IJNAF 1942 TYPE
While the previous basic pattern had been in use since the 1920s, by mid war a completely new flying helmet was designed for the Naval Air Forces. The main reasons were to economize on important war materials and to accelerate war production.
The featured helmet of this improved pattern is often referred to as the Type 2 flying helmet. The helmet body was now constructed of five sections and all snap fasteners were omitted. The crown strap was deleted and only a single buttoning-down goggle strap was fitted to the rear. A short bill, leather chin strap buckling to the left and green name tag to the rear (often missing on examples found today) remained standard features of this cotton twill or velvet lined summer version. This specimen is lined with tan cotton twill.
In order to accommodate Gosport type receivers for (onboard) communication in multi-crew aircraft, small oval leather pockets replaced the formerly used snap down ear flaps. By simply stretching the leather these basic receivers could be forced into the partially sewn down pockets.
Nichi-man fur goggle mask
This fur mask features the large standard elliptical lenses consisting of two layers of glass with a transparent plastic sheet sandwiched in-between. This was an attempt to provide some kind of laminated shatter proof lenses. In fact, this example has a split right lens, which fortunately remains stable enough for display.
Mainly issued to army and navy flyers operating in cold climate, e.g. in open cockpits or other exposed crew positions (gunners), this type of fur mask features standard reddish copper colored aluminium frames and velveteen-padded cushions. Added protection against the elements is provided by means of a brown fur-lined leather mask extending over the wearer's nose and brow. This goggle mask was manufactured by the Nichi-man company, the logo of which can be found between the goggle strap screws.
These goggles are often referred to as “MAN goggles" due to the logo stamped on the goggle frame. Whether the word “MAN” is actually an abbreviation for “Manchuria”, the Chinese province occupied by the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War, cannot be ascertained. The company logo consists of a sun symbol (“Nichi”) over the letters “MAN”, hence the logo represents the company name “Nichi-man”.
This company was one of the more prolific makers of flight goggles from the mid 1930’s through the end of the war. Nichi-man is often referred to as a manufacturer of goggles for naval aviators, but in fact the company made and sold a variety of goggle styles to aviators of both services – IJNAF and IJAAF. Nichi-man goggles come in different colors and shades of brown to burgundy for the frames, the suede roll around the frames and the goggle strap. Some manufacturers offered a wider choice of colors such as burgundy, brown red-brown, black, green and white. When offered the colors were the buyer’s choice. Actually the only real difference between army and navy issue Nichi-man goggles was the emblem on the lid of the goggle container. The army variation had a star in the center of the propeller hub while the navy version had an anchor. Otherwise, the goggles and wiping cloth were identical.
Some higher end goggles were sold in boxes made of higher quality materials and a slightly different Nichi-man company logo. Nichi-man goggles were sold in containers of two different sizes. Large ones (length 5,75 in.) for leather face mask goggles, electrically heated goggles and some higher grade custom goggles. Standard goggles came in the smaller box, 5 inches long.
Nichi-man also made goggles with tinted lenses with the word “color” printed on the top of the box. No other maker is known for the time being to have used different size boxes. All Nichi-man boxes used brown color paper, which would vary in the texture of the exterior paper covering.
Note; It also seems likely that Nichi-man and many of the other goggle companies made generic goggles without a company logo on the goggles or box that were more affordable for some enlisted aviators, but this is an observation that has not been confirmed.
Each pair of goggles came with a chamois cleaning cloth in the box (standard for almost all the goggle makers) which was excellent advertising for the company. Nichi-man cloths have been seen in two colors, tan and pale blue. The Nichi-man cloths feature a pair of goggles above the company name, address and telephone number in Tokyo. The pale blue cloths appear to be standard size cloths and the larger and heavier tan cloth is believed to have been reserved for higher quality or custom goggles. The size of the cloths changed during the war to conserve material. The late war cloth was smaller and eliminated the artwork of the goggles. The kanji is written right to left on the larger early clothes now reads left to right on the smaller cloth.