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HGU-26/P Wild Weasel (?) set - USAF (mid to late 70's)


Vark_07
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Vark_07

Greetings everyone ! 😀
Today I'll be reviewing my latest acquisition to date, a colorful early HGU-26/P set of the post-Vietnam era, that I believe was used in a Wild Weasel SEAD squadron of the US Air Force.

 

1998958791_1-(9).jpg.902394956895bec31f7f5bb599c343ab.jpg

 


Shell & Mask

 

Even if it lacks the famous camo tape that came later in the 80's and became a trademark of these post-VN helmets, one can easily identify an HGU-26/P at first sight, with the iconic PRU-36/P side-actuated dual visor, and an MBU-5/P O² mask with late harness assembly and offset bayonets.


The shell features all the external characteristics inherited from the HGU-2A/P series : white paint, external earcups' string retention with stud and grommets, cast bayonet receivers, left side U-173/U comm port, a thin tan edgeroll, as well as the regular padded white nape and chin straps.

 

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No back label or pilot ID present, unfortunately.

However, thanks to a measurement comparison with my other -26/P and -2A/P, I assessed it's a size LARGE.

 

As you can see, the white shell shows a little yellowing, glue residues around the edgeroll, superficial scratches and a couple of missing paint chips, but is overall in excellent condition.

 

1-alter2.jpg.81ea1a7d0a7ca52bf9c3d97df86563cd.jpg


The PRU-36/P housing features a nice (and pretty rare with dual visor housings) so-called "gullwing cut" mod to improve upwards visibility.
Both visors are slightly scratched in some places, but nothing really concerning. They slide and lock perfectly.

 

 

3-visor2.jpg.ca0d798223c34993ee96d14d6eeae3b6.jpg
Close-up on the side-actuating visor buttons.

 

3-visor0.jpg.ca679b00edbe0516def8d33a42fece06.jpg
Detail of the gorgeous satin red paintjob with stenciled lightning bolts (made with masking tape).
It's interesting to note that the unpainted white surface of the bolts sports a lot of wear and scratches that do not match the very light patina of the red paint, so I'd venture it was painted this way during the last years of this helmet's life.

 

 

3-visor1.jpg.65e9c66ef072961559500da24a57fc43.jpg
Despite the "gullwing" mod that partially cut it off, a GENTEX marking is still readable on the inner side.
Still, I think it would be far fetched to assume the whole shell was manufactured by this contractor, so it will remain a question mark.

 

 

3-visor3.jpg.967da7ad9c8c1ef12d53d96bd36eb833.jpg
What I believe is a worn one-inch wide velvet fabric band was glued on the upper part of the visor housing.
Placed there to avoid scratches on the glass canopy of the aircraft, this kind of external visor housing "padding" was common use in the 70-80's period on narrow / low cockpit aircraft such as F-4s and F-105s (we'll get back to this point later).

 

 

519606126_2-straps(Review).jpg.d5ef82d784c831df25b4437ff48a9c55.jpg
Detail of the chin and nape straps.

 

301215176_2-bayosREVIEW.jpg.d2749d662e9dbf0c403274a38f17898c.jpg
Close-up on the well-patined Dunrite offset cast bayonet receivers.

 

477195301_1-(5).jpg.582b6a1ea22db7ba00decd558452e07f.jpg

 


2-mask.jpg.d8d5643874e89843ff4ea4c19e332acc.jpg

 

The oxygen mask is a Short Narrow Sierra MBU-5/P fitted with the Sierra hardshell assembly, and the late "crossed straps" harness coming with offset "J" bayonets.
It came complete with hose, connector, mic, comm cord and plugs, and looks overall in decent used condition (minus a crack on the hardshell, and the comm cord crumbling in some places).

The time stamp of the face piece shows 74-75-76, and the dotting pattern indicates a MFG. dating of the second quarter 1974.

The 0² hose, however, is a little more recent, with time stamp showing 78-79-80, for a MFG. dating of the second quarter 1979.

 

2-mask2.jpg.c464f4a14044a2ca5bca2708fe04d311.jpg

 

The mask's comm setup looks like an interim version : the cords are no longer fabric-wrapped as they used to be in the 60's, but the delta-shaped junction still doesn't sport any amp (that will become common in the years to come with the latest MBU-5/P setups and MBU-12/P).

 

2-mask3.jpg.e517e61dfdf9d651d1fa54f887941f18.jpg

Detail of the 0² hose with its connector, and U-174/U plug.

 

2-mask4.jpg.99f60c76648fb0805b3587d0aac8bd13.jpg
Close-up on the slight issues with the mask (crumbling cord / hardshell crack).

 

1-alter3.jpg.0ef4ea72209bc5f0beb453005415e2d9.jpg

 

 


Looking on the inside / Discussing the nomenclature


Although it features all the main internal characteristics of the early styrene-liner-fitted 26/Ps before the introduction of poured Form Fit liners ("brow pad", velcroed sizing pads and earcups) along with the H-154A/AIC headset, solid evidence proves this HGU-26/P wasn't actually based on the HGU-22/P shell, which makes it even more interesting in my opinion.

 

540729232_5-inside(1).jpg.4e5b829b100617c13b5e9c8ce13f776b.jpg

 

As a matter of fact, a quick look on the inside easily reveals three characteristic cooling holes on both shell and styrene liner, which makes it undoubtely an HGU-2A/P helmet that had been retrofitted to the 26/P standard at a given time.
Moreover, this -2A/P shell must be an early (61/66) or middle (66/69) version ; the reason why being that the last contract batch (69/73-74?) of HGU-2A/Ps was based on the -22/P shell and liner - thus none of them sported any cooling holes.


109057682_5-inside(7)22Pcomparison.jpg.627af55b5e9b4c112c2211dbbf23268d.jpg
Detail of the standard HGU-22/P shell and styrene liner for comparison.


It is not clear whether the PRU-36/P was added to my helmet prior to the retrofit of the internal elements, or at the same time.
Noteworthy, it is known that some HGU-2A/Ps were equipped with Ramshorn dual-visor (one-piece or three-piece) kits during the 60's and early 70's, before the PRU-36 introduction (see this link to a 60's era Sierra pamphlet). At that stage, they still were identified as "dual-visor HGU-2A/P".

 

HGU-2A/Ps retrofitted with Form Fit liners, thick edgeroll beadings and not using the external earcups string retention system, however, are today unofficially referenced as "customized" or "HGU-2A/P custom fit". The example below with PRU-36/P is considered as such on the Salimbeti web page.

 

salimbeti.jpg.abc0ec8efed178deb5c81348b16beedc.jpg

(C) Salimbeti


Once the fitting pads removed, I discovered another interesting element : 2 additional smaller holes roughly drilled on the temples area - for extra cooling purpose I guess.

 

1474233405_5-inside(2).jpg.b1f6d6a5bf2fd7939bf80fdb45bb3f29.jpg
Close-up on the velcro tabs and the 3+2 cooling holes after removing the fitting pads.
Note also the central circular-shaped glue remains on the styrene, evocative of a former glued round fitting pad characteristic of the early and middle -2A/P version, which was likely taken off, and replaced by 2 velcro hook tabs to secure a new fitting pad.

This strongly confirms the retrofit assessment.

 

 

688327436_5-inside(3)REVIEW.jpg.8aafd53096c7b470dc26338d61a0ceac.jpg
Close-up on the leather and backing of the (customized ?) unusual front fitting pad.

 

773020727_5-inside(5)earcups.jpg.d0daccc154bc5292892c7c46c18c56e4.jpg
The earcups are secured using both external string retentions and velcro.
As you may have already noticed in the first pic of the inside, one of the ear seals (likely damaged or missing) had been replaced, hence the color / shape variation between them.

 


That being said, looking at a few examples of HGU-26/Ps found on the web fitted with the -22/P styrene liner (w/o cooling holes), it occurred to me that squadron-level customizations were common in the 70's before the introduction of the more standardized Form Fit liners circa 1980.

Hence various liner / fitting pad configurations -as pictured below with 2 examples- that remind of my example, the -2A/P shell set aside of course.

 

897588115_5-inside(6)22Pexamples.jpg.487141819c952b52424217dddc01673f.jpg
Note the two uncommon cooling holes drilled -just like with mine- on the temples area on the left-hand example (see arrows).
(C) Aeronantiques

 

1-alter1.jpg.eeb9d578c9743081d1614de1b09673f1.jpg


Now, some of you may be asking themselves why I called it an HGU-26/P anyway, instead of a "dual-visor HGU-2A/P" or "customized HGU-2A/P" after unveiling its origin.
This is indeed a semantic situation I had already encountered and discussed with my 80's era single-visor F-15 HGU-26/P (which -for reminders- featured a -22/P shell with patched earcup retention grommets, an unusual foam liner with fitting pads, and velcroed earcups).

 

 

Online readings told me the last batch of HGU-2A/P (already based on the -22/P shell) ended circa 1973, and given the following single visor helmets of the series were already called HGU-26/P in manufacturers' catalogs of 1974, it can be considered that the -2A/P nomenclature therefore disappeared from that point on.
However, despite this change in the designation, large numbers of older -2A/Ps were in use at that time and not meant to be written off until years (as the saying goes, "if it's not broken, don't fix -or replace- it").

 

Quote

"It is unclear when the HGU-2A/P designation disappeared but it may have been already in 1974. MIL-H-26671B was cancelled in 1974 without a superceding document and Gentex sold single visor HGU-26/P helmets already from that year."


"Gentex' 1974 catalogue has no HGU-2A/P but shows single visor and double visor versions of the HGU-26/P, and Sierra delivered single visor HGU-26/P helmets in January 1975 based on a 1974-dated order."

Source best-of-flightgear.dk

 

This constatation was indeed confimed on Salimbeti, talking about the 26/P :

Quote

"This typology of helmet was adopted to provide a standardized helmet configuration for use by aircrew personnel in all types of aircraft."


Consensus seems to have been made that -2A/P nomenclature had vanished circa 1974, so I assume that after being retrofitted to the 26/P requirements (that include the PRU-36/P dual visor), any remaining HGU-2A/P in the active inventory would have been referred as a 26/P from that moment.


Interestingly enough, the same kind of standardization goes during this era in the US Navy with remaining APH-6s, which were renamed with the HGU-XX nomenclature after the introduction of PRK-37-based shells (for instance, in this thread, the APH-6D became an HGU-47/P).

 


Taking the following into account, given that the mask and hose's datation tells us my set was used during the mid to late 70's (even perhaps early 80's) after this change in the USAF nomenclature, and even though we will all agree that it is not a regular "off the shelf" 26/P (an hybrid helmet with no typical designation, if you will), I chose to use the HGU-26/P typology for this helmet.
I'm aware this could be prone to debate, but this nomenclature situation is not really crucial to me anyway !


912075846_1-(11).jpg.206174ffc3c9775b7cfb1f8eb56a5e8c.jpg

 

 

Helmet background

 

⚠️Disclaimer : The following statements are a mix of search results, educated guesses, reasoning - and gut feelings.
For me this is the fun part with unidentified helmets, so please be indulgent, as l'll not be affirming anything !

 


The first things that struck me when I laid my eyes upon this helmet were obviously the white lightning bolts on the red visor housing (they can't be missed, can they ?).


On the one hand, the lightning bolts being pretty evocative to me of electronic warfare-related (EW / SEAD) aircraft in both USAF / naval squadrons ; on the other hand, these two colors reminded me of the VN-period Thunderchiefs - the F-105 patch was notoriously white on red, the head-rests on the ejection seats red too, and beside this I remembered having seen some Vietnam war videos showcasing red visor housings on Thud pilot helmets (that was eventually confirmed later).

Putting these elements together, this helmet immediately rung the Wild Weasel bell in my mind.

When the seller actually told me on the phone he also believed it would have been an F-4 or F-105 set related to a Wild Weasel unit, I naturally dug more in that direction.

 


As stated before, the global datation of this helmet set (shell from the 60's with retrofit evidence paired with a mask issued 1974 and used up to the late 70's) makes it a post-VN artifact in the present setup, although it is more than likely it was used in a different earlier configuration during the VN era (single visor housing or unpainted PRU-36, glued fitting pads, spring-loaded headset perhaps, etc).

 

Aircraft used in the Wild Weasel SEAD (acronym for Suppression of Ennemy Air Defences) role during both VN and post-VN era until the early 80's were mostly the F-105 F/G Thunderchief (aka "Wild Weasel 3"), and some modified F-4C Phantom II (aka "Wild Weasel 4" - after the failed earlier "Wild Weasel 2" 1966 attempt with F-4s) to compensate F-105 attrition and losses, before the transition to the F-4G ("Wild Weasel 5") circa 1980 which occured more or less within the F-105 retirement period.

On a side note, most -if not all- of the F-105 single and two-seaters, including the Weasels, were transferred in the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and Air National Guard (ANG) after the war.


From my searches, the most iconic Wild Weasel units of this era flew within the 35th, 37th, and most especially 388th Fighter Wing - with the notorious 6010th Wild Weasel Sqadron that became later the 17th WWS (at first with the "JB", then the more renowned "WW" tailcode) that fought until the very end of the war.

These specialized planes can be easily spotted on photos for they were two-seaters, and frequently carried the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard anti-radiation missiles.
 

Weasels.jpg.7c311ea975895cb158ff7bfbe3322951.jpg

 

The lightning bolt, especially in the early years of the Wild Weasels starting 1965 with the F-100F aircraft (aka "Wild Weasel 1"), became an iconic symbol that passed on almost every WW patch of the following decade.
Besides, I've found a good share of F-105 VN-era patches sporting the red / white color scheme, and as I mentioned earlier, many Thud pilot's helmets with red-painted visor housings.
Additionally, some tail / cockpit markings of these WW aircraft (F-105 of course, but also F4) were painted with this bicolor scheme.

 

See what you think with the following montages 🙂

 

1415174459_6-aircraftpatchesREVIEW.jpg.d6d2b75991869bee1338bc80d76dcce8.jpg
Typical F-105F/G & F-4C Wild Weasel patches.

 

947962170_6-weaselpatchesREVIEW.jpg.7f068cac7d144b1b17c91bc4612e0505.jpg
Various Wild Weasel patches from VN / post-VN that illustrate the lightning bolt design's presence.
This montage includes Thai-made custom and early Weasel patches (F-100F Super Sabre "Weasel 1", and possibly F-4C "Weasel 2").

Many of them (C) National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

 

 

235493441_6-planesREVIEW.jpg.6328475fedaa6644c73291f1be0a8b87.jpg
Matching markings on Weasel planes of the early 70's to early 80's era.
The three F-105F/G tails on the top right corner are respectively from Texas AFRES, Virginia ANG, and Kansas ANG.
As you can see, F-4Cs, although used in fewer numbers, also sported these colors in Vietnam (I've also found similar red-tail / cockpit markings on early "WW" F-4Gs, but considering the whole set's datation compared to the F-4G introduction, it seems unlikely it was used on this "recent" aircraft).

 

 

287471520_6-helmetsREVIEW.jpg.9667184469a9bd92d2c68a1640255ad9.jpg
All of the recognizable ("large enough" so to say) red single-visor housing helmets of this montage are HGU-2A/Ps from the VN era flown with F-105s (D, F and G).
Can't really tell much about the tiny ones, but they definitely sport red housings too.
Yet, a lonely but really similar-looking red PRU-36/P housing (on Flighthelmet.com) with F-4 silhouettes do not completely rule the F-4 hypothesis out !

 


All in all, if we assume my Wild Weasel theory is correct, the iconic red visor housing legacy from the VN-era's Thunderchiefs combined with the number of planes flown in the SEAD role arithmetically give the F-105F/G a large advantage on the F-4C, regarding the VN and post-VN period as well.

 

So, putting all the previous evidence together, my guess is that my helmet set probably belonged -in this post-war configuration- to a F-105F/G Wild Weasel aviator from the ANG / AFRES (perhaps -D model too, for these squadrons eventually mixed single and two-seater Thunderchiefs) .
This is speculation of course, but I bet there's a good probability of truth in it.


 


This is it, gentlemen, hope you enjoyed this new writeup !
As always, I'll gladly appreciate you to leave your opinion, or any helpful comment, hypothesis & additional information 😉.

 

Cheers !
- Gauthier / Vark_07

 

982380492_1-(7).jpg.b29d01b0743cfad1b3202785963cf665.jpg

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manayunkman

You really break it down brother.

 

It’s amazing how scientific these helmets really are.

 

You make it easy to read and I’m beginning to understand.

 

 Thank you for sharing your latest acquisition.

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mohawkALSE

It might be an Instructor Pilots helmet possibly from a ATC base.  You are correct about the top of the visor housing with the cloth strip, that is a moleskin abrasion strip that they would put there for bumping the canopy.  Most helmets Ive seen with that installed were done so at training bases.  Many of the 26Ps that were built up at Williams AFB always tend to have that moleskin installed.  Some of those helmets from Williams used to usually have a label in the rear saying "Custom built by Willie Life Support"  was a nice little unique touch.  I think those helmets though had the custom fit liners installed and edgeroll.

 

That is a very nice helmet, the cover art looks really nice,  pretty simple yet effective.

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72psb

Another fine example with a wonderfully informative write up.

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Vark_07

Thank you for the kind comments, gentlemen, much appreciated !

@mohawkALSE : If we stick to the Thunderchief hypothesis with the red visor housing legacy, the instructor suggestion you made looks promising too, for F-105Fs were initially built as two-seater trainers before being converted to the fighter-bomber (then Wild Weasel) role.

Moreover, ANG / AFRES units, as they were not "front / first-line" squadrons, featured a great deal of training in their flight schedule during and after the war with mixed fleets of single and twin-seater Thunderchiefs - planes that were on the verge of retirement anyway in the late 70's. It figures.

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Wayward Son

I LOUDLY applaud the time and effort you took to put this post together. The photos and supporting documentary are outstanding.

 

Oh yeah...... the helmet and mask are very cool as well!

 

Well done! 🍻

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Vark_07

This is very nice of you guys, I appreciate it !

Another picture, along with my other 26/P on final display.

 

26Ps.jpg.0773d9beae3df0c4cc2a332fbc41e833.jpg

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  • 2 months later...
cggill85

Thanks for the detailed write-up and pictures!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Vark_07

⚠️🙂 Important update regarding the matching airplanes' probability !
During my daily searches for other flight helmets, I've accidnetly found a couple of interesting shells from the 70's era with a very similar red visor / white lightning bolts art, both allegedly related to the F-4 Phantom.

 

2130282858_Phantom-1526th.jpg.ddcd50ca26f773bb767dea1d4c97b550.jpg
The first one is a single-visor "gullwing cut" HGU-2A/P from a 2019 ended auction, said to having been flown with F-4E from the 526thTFS / 86th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Rammstein AFB (RS tailcode), Germany, during the 70's (that's before the mass introduction of the camo taped shells in the tactical fighter squadrons).
The liner is missing, yet the thick leather edgeroll makes me think of a retrofitted 2A/P with a 2-part form fit liner.

Here's above a montage of some of the thumbnails still available online (the bigger pictures were gone when the auction was removed, including the one with the back label unfortunately).

 

Truth is, I've managed to confirm the informations stated on that listing.
I've found that 526th's F-4E indeed sported a red or red / white (then checkered red / black) band on their tails during the 70's and 80's, and the best is now to come.


The following 86th TFW Phantom pictures are dated 1978, and as you can see, both clearly show white helmets with red / white visor housings inside the cockpit !

Side note, all the 526th pictures from the mid 80's and up I've found show camo taped -26/Ps in the cockpits, so the 70's datation would definitely match my set.

 

Phantom-526th.jpg.2226478fc9bdf08434d724ef6b198474.jpg
F-4E from the 526th TFW

 

Phantom-512th.jpg.0f9f64a0af226fe8b13ff65d4fe7f9bc.jpg

F-4E from the 512th TFW

The 512th -with yellow tail bands- was the 526th's sister squadron, part of the 86th TFW too, hence the presence of a yellow housing on the WSO's helmet, so this picture likely captured a mixed 526th / 512th crew.

 


Phantom-2.jpg.90e3514fe086afbdf15153e462b31317.jpg

The second one is presented as a -26/P (but possibly a -2A/P retrofitted with PRU-36/P dual visor housing and form fit liner), also said to be F-4 related.
Only one picture, some parts look NOS, but aside from the liner, it looks pretty much the same as mine as well.

 

 

So, according to these recent discoveries, the F-4 hypothesis (and not especially the -C Wild Weasel variant) has just made a big return in the matching aircrafts' probability.
And honestly, with such identical cover art on the housings, I'm now growing positive that the F-105 guess -even if likely- wasn't correct in the end, and that my helmet set belonged to a Phantom driver from the 526th TFS during the mid to late 70's.
See what you think, any opinion is obviously welcome !


- Gauthier

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mohawkALSE
12 minutes ago, Vark_07 said:

⚠️🙂 Important update regarding the matching airplanes' probability !
During my daily searches for other flight helmets, I've accidnetly found a couple of interesting shells from the 70's era with a very similar red visor / white lightning bolts art, both allegedly related to the F-4 Phantom.

 

2130282858_Phantom-1526th.jpg.ddcd50ca26f773bb767dea1d4c97b550.jpg
The first one is a single-visor "gullwing cut" HGU-2A/P from a 2019 ended auction, said to having been flown with F-4E from the 526thTFS / 86th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Rammstein AFB (RS tailcode), Germany, during the 70's (that's before the mass introduction of the camo taped shells in the tactical fighter squadrons).
The liner is missing, yet the thick leather edgeroll makes me think of a retrofitted 2A/P with a 2-part form fit liner.

Here's above a montage of some of the thumbnails still available online (the bigger pictures were gone when the auction was removed, including the one with the back label unfortunately).

 

Truth is, I've managed to confirm the informations stated on that listing.
I've found that 526th's F-4E indeed sported a red or red / white (then checkered red / black) band on their tails during the 70's and 80's, and the best is now to come.


The following 86th TFW Phantom pictures are dated 1978, and as you can see, both clearly show white helmets with red / white visor housings inside the cockpit !

Side note, all the 526th pictures from the mid 80's and up I've found show camo taped -26/Ps in the cockpits, so the 70's datation would definitely match my set.

 

Phantom-526th.jpg.2226478fc9bdf08434d724ef6b198474.jpg
F-4E from the 526th TFW

 

Phantom-512th.jpg.0f9f64a0af226fe8b13ff65d4fe7f9bc.jpg

F-4E from the 512th TFW

The 512th -with yellow tail bands- was the 526th's sister squadron, part of the 86th TFW too, hence the presence of a yellow housing on the WSO's helmet, so this picture likely captured a mixed 526th / 512th crew.

 


Phantom-2.jpg.90e3514fe086afbdf15153e462b31317.jpg

The second one is presented as a -26/P (but possibly a -2A/P retrofitted with PRU-36/P dual visor housing and form fit liner), also said to be F-4 related.
Only one picture, some parts look NOS, but aside from the liner, it looks pretty much the same as mine as well.

 

 

So, according to these recent discoveries, the F-4 hypothesis (and not especially the -C Wild Weasel variant) has just made a big return in the matching aircrafts' probability.
And honestly, with such identical cover art on the housings, I'm now growing positive that the F-105 guess -even if likely- wasn't correct in the end, and that my helmet set belonged to a Phantom driver from the 526th TFS during the late 70's.
See what you think, any opinion is obviously welcome !


- Gauthier

It is similar for sure, but Id have to say possibly the visor cover was added to that shell at some point with that time frame.  By the late 70s Id say it was highly unlikely that helmet you have would have been a fighter pilots in a F-4 seeing it didn't have the custom fit liner with the thick leather edge roll.  That was pretty standard by the later 70s.  The normal fitting pads was the standard earlier in time.  I think the custom fit stuff with thick edge roll came out at the very end of the 60s and really took off after that in the fighter jock world.   One of the first helmets I saw using them was a Sierra custom fit helmet that looked like it was based off the APH-5, but had the thick edge roll, leather custom fit liner and the triangular ear pads.  Those were around about 1969.   

 

Which type of aircraft did that unit in RS have prior to the F-4? or possibly the helmet could have been from an earlier time in the F-4 prior to the late 70s.   Can only speculate I guess though without any direct info linking it to a unit and actual time frame.

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Vark_07

Thanks for the comment Mohawk !

Rammstein AFB used to host 526th's FIS F-102s prior to F-4s, until their phase-out in 1968.
The F-4E era with the renamed 526th TFS in Rammstein really started in 1973.

 

Like I stated in the original write up, my shell was issued between 1961 and 1969 (HGU-2A/P early or middle version, the only ones that sported cooling holes), but the retrofit evidence with PRU-36 paired with the mask's parts dated between 1974 (face piece) and 1979 (hose) would suggest and match the F-4 era, let's say the mid to late 70's.

Since the examples I've recently found show a retrofitted -2A/P and a -26/P likely off the shelf, I think these old -2A/P shells could still have been in use "as such", until their replacement by the standardized camo-taped + form fit liner dual-visor -26Ps in the early 80's.

Reminder : all the 526th pictures from the early / mid 80's on F-4s I've found show camo taped -26/Ps in the cockpits.

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phantomfixer

I posted a few of the pics on the 526th page, to see if anyone recalls this type of decoration...

 

I arrived at Ramstein January 1st 1984...what a party LOL...anyway, I was with the 512th Dragons then later the 526th Black Knights

at that time 99% of all helmets were the 55/Ps and MBU-5/P masks mixed in with the 12/P masks, and with an occaisional white helmet...camo helmets might have been around here and there, but I only recall the 55/Ps and the white helmets...A few of the older jet jocks still had them....and yes aircrews flew different squadron jets if required...

 

sometime in the late 70's the 86th gave up it's later E models with the TISEO on the left wing, and received all 68 model F-4Es, that could help date your helmet, based on tail numbers, 74 pre 79ish.... 

 

At 18 years old, I was a helmet junkie, and was always making friends with lide support folks...

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Vark_07

Wow, that's an awesome personal background story, Phantomfixer, much appreciated ! (I think I guess now where your pseudonym comes from).

And thanks a lot for your help in my research, the pictures from the 526th's page and dating info you provided are precious evidence to me 🙂👍.

 

The second picture particularly, for it shows a PRU-36/P dual visor on either a -26/P or a -2A/P (perhaps it was the same helmet Capt STAGGS wore, with successive single-visor then dual-visor housings, hence the presence of the single visor housing on this cool stand-alone wall mount).
Both are extremely close to the housing art from the helmet I own and the ones I've posted yesterday, that's comforting.

 

So, taking into account the informations gathered yesterday, and from what I see with the pictures you provided and the dating informations, it seems indeed relevant to refine my set's datation in the mid-70s era (the early Phantom years on that unit at Rammstein AFB).

The 1974 MBU-5/P face piece fits right in the given period, just the 1979 0² hose looks post-dated. However, given what you've said about the "older jocks" keeping white (that would be -2A/P or -26/P) helmets in the mid-80's, I think it still figures.

Thanks again for your precious contribution !

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Vark_07

I was excited to tell the former owner of this set about my recent discoveries. However, he told me he still believed that it was more likely Wild Weasel / F-105 related than coming from a F-4E squadron in Germany.

I had to agree with him that the lightning bolts on my visor housing are thinner than the 526th TFS's art, and after a few searches on his own, he sent me this Thud driver's picture.

Despite the single-visor configuration, there is no doubt the lightning bolts are more resembling.

 

sechler2.jpg.ca754660cf373b005f195406635fb1ba.jpg

Capt. Sechler from the 34th TFS "Rude Rams" in Korat (1968)

 

 After looking at the whole 34th's pilot list and every available picture in it, it seems that this decoration was pretty unique - for the pilots of this unit mostly used camouflage-painted HGU-2A/P. Still, that it is the perfect counter-example to maintain the doubt alive 😁...

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