February 27, 2014 by catomighty
A-Wing pilots in Return of the Jedi wore WW2 surplus ANH-15 cloth summer flight helmets underneath their hardshell A-Wing helmets.
After much patience and keyword watches on EBay, finally scored an ANH-15 at a reasonable price. It’s a size L, and given how much it doesn’t fit my head, I’m certain an XL wouldn’t fit either. WW2 pilots had small noggins! I am a genuine Thick Mick, and with the noggin to prove it ~,~
Back to the internets…. found a modern cloth flight helmet that looked like it would convert relatively easily into an ANH-15 replica: the Gibson & Barnes’ Cloth Headset Helmet. Comes in sizes from S to 3X! If you’re adding ear cushions to a cloth helmet, order one size larger. My head size is right on the edge of their size chart between X and 2X. I don’t need a super-snug fit since I won’t be wearing this while flying an open cockpit aircraft. So I ordered a 3X. It fits comfortably, and not too loosely. Yayz.
It does match the construction of the ANH-15 pretty closely.
* The G&B does not have a front brim, but it does have a large roll of cloth sewn onto the top to help hold the G&B headset in place. This roll is easily removable and will provide the matching fabric to make a brim.
* The chinstrap needs to be replaced, and the cloth tabs for the chinstrap need to be trimmed back and re-hemmed to match the ANH-15.
* Earcushions will need to be fabricated separately, but the holes are already in place. The cloth rim can be trimmed down and used to sew in the cushions to match the ANH-15 styling. The ANH-15 earcushions have a layer of leather sandwiched between the outer hard rubber and the inner soft foam. This layer of leather is wider than the other two layers, and is stitched to the back of the cloth.
(Edit: it only looked like a layer of leather in the middle of the earcup construction wich provided a wider rim that could be sewn into the helmet. On closer inspection, that outer rim is part of the rubber cup itself. The cup is hardened but its rim is not. There does appear to be a thin layer of cloth glued to the underside of the rubber rim.)
* The leather goggle straps need to be removed and repositioned. ANH-15 straps snap on the bottom. Extra scrap fabric from the headroll or chinstrap snips can be used to patch the small holes from removing the existing snaps on the cap.
* The G&B only has 2 straps, they happily included a 3rd strap for me on request. However, this extra strap already has a snap, which the ANH third one does not. And these are all much wider than the ANH-15 straps. So for a better replica, the straps need to be replace with skinnier ones.