By Tommy H. Thomason

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shoulder Harness

Although it seems hard to believe, carrier pilots were only restrained by a seat belt up until about mid 1942. One mark (literally) that might distinguish a carrier pilot before then was the impression of a dent in his forehead from striking the gunsight or instrument panel coming in a barrier crash or ditching. Probably as a result of increased incidents of that kind that wartime operations produced, at least one air group added upper-body restraints to the cockpits of their airplanes. BuAer subsequently made that official, as described in the 15 June 1943 issue of Naval Aviation News. Note for example that it lists a retrofit to the SBD-3/4s but not SBD-5s, which suggests that the latter (the first of which was delivered in April 1943) came off the production line with shoulder harness.

The gun sight statement suggests one reason why something so obviously beneficial in a crash wasn't implemented before then.  The prewar sight in both fighters and dive bombers required the pilot to lean forward.

And also to use his plotting board.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out that concentration on that OS2U pilots face! "Lets see-True course -/+ variation= Magnetic course -/+ deviation =Compass course-so this is where the ship should be when I get back in 2 hours!(hopefully)" No GPS in those days....
Pat D