To say the RAF's Bomber Command were unprepared for the War would be an understatement. For those first few years, from 1939-42 the bomber force flew in underpowered poorly performing aircraft, testing and developing tactics and strategies through trial and error, with pilots & aircrew paying a terrible price. Whilst Fighter Command's role in Dunkirk & the Battle of Britain is a glorious tale, Bomber Command's often ends with squadron being shot down on raids that achieved little if anything. The early bombers, the Blenheims, Hampdens, Whitleys and Wellingtons were both cramped, slow and vulnerable to enemy aircraft. Wearing a parachute and a mae west was often difficult, and this garment was an effort to combine both into one piece that would be easier to wear. Into this 'shell' would go the parachute, it's harness, and the stoles and inflation levels etc. These were very common during the period from 1940-42, and are a classic piece of Battle of Britain equipment when Bomber Command were assigned the dangerous task of attacking the invasion fleet massing in France.
As a garment, this is a brutally utilitarian piece. Made from very heavy canvas with metal hooks and fittings across both the front and back to fix all the necessary parachute attachments. It comes complete with a removable canvas stole into which the inflatable rubber bladder would fit. The zippers are all chunky Air Ministry stamped Dots, and all in perfect working order. Dated October 1940, this was manufactured during the height of the Battle of Britain by the the famous Irvin Air Chute company, makers of their namesake Irvin jacket and the parachutes that would go with it.
Unissued, perfect condition
- Tagged a size large
- I wouldn't suggest this is a modern wearable piece!
- Pit to pit: 26"
- Shoulder to shoulder: 21"
- Collar to hem: 40"