71...

meanwhile... who'll win the Super Bowl this year? ;-)

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When you note the shape near the ear cup, do you mean it has a slight doming to it like a partial look of an SPH-4 to the shell? Ive noticed the AFH I have you can see the shell domes out a bit in the ear cup area but I know its not a size small. Not sure if all AFH helmets have a slight ear dome.

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ok, back on the APH5 resto.

 

I managed some time today to install the rubber edge beading instead of the original (to Navy APH5) thick rubber

edgeroll because Im wanting the " comms upgrade" which will include cups with the APH6 disc(s) for fine adjustment.

I believe the mod included the newer (thinner) H-158 speakers over the thick and heavy previous version in the styrofoam cup of the standard issue 5. I've tried to find transitional history between the APH5 and APH6 for helmets prior to the "butterfly" mask retention system but have'nt had much luck. My question is, what was the actual TO'd upgrade(s) of the APH5 prior to it's replacement by the APH6?

Still needing some black - Sierra self adj. receivers and

have'nt decided on paint for this helmet but Im leaning towards VF-162

 

 

 

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Looks good but a couple of questions. Woudn't you rather install the edge roll after you paint the shell? One thing less you'd have to mask - that's how I'm planing on doing it on my APH-5 restoration. Also, what did you use for glue - contact cement that you can buy at an auto parts store? Did you brush the glue onto the helmet or did you use that small brush to apply the glue to the bead itself?

Keep up the good work!

 

-Derek

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When Ive seen SPH-4s beading redone, you can tell it was done by a brush applicator.

 

There was a seller that had been selling brand new in package black self adjust receivers last year. I managed to buy 1 pair before that from another seller. They were they same type in the package from a company that sold equipment called Eastern Marine Aero or something like that. They were individually packaged, not in a pair.

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  • 1 year later...

Looks good but a couple of questions. Woudn't you rather install the edge roll after you paint the shell? One thing less you'd have to mask - that's how I'm planing on doing it on my APH-5 restoration. Also, what did you use for glue - contact cement that you can buy at an auto parts store? Did you brush the glue onto the helmet or did you use that small brush to apply the glue to the bead itself?

 

Keep up the good work!

 

-Derek

this reply is quite late,...

sorry, I overlooked the question.

 

i use 3m brand spray auto adhesive, sprayed into a small cup so that it can be brush applied. When applying, like the yellow

adhesive in tubes, it requires application on both the edge bead and the helmet shell to work.

I like to apply the edge roll or bead first prior to painting, because the chance of good adhesion is greater and

because I dont work with Urethane paints (solvent proof) so the adhesive softens the acrylic enamels I use..

Finally a little overspray or contact with the edge bead looks more period correct. IMO based on the wartime helmets I've seen.

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