RFC COWL HELMET
The cowl helmet, also referred to as "the hood", represents an icon of British WWI aviator's equipment. Its layout and construction was aimed to provide full around weather protection for its wearer, ideally in combination with a Triplex Mk.I or Mk.II face mask or a private purchase derivate thereof..
This style of helmet is constructed around a cowl of shoulder length chrome leather with a facial opening for the eyes and nose. This dark brown fur and light olive cloth lined specimen comes in a light brown colour Other helmets of this style come with a wide array of differently shaded leather shells and lining materials (chamois, flannel, wool, fur – or combinations thereof) .
Ear protection is ensured by ear flaps equipped with three press-stud fasteners, each. These flaps could be repositioned to allow the installation of Gosport tubes. Additionally, cylindrical leather pads are sewn on, which were intended to deflect wind from the ears, thus reducing noise and allowing vocal communication between crew members. These pads were often removed, or omitted right from production, though.
The wearer would adjust the fit of the helmet by means of straps and buckles on either side of the forehead. Tightening of the face opening was possible with the strap and buckle attached drawstring, the latter either being fastened under the chin or at the back of the head.
The resulting protective cowl restricted head movement and field of vision to such an extent that we can safely assume that it was preferably used by gunners and observers in their exposed positions, rather than by pilots.
The helmet reportedly appeared for standard use by the end of 1916, and while many were officially procured by government contract and marked with the WD (War Department) stamp, they were, manufactured in various configurations by several well-known manufacturers, available for private purchase. Many were subsequently adapted to the wearer's preferences, either at the taylor's shop or the quartermaster's base.
An unmarked fur lined private purchase goggle mask completes the display.