"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
          
          The Well Dressed Aviator
        
Above:  A TBM pilot wearing the nylon tropical flight suit over khaki trousers and a skivvy shirt, circa summer of 1945. The increased number of pockets in the third generation flight suits (from the previous three to eight, plus a pencil pocket) facilitated the carrying of, and easy access to, the Pilot's Personal Items. Note the absence of an M-592 kit, indicating his use of a Model A or PK-1 pararaft. Not to be forgotten, are the two aircrewmen. The radioman is at left and the turret gunner at right. While their pilot wears a Navy type QAS harness, both of them wear the Army / Navy type QAC harness. Their parachute packs would be stowed in the radio compartment, near the starboard exit door. It would appear that the gunner has sustained a flesh wound during the flight.

Below:  A catnap for two Hellcat pilots from VF-86, U.S.S. Wasp, spring of 1945. Using their M-592 kits as  pillows and their intermediate flight jackets to provide a cushion from the hard readyroom deck, they await the call to action. A waterproof  plastic two-cell flashlight peeks out from a leg pocket.
  
Above:  In a photo from the ship's cruisebook, a VF-16 Hellcat pilot, aboard U.S.S. Randolph in the summer of 1945, wears a Type Z anti-G suit. His A-14 mask is suspended by a lanyard. Any guesses what he's carrying with his chart board? Please let us know your ideas.


Below:  VF-12 pilots, February 1945, debrief after a mission, showing further details of the Type Z suit. The suit was an optional item. Although favored by some pilots, for allowing tighter turns when dogfighting, it was frowned upon by others who felt it would allow a pilot to over-stress the plane's airframe. A future article is in the works on this and the other wartime Navy anti-G garments.
Above:  The members of a division (two sections of two aircraft each) from VF-44 recount their recent combat for the ship's photographer. The khaki uniform shirt and trousers (two pilots on left) were commonly worn as an alternative to the summer weight flight suit in warm weather throughout the war.


Below:  This Marine CAG (air group commander) wears a green nylon tropical flight helmet paired with Charles Fischer Spring Mk-II goggles. These were the Navy's primary flying goggle from the late 1930s until replaced as standard issue by the AN-6530. Also of interest is his one-cell attachable signalling light. Rather than the more common type, with a gray painted metal body, it appears to be a red plastic Lennan Light with red lens. See photo at bottom of the page with a Lennan Light on the left and an example of the similar Colvin Slocum light (as shown on page four) at right.