The use of flying helmets dates back to the earliest days of the First World War, where the head required some protection from the elements. Though the elements were not a factor in the closed-cockpit aircraft of the Second World War, the introduction of radios to aircraft meant that flying helmets now were used to support the earphones, microphones, and later, the oxygen masks and flying goggles.
The Luftwaffe made use of three basic types of flying helmets, with some minor variations. They were:
were almost identical for all versions, the difference being the addition of an
"S" for the summer helmet, "W" for winter and "N" for
LKpS101 Summer flight helmet
(Fliegerkopfhaube für Sommer mit FT-Gerät)
Produced in a number of varieties, the basic model was made from five sections of tan-colored linen material. It was tight enough to prevent air passing between the helmet and the wearer's head (an important consideration when bailing out of an aircraft), with the front part of the helmet being 10mm over the wearer's eyebrows. It was secured by two leather chin straps, which crossed under the chin, passed through narrow retaining straps of leather, and were fastened on either side by a single-pronged metal buckle. On either side of the back of the helmet were two short leather straps with a single snap fastener on the upper end which acted as loops for holding the flying goggles.
There were a number of varieties of this helmet. The Model FK34 did not have earphones, and were worn by air crews manning aircraft with no provision for radio (like gliders). The LKp S 53 (later re-numbered the S 64) was similar, but incorporated a set of earphones inside black bakelite protective housings, and twin throat microphones. At the rear of the helmet, in the centre of the base edge next to the nape of the neck, was the entry point for the microphone cable. The throat microphone was the built-in type, set inside the right-hand chin strap.
The LKp S 53/64 model did not have notches to prevent the goggle strap from slipping off the earphone housings. These were added to the LKp S 100 and 101 models. (The 101 model had dark brown leather housings for the earphones, whereas the 100 model had black bakelite housings.) These models also featured two leather straps secured at the rear of the helmet, which housed the microphone cables. They were adjustable on both sides of the neck by means of single-pronged metal buckles. The straps met in the front of the neck, and were fastened together by two snap fasteners.
The oxygen mask was held in place by a hook on each side of the helmet just under the earphone covers. A single, non-elasticated strap ran across the top of the helmet with a metal hook that attached to the nose strap of the mask. It was housed in a flat "tunnel" of tan cloth.