SWISS H-5 HISTORY and DESCRIPTION
Unfortunately until today we have not found any documentation on why a USN helmet of the '50 has come to be used in Switzerland till the mid of the '80 and beyond, (...still working on it...). Nevertheless we managed to talk the former owner of Sportex, whose labels are fitted in all Helvetic H-5. Here's what we were able to determine.
In 1946 the Zürich located Sportex company started to import motorbike crash helmets from France. They realized the helmets needed some improvements and developed a new pattern with bonnet manufacturer Fürst in Wädenswil. That's where they got a reputation as specialists in crash helmets.
During the spring of 1960 Sportex received a request coming from the near Dübendorf Air Force Base. The AF was testing a H-5 flight helmet but complained about the "visor" (goggles?) which could only be positioned either in the upper or in the lower position. They said another visor model was available, but installed on a track with a different radius than the one of the helmet. The AF asked to find out a solution. Sportex designed a support made of plastic who compensated those two radii. Two injection molds were made and the "new" visor installed to the helmet.
The modification proved to be successful and the AF ordered a first serie of 130 helmets (120 size 1 and 10 size 2). Helmets were provided to Sportex by the AF, the work was carried out by company's personnel at the Zürich facility under the supervison of two AF representatives. The modified helmets were then shipped to Dübendorf AFB stored in
the heavy cardboard boxes also produced by Sportex .
The modification required to Sportex by the Swiss air Force:
Find a way to install
on the H-5 a British Mk.2 visor, as the one fitted on the
MK-1A helmet. The helmet shell-visor track radii compensating shim is visible in the LH and installed in the center picture.
The helmet shell-visor track radii compensating shim is visible in the LH and installed in the center picture.
As the "original" USN H-5s, the early Swiss version had leather tabs with snap-on buttons fitted. The LH one had a peculiar shape with a supplemental snap-on fitting, most probably foreseen as supplemental support for the comm cable, despite there is no proof of its effective use; on the pictures and documentation available, the fitting is always blanked.
The early installed visors mantained the original shape, but when the MS22001 oxygen mask and the cast oxygen mask receivers were introduced, the visor also underwent modification. It was grinded/sanded in order not to interfere with the new equipment fitted to the helmet. Those pictures are showing visors with original and modified shape cut. Like all Swiss AF pilot equipment, the visors part numbers includes the acronym P.A. (Pilotenausruestung).
Like all Swiss AF pilot equipment, the visors part numbers includes the acronym P.A. (Pilotenausruestung).
This refurbished early H-5 shows the original rear comm cable exit set-up. It is obvious the cable is under tension, due to the narrow bending radius who could lead to cable internal wiring damage. It is not clear if this was also a Swiss modification, or if the helmets were delivered in origin as shown.
To overcome the mentioned problem, a(nother?) modification was implemented. This considered the cable exit to be displaced by 45° to the left , thus eliminating the tension. The cable holding metallic bracket was cut in half and installed on the helmet with a single screw instad of 2 as before.
The comm plugs were were stitched to the helmet shell with waxed string by means of leather tabs. When the H-5 was withdrawn from service, it was assigned to helicopter loadmasters, therefore had the comm wiring modified. This was performed in a somewhat "rude" manner, by replacing the original wiring with a SPH-4 harness. The helmet retained during all its service life the "banana mount" for the boom mike.
The more visible and "classic" Swiss modification, was the "gullwing cut" to improve pilot's visibility. This modification was initiated by the former chief instructor of air combat and proved to be more successful than the proposal described below.
The proposed modification consisted in cutting and re-shaping the rear edge of the helmet in order to improve the pilot's capability to move his head upwards towards the vertical axis. This proposal was rejected by the Air Force Medical Institute reportedly due to a major exposure to possible injury of the pilot's head.
MA/6U boom mike.
ELNO (?) Boom mike used on Alouette II / III helicopters and Pilatus Aircrafts.
More recent ELNO boom mike.
|Above, three boom mike models employed on H-5s.|
|Early six pins plug suitable for British comm systems.||Later standard model.||Helo comm plug.|
|Above, three comm connector models employed on H-5s.|
Headset position was adjusted and damping was carried out by means of handmade leather cushions fitted as required with rubber foam disks of various thicknesses.
During the restoration of such a flight helmets the original US Navy gold color often surfaces from under the later applied white paint livery.
Center and RH a view of the comm wiring harness.
Center and RH a view of the comm wiring harness.