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Electrically Heated Flying Clothing

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  • Lingo Dog
    Rank 3 Registered User
    • Oct 2018
    • 65

    Electrically Heated Flying Clothing

    A specialist dealer has a set of 24 volt heated clothing comprising separate jacket and trousers with wartime dates.
    These bear the stores number of 22C/NIV. Apparently they were made for the USAAF by a British manufacturer.
    What British aircraft had need of these for their crews? The only type I can think of is the relatively few Fortresses operated by the RAF. Suggestions welcome!
    Last edited by Lingo Dog; 13th February 2019, 19:36. Reason: Voltage corrected.
  • mmitch
    Member
    • Mar 2003
    • 1743

    #2
    Certainly RAF air gunners wore electrically heated suits. A late workmate had one fail on him while in the tail turret of a Lanc!
    mmitch.

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    • Lingo Dog
      Rank 3 Registered User
      • Oct 2018
      • 65

      #3
      The RAF certainly had electrically heated flying suits but these were one piece (looking rather like an overall) or heated jackets of a pattern unlike the sort I mentioned but these had British stores reference numbers.

      Last edited by Lingo Dog; 13th February 2019, 19:30. Reason: trying to add photograph

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      • Lingo Dog
        Rank 3 Registered User
        • Oct 2018
        • 65

        #4

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        • Lingo Dog
          Rank 3 Registered User
          • Oct 2018
          • 65

          #5
          A very interesting example of WW2 British made heated flying clothing The two piece suit is beige in colour and has a brown ribbed woollen fabric at the sleeve and leg cuffs along with the jackets collar. The brown ribbed fabric is worn in a couple of places with minor holes. The suit is a size Large.

          The jacket is labelled:

          Electronically Heated Jacket
          Con. No. 10587/C 30(d)
          Code M.W. / A.V.S.
          Type S.H.P.
          Ref. 22C / NIV
          Volts 24
          Watts 128
          Serial No. 1921

          The Bakelite 2 pin plugs on the jacket are Air Ministry marked with the kings crown. The jacket is closed with 7 double buttons.

          The braced trousers are labelled:

          Serial No. 145
          Stores Ref. No. 22C / NIV
          Pants, Large
          Contract 1065
          24 Volt

          The trousers are also stamped with a red / pink broad arrow. The white webbing braces on the trousers are fully adjustable and in excellent condition. The trousers have a zip fly and the connecting Bakelite plug to the jacket is Air Ministry marked again with the kings crown.

          The suits umbilical cord is present and again in very good condition. The round 2 pin metal attachment is marked NIPHAN N5208.

          The stores ref NIV translates to Not In Vocabulary. These suits were made under license in Britain for the American Air Force (USAAF) bomber crews stationed in the UK during the war.

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          • Bobg
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Apr 2010
            • 11

            #6
            RAF rear gunners wore electrically heated suits, the man in the centre of the photo was the rear gunner in my dads crew, he is wearing one hence the light coloured one piece overall, the photo was taken just before take off to attack Spezia 13 April 1943, absolutely essential when crossing the alps at that time of year.
            Last edited by Bobg; 14th February 2019, 11:42.

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            • Lingo Dog
              Rank 3 Registered User
              • Oct 2018
              • 65

              #7
              Excellent! I can now add aircraft with rear gunners to the list of types likely to have used this form of clothing. I had been baffled by British 22C stores numbers for what was an American design and could only think of the B-17.

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              • Lingo Dog
                Rank 3 Registered User
                • Oct 2018
                • 65

                #8
                Thank you, Don. It seems they were pretty common items but although ancient myself I was unaware of their existence! Unfortunately your first link (to a PDF) won't open.

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                • Lingo Dog
                  Rank 3 Registered User
                  • Oct 2018
                  • 65

                  #9
                  An excellent link, Don - and I am indebted to you for throwing some light on the subject which I'm sure will be a benefit to many readers.

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                  • Bunsen Honeydew
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Mar 2011
                    • 497

                    #10
                    The light coloured suit in the photo looks like a Taylor floatation suit, it was light coloured (yellow), to aid visibility if the wearer was in the sea. It was stuffed with kapok and had pockets for kapok pads. The suit was worn mainly by gunners as they worked in cramped positions where a lifejacket could get in the way. There was a version of the 1940 pattern flying suit, the 1941 pattern, that was electrically heated. Both were green "sidcot" suits, the difference being the press stud electrical contacts and wiring. A lot of the 1941 pattern suits were used by motorcyclists after the war but with the wiring removed.

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                    • Bobg
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Apr 2010
                      • 11

                      #11
                      The suit in the photo was definitely an electrically heated suit, my dad had an identical one in his kit after the war it was a beige colour, he was not a gunner and never wore it, not too sure what happened to it though, I still have his Irvine jacket and helmet complete with oxygen mask, I lost the boots during a house move, obviously nicked by the removal men. He also had a pair of black flying overalls with zip front, cuffs, ankles etc., I used to wear them when mending my car which in hindsight was very stupid.
                      Last edited by Bobg; 19th February 2019, 18:20.

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                      • Bobg
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Apr 2010
                        • 11

                        #12
                        Bunsen Honeydew has a point regarding flotation suits, apparently the electrically heated suits also had a floatation feature as well, I discovered this on the Pathfinder website, before take off the gunners put their suits on in a purpose built room , they were plugged into a low voltage supply to check that the suits had no hotspots and that the suit was working, a wartime artist recorded this procedure as the attached sketch indicates, the other sketch is of the suits electric heating features and describes its ability to act as a flotation suit as well. Thinking about it, if the gunner had to ditch on water, the suit would drag him under without a flotation feature, I was only a boy when I saw the suit my dad had, but I remember it being very bulky. the right hand sketch is titled 'Lancaster Gunners Hotting Up'
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Bobg; 1st March 2019, 19:07.

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                        • Air Ministry
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Jan 2008
                          • 1685

                          #13
                          I'm a bit confused by all this.

                          Why would a heated suit manufactured in the UK for the U.S.A.A.F. have an Air Ministry Stores Reference rather than an American one?

                          And surely, if it were intended for use in an American aircraft, whether U.S.A.A.F. or R.A.F. operated, it would be 28v. rather than 24 volts?

                          My thoughts lean towards a batch of specially manufactured suits, intended for use on a small scale in a British design by the R.A.F./F.A.A., and thus not considered necessary to be in the Stores Vocabulary.

                          Bit of a wild guess but how about something like the pressurised Wellington VI, intended for very high altitude bombing/target marking? Perhaps this suit offered better protection against the cold than the standard kit of the period?

                          But then again, what's all this about:

                          Electronically Heated Jacket

                          Just a typo by someone or is this description of significance?
                          The garage that keeps on giving.

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