"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
Photo Recon
Above:  Sgt. Paul J. Metzler, USMC. We have no further information on the Sargeant, but appreciate his choice of headgear.........a Mirabelli M-450 with stitched chin cup, TC-66 ear cups and MK-II goggles. It doesn't get much better than that! Thanks to "Goz" for sharing this recent addition to his collection.
Above:  In this Official U.S. Navy photograph, we see an aviation photographer's mate from VD-1, Navy Fleet Photographic Squadron One, as he adjusts the controls of his camera in the belly of a PB4Y-1P Liberator, over the Solomon Islands in 1943. A decal of the squadron's insignia has been applied to the Fairchild K-18 camera, which was used for high altitude, large scale reconnaissance. His headset is an A.A.F. HS-33 type with brown sponge rubber cushions, worn over an NAF-1092W flight helmet. He is using an M.S.A. type D face mask for oxygen delivery at altitude and wool lined, fleece cuffed, 5 finger winter flying gloves.

Below:  LT William Robert Maxwell was a seven victory ace with VF-51. This 8" X 10" print from our collection was autographed by him post-war. Of note is his Slote & Klein AN-6540S flight helmet with brow piece. By it's features, we can tell it was manufactured under one of two contracts, either N-288s-12364, or NXSA-36914 as both share common characteristics. These summer helmets were produced between March, 1943 and April, 1944, although early N-288s-12364 contract helmets had no brow piece. Also of interest are his 1065 aviation goggles. As issued in the Polaroid 1067 goggle kit, they were fitted with a replaceable red filtering lens (removed in this photo) which mounted on a  hinged bracket. Examples are very hard to find today, but they can be seen in many wartime photos of Navy and Marine pilots.
 
Above: Another autographed 8" X 10" print, signed to "one of the Mud Marines" by Jim "Zeke" Swett. Captain James Swett was a Marine ace and Medal of Honor recipient. This publicity photo was taken Stateside, which may account for his B-3 vest being worn under an M-422a intermediate flight jacket. As seen in the close-up below, the vest has been modified by extending it's leather chest patch and creating a pocket with a glove snap to accomodate a steel signal mirror. The stencil reads "MIRROR INSIDE". This was probably a depot modification and has been seen in several other vintage photos of Navy and Marine airmen.
Below: This print is not identified as to time or place but it appears to show a land based Dauntless dive bomber, prior to June of 1943, and it's Marine crew. The gunner on the right is wearing sage green HBT utilities. Both men's web gear, canteens and the gunner's holster appear to be of pre-war vintage. A helmeted plane captain (?) is just visible in the front cockpit.
Goz has been quite busy lately and sends us images of this newly acquired print from late 1944 or early 1945. Pictured are an SB2C crew, both of whom hailed from Massachusetts. At left is VB-80 CO, LCDR Paul Kalat. At right is his rear-seater, ARM 3/C Louis Oppici. During this time period, Air Group 80 flew from USS Ticonderoga and then from USS Hancock. We can see a Goodyear produced Mae West being worn by Oppici, distinguishable by it's red rubber oral inflation tubes and the box-x-stitched waist and crotch straps. Oppici also has a Pal RH-36 survival knife. Both men are using WW-I vintage pistol lanyards. 

Bottom: A quick search of the web gave us this shot from the NMNA of VB-80 SB2Cs supporting the Iwo Jima landings in February 1945.