AN6540 U.S. Navy nylon summer flying helmet
When war production eventually went into full gear, aircraft numbers and performance increased drastically, aero engines became more reliable, powerful - and noisy. Aircraft endurance, and as a consequence mission durations, increased steadily. These were facts which contributed to discomfort or even reduced hearing capacity for aircrew in mostly not noise-insulated cockpits or open crew positions.
Additionally it became common practise (especially but not exclusively) for naval aviators in single engine aircraft to perform carrier landings and take-offs with cockpit hoods open – eliminating the risk of a blocked canopy - in order to reduce the time necessary to exit the aircraft in case of ditching or forced landing.
On the other hand clear radio communication became more end more important as mission complexity increased and combat formations stretched over vast areas, be it over land or sea.
In an effort to improve noise reduction for aircrew, the AN6540/42/43 series of flying helmets were produced. Coming in numerous variations from a large number of manufacturers they were all made of similar patterns with many minor modifications, though making use of various materials for construction and lining, according to the climatic regions in which they were to be used.
The „basic“ AN6540 features newly constructed large rubber earphone cups with inner chamois donuts, a combination which lead to the desired noise reduction. They were integrated into a helmet constructed of goatskin with reinforced seams, with leather lined brow and neck protector and fully lined with chamois. The velvet covered leather chinstrap buckles to the left with a snap fastener on the right side of the helmet. At the rear there is a central sewn-on goggle strap and two additional rear quarter snap-on goggle straps. It is also to note that there was no factory-made oxygen mask attachment.
The green nylon summer flying helmet was the final version issued to naval aviators during WWII. Unlined due to its use in tropical environments it features three green leather goggle retaining straps and a green velvet covered chinstrap, sewn to the left side and buckled to the right side of the helmet. Unlike other helmets of the “family”, the nylon version came with factory-installed snap fasteners for the Type A-14 oxygen mask.
Entering service towards the end of the Pacific War the nylon helmet remained in use by the US Navy for many years, eventually ending its career modified into a liner for the early hard shell jet helmets.
Type B-8 goggles
Please click here for a detailed description of the B-8.
Type A-14 diluter demand oxygen mask
Please click here for a detailed description of the A-14 mask.