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B-52 navigator HGU-2A/P - Strategic Air Command


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Here's the first of the helmets from my collection I'd like to introduce you - my favorite actually.
This is a Strategic Air Command B-52 navigator's fully named set (helmet / mask / carry bag) who served in the 57th Air division : Captain HAWN.

 

 

Helmet is a middle version smoothly-patined HGU-2A/P, with 2 magnificently preserved S.A.C. and 57th Air Division decals on the visor, and a large vertical 2" reflective tape band on the back (the label is destroyed, so no clue about the manufacturer or the year of production, but I found it has to be between 1966 and 1969).
Size is Large, with H-154 AIC earphones and the mic plug in place. Two "CPT HAWN" nametapes are present : on the visor's edge, and on the back bottom.

 

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77191976_HGU2A5.jpg.822be5325b135cf1379900e13c6d0c0c.jpg

 

408202121_HGU2A6.jpg.575b377b21b48a00d8c59a31b286e7ba.jpg

 

142544873_HGU2A3.jpg.b0beb4f856d8dcea62684ed485ed399e.jpg

 

Mask is a Short-Narrow SIERRA MBU-5/P with straight bayonets, hose and mic, dated 1971-72-73.
A square paper label shows 453 on the one side, and we've got another nametape "HAWN" on the other side.

 

1542761307_HGU2A2.jpg.1e8b0db07c0a2d73c13f21ec589c90ba.jpg

 

The carry bag was the grouping bonus which helped me identify the crewman's function in the aircraft, aka navigator, thanks to the faded -yet readable- beige fabric nametape label.

 

861036647_HGU2A7.jpg.5e6fa3ce1d7be43adfc2d49d19d12a6c.jpg

 

No idea of which of B-52 type our Captain flew, there were D-F-G models on service at that time in the S.A.C. inventory.
According to his gear datation (late 60's early 70's) right in the Vietnam time span and the history of 57th Air Division (engaged in air ops in Asia between 65 and 69), it seems plausible that this B-52 crewman served in a VN tour (even perhaps during Arc Light in 1969). Anyway, this is pure speculation 🙂 .

 


Any comment / hypothesis / additional information is perfectly welcome !
Hope you enjoy the share ;) .

Regards, Vark_07

 

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Very nice set.  Might be a post Nam used helmet.  The 57th inactivated in July of 1969 and then was Reactivated January 75.  The helmet might have been used prior to the 69 inact but those mask dates later you would imagine it it was still part of the 57th, it would be its 75 or on use.  What are the 3 dates actually on the soft shell rubber part of the mask inside the "wagon wheel".    Im curious to know how long those original in line straight bayonets were used in service before being replaced by straight T bayonets.

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Thank you all for the kind comments :) .

to mohawkALSE :  Interesting analysis.
From what I saw during my searches, T bayonets were introduced in the mid 60's, but many pictures show that in line bayonets were still in use by the mid 70's, so both types saw service simultaneously (and up to the 80's if we consider the case of Australian pilots using them on british P-masks with their HGU-26s).

As I wrote on the mask description, the silicone is dated 1971-72-73. Considering this, the presence of in line bayonets on the mask's hard shell and the issue date of the helmet (66/ 69 - for it's a middle version with plastic visor housing and 4-lobe knob), my guess is that the helmet and the mask's hard shell were issued and used by this airman prior -or close- to the 57th inactivation (1969) with a former silicone (68-69-70 or so), the one I own with this set being his last to be worn.

But like I said, his involvment in the VN conflict, if plausible, is only pure speculation ;) (and doesn't mean much to me either).

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Man I love it!!!

 

What style earcups does the helmet have...spring loaded arms or not...and is there a date on the inside of the helmet bag...the earliest date for that style helmet bag, that I have seen, is 1969...

 

Scenario #1  based on the parts alone....  I would venture to say he was issued the helmet and mask in the mid 60s and used the rig with another unit prior to the 57th reactivation in 75...based on the silicone mask dated 73, and a later style helmet bag

 

then in 1975 joined the 57th, and had the mask repaired...

 

why the old style straight bayonets and harness? as the saying goes if it isn't broke don't fix it..

 

 

 

 

OR scenario #2 When a flyer retires or separates from the military, they have a lot of mixed gear that they kept over the years...this could be the case of putting pieces together after his service...I have seen helmet groups with multiple visor covers that the flyer uesd throughout his career..often with different unit markings as he changed squadrons

 

 

 

 either way it is a great helmet from a BUFF navigator!

 

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Thank your for this enlightening comment, Phantomfixer, much apprciated !

 

The plot thickens when it comes to the earcups ; it's the H-154 AIC headset allright with its light grey earcups and so, but NOT spring-mounted (glued on round foam pads)... and no date inside the carry bag. So I'm coming to think your first hypothesis is right : it could be an earlier type HGU-2A/P (first version - 61/66) which was rigged with middle-version improvements (plastic visor housing - that wears the decals / cross knob and H-154 earcups) - still, it doesn't interfere with youy second one though !

 

It's a shame the bottom label is destroyed, it could have been the key to this story (or more information about this airman's carreer) :).

But as you said : either way, it's a great set, and I'm really proud to own it. Thanks again for your time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just a couple more pics I did not put in the main post :).
I'm sorry about their quality, just like the others they are intentionally downgraded in order to comply with the 150kb rule.

 

828269212_HGU2A(5).jpg.3f57b901cf7e17b9a68bba56ce459c8b.jpg

 

1487953983_HGU2A(8).jpg.e7629fe06ce3832a03593af3963b0f0f.jpg

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On 9/14/2020 at 10:24 AM, phantomfixer said:

is there a date on the inside of the helmet bag...the earliest date for that style helmet bag, that I have seen, is 1969...

 

 

I think the introduction of this type bag was FY69.

 

I have a 1969 dated bag with poncho liner material inside.

 

Bag.jpg.cbfe0926ddc2bd648888a3f52cd964cb.jpgI

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.



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This isnt mine but just saw this recently on ebay that sold.  Was an original 69 contract 1st generation SPH-4 and the bag with it is 68 contract.   This is I believe the 2d or 3d 68 contract bag Ive seen. 

68bag.jpg

69SPH68Bag.jpg

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2 hours ago, mohawkALSE said:

This isnt mine but just saw this recently on ebay that sold.  Was an original 69 contract 1st generation SPH-4 and the bag with it is 68 contract.   This is I believe the 2d or 3d 68 contract bag Ive seen. 

68bag.jpg

 

 

I stand corrected!  FY 68 looks to be the first issue of this type of Flying Helmet Bag.

 

Green lining too. 

 

 

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.



donation2016.gif

donation2013.gifdonation2012.gifdonation2011.gif

donation2010.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2008.gif

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On 9/14/2020 at 8:05 AM, Vark_07 said:

[...] and no date inside the carry bag.

 

I took the bag out of storage this evening to double-check, and so here comes the tag inside.

As you cas see, it's quite different from the ones you've posted.

 

No visible date like I previously wrote, but maybe the contract numbers will help identify its type ?

 

1954117698_HGU2A(14).jpg.66d7f81123a226dd303cc737729eb411.jpg

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The last series of numbers match exactly the ones from both tags you've shared, so I'm positive it's the same kind of carry bag.
However, CON. NO. 7317 (contract number ?) is unique, so is the absence of the manufacturing company.

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