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Introduced in 1956, the MA-2 high altitude partial pressure helmet was a K-1 derivative, with the following modifications implemented:

  • Fiberglass shell painted white in order to increase heat reflection;

  • High pressure, small diameter, reinforced oxygen hose;

  • A visor which incorporates a 24-volt heating circuit, fitted with in flight drinking/ feeding port;

  • Improved defogging system;

  • A longer neckpiece that covers the upper chest and shoulder areas;

  • Snap fasteners to prevent the neckpiece from pulling out of the suit;

  • A deeper neck seal;

  • A three-way stretch cloth insert in the neckpiece to increase head mobility;

  • An in-turned bladder;

  • Improved microphone.

The MA-2 was in use, between others, on F-104's, B-58's and U-2's.



Starting in 1956, different combat aircraft were tested in search of a replacement for the DH Vampire. With the Russian invasion of Hungary, the Cold War was at its peak. The commander of the Swiss  air and anti-aircraft   forces, Div. (Divisionär) Etienne Primault, had personnally witnessed the completely inadequate combat aircraft equipment of the Swiss Fliegertruppe at the outbreak of the war in 1939. In the actual threatening situation, he wanted the best material for "his" Air Force. After the Swiss fighter bomber P-16 project cancellation, despite strengthened in 1958 with one hundred British Hawker Hunter fighters, the AF nevertheless needed a real high-performance aircraft. In 1959, the aircraft procurement working group presented its report about the trials carried out during 1958/59.

The Swedish Saab J-35 Draken, French Dassault Mirage III, Italian Fiat G-91 and the American Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and Grumman F11F-1F Supertiger were tested.

The late '50 Switzerland's AF involvement with the F-104 is quite interesting. In fact, it was the first country allowed to test it. At that time, the Starfighter was an advanced project and its performance still classified. 

Between October 1957 and November 1958, two Swiss AF instructors and a KTA test pilot (KTA -Kriegstechnische Abteilung, later GRD - Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste - Armament Services Group), made a number of flights in pre-series YF-104 and F-104 A.


On 13 November 1958, the then Major Arthur Moll established the still unbeaten Swiss altitude record of 21,600 meters (70,866 feet) in a zoom climb in YF-104A "FG-957", serial number 55-2957 at Edwards AFB, CA.


The above pictures show Maj Moll most likely before the record flight, wearing an MC-4 partial pressure suit, International Latex Corporation (ILC) MA-2 helmet, Berger Brothers MG-1 pressurized gloves and the distinctive "spurs", used with the C-1/C-2 bang seats.


The MC-4 was identical to the MC-3 but with an integral G-suit, Therefore, although used on TAC and ADC fighters, the MC-3/A was more suitable for bomber and HI-ALT aircraft as the U-2; the MC-4 optimized for fighter type aircraft.


More on the above high altitude equipment HERE 


The aircraft was considered unsuitable for Swiss conditions (short runways, narrow valleys); however, the modifications foreseen for a potential "Swiss version" were integrated into what was to become the F-104 G.

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