"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
Hellcat Pilots, 1943 
A Colorful Compilation
Please note that all of the pilots shown on this page are using the type D face mask which was a component of the then Navy standard  demand oxygen regulator. It was produced by Mine Safety Appliance Company (M.S.A.). This mask assembly was designed to be stowed in the aircraft and was connected to the regulator with a threaded coupling at the end of it's rubber hose. The smooth lower section of  this hose transitioned into a corrugated upper section of hose which was attached to the bottom of the D face mask (see photo below). The mask was held to the face with either a combination of left and right upper and lower elastic head straps, or the bottom straps could be replaced with two short leather snap-straps that used the chin cup buckles (see first and fifth photo above and photo at right for this arrangement). It continued in service until replaced by the more efficient Army-Navy standard diluter-demand oxygen system featuring the type A-14 mask which was introduced by the BuAer in the second half of 1943.
These pilots have other items of equipment in common in addition to the D oxygen masks. All wear the M-450 series flight helmets (with one exception) fitted with TH-37 earphones, RS-76 throat microphones, "original" back pad survival kits and Mk-I life vests with only a single dye marker. The variables seen here are goggle type, earphone holder version, choice of flying clothing and parachute harness, either Navy standard seat or, AN-6510 (or Navy standard seat) converted to QAS.
As of yet, we have been unable to identify all the pilots shown here, but four are known to us. Fourth from top is LCDR R. Jones, squadron CO. Sixth from top is Lt. John Gray ( wearing an NAF-1092 Intermediate flight helmet), seventh and eighth from top is Harry Harrison, without and with his oxygen mask (fitted with an RS-83 microphone) and at bottom is Lt. (jg) McClelland. All four were members of Fighting Five, aboard U.S.S. Yorktown, at the time they were photographed in September of 1943. The September 1st raid on Marcus Island by Task Force 58, with the first three of the new fast carriers, marked the jumping off point of the Central Pacific offensive.
Prior to his promotion to Commander, Charles Crommelin, CAG of Air Group Five, was the CO of VF-5.

Below:  Two additional views of Harry Harrison, seen in photos seven and eight above. First, a close-up view showing a unique method of attaching his D face mask to the flight helmet and the rubber strap on his Polaroid goggles. Second, and although unfortunately not in color, an opportunity to see him from head to toe in his flight gear.