top of page

                  Battle of  Britain: 
 Flying Clothing & Equipment


In 2010 David Farnsworth of The Historic Flying Clothing Company published a fifteen-page supplement in the September issue of The Armourer magazine, coinciding with the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The supplement was titled ‘Their Finest Hour - A Collector's Guide to the Battle of Britain’. The article was beautifully written and accompanied by some fantastic photos of David’s impressive collection of flying clothing and equipment. A decade later and that article is now very hard to come by; a hidden gem for any collector lucky enough to have subscribed to The Armourer magazine back in 2010.

Working with David and a number of other esteemed collectors, I have endeavoured to bring the article back to life, creating a Battle of Britain section here that will allow David’s extensive work and research to once again see the light of day.

Thank you to David for giving me the green-light to oversee this project, and a special thank-you to the following collectors for lending me their time, attention, and photography skills to expand on the project David started in 2010.


(Above)  A typical example of a Battle of Britain Sgt Pilot: he wears standard issue Service Dress with a 1932 Pattern 'Mae West' over the top, doped yellow to provide better visibility should he ditch in the sea. A B Type Flying Helmet is complemented by a D Type Oxygen Mask, wired to a Type 19 Microphone Assembly, and the set is finished with a pair of private purchase 'D-Lewis' Flying Goggles.

Although flying kit developed rapidly throughout the course of the Second World War, the well-dressed RAF airman of mid 1940 was actually wearing clothing designed almost a decade previously.  

Rather than an exhaustive list of every possible combination, here we will take a look at more typical clothing and equipment worn by RAF crews during the Battle of Britain, neatly organised by category. 

(Right)  Pre-war attire of an RAF 72 Squadron Spitfire pilot. He wears white cotton flying overalls (otherwise known as the 'Prestige Suit') which are adorned with his squadron badge. His 1932 Pattern 'Mae West' is slouched over one shoulder and, typical of the early war period, is unpainted.

His headgear consists of a B Type Flying Helmet, wired to a Type E Carbon Microphone assembly, which is connected to the D Type Oxygen Mask. His flying goggles are privately purchased Luxor '12s', the most expensive goggles available at the time.

bottom of page