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WW2 Army Aviation Helmet - Question


Militiaman
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Militiaman

Hello all, 

 

I likely have an easy question for those in the know. 

 

My paternal grandfather served with the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group in the pacific theater of WW2 as a P-40 and P38 pilot, completing 124 combat missions with 330 combat hours from the 1st of November, 1943 to the 23rd of April, 1945, credited with 4 aerial victories.  

 

I'm trying to determine what type/model of helmet he wore, as I'd like to acquire a set up to display along side the original militaria I have of his. 

 

Thank you all for any help! 

 

Robert 

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Radio Operator

I believe for the helmet you would want to go for an ANH-15 with 3 snaps, and install ANB-H-1 receivers. For the oxygen mask either the A-10a or A-14 would work with that arrangement and be correct for the period. You should also look for pictures of fighter pilots from the 5th air force from around that time, as it will be a great reference for what was being used. When I was doing my B-17 radio operator display looking through crew photos from the 8th air force was very useful in deciding what to look for.  

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 My pilot is set up for 44-45 P-51D Mustang and has the A-14 mask , A-4 flight suit and B-10 jacket but for the most part its the same set up for both theaters. Maybe your Grandpa  had the B-7 or B-8 goggles and the B-15 jacket. Looking at period photo's for his outfit will tell you what was in the supply chain at the time.

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Militiaman

FANTASTIC information.  Thank you guys VERY much! 
 

Robert

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pararaftanr2

If your grandfather was overseas with the 7th Fighter Squadron for 18 months, from November 1943 until April 1945, I think you will find the equipment may have varied some over that time span. First I should think, you would need to determine if you want to represent what he wore flying the P-40, early in his experience, or later on in a P-38. There are many sources online that can help you with vintage photos of the planes and pilots of the three squadrons (7th, 8th & 9th FSs) that comprised the 49th Fighter Group, and a couple of books as well.

Here is one source, found by a simple Google search: http://p40hawksnest.com/Service/USAAF/49FG/49FG.html

 

A brief look through that website shows P-40 pilots mostly wearing khaki shirt and trousers, or an A-4 summer flying suit with B-3 life vests and pre-war vintage A-8 summer or B-5 winter flying helmets with B-7 (or AN-6530) goggles. I didn't see any oxygen masks in use, but the A-14 would not have been available in the PTO prior to the Fall of 1943 and I doubt you will ever find a photo of an A-10A mask in use in the PTO. More likely, it would be the early A-9, A-10, A-10R family of masks. By the time the group re-equipped with the P-38, I'm sure they would have had the A-14 available.

 

Below are a few images from that site I linked for you. P-40 pilots from the 49th FG first, then the C/O of the 7th squadron, when they were flying the P-38s, with an A-11 helmet and private purchase RAAF type 1936 flying boots. Note he is still using B-7 goggles and a B-3 vest from earlier in the war. Good luck in your research!

Also of note in second photo, is famous ace George Preddy, at the time in the 9th FS, who went on to fame as a P-51 pilot in the ETO.

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Militiaman

Para, 
 

Thank you for this thoughtful and detailed response.  I really appreciate the time it took and your knowledge that went into it.  That also goes for P-59A  and Radio Operator, too!  

 

I hadn't thought of the equipment differences between a P-40 and a P-38 pilot, and I must say, after consideration, how can I not do both now?  Haha, my wife is going to kill me.

 

This is the only picture I have of my grandfather in theater during WW2.  He is posing by P-40, #8 (Pops Blue Ribbon). This plane was mostly flew by Captain Louis C. Martin.  My grandfather passed away in early 2011, but when I asked him if this was plane he said it was not, but that it belonged to a friend of his, and he "wanted to have his picture taken with the pretty lady on the nose".  If memory serves, it's documented in Protect and Avenge that my grandfather did fly Pops Blue Ribbon for a period of time before being assigned to a P-38. 

 

The problem for me when looking at these photos, I'm ignorant as to what I'm looking at regarding the equipment.  You guys have already been EXTREMELY helpful in telling me the model numbers and types of the stuff I need to be after.  If there are any observations you can make based on the following photos, I'd be grateful to hear them.


Photos:

My grandfather, Robert "Bob" Decker

Captain Martin w/ friend

Captain Martin's 7th TFS grouping

 

     

decker_web.jpg

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Cpt. Martin WW2.jpg

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pararaftanr2

It's my pleasure to help. Those are great photos you've added and aid in solving the equipment mystery. In addition to the standard warm weather uniform of khaki shirt (with his pilot's wing on the left breast) and trousers, your grandfather appears to be wearing the B-6 type winter helmet, which is also the type shown in your photo of Capt. Martin's display. Interestingly, he also has a pair of single aperture, rubber frame, Polaroid 1065 aviation goggles (later known as Type B-8 in the USAAF after the addition of property and type markings to the frame). In the vintage photo of Capt. Martin, he is wearing an AN-6550 summer flight suit of khaki Byrd cloth with an issue M-7 shoulder holster for his M-1911 .45 automatic pistol. The oxygen mask shown in the Martin display is the type A-14.  It's a pretty safe bet that your grandfather was issued items similar to Capt. Martin as well.

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If you can find a photo of Pops Blue Ribbon you may want to think about recreating an A-2 jacket with that artwork on the back and outfit on the front. Maybe he had  one or maybe not, but it would be a cool tribute you could sport around. You can find a Cooper at good prices and a guy who makes leather name tags on e-pray. I made this jacket as a tribute to the crew of Chow Hound. I painted it myself with model paints and used a photo found on line and scaled the photo up then added grids then put lite grids the jacket. I had a shoe repair place sew everything on. If you want to PM me and I will give you the basics on how to do this.

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dustin

Pararaft, just a quick clarification. Martin is wearing an M3 shoulder holster, not an M7. Don't want him looking for the wrong thing. I know, pish-posh but they are kind of totally different holsters.

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pararaftanr2

Dustin,

Of course you are correct. Faulty memory on my part, my apologies. Like the old saying, "two heads are better than one".

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Militiaman

P-59A,

 

I'd LOVE to make up an 7th TFS jacket to wear around.  You did a killer job on yours.  Very nice work and I appreciate the inspiration!   

 

Para and Dustin, 

 

I appreciate the additional insight you guys have.  Thank you!  I think I'd eventually like to build out the pilots full kit, but at this point I'll start with what was worn from the neck up.  I'll recap to make sure I'm on the right track for that small project. 

 

P-40 Pilot

Helmet: B-6 Winter

Goggles: Polaroid 1065 or B-8 

Coms/Receiver: ANB-H-1? 

Mask: A-14, A-9, A-10 or A10R? 

 

P-38 Pilot

Helmet: AN-H-15 

Goggles B-8

Coms/Receiver: HS-38? 

Mask: A-14 

 

If I'm wrong/confused and need to make adjustments, please let me know!  

 

Thank you all! 

 

Robert

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