British pressure gear

Message 1450, 2 March 2001:
The suit worn with the Taylor helmet looks more like an anti-exposure suit than a standard flight suit (the crotch zip in particular) . This apparently was not uncommon. But I would not say it is an actual 'pressure suit'. Combination pressure jerkins/life preservers were normally worn with the Taylor helmet. However, here is worn a standard orange life preserver (looks to be Frankenstein mfg. RAF pattern). It also looks like he's got a pair of 'internal' anti-g trousers on beneath the suit (seeing the number of hoses going into the PEC. But it is possible a partial pressure suit is worn beneath the suit rather than a g-suit. Anyone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the RAF ever issued a partial-pressure suit. They had anti-g trousers, and used them in conjunction with pressure jerkins if required. There were British- manufactured partial-pressure suits (I have one in my collection) but I believe these were used by civil test pilots rather than the RAF. Any thoughts, Doc Boink? Again, with the EFA helmeted pilot (and there were a number of customized oxygen set-ups on EFA helmets depending on the nation, aircraft, etc) it looks like another anti-exposure suit. And normally, it was mated to a Type 30 partial pressure suit (which again could be worn beneath). The life preservers look to be the same between both pilots. Nice pics...would love to see any more! Cheers Dave Clark 5

Message 1449, 2 March 2001:
Its quiz time folks, In 1968 trials were conducted in the Danish Air Force to determine whether we should buy pressure suits for our F-104 interceptors and which type. Two types were tested, one British and one French. The British helmet seems to be a Taylor Type E and the French an EFA Type 23. The latter, however, has a different oxygen connection than the one shown in Jet Age Flight Helmets on page 151. Anyone who could identify the suits and helmets shown in the enclosed (mediocre) photos? Any other comments on the flight gear? Cheers, Bluelight 14
01449PressureRDAF_UK_01.jpg (14981 bytes)01449PressureRDAF_FR_01.jpg (15560 bytes)

Message 1369, 24 February 2001:
Thought that perhaps you would find a few of the following excerpts of interest. These are drawn from Dr. Harry Armstrong's book "Aviation Medicine", dated 1943. Armstrong, one of the American leading lights in early aerospace medicine (aviation medicine at that time, of course) is the namesake of the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine's Armstrong Lab. Although Dr. Armstrong was recognized for his excellent work in high altitude physiology, his view on the future of flightgear weren't all right on target (see following statements taken from his book).  On pressure suits: Armstrong describes the Royal Air Force development of an earlier Siebe-Gorman pressure suit design for Mark Ridge, an American balloonist who had the idea of using a sort of modified deep sea diving suit for ascents to high altitude in a balloon; although the suit developed for Ridge was hypobarically tested to a simulated altitude of 36,500 feet, and despite the fact that the subsequent RAF version allowed one Flight Lt. Adam to reach a record high of 53,937 feet on 6 Jun 1936, Armstrong goes on to state: "This accomplishment of the English airmen was a practical demonstration of the fact that oxygen-pressure suits are capable of use in aircraft at extremely high altitude for such ventures as they undertook. On the other hand, such equipment is entirely unsuited to commercial aviation and of very limited, if any, value in military aviation. The reason for this should be quite obvious although there are many who still advocate its use in military aviation, citing as its advantages its lightness and small target area. Against these meritorious advantages, however, are certain disadvantages which appear insurmountable. Chief among them is the fact that such a suit is cumbersome, difficult to put on and take off, markedly restricts the field of vision, and when inflated becomes rigid and distended and immobilizes the wearer. If one visualises a gunner attempting to swing a flexible machine gun while encased in such a contrivance, the fallacy of such a suit for military use should at once become apparent."     While the famous Wiley Post pressure suit is fairly well known, the RAF development stemming from Ridge's original suit (referenced above) is not as frequently seen. [The attached images show the RAF suit that Dr. Armstrong so confidently dismissed as being "unsuitable."]     The lesson here, I suppose, is that even though a person may have achieved substantial fame and recognition in his professional field, this doesn't necessarily enable him to accurately predict future developments. (In fairness, it should be noted that the chief limitation of pressure suit designs of the 30s and 40s were largely attributable to limitations of materials technology available at that time).     Cheers, DocBoink

Message 484, 1 November 2000:
Thanks for the information on the Victoria Rubber Works partial pressure suit, Christian. Interesting to know that the Concorde prototype flight tests were carried out using the Victoria suit, also (I knew that they used the ML Aviation Type 12P Mk IV helmet). Thanks again. Your collection of the Taylor and ML Aviation helmets is undoubtedly unsurpassed for these types. Cheers, Chris

Message 483, 31 October 2000:
The suit you have was officially mated to the Taylor Partial Pressure helmet by the RAF for use in the Lightning aircraft. I do not know of any long term useage of this combination as the Pressure Jerkin with Anti-g trousers was the combination much prefered for use with the Taylor Helmet. The surplus of these suits must have suited the Concorde aircrew as they were worn with the M.L.Aviation Helmet as seen in photos of Concorde testing. Maybe the RAF wouldn't release the Pressure Jerkin as they were certainly in use by them, at this time, as they still are with the PR.9 Canberra aircraft today! Christian.

Message 475, 30 October 2000:
Have you any information on a bladder type partial pressure suit produced by the Victoria Rubber Works in UK, that may have been used with the ML Aviation helmets? I obtained an ML Aviation Type 12P, Mk.IVC partial pressure helmet that came with an English bladder type partial pressure suit that the inner label described only as "Combined partial Pressure/Anti-G/Air-Ventilated Suit Mk.II", made by the Victoria Rubber Works (Frankenstein Group Ltd., Newton Heath, Manchester). I attach an image of the label. The helmet and suit were a set, although you state that the MLA helmets were never used by the RAF. This is most interesting for me, as it was this very type of suit that was supposed to have been so influential in later (1970s and 80s) Armstrong labs research studies that resulted in the Combat Edge & TLSS gear. I have attached a few images of the suit in reference.
What seems strange to me is that, assuming the MLA helmets weren't used at all by the RAF (although used briefly in Concorde test programme), what was it doing mated to Victoria Rubber Works suit? Any insights into this intriguing matter? I hope you are able to read the label inscription in the attached images (both are thumbnails; press to see larger images). Cheers, Chris

Message 470, 30 October 2000:
Hi Chris and fellow Flightgear members, Just to let you know that the Taylor helmet was fitted with two different types of rear crash protection plates. One was hinged like the M.L.Aviation helmet from the top and the other was hinged from the side. One example as used by the Swedish Airforce was recently auctioned on e-bay but I am afraid the prices reached there are way out of my range!
From the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine Report No.617, it clearly tells that although Taylor and M.L. helmets looked similar in design they had no association with each other in the design of their helmets. In actual fact the two companies were at opposite ends of the country to each other! The Taylor helmet entered service with the RAF but the M.L. helmet did not. The M.L. helmet did enter service with the German Airforce though with the Starfighter and was used during development work with Concorde.
For all you interested collectors I have attached two shots of the two types of hinged crash protection plates as fitted to Taylor helmets. I was very lucky to have obtained all the collection of over 200 photographs plus some colour slides of the helmets and suits as manufactured by Baxter, Woodhouse and Taylor, to give the firm its full title, from Annette and Michael Bingham, the daughter and son-in-law of Bill Taylor. I have also attached a shot of some of my Pressure helmet collection which contains seven different Taylor and three different type M.L.Aviation Pressure helmets. Very good collecting to you all, Christian Brydges

Taylor side-hinged crash protection plate (left) and top-hinged (right). Both pictures are thumbnails.