Sunday, 21 June 2015

RAF Air Ventilation Suit (1950's)

I was never happy with calling this a G-Suit, even if that's what the man who helped source it for the Cybermen costumes was calling it when I quoted him in The Doctor Who - Earthshock post because, quite frankly, it doesn't look like its up to the job.

A G-Suit, or the more accurately named anti-g suit, is a flight suit worn by aviators and astronauts who are subject to high levels of acceleration force (g). They are designed to prevent a black-out and g-LOC (g-induced loss of consciousness) caused by the blood pooling in the lower part of the body when under acceleration, thus depriving the brain of blood

Where as, with their thin material and their network of tubes, these suits actually looked more like they might be used solely for the purpose of cooling  the wearer.  I spent a bit of time searching for clues but failed to make inroads.  So I did what I always do when I need help with a post, I ask for it. And that's where a blogger from stepped in to say those magic words;

They're actually 50s vintage Royal Air Force Air Ventilated Suits - as seen here about 2/3rd of the way down the page
They were worn under flying suits in hot climates and the tubes are for cold air to be blown through them from the aircraft A/C system.
Well what do you know, I found this...
and a whole lot of history.  That's just a teaser section of a larger picture but as its not mine to show I'll let you follow the link and find it with your own eyes.

Anyway, once you know the name of what your looking for it suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting and fruitful.
That's from a clothing website called Frumpadelick

and although it has long since sold, they too describe it thus...

a vintage 1950's RAF issue air ventilation suit. It is made of parachute material and has all kinds of hoses attached to it. It would make a great Halloween costume for somebody. These were made to be skin tight so this would probably be most suitable for someone around 5'7" or so who is quite slim. Then it would not be so tight. It is not in perfect condition since these is a rip along the edge of the slit at the back

And provided further images
including one of the label which tells you so much more about them including the manufacturers.
Once you have that, you begin to discover all sorts of interesting facts such as the history of the company;

and from the comments section of that website, these little snippets;

The air ventilated suits were worn inside pressure suits used by air crew flying at high altitude.

Often nicknamed the ‘Fairy’ suit, the air-ventilated suit was produced to give relief from discomfort of high cockpit temperatures by moving cool air to the wearer’s skin via some 144 PVC tubes, with one larger ‘inlet’ tube.

Now you just know the ethereal Kate Bush would have been delighted to know the ventilation suits by that particular name.

Not sure what else there is to say really except that I would bet my last Rolo that everyone of these...
is either the very same ventilation suit or at least a version from the same manufacturer.



  1. Well this is news to me,I`d always assumed these were liquid cooled garments not air cooled,heres a close up of a liquid cooled one for comparison
    On a separate note I`ve found a good pic of the suit from the 3rd planet of the apes film

    1. My first thought was liquid too but there you go. Air for planes liquid for space maybe?

  2. I`ve found another appearance of this ac suit in the australian 1984 movie starship/lorka and the outlaws [26:04]

  3. I have one of these suits. Does anybody know the best way to sell one?

    I am in the U.K.

    1. Ebay would be my first guess but research the going price and set a bid minimum..... is what I would do. Should appeal to military historians, Doctor Who fans and Kate Bush tribute acts. Can't not sell can it.

    2. thanks Steve for your advice, finding it hard to find a price. The only place is I can find a price is at .and they are asking £3.500. do you know of any other sites I could check.

    3. No, not really my area of expertise. However I presume Silvermans buy as well as sell so you could always approach them or alternatively some other military specialist auction house. Its got proper collectors appeal and now you have an idea of what it can go for. Keep me posted on the progress and keep checking back on the comments to see if any of the other blog readers have any ideas. They're a knowledgeable and helpful bunch

    4. Realised I had a new nice image of the suit to show off so latest blog post is just that and an excuse to ask the crowd for their thoughts. Let's see what comes back.

  4. Also in Return of the Jedi by a character who has since been named Rennek.

  5. Thanks! Just discovered the suit was on Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back, too.