Type B leather flying helmet
Manufacturer J. Compton Sons & Webb Ltd. London
Stores Ref. No. 22C/65 (later redesignated 22C/285-292)
The Type B was introduced in 1936 and remained standard issue for RAF aircrew until 1941. It was constructed of dark brown leather, lined with chamois, and included a cotton padding between the two materials. Two leather straps with Bennet friction buckles, one under the chin and the other across the opening at the back, were intended to provide a secure and comfortable fit.
The helmet was issued unwired but came with a set of domed, zipped ear pieces, which were to be sewn on by competent RAF personnel and designed to receive Gosport tubes or radio telephone receivers. Large sponge rubber cup inserts and circular chamois pads inside the helmet helped to reduce noise level.
Oxygen masks (typically a Type D) or microphone carriers were attached to the helmet by means of two face protectors, i.e. strips of chamois-backed webbing with fitted snap fasteners. These strips, preventing frostbite by avoiding direct contact between the helmet's metal studs and the wearer's bare skin, were issued with the helmet and sewn onto the respective oxygen/comunication equipment.
Mk III* CL flying goggles
Stores Ref. No. 22C/69
Introduced in the mid-1930's, these goggles were constructed to protect the wearer from the hostile elements in open cockpits and/or other crew positions. Curved celluloid lenses were held by narrow blackened metal frames and velveteen cushions with oversize leather face pads covered a large portion of the wearer's face. A small air intake on each side of the central hinge prevented fogging of the lenses while two small buffers directly below allowed folding only in the right direction.
The goggle strap consists of the classic cloth wrapped steel springs and a strip of leather with an adjustable friction buckle.
Type D oxygen mask
Stores Ref. No. 6D/105
Type 21 electromagnetic microphone
Stores Ref. No. 10A/11994
The Type D was developed and introduced in the mid-1930's and remained in use well into WWII until being superceded in 1941 and finally declared obsolete in 1942.
Similar in design and appearance to the type B mask the main differences lay in the method of attachment to the flying helmet. This should be accomplished by means of four stud fasteners, male on the helmet and female on the mask. In order to prevent freeze-burn to the wearer at high altitudes (and consequently low temperatures) the mask's snap fasteners were to be attached by means of a pair of « face defenders » (Ref. No. 22C/68) issued with the flying helmet, i.e. chamois backed webbing strips with the « females » already affixed. So far the intended official way executed by the station taylor.
Photographic evidence however shows many non-standard ways of attaching the mask to the helmet. Snap fasteners, webbing straps, elastiziced and spring goggle straps and all sorts of available and (more or less) effective means were used, leaving almost no limits to the ingenuity of the fitter or the wearer.
While the Ref. No. 6D/105 represents the « mask assembly » as a whole, every single component had its own designation.
The Type D mask body (6D/106) made of green wool barathea was lined with chamois. Between the two, a layer of linen insulation and cardboard stiffener together with a length of flexible wire gave the mask its shape for a more secure fit. The interior included a horse-shoe shaped padded cushion intended to provide some sealing against the face. The front opening was sewn to a black pained metal ring (6D/117) which contained the oxygen inlet ant to which the microphone was to be attached. Oxygen was supplied by a constant flow system and entered the mask by a breathing tube (before 1941 insulated by cloth wrapping) anding in an « L » shaped bayonet connector Mk IIIB (6D/101) plugged into the main oxygen supply.
The mask was issued without means of communication, the front opening being closed by a chamois covered metal cap (6D7108), to be used with a hand or throat microphone (in the latter case USAAF T-30 laryngophones in lend-lease aircraft).
Designed to be fitted with microphones, these were hinged to open from the bottom of the retaining ring, i.e. for easier conversation on the ground, secured by a spring catch at the top.
This specimen is fitted with a black painted metal Type 21 electro-magnetic microphone (Ref. No. 10A/11994), which was introduced in October 1940.
The breathing tube insulated by cloth wrapping is of recent manufacture.
Other types of microphones used with the Type D mask by the end of 1940 were :
Type 19 electro-magnetic VHF microphone (Ref. No. 10A/10989), from January 1939, with a chamois covered flat front.
Type E carbon HF microphone (Ref. No. 10A/9003), 1935 pattern,
bell shaped, chamois covered.
Later microphones (Type 26 and Type 28) still could be installed by means of a special rubber adapter (Ref. No. 10A/13425) and the mask may have seen further service later in the war as a microphone carrier mask.