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British private purchase leather helmet by "Dunhill’s Ltd."


When the Royal Flying Corps (established 1912) entered the war in 1914, there was virtually no defined standard for military flying clothing. The possible potential of military aviation was still far from being appreciated, let alone the possible need for specific “flight gear”.


Most aviators relied on their own sources, and fitted themselves with protective clothing purchased privately, based on their personal needs and experiences gathered before the conflict. Such clothing included mostly items originally designed for motoring, like helmets, goggles, scarves, gloves, coats.


This chamois lined early flying helmet made by Dunhill’s of London includes a fold down peak which can be fixed in the up position by a press stud, plus earflaps. The latter can be rolled up to form a kind of bumper, while at the same time uncovering a circular opening to improve hearing when on the ground. This specimen’s provenance is confirmed by the manufacturer's silk label on the inside. The various press-studs are either marked “ENGLISH MAKE” or “MADE BY A.M. CO.”



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