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photos copyright ©2006-2017 by Ed Nored, used by permission
Flight Gear 1944-1945 / F-3 Heated Suit Headgear / Oxygen Masks / Boots Flak Vests / Helmets / Misc
Parachutes 1943-1945 "Little Friends" Fighter Pilot Gear Dressing for a Mission
(4-1) Page 2 from the F-3 Heated Suit Instruction Booklet. Compare to the photo below.
(4-2) Above is a recreation of the illustration found in the F-3 Instruction Booklet. I have excluded the wool shirt, trousers and long underwear.
(4-3) Shown above is a veteran F-3 suit. The white squares painted on both the bolero type jacket and bib style heated pants were placed there to act as background for any stenciled I.D. (name or number) that may be applied to it. As can be seen, pieces of white material were instead tacked onto each piece. I'm fairly certain that 2Lt Lovold in the photo of Lead Crew #265 is wearing the F-3 with similar markings shown above. Another example of the markings can be seen on Sgt. Callicott of the 359th Stewart Crew. In Lead Crew Mission #340 F/O Silver is wearing the F-3 heated suit.
(4-xx) "Walking to the plane." The officer on the left is 100% authentic as he wears a real parachute first aid kit. (previously opened unfortunately) He wears a garrison cap and on the other a "crusher" cap. Many of the crew had some sort of small utility bag with a draw string at the top to carry their flight helmet and O2 masks, displayed in the photo. The presence of baby shoes in based on 3 photos I've seen of men holding or wearing them. Shoes displayed above is based the photo of Saferites Crew of the 398th BG.
(4-xx) The B-10 jacket above was made by Rough Wear Clothing. The name tag reads C. T. Buehler. The last 4 numbers of his serial number are stamped inside: B 0215
(4-xx) The B-10 jacket above is made by Oldin-Dennis. The owner's serial number stamped on back of collar: W 408? (the last number is too faint to read)
(4-xx) The B-10 jacket above was made by the Stagg Coat Company. It has a "cream" colored label. I could not find any serial numbers.
(4-xx) The B-10 above was made by the L.S.L. Garment Company. It has a "cream" colored label. No serial numbers could be found.
(4-xx) The B-10 above was made by the Sovereign MFG CO. No other markings were present.
(4-4) Above are a pair of A-9 pants and a B-10 jacket showing how many AAF personnel marked their flight clothing. It should be noted that this veteran B-10 does not show any evidence that the AAF logo was ever on the shoulder.
(4-5) Two examples of A-9 pants are shown above. On the left is the earlier version. It has belt loops and buttoned pockets. The newer version on the right has slant/zippered lower pockets as well as added material in the knees. The belt loops have been removed. These pants are heavy and suspenders are more appropriate.
(4-6) Shown above are two B-10 examples with their AAF logo on the sleeves. In many cases this logo is missing from B-10 jackets. This fact is based on wartime photos, not post war collecting.
(4-7) Shown again are two B-10 flight jackets. Both were manufactured by the Oldin-Dennis Company. A B-10 with an original white shearling collar is a rare find. My best estimate is about 5 to 8 percent of B-10s had these. I can only speculate that when the Mouton fur, used on the majority of B-10s was not available, the maker was allowed to use the shearling as a substitute. See these two good examples of 303rd combat crews wearing B-10s with both type collars: 427th Callahan Crew and the 427th Gano Crew
(4-8) The above B-10 jacket is made by the Stagg Coat Company. It was issued to Paul Newcomer who flew B-17s with the 385th Bomb Group. Newcomer was shot down and became a POW. He survived the war and recently passed away. The jacket had spent 99% of its life in a footlocker until a relative posted it on eBay. If you were to go back in time to the Stagg Coat Company and take a jacket off the end of the production line, it would look like this jacket. It has never been washed or worn and is in mint condition. Enjoy!
(4-9) Inside view of the B-10 jacket in the previous photo. As a courtesy to the authors of the book "Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks" (By Don Barnes, John Grump & Ron Sutherland), I provided a photo of Newcomer's B-10. It appears on page 104.
(4-10) On the left is another example of a B-10 from the Stagg Coat Company, minus the epaulets.
(4-11) Above are two close up shots of previous Stagg B-10s. Washing and sun fading has taken its toll on one collar. The different colored labels, even from the same manufacturer, is a common trend found among the B-10 jackets.
(4-13) Pictured above is the B-11 left and the B-9 on the right. I believe these showed up in early 1944 -- a very nice jacket to have in that lousy English weather. You will see crews wearing this with their flight gear, but I'm going to speculate most might have found it too bulky. In flight, where a man needs to keep moving his head around to check for planes both friend and foe, I'm sure he wouldn't have the hood up. By 1944 more and more waist windows are being covered so the waist gunners didn't have to fight that icy wind blowing in. When you went to suit up for the flight you would have to fight with that hood every time you put the Mae West and parachute harness on. If you had your chute harness adjusted and tacked down while you wore a short-waisted B-10, then changed to the B-9 or B-11, it would be too tight. These jackets, as well as the B-10, also came with a shearling lined hood and collar. There are two nice photo examples of all three jackets with the various hoods and collars in the Tasker crew photo.
(4-14) This photo is based on Capt James F. McNamara in the Mission #250 Lead Crew Photo. He wears the B-9 jacket over the F-3 heated suit.
(4-15) Above is the AN-6550 flying suit in both dark green and lighter shade color. This suit replaced the earlier A-4. The green suit seems to be the dominate one used by crews. A crew member may have worn this over the F-3 heated suit followed by the A-9 pants and B-10 jacket or he may have worn it under the F-2 heated suit. How each individual dressed for a mission certainly varied, based on the crew position and his tolerance of cold. See an example in the 360th Hunsinger Crew photo.
(4-16) Next is the B-15 jacket. The earliest dated photo I could find of its arrival is December of 1944. Examples are at combat crews Jack D. Breslin Crew and the Robert F. Vail Crew, both of the 360th Bomb Squadron. More examples are the 427th Robert W. Krohn Crew, the Fred E. Mitchell Crew and the James W. O'Leary Crew. Two more excellent examples are in the first two photos of the 359th Bashor Crew. In their stateside photo you can see that the supply of B-10 jacket had not yet been exhausted.
(4-17) Above is the B-15 jacket with the A-11 pants. Improved flight gear was being prepared right up to the end of the war. They finally installed an exit pocket for the heated suit cord. Previously, the men were passing it through the fly or side pocket. There are many flight crew photos with men wearing the B-15 jacket, but few that show the A-11 pants. The bailout bottle is shown outside the pocket of the A-11. To see an example of the B-15 and A-11 pants, see 2Lt Harry A. Welsh of the 359th Beasley Crew. Also check out Sgt Callicott of the 359th Stewart Crew. He is wearing the A-11 pants over his F-3 heated suit.
(4-18) The H-2 bailout bottle is shown secured into the straps of the A-11 pants, and to he right is its optional pouch, with straps used to tie on to the leg or parachute harness.
(4-19) The bailout bottles were used for crew bailing out at high altitudes. There are many stories from veterans bailing out of planes and then passing out. Only at a lower altitude do they regain consciousness in time to pull the rip cord. With the early H-1 bottle, you had to reach down and turn the valve, and then place the end of the hose in your mouth or stick it under your oxygen mask. With the late war H-2 bottle, you reached down and gave a quick pull on the green wooden ball or "green apple" and it started the oxygen flow. You did not have to connect the airline, because when you suited up for the flight you would have already connected it to the new and improved connection provided at the base of the oxygen mask. I see more photos of fighter pilots with the bottles tied to the parachute harness then I do bomber crew personal. Two good examples are of 56th FG aces "Gabby" Gabreski and Gerald Johnson. If you were wondering about the U.S. Air Force stamping on the H-1 bottle containers, this is authentic. The April 2006 issue of World War II Magazine, has an article on 8th AAF crews. Included is an excellent quality photo of a bomber crew taken in March 1943. It shows two men wearing the bailout bottles.
(4-20) Here's a nice comparison shot of how flight gear material improved over time.
Above is an original WWII Safety poster reminding pilots in training of the many mistakes new pilots make. All of the posters are 17 X 22 inches in size.