View Full Version : Oxygen question for bail out from high altitude

09-04-2009, 07:39 PM

folks, I've watch a THC documentary a few years ago about a USAAF P-38 pilot in the pacific theater of operations that was hit at high altitude and shoot down, he bailed out. they've make a reconstitution of the scene and the pilot bailed out with the oxygen mask, and if my mind is not lying to me, he saied somewhat something about conect the oxygen mask in a small oxygen bottle attached to his fligth gear for be able to breath at such high altitude.

in IL2 the pilot figure always bail without mask, and altough I don't remember if it was in fact this in the program or my mind is fooling me and add things I didn't had saw, but in fact I already read, don't have conduct any studies about how is the resistance of the human body to altitude effects, but at about 7500 meters a person would fell unconcicunes in 1 minute without oxygen.

so was wondering, just for confirmation, among pilot's itens was a small oxygen bottle for the case of bail out at altitude?

say that because I don't remember if was this I saw or it's my mind fooling me with this idea, I know that in modern high parachute jumps oxygen is carry. also, if that's the case would be interesting this detail to be incluid in SOW.

thank you very much since now!

09-04-2009, 07:53 PM
I went skydiving a few years ago and our plane could not go over 13,500 feet because that is the altitude the pilots are required to go oxygen. I am not sure what the requirements were in World War II and I don't know if they carried oxygen on their flight suits.

Just for fun, here is the story of the highest parachute jump ever. The gondola Captain Kittinger jumped from is now on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, OH.

On August 16, 1960, he made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 102,800 feet (31,300 m). Towing a small drogue chute for initial stabilization, he fell for four minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph [1][2] (988 km/h or 274 m/s) before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size.[3] He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere[4]. These are still current USAF records, but were not submitted for aerospace world records to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).

Here is the full wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J...echnical_information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kittinger#Technical_information)

09-04-2009, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Wildnoob:
Conect the oxygen mask in a small oxygen bottle attached to his flight gear for be able to breath at such high altitude.

I expect what happened is that on his own initiative he bailed out with his mask attached, thinking it would be wise to avoid frostbite or so that he could consume what was in the re-breather.

Masks of the day had a small pouch attached (which was the re-breather) See the following pictures and captions for more.

The Type A-8 Oronasal oxygen mask was standardized May 1, 1940 and declared obsolete August 11, 1943. Like the A-7, the A-8 utilized a rebreather bag. This mask could be worn with or without a helmet. The rubber protrusion on the front of the mask contained a sponge rubber disk, which acted as an air mixing valve. The A-8A was a similar modified version of this mask.


The A-8B was used in far greater numbers than the previous two masks. It was standardized November 3, 1941 and was used in modified versions up into the Vietnam War years. World War 11 era A-8B masks are cruite scarce today. The A-8B is easily distinguished from the A-8, as there are two rubber protrusions containing sponge inhalation/exhalation valves, one on each side on the A-8B, instead of one centrally located as on the A-8. The A-8B had provisions for a microphone in the center of the mask. The A-8 series of oxygen masks were all similar in method operation.


09-04-2009, 09:09 PM
thank you very much for your very complet reply Waldo.Pepper! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

09-04-2009, 09:18 PM
The USAAF required pilots to use O2 for any long
period of time above 10,000ft according to a B25
training manual.

Death happens very rapidly at high altitude. It
can kill you much faster than drowning in water
can because it's not just that there isn't enough
oxygen; oxygen starts to actively leave your
lungs from your blood because the O2 levels in the
atmosphere are so low that the osmosis that takes
place in you lungs happens in reverse.

When you are drowning in water your blood
doesn't get new oxygen, but when you are
exposed at high altitude your blood doesn't
get new oxygen and the oxygen it already had
is sucked out by the reversal of osmosis in the

09-04-2009, 09:31 PM
ops, new info I guess:

"The bailout bottles were used for crew bailing out at high altitudes. There are many stories from veterans bailing out of planes and then passing out. Only at a lower altitude do they regain consciousness in time to pull the rip cord. With the early H-1 bottle, you had to reach down and turn the valve, and then place the end of the hose in your mouth or stick it under your oxygen mask. With the late war H-2 bottle, you reached down and gave a quick pull on the green wooden ball or "green apple" and it started the oxygen flow. You did not have to connect the airline, because when you suited up for the flight you would have already connected it to the new and improved connection provided at the base of the oxygen mask. I see more photos of fighter pilots with the bottles tied to the parachute harness then I do bomber crew personal. Two good examples are of 56th FG aces "Gabby" Gabreski and Gerald Johnson. If you were wondering about the U.S. Air Force stamping on the H-1 bottle containers, this is authentic. The April 2006 issue of World War II Magazine, has an article on 8th AAF crews. Included is an excellent quality photo of a bomber crew taken in March 1943. It shows two men wearing the bailout bottles."


source: http://www.303rdbg.com/uniforms-gear4.html

* well down bellow

well, guess I was rigth in my case and Waldo.Pepper is also correct with those mask models anyway.

09-05-2009, 01:14 AM
I think I recall reading somewhere that high alt WW2 pilots (especially fighters I guess, who are more likely to change alt quickly) were prone to a milder- but still painful- version of 'The Bends' than divers.

09-05-2009, 06:49 AM
Originally posted by ytareh:
I think I recall reading somewhere that high alt WW2 pilots (especially fighters I guess, who are more likely to change alt quickly) were prone to a milder- but still painful- version of 'The Bends' than divers.

I haven't heard of that.
WW1 pilots didn't have oxygen, but some still
flew at up to 22,000ft. That altitude would
cause you serious problems without a gradual
The pilots suffered blackouts, nosebleeds,
severe headaches, sickness, confusion and other
symptoms of altitude sickness.

With enough acclimatisation, even 33,000ft can
be reached without O2, but a plane gives little
time to acclimatize enough.

09-05-2009, 08:36 AM
Pre ww2 men were already sitting in balloons at 50,000ft. Actually many of the breathing and O2 systems were designed from these experiments.
Above 30,000ft pressurized cabins are required or the human body can suffer other problems not only related to the lack of oxygen.

I've also read that late WW1 pilots had oxygen masks, however some considered it un noble to wear because it hid your face from the enemy.

On bombers, there are systems that the crew all breath off of, and also carry an individual tank for moving around in the cabin. These same tanks would be used if they needed to bail. Also it was common procedure to do voice checks every minute to make sure all crew members were awake. If a crew member wasn't responding, they would have to go check on him.

09-05-2009, 09:13 AM
The use of bailout bottles and supplemental oxygen is essential to high altitude parachuting especially when bailing out of a stricken aircraft. It does no good to safely exit the aircraft and due to hypoxia become disabled so that you cannot operate the parachute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...Useful_Consciousness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_of_Useful_Consciousness)

There are several risk's specific to high altitude bailout.

Exposure injuries are very real. Several pilots during WWII safely exited and deployed their parachute only to freeze to death before reaching the ground. Frostbite and hypothermia were very real possibilities in a high altitude scenario. Between hypoxis, frostbite, and hypothermia it was a very real possibility that a pilot could bail out and then become incapacitated so that operating the chute was impossible.

Additionally, the parachute can only deploy under specific parameters. It has both altitude and velocity restrictions that must be adhered too. The chute can be damaged or fail upon deployment if these restrictions are not observed. It requires clear thinking and situational awareness to safely deploy a parachute.

Not specific to high altitude was the parachutist deployment attitude. Not being stable or becoming inverted can cause the jumper to entangle with chute, become injured due to opening shock, or enduce a parachute malfunction. For example the pilot chute can become caught on equipment. This is called a horsehoe malfunction and is a very deadly malfunction especially in a ripcord deployed chute. It is very unlikely the jumper will be able to clear this malfunction and if not cut away, any reserve will become entangled.

Horseshoe malfunction: Pull reserve ripcord. **Total malfunction procedures**


Numerous pilots were killed during the war by bailing out and deploying their chute above these restrictions.

All the best,