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RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

Article about: Today I acquired this helmet and oxygen mask combination from a friend, who inherited it from his father. I recognize the helmet as a second-pattern RCAF Type C, but the mask is something I'

  1. #1

    Default RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    Today I acquired this helmet and oxygen mask combination from a friend, who inherited it from his father. I recognize the helmet as a second-pattern RCAF Type C, but the mask is something I've not seen before. The switch (intercom?) on the left side of the helmet / mask is something else that I don't recognize. If someone could tell me what I have, here, I would be grateful!

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

  2. #2

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    In case anyone's interested, I just figured out who the maker of the mask (marked GP&R Ltd.) was - Gutta Percha and Rubber Ltd. of Toronto.

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

  3. #3

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    Nobody? I was sure somebody here would recognize this setup...

  4. #4
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    RCAF Canadian Gutta Percha and Rubber Company Type C-2 Oxygen Mask. This example is for use with the early Canadian style "B type" helmets, the type without press stud / snap fasteners. On yours the stap has been modified with the addition of a press studRCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

  5. #5

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    Thank you, Lurch!

  6. #6
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    Interesting...
    Looping the strap through the microphone cabling looks like a bad idea though, putting the contacts under some stress. I would imagine this has been done more recently, however, since the elastic appears to be somewhat stretched.

    All in all, a very nice set!
    Well done,
    Bob

  7. #7

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    Thank you, Bob!

    Now, I spent a bit more time with this helmet / mask set, using a more realistically-shaped head. There was a bolt sticking through the lowest of the three snaps on the left side of the helmet, and it turns out it fits perfectly through a hole in the microphone on/off switch. Here's how I believe the set was worn, although, like Kohima, I have some doubts about the way the mask strap loops around that wire:

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

    Now, I understand that this "Gutta Percha" oxygen mask is fairly rare. Would it have been used in a particular aircraft type? My thinking is that, since this was a rebreather mask similar to that used by the U.S. Navy, perhaps it would have been used by crews of RCAF aircraft types that were originally designed for the USN, like the Catalina, Canso, Ventura or whatever.

  8. #8
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    Here’s a thought, purely for display purposes;
    You could mount the head onto a wooden base, with a dowel post in front to fit into the hose aperture of the mask - taking the weight and stress off the elastic, cables and helmet itself.
    If you have a suitable length of concertina hose (post-war or perished), and could be arsed, you could slip it over the dowel to conceal it.

    I may be over-thinking this.

    Cheers,
    Bob

  9. #9

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    Great suggestion, Bob. Will give this a try.

  10. #10

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    In case anyone's interested in this RCAF helmet / mask combination, I've found another very similar one online, at vintageflyinghelmets.com. It has a mesh summer helmet but, otherwise, is a very close match, with same gutta percha oxygen mask and microphone switch located on the pilot's left cheek:

    RCAF WW2 Flying Helmet - What do I have?

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