|In the late 1960's the military
was looking for a flight helmet that would not get ripped off a pilot's head in the event
of an ejection. As you can imagine, the forces of ejecting from an aircraft moving at high
speeds is tremendous. Many pilots had their flight helmet pulled off their head upon
ejecting, resulting in serious injury and sometimes death. The answer to the aviator's
problems was the HGU-20/P from the David Clark Company. Although heavy and bulky, the
helmet would not come off during ejection. The pilots were issued the helmet had mixed
emotions about the new kid on the block. Well, perhaps the emotions were not mixed...
stories of Navy pilots returning to the carrier after a mission over North Vietnam and
tossing their HGU-20/P over the side into the ocean lead us to believe that the extra
weight was not welcomed, even when the added safety was. It was just not worth the trade
off. Weighing in at just under 8 pounds, the helmet could feel 8 or 9 times as heavy in a
|Can you imagine fighting for your life in a
aircraft with 72 pounds strapped to your head?! The Navy ordered over 700 of the
HGU-20/Ps. The Air Force, being a little more reluctant, ordered only 16 of these
"brain buckets." From those they took 4 of the HGU-20/Ps and heavily modified
them into chemical and biological versions. These modified HGU-20/Ps were designated
HGU-15/P. Featuring an integrated face mask giving the pilot fresh, clean oxygen in the
event of toxic gas being used. The helmet also has a fitting device to fit almost any
pilot. Here is the reason the helmet is called a "clamshell." The pilot simply
places his head in the front part and closes the rear section around the back. The fitting
knob is on the other side (shown in the second picture, look like a 4 point star). The
helmet has a dark visor, a clear visor, and the pilot can choose to have both visors up.
The hose is a standard MBU-5/P oxygen mask hose.