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US Navy APH-5 / MS-22001 - late 50's

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Greetings everyone !
Today I'm introducing you this restored US Navy APH-5 set from the second half of the 50's.

Pilot and squadron are unknown, so as always, any hypothesis is welcome (although I think it's a tough one) !




The helmet is an early version APH-5 made by MSA between 1956 and 57 (according to my searches), as attested by the oxygen mask leather tabs connectors (+Y-yoke mask retention), external blackish chinstrap, and a 3-part sponge rubber lining.

Contract number might help dating the batch more precisely (see MSA decal below). However, it's safe to affirm it was not amongst the first 1500 to be produced since it lacks the external left-side com plug which eventually disappeared on the next series.




The shell features the iconic golden color, NAVY + wings and MSA manufacturing decals, and a nice -but common- red reflective taping pattern made of 1in. bands.
A pretty enjoyable amount of wear, scratches and chipped paint suggests an intensive use, although there is no structural damage to the shell nor to the visor housing or the visor itself (which does not slide smoothly, I must say).




Decal on the top left corner is an intact similar one I've found on the web, for a complete contract number reference.





As a matter of fact, this APH-5 was not amongst those many which were retrofitted with Hardman mask shells and "Christmas Tree" bayonets / recievers (aka the "interim" version), the only upgrade I noted being the addition of a white padding on the chinstrap to improve comfort.
Taking this into account, my guess is that it came to me in its last used condition, probably slightly before 1960.
No sign of external boom assembly, which suggests a fixed wing jet fighter of this mid / late 50's era (I found this guess from Northcoastaero on another thread).




Size is Medium, with earphones / earcups originally present, but which were sadly ripped off during the shipping (they were in a terrible condition anyway, close to coal aspect). The lining rubber's surface has darkened and is crumbling, but still holds together.
Earphones plug and cord are present, both of them in good condition.




The mask is a MSA rubber MS-22001 featuring the early Y-shaped metal retention (fastened with studs to the helmet's shell leather tabs).
Dated 1954-55-56 (cannot tell precisely which year, too many dots on the time stamp !), it came complete with hose, mic, com cord / plug, and the MS-3 connector.

Given its age, the rubber shows a few cracks here and there (mostly in the angled corners) but no critical structural damage or crumbling, so overall I consider it in good condition for a 65-timer !

The oxygen hose (showing the same time stamp), however, isn't that lucky : the rubber was cracked and torn in multiple places, so I had no choice but to replace it.




Issues and restoration


As previously mentioned, given that obvious defects showed up when I recieved this set, I had to place a few orders in the USA to correct the most visible ones (see the following photo montages).


- missing chinstrap's left shell attachment tab with the stud (replaced with an old stock spare)



- ripped off earcups and damaged earphones during shipping ; it's a shame but I decided not to replace them for now (since they're not visible when displayed on the foam head).


- torn rubber oxygen hose (replaced with an old stock silicon one)


- the visor was initially fitted with an USAF-type blue knob, which, if not unlikely (I saw a couple of them mounted on APH-5s on the web) I chose to replace with an old stock Navy blue knob, more typical of this kind of helmet, although I'd have prefered a spring-locking round or stepped one (but they are really hard to come by).




Any comment / opinion will, as always, be appreciated.
Hope you enjoy the share and the work I did on it so far.
Cheers ;) - Vark_07



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