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28

FLIGHT

^VQr

JANUARY 8 T H ,

1942

WIRED FOR WARMTH


New Electrically Heated Flying Suit Perfected by G.E.C. in America : Mass
Production to Start This Month

H E R E has recently been awarded t o t h e Bridgeport,


Conn., plant of t h e General Electric Co. by the U.S.
Army Air Corps, the first large contract for newly
perfected electrically heated suits for high-altitude flying.
These suits are a development based on knowledge gained
during several years of experimentation and testing of the
c o m p a n y ' s electric blankets, plus m o n t h s of work in collaboration with Army technicians in developing a n d improving the flying suit. F a c t o r y space and equipment
have been prepared for q u a n t i t y production to begin in
J.1 unary of this year.

Materials Used
j
The perfected suit consists of an outer garment m wool
fabric with wires sewn t o t h e inside of the cloth, and an
inner lining of cotton cloth. The wool, which is a good
beat insulator and retards heat loss, is cut on the bias so
t h a t it will give freely together with the wires, which are
sinuous and sewn on* in parallel rows so t h a t t h e y give
and retract with body movements. The 100 per cent.
COtton lining permits heat radiation from the wires to the
body.
Completing the new suit are a pair of boot inserts, or
socles, made of wired olive-drab overcoating, and moulded
rubber soj^s, which are worn inside standard light flying

boots, and a pair of fine leather gloves w i r j # o n the back


and a t the wrists. The material a n d d e s i of the gloves
are those commonly used in ladies' d r e j ^ g l o v e s and give
finger freedom a n d a delicate sense olMouch essential for
operation of instruments, camera a d j u ^ m e n t s , and s h u t t e r
control and gun triggers.
Four

Circui

Complete description of
development is not
released, b u ^ t h e ofjtgftSSX suit,j liich has undergone a
number oiomprg**ements, h a d , iur elecftic circuits: t w o
boots arjd gloves, which
in t h e
and one each
rme
sleeves of t h e
are p
to outlets on
suit
ircuits (we
nnected
a switch b o x
e waist
ea"fs of wl
attache
h e a t could be
r enlinciflpe ently in suit boots or gloves.
switcpei
tail cUmejfior rom the swftch box enabled t h e
A shprt
outfit t o , con
a contrcj^box m o u n t e d on t h e
nnected i r f l h the place batteries.
plana and
The first 2%it was an adaptation of t h e U.S. A r m y stan
dard anmmer flying suit, a r y i n b e improved outfit is m a n y
poundsVlighter t h a n theys>feepskin-lined garments t h e new
suits wifkjeplace. Tjj^p are designed to keep airmen comfortable in^-aix_Rrperatures from + 7 0 to 60 deg. F . ,
as the a m o u n t of h e a t supplied is adjustable for temperature variations. Yet t h e whole suit will cost the Air Corps
less t h a n the old garment with sheepskin lining.
I n designing the original suit t h e c o m p a n y sought the
advice of airmen, arctic explorers, physicians and laboratory scientists, conducted exhaustive laboratory tests followed by flying tests b y pilots a t W r i g h t Field and
Patterson Field throughout last winter and by a bomber
crew on a flight t o Alaska. L a b o r a t o r y researchers also
studied an.electrically heated uniform worn by a. German
airman who was shot down over England and found t h a t
so little h e a t was supplied t h a t it provided almost no
protection a g a i n s t cold.
Finding the Best

Materials

Although t h e bafsic construction of t h e first General


Electric suit was approved, the tests indicated the desirability of a n u m b e r of improvements t h a t h a v e since been
made. A particularly difficult p a r t of t h e job was t h e
finding of the best materials for all parts of the suit, as
none rrrust change its properties or deteriorate with temperature change fsrfm s u m m e r heat to sub-zero cold, a n d
the raw materials must all be available in t h e United States.
In t h e search for one item alone as m a n y as 50 suppliers
were queried.
Preliminary studies by F r a n k G. Manson, of the General
Electric Co., led t o t h e suggestion t h a t , as-the flying suit
provided more h e a t t h a n was needed t o maintain comfort,
the excess could be used to protect injured flyers from
shock and chills t h a t often develop into pneumonia. Also
t h a t the heating system could be adopted to electric blankets for use in ambulances. Therefore, to t r y out t h e plan,
several ambulances iff? the British-American Ambulance
Corps have been equipped with experimental a u t o m a t i c
electric blankets.

ADVERTISED
The new G.E.C. electrically heated flying suit undergoing a
test in a special refrigerating room. Boots and gloves are
plugged into points on legs and sleeves. The temperature
is controllable.

GOODS

: THE fact that goods made of raw materials in short supply owing
I
to war conditions are advertised in this journal should not be
I token as an indication that they are necessarily available for export.