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Western Electric 1-A


Western Electric Type 1-A flying helmet


The US Army Air Service (USAS, 1918-1926), having emerged from the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps (1907-1914) and the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps (1914-1918), had started early to focus on the development of a reliable airborne wireless communication system. During the process, the intention of replacing the Gosport tube system was delayed due to problems with the development of a suitable oxygen face mask with incorporated microphone. The Type 1-A by Western Electric has the distinction of being the first flying helmet designed to incorporate radio telephone communication equipment, but due to the problems described above saw only limited use during the last year of WW1.


The flannel lined helmet could be adjusted by a tightening strap across the top and lacing on the back. The leather covered housings were to incorporate the earphones, including wadding and rubber pads for noise insulation and wearer’s comfort. Final adjustments can be done via the chin strap and an additional strap on top of the head. Goggle retaining straps prevent the same to be blown off the wearer’s head.


The goggles are manufactured by Resistal and feature non-shatterable glass lenses on hinged black painted brass frames. The latter are fur padded, while the rubber strap seems to be a recent replacement.






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