Aeronautical Headgear British
Price = n/a
British War Department Issue Flight Test Helmet
A modest but often overlooked example that would sit happily in a specialist or general aviation collection. We have previously listed this type as 'an RAF training helmet' based on Jim Weld's reference booklet description that even lists it with an RAF stores reference number 22C/129. We are however now more inclined to go with Mick Prodger's description and use as detailed in his definitive 'Vintage Flying Helmets' reference book:-
'A simple unwired helmet made available to flight test departments of various aircraft production facilities. Although their exact purpose is not known, it seems possible that these helmets were issued to visiting dignitaries, VIP's and other personnel who may have been passengers during demonstration flights. The helmet was constructed of light brown waterproof fabric and lined with soft blanket wool. Snap down ear flaps were fitted with a brow strap that enabled the helmet to be tightened. Most of these helmets appear to have been manufactured in or around 1940 and were War Department marked. Many bear additional makings indicating they were the property of aircraft manufacturers such as Hanley Page or De Havilland (often stamped on the chin strap canvas). This pattern of helmet may also have been available to ATA and Civil Air Guard pilots'. As ever we are indebted to Mick for this detailed analysis but it is of course possible back in 1940 this pattern may have seen use with RAF aircrew or elsewhere, as the need arose.
Our example closely aligns to this description and carries an ink stamp to the wool lining 'Q', below 'WD' with broad arrow and '90'. In addition the manufacturers paper label is still in place indicating it was made by M. Kaye and is a size 6 1/2-6 7/8 and is dated 1940. It does not carry any other property marks and seeing the paper label is still in situ it could well be unissued. When these helmets do show up one issue tends to be the canvas tends to harden and become a little stiff and brittle and this is no exception. The chin strap exhibits minor cracking as does one of the fold back ear covers. Despite this it remains in very clean original condition and it displays well on an appropriate 'head', as shown in our illustration photograph, but would just need to be handled with care. As with all our stock if you have interest drop us an e mail and we can supply a range of detailed pictures. Other examples of this helmet are currently listed elsewhere at prices from £100 upwards with one at an eye watering £400 plus! Ours is rather more realistically priced.