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The ZSh-5 helmet 
by: Ron Kraan
The ZSh-5 helmet was standard Soviet issue for its pilots in the 1970's. These helmets could be found throughout the entire eastern bloc and huge numbers have been manufactured until the late eighties. 

The Helmet
This is a one-piece Fiberglas helmet with interior blue padding and earphones with speakers. The helmet has an combat edge type air bag, consisting of a rubber bladder protected by a nylon bag, used to tighten the face against the KM-34. This happening automatically as the oxygen pressure is increased. The crash helmet is designed for protection of the pilot's head against possible impacts in aircraft cockpits and aerodynamic loads at ejection. The helmet prevents pilot blindness by sun and floodlight rays. It also gives the pilot the conditions to operate during flight by means of the oxygen mask and onboard equipment. Two-way communications through throat, boom or mask microphone can be used. The sun visor can be moved in manual mode to three separate positions or it can be set to automatic mode where it snaps all the way down with the touch of a button (or the activation of the ejection seat - nice safety feature!). 

ZSh-5 with helicopter boom microphone (green visor) 
and ZSh-5A (brown visor)

The visor comes in three colours and can be protected when not in use by a soft cover. The early version of the ZSh-5 has a blue visor. These visors are only on the oldest series of the helmets. As they were not a good deterrent against the sun, the charcoal visor soon replaced both this one and the green visor. The entire helmet is delivered of factory in a wooden box. The colour of the box indicates the end user. Known are blue for Eastern Germany (or indicating export?) and green for the Soviet Armed forces. 

ZSh-5MKV with NWU-2M

The ZSh-5 helmet has integral headphones and Velcro-attached padding. This makes the size of the helmet very important. These come in sizes 1, 2, and 3. Adjustments to fit the helmet are made by using the chinstrap and tightening the mask to the face. When looking at the inside of the helmet, beyond the material and the foam padding, it can be seen that Styrofoam is used. The ZSh-5 can use the KM-34 and KM-35 oxygen masks (they clip directly into brackets on the helmet edges). It is of factory delivered with the KM-34 or KM-34D mask.

The very early type ZSh-5 is extremely rare these days; it comes with a blue visor and lacks all of the modifications the later types have. The ZSh-5 of later age has no automatic mode to the visor and some lack the air bag in the back of the helmet. Some of these can be found with a boom microphone for use in helicopters (Mi-8/Mi-6) and cargo planes. One of the more common types is the ZSh-5A and this version feature both bladder and automatic visor release. The following up type was the ZSh-5M (Modified) and ZSh-5MKV, both having updated components. The ZSh-5MKV and MKV2 have mounts for the Sh-ZUM-1/NWU-2M Target Designator system, which are found on the MiG-29. 

ZSh-5MKV2 with brackets visible

The joint stock Company currently supplying these helmets (Telploobmennik from Nizhny Novgorod) gives the following technical data on the ZSh-5A in its brochure:

Altitude depends on model of aircraft.
Ambient temperature range, Celsius -50 to +50
Mass of helmet, kg, max 1.95
Mass of mask, kg, max 0,65

Thanks to Craig Martelle and Motorbuch Verlag for the image of the ZSh-5MKV


"Venz" /  "Hud"  flightgear on-line 2002/2003