MBU-5/P oxygen masks in the US Navy
Latest update 8 April 2010

Message 981, 4 February 2001:
Hi Steve, Yes, I viewed the photo and found it of interest. However, it would not surprise me if the Navy used the MBU-5/P under certain circumstances during the Vietnam era. There were lots of advisors from both services working with ARVN and AFRVN fliers, which probably ended up mandating a mix in personal equipment systems requirements from time to time, and from special mission to special mission. Although the aviators shown were supposedly "MiG-killers" (and therefore presumably flying MiGcap missions, as well as fleet protection duties), they were most likely flying F8U Crusaders (and later F4s). The adoption of some Air Force type gear for special duties, and especially the cooperative use of some aircraft types like the Spad, would require ability to use Air Force gear as well as standard USN gear. Interesting. Chris

Message 969, 4 February 2001:
Did anyone look at this picture? I figured an MBU-5/P on 1960s Naval Aviators would be a bit of a surprise. Cheers, Steve N.

Message 950, 3 February 2001:
The enclosed picture appears on page 69 of Lou Drendel's Book "And Kill Migs'. It is an official U.S. Navy photograph so I don't think I have to clear it with anyone. The caption: VF-161 Mig Killers LT Oran R. Brown, LT Henry A. 'Bart' Bartholomay, LT Pat Arwood and LT Taco Bell. I would call your attention to the oxygen masks on two flyers at the right. Look carefully, as both masks appear to be MBU-5/Ps. The second from right looks like he is using it on an APH-6 while the far right guy has T Bayonets. Actual photograph is a little better than the scans. Here we go again.....Cheers All, Steve Norris

The photo shows LT Patrick E. 'Pat' Arwood and LT James M. 'Taco' Bell, F-4 pilot and RIO from VF-161, after shooting down an MiG-19 on 18 May 1972. Photo USN

Message 646, 7 January 2001:
Ron, I looked through this message and noticed 2 things:
1- Most collectors are paying $200 more for a used mask, than the new ones cost. I wonder if some of our "dealers" aren't getting the masks directly from Gentex for sale to unsuspecting collectors?
2- There is no mention of PRK-37/P visors "trimmed" for the MBU-23/P. Given the statement about visor compatabilty, it would appear the U.S. Navy could not use the MBU-23/P with PRK-37/P Helmets. Does anyone have info on a PRK-37/P visor trimmed for the MBU-23/P mask?
Cheers, Steve Norris

Message 645, 7 January 2001:
Hi all, Came accros this publication. Gives us in insight on the MBU-5/P replacement with the MBU-23/P. Also take a look at the prices qouted.........(Okay they include UPS shipment.....) Bye Ron
MBU-23/P Procurement Authorization

Message 530, 13 November 2000:
Now that you mention this, I recall other sources referencing the fact that the MBU-5/P was favored as an more suitable alternative to the MBU-12/P type mask due to face seal problems encountered with the latter mask within certain percentile parameters of the face-fit envelope. I subsequently conducted some face seal tests of my own on the MS22001 silicone mask, the MBU-5/P mask, the MBU-12/P mask, and the TLSS type MBU-20/P precursor mask a while back and found that I also had face seal pressure problems at normal delivery rates of pressure-demand atmosphere (I used air room instead of 02). The MBU-12/P type mask has shown itself to be less than favorable when used by certain facial conformation types, a situation that was probably somewhat embarrassing to USAF and USN anthropomorphic test engineers well after the mask came into standard service use. The newer MBU-20/P type (and HA/LP) masks provide far better face sealing than the MBU-12/P type mask--this is particularly true during high-G or ACM maneuvering, when G forces tend to induce or magnify existing distortion at face/mask seal periphery. Cheers, Chris

Message 529, 13 November 2000:
All, Below please find a fairly recent change order ([downloaded from pma202.navair.navy.mil, Bluelight remark]) that makes a convenient mention of the MBU-5/P mask in Naval use. I also recently saw a close up on a television program( wish I could remember the show ) of a back seater in an EA-6B prowler wearing an HGU-68 helmet and an MBU-5 mask. A friend with VF-103 and former helmet collector said the MBU-5 is still being used for pilots and crew that have difficulty getting a proper fit from the MBU-12 and it's variants. The MBU-23/P mask and it's sealing method may have solved the fit problem and made the MBU-5 unnecessary. Hope this helps, Steve Vallejo

Message 523, 12 November 2000:
On this topic, a local surplus dealer has several masks from the USMC that are configured with the U-75 plug and J-bayonets. Rich Mays

Message 521, 12 November 2000:
Steve, That's a good point about USN use of USAF aircraft (and foreign types like Kfir) as adversaries in Naval Fighter Weapons School training, etc. There were a number of different USAF types used alone, including the F-5, F106, and even an F104 at one time. Since all these aircraft were system configured for use with USAF life support equipment, it figures that USN would adopt these items as acceptable alternate items in such applications. This is a surmise unsupported by any hard TO data, but it certainly is logical. There was also a DoD 'push' on to unify life support items and standards for all services that occurred more or less simultaneously, hence even more likelihood of this sort of thing having been fait acompli. Nice photo of the Commander in his SLUFF, too. Note the helmet decoration and what appears to be a wide band of black Velcro on the hose-to-mask segment of his MBU-5/P. Cheers, Chris

Message 520, 12 November 2000:
Re the USN MBU-5/P. I spend a lot of time looking for technical publications etc. to verify that a piece of equipment was used in a particular application. So when I find a picture of something out of the ordinary, I really try to dig into it's history etc. I have enclosed the following photograph as I think it may provide some insight into the U.S. Navy MBU-5/P issue. This photograph is of LCDR "Lites" Lennhouts. The picture dates from 1988 and appeared in "The Hook" (U.S. Navy Journal of Carrier Aviation). LCDR Leenhouts is flying a Navy A-7 and clearly has a Gold Visor and an MBU-5/P Oxygen mask (similiar to the one Rons set along) on his HGU-33/P Flight Helmet. Note that the mask has been modified for use with Navy comms. In the documentation from the period this mask isn't listed as a substitute for aircrew use (but could easily have been). In researching the MBU-5/P for possible Navy use, I found that a number of adversary Aircraft like the KFIR and the F-5 were used. Comms wise, these may have been better suited to the MBU-12/P or MBU-5/P than existing Navy masks of the time. But I can't find any documentation to support this. Before I am comfortable with saying the MBU-5/P was widely used on US Navy flight helmets I'd like to have some kind of documentation to support this. Does anyone have any Navy documentation on MBU-5/P use. was it used in other applications possibly as an emergency mask? In lookiing for the attached picture, I had to go through a number of my old issues of "The Hook" (not altogether unpleasant). I probably looked at several hundred aircrew photos from this period and only this one had an MBU-5/P mask in it. For the record: LCDR Leenshouts was only the second Naval Aviator in history (as of 1988) to amass 1,000 traps (Carrier landings) as a LCDR. And he obviously took along his camera to take this picture. If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd love to hear from you. Cheers all, Steve Norris

Message 519, 12 November 2000:
Thanks Ron, for sharing the image of the USN MBU-5/P set-up; that's interesting and helpful.
Cheers, Chris

Message 518, 12 November 2000:
Sometime ago there was a question about APH-6's with V-tech and MBU-5/P's used in the USN. I came across this image on the Internet a few weeks ago. This MBU-5/P has a correct USN commcord and even the snap on the hardshell strap to attach it to the MA-2. Thought I should share it with you all. Ron

Message 135, 13 April 2000:
That sounds right on and would indicate the Navy used it an a emergency mask? Steve

Message 134, 13 April 2000:
They are USAF/US Navy publications. Rich Mays.

Message 132, 13 April 2000:
Documentation says the mask is used in a whole host of planes where a helmet is not used. Under usage notes for the MBU-14,-15, -16, -17/P, the MBU-5/P is listed as an emergency mask on aircraft where no flight helmet is used. A Commercial version of the MBU-5/P is used in the C-9B. There's some confusion here as the Navy also lists "Smoke Masks" as used in the about the same aircraft as the MBU-5/P. All references to the MBU-5/P are basically footnotes in the manual. Rich Mays, you mentioned you had an old version of the pub. What does it say about the mask? There should be a table listing what aircraft a mask is used in. In the copy I have, the MBU-5/P is not in the table, just mentioned in the footnotes. Cheers all, Steve Norris

Message 131, 13 April 2000:
There are parts of the documentation that cover the MBU-5/P, but that mask isn't seen very often. Urban legend says that they were used when a good fit couldn't be obtained with another type, but there are so many parts peculiar to that mask (and the shells are easily cracked) that there must be a better explanation. Rich

Message 130, 12 April 2000:
What has puzzled me is seeing 'Navy' helmets offered with the MBU-5/P mask. Can anyone verify if this is correct? I didn't think the Navy used them. Cheers, Darren