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My Army aviation SPH-4A as worn circa 1994


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It took me a long time to finish this project, but here it is. I was issued this Gentex SPH-4 brand new in 1991 at Fort Hood, TX. By 1994, I had removed the original webbing and replaced it with a TPL (Thermo Plastic Liner), replaced the original visor with an ANVIS-6 compatible one, and continued to use the lip light and battery bag that I bought at Fort Rucker in 1990. I recently found a NOS 'old style' ANVIS-6 battery box (we only used the round 3V batteries) and a repro set of -6 goggles. This is pretty much the way it was worn on night flights in an OH-58A/C Kiowa. The OD rolls are pennies were used as a counterweight to the goggles, usually 2 rolls wrapped in 100 MPH tape were enough to keep the helmet from rolling forward on your head. You can just make out tape residue on the lower right rear of the helmet, it's where the "Next Inspection Due" sticker would have been.

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The lip light is a cool little invention and one of those things marketed to flight school students as, "You may want to consider buying one of these" sort of deals. It ran on 2 AA batteries in a nylon bag that was Velcro'd to the rear of the helmet. The bag had 2 compartments, one for the batteries and a larger section for the penny roll counterweights. It mounted to the mic was operated by either a switch on top (ON/OFF) or by a pressure switch (since broken off) on the side of the mic facing your mouth. You would stick out your lower lip to activate it momentarily to look at a map, notes, or the instrument panel.

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Matt,

Very nice set up.Glad you found the repop NVG's. What are the blue props under the visor track? I can see why you would need to prop it up as it was pretty flimsy.

Bob

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Thanks! We used blocks of blue foam to put under the visor to keep the knob assembly from digging into the top of the helmet when retracting it.

 

The usual thing I had seen over the years on the SPH ANVIS visor housing was using the ear cup spacers. They were those little round off-white foam pads that had adhesive to stick on to the outside of the plastic ear cup. They would cut them to be a like a horse shoe shape so the visor knob would clear it and insert them as you did with the blue foam.

 

I have a pair of real AVS-6's with the early 15mm lenses. They are missing the tubes inside so its just for display.

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Way cool Matt! I dig it.

 

Man, that must have been heavy and very fatiguing to wear for a long mission :( Thanks for showing us this one.

 

-Derek

 

No heavy at all when compared to the full face NVG rigs we flew with in the early 80s. I used to clip a GI flashlight to the back of my helmet for a counter weight.

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Looking for original photos and other items from the First World War US 77th Infantry Division.

Also interested in BAR and M1917A1 BMG related items.

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You mean the -5s with the surgical tubing mounting contraption? We still used those at Rucker in 1990.

In fact, see: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/153071-sph-4-with-surgical-tube/

No, actually what I was referring to was before the surgical tubing. :) I taught Nighthawk/NVG and Combat Skills at Rucker from 81-85 when they were trying to sort a lot of this out.

 

Nighthawk is something now largely forgotten.

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Looking for original photos and other items from the First World War US 77th Infantry Division.

Also interested in BAR and M1917A1 BMG related items.

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Matt, I was about 6 years ahead of you. Interesting to see the changes. In 85/86, we had the cutaway -5s with the surgical tubing. The goggles just had a single battery. We carried a spare in our pockets

 

Noticed your helmet doesn't have the O2 mask snaps on the green cloth part. I wasn't sure when that change happened but obviously between our respective classes

 

Thanks for posting!

 

I still have my SPH-4. It was updated to the TPL liner in 1990 -- although I never wore it (IHADSS) they plugged the holes from the clamps holding the surgical tubing with little black rubber plugs

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I think some of the IPs still had O2 mask fittings, but the new helmets didn't. The big block battery packs for the 6s had 2 batteries and a 3-position switch as seen above, but I remember carrying spares for the 5s in the left sleeve pocket. When I got to my first unit and used 6s I was amazed how much better they were. I worked in ALSE in an Apache Battalion so I worked on quite a few IHADSS helmets too.

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Had this pic from a Army night flying pub. Only setup missing is the COBB mount that used the ANVIS mount for the PVS-5 goggles. Basically removed the cutaway setup and installed it in the COBB mount. That GX-5 setup is fairly uncommon as it was all locally fabricated parts at ALSE shops. Used a camera tripod bracket to flip it up away from the eyes. That SPH Mx manual should have how to fabricate the GX-5 setup totally.

 

Was knighthawk the setup that used that "pink light" or something that was like an IR spotlight?

 

When I rebuilt one of my SPH-4s, I swapped out the ear cup retention harness that had the extra 4 O2 mask snaps on it to a newer all cloth one with only the chin strap snaps since it was a Mohawk setup helmet that actually had cast type O2 mask bayonet receivers on it. I think the contract date on the retention harness without the O2 snaps was 1991.

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Nighthawk was unaided non standards at the stagefields (autorotations and run on landings mostly), low level flight, navigation and LZ work. After Nighthawk the students went to Combat Skills where a week of unaided night tactical flight was practiced. Again low level flight, LZ work along with the addition of unaided low level formation flight. What I am describing is all pre 1985, which is when I left Rucker for Ft. Campbell.

Nighthawk taught some very good techniques that I used thoughtout my career.

 

The surgical tubing did come out while I was still instructing but it was right about the end of my time at Lowe if I remember correctly.

I still have a couple of my helmets, one I believe does have the O2 fittings. Now what box those things are in will take some time to sort out, I haven't looked for them since I moved into my present home 20 years ago.

Haven't thought about this stuff in quite a long time, I turned in my gear in 2006 and haven't been near an aircraft hanger since. 27 years had been more than enough. :)

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Looking for original photos and other items from the First World War US 77th Infantry Division.

Also interested in BAR and M1917A1 BMG related items.

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Ah, Copy. Ive def heard the name knighthawk in reading lots of pubs, articles and talking to Army Aviators. Were you with Varsity or Pachyderms at Campbell or someone else? My father was supposed to go to 47 school but it ended up getting cancelled on him and he got put into UH-1s then went to Vietnam flying them and got checked out in the OH-6 there. He was 101st so he recalls those couple Hooker units when he was there in Nam.

 

I forgot I had this helmet. Its a SPH-4 that was used by the 160th painted in CARC black, modified with the 4B housing and has the O2 mask bayonet receivers so it was most likely used in the MH-47 being a higher altitude capable than a H-60. You can also see this one has the later ear cup retention harness that doesn't have the 4 extra snaps for the old method of mounting O2 masks. Sports the pair of early style AVS-6 goggles (no tubes installed) with the single adjust knob and 15mm lenses. If any of you have read Mike Durant's book In Company of Heros, there is a pic of his crew chief Bill Cleveland in Somalia wearing an exact setup SPH-4 like this with the mask receivers and dual visor.

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Were you with Varsity or Pachyderms at Campbell or someone else?

Actually flew with both companies. When I was first assigned, 1985, it was the 159th AVN BN, later changed to 7-101 AVN Regt sometime in 86 if I remember correctly. First year I was there I was on BN staff assigned to B Co (Varsity) for flight requirements, later was a platoon leader in A Co (Pachyderms).

 

Left active duty in 1989 and took a job as a civilian CH47 IP at Rucker. Flew 47s for many years in the MS NG.

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Looking for original photos and other items from the First World War US 77th Infantry Division.

Also interested in BAR and M1917A1 BMG related items.

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Always loved the Varsity jacket style B insignia. I saw they still put a B on the Aft pylons of their Fox model hookers. Miss the sounds of the 47, I'm originally from CT where the ARNG got Deltas in 92 when they retired their CH-54s. They have brand new Fox models now, the Nomads. I'm too far away from the 47 unit here in OH now so I rarely see them unless I'm back east. If you do come across the ALSE stuff you still have, post it up on the forum.

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Always loved the Varsity jacket style B insignia. I saw they still put a B on the Aft pylons of their Fox model hookers. Miss the sounds of the 47, I'm originally from CT where the ARNG got Deltas in 92 when they retired their CH-54s. They have brand new Fox models now, the Nomads. I'm too far away from the 47 unit here in OH now so I rarely see them unless I'm back east. If you do come across the ALSE stuff you still have, post it up on the forum.

 

Were or are you in the OH NG?

 

I avoid getting around 47s or anything else I flew, I don't want to start missing flying them. Fortunately the nearest aviation unit to me is 60 miles away.

 

Only ALSE stuff I think I have is an older survival vest. Pretty common.

 

 

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Looking for original photos and other items from the First World War US 77th Infantry Division.

Also interested in BAR and M1917A1 BMG related items.

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Ah, Copy. Ive def heard the name knighthawk in reading lots of pubs, articles and talking to Army Aviators. Were you with Varsity or Pachyderms at Campbell or someone else? My father was supposed to go to 47 school but it ended up getting cancelled on him and he got put into UH-1s then went to Vietnam flying them and got checked out in the OH-6 there. He was 101st so he recalls those couple Hooker units when he was there in Nam.

 

I forgot I had this helmet. Its a SPH-4 that was used by the 160th painted in CARC black, modified with the 4B housing and has the O2 mask bayonet receivers so it was most likely used in the MH-47 being a higher altitude capable than a H-60. You can also see this one has the later ear cup retention harness that doesn't have the 4 extra snaps for the old method of mounting O2 masks. Sports the pair of early style AVS-6 goggles (no tubes installed) with the single adjust knob and 15mm lenses. If any of you have read Mike Durant's book In Company of Heros, there is a pic of his crew chief Bill Cleveland in Somalia wearing an exact setup SPH-4 like this with the mask receivers and dual visor.

 

Great setup!

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  • 1 month later...

Sweet! Where did you find the repop ANVIS-6s?

Captain (LDO), United States Marine Corps (Ret.)

1992-2014

6531/6591/6502/8511

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Always looking for WWII USMC and Corpsman items!

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