When, by war necessity, Bomber Command changed its tactics to all year around and high altitude bombing, aircrew were now exposed to more extreme temperatures. While most crewmembers would start to benefit from improved aircraft/cockpit heating, this was mostly not the case for the air gunners manning the gun turrets. In order to maintain crew efficiency at very low temperatures, new electrically heated garments were developed.
The yellow colored Taylorsuit (or "Buoyant Type") 22C/739 entered service in 1942 and combined electrical heating during flight with buoyancy in case of ditching in water. The latter was achieved by extensive kapok padding and the possibility to store further buoyancy pads in pockets located in the chest, legs and neck.
The suit, constructed of the same fabric as the 1941 pattern "Mae West" and lined with heavy brown cotton, is fitted with integral braces, features full length zip fasteners to aid dressing and is wired for use with D Type electrically heated inner gloves and socks. These garments were connected by means of press-stud terminals and were worn inside ordinary gauntlets and boots.
Connecting the electrically heated inner socks (bootees) 22C/721 and 22C/724 to the Taylorsuit by means of the ankle snap fasteners. Heating adjustment was made by simply adding or discarding components of the Type D heating system.
Type D heating system components: electrically heated inner gloves (linings) 22C/719 – 24 volt (top), flying gauntlets 22C/770 (middle) and green denim bootees (bottom). This Type D system combination would be completed by an electrically heated waistcoat 22C/659-663 (no picture), worn under the suit.
Our turret gunner (considering his facial hair he has possibly been transferred from the Fleet Air Arm recently...) is slowly completing his outfit with Type D inner gloves, Type C flying helmet, second pattern 22C/877-880, Type E* oxygen mask 6D/628, yellow cloth skull cap and Mk.VII flying goggles 22C/826.
A variation of the theme with Type C flying helmet, second pattern, Type G oxygen mask 6D/643-645 and Mk.VIII flying goggles 22C/930. Note the full length zippers which are of great help for getting into and out of the suit.
Label of the heated bootees – stamped "D" (top), stud fasteners for connecting the multi-terminal pad for body and extremity electrical circuits (middle) and red stencils found inside the suit (bottom). As the suit was found in Switzerland, thus possibly requisitioned from an interned airman, "KTA" most probably stands for "Kriegstechnische Abteilung" (Swiss military department for the acquisition of equipment), but the meaning of the number "5600/8" for the time being remains unknown.
Although the Type D outer gloves 22C/767-772 were part of the Type D system, they were not wired and were frequently worn without the heated inner gloves. Our gunner now wears 1941 pattern flying boots 22C/748-755 over the bootees.
An item which was definitely not a part of the Type D system, but provided some welcome additional heating, was the Thermos (reg. trademark) with a capacity of 1 litre of (hot or cold) fluid. The inner lining of the jar is made of "Pyrex" glass and is sealed by means of a large cork cover while the screw cap acts as a cup. This specimen sports a broad arrow at the bottom and is dated 1943.
Detail pictures showing female stud fasteners located inside the ankles of the Taylorsuit for connecting the bootees (top), Air Ministry marked zippers (middle), metal box for A.M. large aircraft's (4-10 men) dinghy First Aid Outfit (lower middle) and Taylorsuit label (bottom).
Rear view showing to advantage the neck flap which could accommodate additional buoyancy pads. Note also the strap of the walk around oxygen bottle and the neck flap of the yellow skull cap. The latter was worn over the flying helmet in order to enhance the chance of being spotted by rescue teams from the air after bailout/ditching.
Below -Connecting the Mk.VB portable oxygen cylinder 6D/432 to the oxygen mask. Worn by means of a grey tubular canvas pouch 6D/224 on shoulder and (here missing) waist straps, these cylinders were painted black and provided an oxygen supply of about ten minutes.
Below- While the Mk.IIIB bayonet connector 6D/101 from the Type D mask 6D/105 (no picture) fitted directly onto the Mk.VA cylinder outlet/valve 6D/221, the Type E, E* and G masks required an extension tube and adapter 6D/482.
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Oxygen mask hose end piece 6D/526 connected to the adapter.
Bomber crew with two gunners on the right wearing Taylorsuits.
Extension tube and Mk.IVA adapter connecting oxygen cylinder with oxygen mask tube.
Detail pictures showing labels of Type D electrically heated linings (inner gloves) 22C/71 (left) and 22C/719 ( middle) and Type D flying gauntlet 22C/770 (right)