USAAF A-8 Summer Flying Helmet
The A-8 flying helmet dates from May 3rd 1933 when the design was standardised but was moved to limited standard in March 1941 and was declared obsolete in September 1944. The A-8 was issued without provision for receivers or oxygen equipment although many were factory modified initially to take the A-8 series of masks. Receivers, when fitted, were held in place by leather receiver cups. The A-8 helmet was actually used in this guise by the first US fighter pilots to arrive in England during the spring and summer of 1942. This example is an unmolested version exactly as issued with a dark olive four segment cotton shell and goggle retaining straps to the rear. The front brow of the shell is stamped with a large AAF logo with Army Air Force below. It also features an original chestnut brown leather chin strap buckled at both sides; this shows some staining and signs of use. Later examples were modified with a fleece lined chin strap which also involved cutting and refinishing the sides of the helmet so it could be used with the A-9 or A-10 masks. Both draw strings are still in place. Inside the helmet carries a woven cloth label confirming the helmet designation and ‘DWG 33G 5979’ and ‘A.C Order No. 41-2047-E.P’. An identical label is shown on page 88 of Mick Prodger’s excellent 'Vintage Flying Helmets’ reference book and dates our helmet to 1942, which is very late for an unmodified helmet to turn up. The size is indicated as ‘Medium’. The A-8 is much harder to find now than the A-9 that replaced it and this pattern was also used in unmolested form by paratroopers in training, in much the same way as the RAF B type, without receiver cups fitted. The A-8 also saw service with the AAF in China and during the early war against the Japanese. Perhaps not the most sexy of US helmets but with its early introduction and unmodified specification and the fact it saw service in one form or another until almost the end of WW11 it should form an important part in a US or general flying helmet collection. Thanks again to Mick Prodger for assistance with this description.