Aeronautical Headgear British
Price = n/a
RNAS WWI Flying Filter Goggles
Probably the scarcest pattern of WWI flying goggles and so few have survived that most museums do not have a set on display and the only other example we have been able to find is part of the Yale Peabody Museum collection in the US. When Mick Prodger published his classic reference work 'Vintage Fling Helmets' he was unable to source a set for inclusion although he has since owned a single pair. It is understood they were experimental when first issued to Royal Naval Air Service pilots in1917. Each set was contained within a custom made wooden case that held 16 coloured lenses (or officially designated "light filters") that were intended to assist with locating and spotting enemy ships and submarines from the air under different conditions. Some were for looking through haze, whilst others were for spotting oil on the surface of the water, or again for locating shadows under the water or even enemy gun flashed over the trenches. The set was completed when issued with an instruction manual giving directions for use and even an address for pilots to write to with their observations as to how these worked in practice!
This superb example is complete and despite being over 100 years old appears to be in unissued condition. It was discovered in a building close to Kalafrana on the southernmost tip of Malta which was a seaplane base between 1917 and 1946, when it was transferred to the Royal Navy. In WWII RAF Kalafrana was home to 228 Squadron flying Sunderland's and remained in use until the 1960's. Clearly these are the flying goggles that time forgot, until recently re discovered. The booklet shows some insect damage to the cover and the staples are rusted but is still readable and indicates a print date of June 1918. The box is sound and as well as the filters currently fitted to the goggles it comes with a further 6 filters thus making up the full set; each pair of filters is numbered and whilst showing some age fading but are undamaged. The goggles themselves are virtually mint and the tan leather is still soft and pliable; the cloth bound edge is fur lined and remains pristine, as are the face pads. The fabric backstrap is complete but has lost its elasticity over the last 100 years and now needs to be handled carefully. The strap is marked in pencil with a 'K' and the metal clip and adjustment clip are rust free.
This set is undoubtedly a museum quality item and if you happened to be a Museum curator or a private collector you will need to move fast to secure them for your collection.