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Air Force F-16(?) Helmet


66cuda
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I wanted to share and get feedback on this helmet I recent acquired at auction. I’m a little disappointed in the auction description as I feel that it was listed in better shape. But I’m sure that it was acutely listed and I just glossed over it. 
 

I have a soft spot for this style of helmet and when I saw this I had to have it. As a 5th grade student back in the early 90’s I had to read a biography and do a speech as the the person I read about. I picked Chuck Yeager. 
 

My Dad worked with a guy who had been high up at the Air National Guard and he was able to get us on base during a regular day. We got go on the tarmac to watch the F-16’s take off and do maneuvers. They let me sit in the cockpit and even let me pilot the flight simulator. The best part was, when they heard what I was doing they loaned me a flight suit and helmet. 
 

this helmet looks just like the one I had on loan all this years ago. 
 

As mentioned above, the helmet is a little rough, one of the headphones has fallen out. The foam inside the ear pieces are gone. There is foam shavings all over the inside. In fact when I took the helmet out of the box the chinstrap had it all over it and at first I thought it looked like someone blew chunks all over it.

 

the visor is in good shape though the straps that hold it on are going bad. The mask is a little discolored in areas but seems to be good shape otherwise. The top of the helmet is missing one of the visor stoppers. While evaluating the helmet a small piece fell out which almost looks like the stop but is the wrong color. I’m not sure where this goes. it also came with what I assume is a skull cap that the pilot would wear under the helmet. 

 

What is the best way to restore some of the issues with this helmet and what should I use to clean it up? 
 

I’ll the pictures do the rest of the talking. I apologize for the shape of my work bench behind. I just got this helmet and wanted to evaluate it. 

Also included is a picture of me from that daywhen I was at the National Guard base and in the uniform with helmet.

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I apologize about the picture orientations, I did this on my iPhone and I’m not sure why they are turned or upside down.

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majormadmax

That's a Gentex HGU-55/P with a MBU-12/P oxygen mask.  Pretty common for every fast jet aircrew in the USAF to this day (at least the helmet, the mask has been replaced by the MBU-20/P).  It is the same as the set-up you are holding in the last pic.

The bad news is these were worn by a plethora of crews so unless you have something tying it to a F-16 pilot, there's no way to confirm it was worn by one.  But it is the right helmet and mask for a F-16 pilot from the 70s-90s.  I am not quire sure about the green hose on the mask, it may be from the previous MBU-5/P.

The good news is they are pretty common and you can repair yours.  The visor is easily replaced.  The internals are a bit more difficult but doable.   If you're on Facebook there is a Flight Gear Collectors & Collections group that has all the info on how to do so.  If not, I am sure tutorials are available on YouTube or online.

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Nice helmet. All the parts are available to restore it. Ebay has the stops under "flight helmet parts" I believe. The earphones will clean up. Vacuum the inside foam out. Use some Goo Gone on the foam on the outside of the earcups. You can secure the earphone cups with wide velcro. Visors are available. Clean the outside with any all purpose cleaner.

PM me and I'll see what parts I can help you with.

Bob

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9 hours ago, majormadmax said:

That's a Gentex HGU-55/P with a MBU-12/P oxygen mask.  Pretty common for every fast jet aircrew in the USAF to this day (at least the helmet, the mask has been replaced by the MBU-20/P).  It is the same as the set-up you are holding in the last pic.

The bad news is these were worn by a plethora of crews so unless you have something tying it to a F-16 pilot, there's no way to confirm it was worn by one.  But it is the right helmet and mask for a F-16 pilot from the 70s-90s.  I am not quire sure about the green hose on the mask, it may be from the previous MBU-5/P.

The good news is they are pretty common and you can repair yours.  The visor is easily replaced.  The internals are a bit more difficult but doable.   If you're on Facebook there is a Flight Gear Collectors & Collections group that has all the info on how to do so.  If not, I am sure tutorials are available on YouTube or online.

Thank you for the info. I really appreciate it. I will look into the group on facebook. do you know where the serial number would be located and if there is a way to trace back it's use? While it's most likely not an F-16 helmet, the fact that it's the right helmet is what's great for me. 

 

9 hours ago, 72psb said:

Nice helmet. All the parts are available to restore it. Ebay has the stops under "flight helmet parts" I believe. The earphones will clean up. Vacuum the inside foam out. Use some Goo Gone on the foam on the outside of the earcups. You can secure the earphone cups with wide velcro. Visors are available. Clean the outside with any all purpose cleaner.

PM me and I'll see what parts I can help you with.

Bob

Thank you Sir, I will be sending you a message shortly. In the picture of the top of the helmet, besides missing the one stop, there seems to be a line of glue behind the black piece. is there something else that is missing? For cleaning would Simple Green be an acceptable all purpose cleaner? Besides vacuuming out the inside of the helmet, is there anything else I should use to clean and preserve the inside? 

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majormadmax
1 hour ago, 66cuda said:

Thank you for the info. I really appreciate it. I will look into the group on facebook. do you know where the serial number would be located and if there is a way to trace back it's use? While it's most likely not an F-16 helmet, the fact that it's the right helmet is what's great for me. 


I don't believe they are serialized by the manufacturer (I will dig one of mine out this evening to be sure), and even if they were Gentex would have no record of who in the USAF it went to.  Some will have markings to indicate what squadrons/pilots used it, but I don't see any on the pics you posted.

It really doesn't matter, the fact that you can repair it means you'll have a nice helmet just like the ones F-16 pilots used to wear...

By the way, my nephew flies the Viper, and even I don't have a complete helmet!  🤔

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2 hours ago, majormadmax said:


I don't believe they are serialized by the manufacturer (I will dig one of mine out this evening to be sure), and even if they were Gentex would have no record of who in the USAF it went to.  Some will have markings to indicate what squadrons/pilots used it, but I don't see any on the pics you posted.

It really doesn't matter, the fact that you can repair it means you'll have a nice helmet just like the ones F-16 pilots used to wear...

By the way, my nephew flies the Viper, and even I don't have a complete helmet!  🤔

Thank you Sir. I really don't know much about these other than having that emotional attachment to the past. But I am super excited to have it as part of my collection. 

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majormadmax

I completely understand.  I never contemplated owning one until I saw a HGU-55/P for sale at a militaria show two years ago. 

Once I bought it, the flood began and I know have a large selection of flight helmets (both fixed and rotary wing) mainly from the US but also a few Soviet and Chinese ones. 

Be careful, these can be very addicting (and expensive!) 
 

Helmets (3).jpg

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Simple green diluted as to the directions will work fine. Once you clean out all the foam , just wipe it down with a damp cloth. The glue line is just excess from attaching the black leather piece.

When you get done, post up your results.

Bob

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9 hours ago, majormadmax said:

I completely understand.  I never contemplated owning one until I saw a HGU-55/P for sale at a militaria show two years ago. 

Once I bought it, the flood began and I know have a large selection of flight helmets (both fixed and rotary wing) mainly from the US but also a few Soviet and Chinese ones. 

Be careful, these can be very addicting (and expensive!) 
 

Helmets (3).jpg

That is a great collection, thanks for sharing! I picked up a couple of APH-5’s and a Marine corps version that I need to get posted up here.

 

8 hours ago, 72psb said:

Simple green diluted as to the directions will work fine. Once you clean out all the foam , just wipe it down with a damp cloth. The glue line is just excess from attaching the black leather piece.

When you get done, post up your results.

Bob

Will do. I assume you use a microfiber cloth as well. I’d love some additional guidance since this will be the first one I’ve worked on. Do I scrub at the old glue till it comes off, or be extra cautious due to the black leather there? Other things to watch for or look out for?

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Micro fiber is fine. The glue will not come off without serious chemical intervention. Just leave it. It is not uncommon for that kind of glue to be visible on in service helmets. It's function over form on these helmets when repairs are made in the ALSE shops.  Common sense and a willingness to try will guide you. Go for it!

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Vark_07

Nice early 55/P set, despite the small issues that are easily correctible (spare parts are not hard to find nor very expensive).

As the others stated before, this shell paired with this type of mask was an extremely common configuration during the mid 80's to mid 90's before the introduction of the MBU-20/P 0² mask, so IMO it matches perfectly the "F-16 pilot" requirement to fulfill your childhood memories 😉 (but could also match an F-15 driver and various other planes in the USAF inventory of this era...).

 

As for the green hose coupled to the grey MBU-12/P mask, you might be interested to know the very early MBU-12/Ps were issued in green (face piece, straps and hose), then slightly later, they started coming in grey color with black straps (in the early 90's, the mismatching colors of the parts were fixed and all standardized in grey with black straps).

Here, you have a mixing of an early green hose, green straps (I think) and grey face piece, plus the early 4-side amplifier (not the typical later "delta-shaped" amp), I also see an old-type embossed Dymo label ("14") on a bayonet (that's typical of the 60's to 80's in the USAF, then they were replaced by numeric Dymo labels in the 90's).

Given this evidence, I think it's safe to say your MBU-12/P set belongs in the mid to late 80's (but there are molded markings on the mask's sides that would help date it too - size, manufacturer, and "time stamp").

 

To put some additional ID to the shell, isn't there a label in the inside of it ? (my example does have one - with size, serial number with contract date, manufacturer).

Must be an early 55/P too, for the velcroed ear cups were an early audio configuration.

That wouldn't help associate it with an hypothetical F-16 squadron, but at least you'd know more about the helmet you own (skull cap being Large, I guess it's also a Large-Size shell).


First, a good vacuum cleanup will do fine. Yo can try to remove the extra glue with a gentle White spirit rubbing (works fine on the hard plastic parts, but I'm not so sure on the leather or soft coating...), so I'd personally leave it as it is. Like 72psb said, it's pretty common to see yellowed spreaded excesses around the glued leather parts.

 

Here's mine (early 90's set), sold as a former F-16 driver ;).

Good luck !

 

 

 



 

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Vark_07

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Some of the usual yellowed glue excesses on the visor stops and other leather parts, to illustrate.

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