Published by the Smithsonian Institute Press, the book traces the development of flying clothing and surveys the flying suits, including problems, beginning in 1917. The experiments and developments for the Air Forces branch of the United States Army were mostly centered at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.
It also includes appendices, a glossary, notes, a bibliography, and an index.
A consultant to the Air Force on flying clothing and personal equipment, C. G. (Glen) Sweeting was the curator of flight material at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, from 1970-1985.
With my dad and four uncles involved in aviation during World War II, I was especially interested in the clothing they were issued. Two flew bombers–the B-25 in New Guinea, and the B-29 with a date set for Saipan. The New Guinea missions were low-level, but they had to get across the treacherous and lofty Owen Stanley Mountains, with their own set of problems for clothing needs. Somewhat the same for Saipan, where it was hot but the missions were high-level.
Dad’s brother flew C-47s over “the Hump,” or the Himalayas, so would need insulated uniforms. And one of Mom’s brothers flew escort missions over the Alps in the winter, so needed the same.
An amazing detail is that the number of bombers able to go on a combat mission was determined by having enough adequate clothing than any other factor.
On the right, it looks like Lt. Dan Wilson is wearing Type A-6 shearling “flying shoes. Both he and Lt. Tomlinson are wearing helmets and goggles.
Lt. Dan Wilson with his P-38, Triolo, Italy. Winter 1944-1945. Their runways were made of Marston mat. P-38L (which he flew in Italy) had a modified cockpit heating system consisting of a plug-socket in the cockpit into which the pilot could plug his heat-suit wire for improved comfort.
Combat Flying Clothing would be especially useful for collectors and preservationists, but I appreciated having a better understanding of what it took in one corner of history to win World War II.