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Can someone identify the type and/or name for this green nylon flying helmet?


Maxrobot
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phantomfixer

AN6540...according to the web...was the last in the series late war

 

something similar, with straps and snaps was used as a liner for the early H series helmets used by the Navy

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jerry_k

It is WW2 US Navy nylon flying helmet based on cloth type AN6542 (late war model with sewed chin strap). The AN6540 is something different close but different. This version of helmet is not LAST series. Last one was a AN6542 with sewed chin strap made from byrd clothing.

 

The only one good site about this subject is a pilotsmanyourplanes.com which is under reconstruction right now.

 

Cheers,

Jerry

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pararaftanr2

Thanks for the plug Jerry! If we're lucky, the web site will return one of these days.

 

As for the helmet in question, if is a simplified version of the Navy's AN-6540 summer helmet which was made of khaki cotton Byrd cloth. There were actually two contracts for the AN-6542 that were issued AFTER these nylon examples went into production in October 1944, running through March 1945. The details of the AN-6542 were actually copied from the nylon helmets, with the elimination of the upper buckles for the MSA "D" oxygen masks found on the AN-6540 and the simplified chinstrap that was sewn in place on the wearer's left side and closed with a buckle on the right side. The nylon helmets were companions to the "suit, flying, nylon, lightweight", made from the same green nylon material. If you study your vintage photos, you will see numerous examples of the green nylon suits and helmets in use by USN and USMC aviators in 1945 in the Pacific. An example shown below (man second from left with nylon suit and helmet) as well as a list of Slote & Klein's contracts of $50K, or more, showing the production chronology.

LT Karl Kenyon of VF-37 with F6F-5   circa 1945-c Z-suit.jpg

Slote Klein.jpg

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pararaftanr2

A few more examples. These are Marine aviators, shown in screen captures from film taken aboard the Marine-operated CVEs supporting ground operations on Okinawa in1945. Just a side note. Any oxygen mask snaps you see on these, or other WW2 vintage Navy flight helmets, were all applied in the field, never at the factory. It isn't until after VJ-Day that you see snaps on Navy flight helmets being added during manufacture.

lip mic.jpg

loops.jpg

red scarf.jpg

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BlueBookGuy

Paul

great stills from vintage film!  As for these helmets, they by starting in Octber 1944 shortly pre-date the identical AN-6542 made of cloth.  So this does mean: all the cloth summer helmets issued prior to December 1944 (that aren't the older M-450s) are AN-6540s? and, this latter would identify the Navy-only subpattern of the jointly-developed AN-H-15? 

Thanx -  Franco.

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pararaftanr2
3 hours ago, BlueBookGuy said:

Paul

great stills from vintage film!  As for these helmets, they by starting in Octber 1944 shortly pre-date the identical AN-6542 made of cloth.  So this does mean: all the cloth summer helmets issued prior to December 1944 (that aren't the older M-450s) are AN-6540s? and, this latter would identify the Navy-only subpattern of the jointly-developed AN-H-15? 

Thanx -  Franco.

Hi Franco,

Great question, but there is no short answer, unfortunately. If you really want to go into the weeds, as they say, here are some notes to an article on the subject I was doing a few years ago. Never got around to taking photos to go with it:

 

The Helmet, Flying, Summer, Specification AN-H-15, originally referred to by the Navy as the AN-6540S (Summer) and later as the AN-6542.

 

This was a fresh design which incorporated the acoustically superior molded rubber with chamois-covered / kapok-filled "doughnut"  earphone receptacles. Mentioned in Army documents as "low frequency sound insulated earphone mountings" or "Howard design 5-C earphone mounting sockets". Gone were the old sew-on leather ear-cups, used by both Army and Navy (slightly different of course) that had to be custom fit to each wearer. The new helmet was made from khaki cotton twill (Byrd cloth), as was the M-450. It used a leather, velvet covered, removable chin strap, superior to the attached leather and fleece strap found on the Army B-6 and A-9 helmets. The chin cup of the Navy M-450 (and 1092L and 1092W) and earlier Army B-5 and A-8 helmets did not integrate well with the new A-14 oxygen mask and was eliminated. Rear goggle strap and earphone cord keeps were now made of leather, not fabric

 For reasons unknown, the Army earphone straps snapped at the bottom while the Navy's snapped at the top. A chamois lined brow-piece is found on Army contract helmets, but was only added later in production on Navy helmets (and often removed in field use). Original production for both services did not included snaps to attach the A-14 mask. The Army soon added factory installed leather-reinforced areas on both cheeks which incorporated multiple oxygen mask snaps. The Navy did not adopt this practice until after VJ Day, rather including cheek buckles intended for use of the already obsolete MSA demand mask with Type D face-mask. These were often removed in the field and snaps for an A-14 mask were routinely installed.

Slote & Klein, Inc. produced the AN-6540S summer helmets exclusively for the Navy starting in March, 1943 with construction spanning four contracts and ending in August of 1944. The Army standardized their version in April, 1943 and it is believed that production continued into 1945. There appear to have been numerous Army contracts split between several manufacturers. Some of the more commonly encountered examples today are from Bates Shoe Co., Joseph Buegeleisen Co., Zip-A-Bag Corp., Sun Shoe Mfg. Co. and Society Brand Hat Co..

 

AN-6540S and AN-6542 Summer Flight Helmets chronology

Some further observations on construction details and variations:

 

AN-6540S (Summer)
 
First configuration: The original design is brimless. It has a wide edge tape at the forehead. Body of the helmet is comprised of sectional panels, with a vertical seam above each ear. One black wire buckle on each cheek piece for attaching the MSA "D" oxygen mask.

 

Second configuration: The label and size tag are relocated and a chamois backed brim (provides flash-fire protection and absorbs perspiration) is added. The brim is sewn on with the front edge tape. Sectional panels above the ear remain. 

 

Third configuration: Last of the true AN-6540s, same as above with brim, but sectional panels now eliminated. 

 

Fourth configuration: Label changed to reflect a new NXSA contract. Part number eliminated from label. Brim is now attached with an additional row of stitching and one of the edge tape stitch rows. All the above four have the black wire MSA oxygen mask buckles. 

 

AN-6542

 

Fifth configuration: Part number is "AN-6542", returns to the label and size is now included on the label* (see below), not a separate tag. All buckles change to a larger, flat style, painted tan. 

 

Sixth configuration: Conforms to simplified style established earlier with the green nylon tropical flight helmet. MSA oxygen mask buckles have been eliminated (mask is obsolete, replaced when superior A-14 is standardized in 1943). Chin strap is sewn on one end, at wearer's left. One flat, tan, buckle to secure it, on wearer's right. Goggle strap snaps are now at bottom, not top, of keeper straps. Part number eliminated from label. Two wartime contracts. First is N288s-27405. Second is the last of the Navy wartime summer helmets, contract N288s-30999. 

 

Post WWII-
Some N288s-30999 labeled helmets have leather oxygen mask snap area retro-fitted.
Leather oxygen mask snap areas added, extra labeling are all post WWII/Korean War vintage from contract number N383s-19458. 


* AN-6542-1 is small, -2 is medium, -3 is large and -4 is extra large 

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BlueBookGuy

Paul a super explaination,

 

thanx very much. Think a more exhaustive research of the chronological evolution couldn't be possible, given the amount of infos. Noteworthy in my opinion the buckles for MSA masks still present on the 5th configuration (or, AN-6542's first one) in late summer 1944, shortly before starting production of nylon helmets.

About this tropical model one could wonder why it was not given the new nomenclature -42 since it was this variant to first bring out changes in both the material itself and some (decidedly visible) exterior features   -   the cloth variation made from December 1944 to October 1945 was a virtually identical helmet.

 

 

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pararaftanr2

As typical with many items of Navy flight gear from WW2, there are more questions than answers I'm afraid.

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