US 3628531 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Inventor Leonard Harris 4935 Joe Blanks, San Antonio, Text. 78237  Appl. No. 31,700  Filed Apr. 24, 1970  Patented Dec.2l,l97l
 BALANCED-BREATHING PRESSURE SUIT WITH HELMET AND HAND-OPERATED CONTROL VALVE 3 Claims, 10 Drawing Figs.
 U.S.Cl. 128/1425  Int.Cl A621) 7/14  Field otSearch 128/1425, 1 R, 1 A,28, 30, 30.2,l42.6;2/2.1A
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,528,414 9/1970 Sehueller 128/1425 3,463,150 8/1969 Penfold 128/1425 2,886,027 5/1959 Henry 128/1 5 2,404,020 7/1946 Akerman.. 128/1425 3,284,805 11/1966 Seeler 128/1425 FOREIGN PATENTS 955,099 4/1964 Great Britain 2/2.] A
Primary Examiner-Richard A. Gaudet Assistant Examiner-J. B. Mitchell AttorneysHarry A. Herbert, Jr. and Herbert H. Brown ABSTRACT: The invention is directed toward improved breathing comfort for an aviator subjected to rarified atmosphere at high altitudes. It employs a vest or jerkin which 'can be fitted by zipper over a passive pressure unit. The vest e e n I I I I I I I b I n I I n u l t I l I has secured to its interior a bladder which extends from front thigh up over the shoulder to the rear thigh position. A standard form of helmet is hermetically sealed to the neckline of the vest. Oxygen under pressure is introduced into the'bladder and the helmet through a hand-operated valve which may be secured to the vest. This valve has three positions, (1) Off, (2) Fill and (3) Mission Complete and has a single tubing to the helmet and a double tubing to the bladder. One of the latter is employed for supplying the bladder with gas. The other of the double tubing contains a pressure-operated check valve which closes the passage between the helmet and the bladder in the event of bladder failure. The aviator would normally turn the valve, first to position (1) to supply the helmet with oxygen and to exhaust the interior of the bladder. He would then turn to position (2) which continues the oxygen supply to the helmet, and in addition, would fill the bladder with oxygen at a pressure as would make breathing more comfortable as the higher altitudes are reached. In the event that the bladder becomes punctured with flake or shrapnel and therefore unable to retain the gas, the valve is moved to position (3) to cause the oxygen, in excess of that necessary for the helmet, to escape to ambient atmosphere through the check valve.
BALANCED-BREATIIING PRESSURE SUIT WITH HELMET AND HAND-OPERATED CONTROL VALVE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In an attempt to alleviate the discomfort of breathing at high altitudes, the prior art has developed pressure suits to which a helmet is hermetically attached. Oxygen is introduced into the suit and helmet. Suits of this type are usually made in coverall form of two thicknesses of garment, one within the other. The outer garment is airtight except some provision is made for ventilation and is made of a nonstretchable material. The inner garment is of a rubberized character so as to be expandable and contractable and usually lies next to the bare skin of the aviator. Oxygen at about 5 to pounds p.s.i.a. is admitted to the space between the two thicknesses of fabric and also to the attached helmet. As the plane reaches high altitudes and the ambient air becomes rarified, the oxygen within the suit expands and since the outer garment is held in restraint, i.e., inextensible, the inner garment is caused to press inwardly against the body of the aviator in a degree dependent on the difference in pressure between the contained oxygen and the ambient air. This inward pressure, particularly in the thorax or torso portion of the body assists the aviator to exhale and therefore to breathe more easily at the higher altitudes. The interior of the helmet is connected by a tubing to the space between the inner and outer garments. The main disadvantage of the suit of the coverall type, i.e., two garments overlying one another, is that the suit provides additional pressure in the ratified atmosphere, not only to the regions of the chest but also to other parts of the body where the inward pressure may not be necessary and to that extent is wasted. Moreover, should any part of the inner or outer garment be ruptured in any manner, such as by flak or shrapnel, the pressure exerted by the inner garment against the body would be immediately lost as would also the supply of oxygen to the helmet.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the invention is to provide an improved aviators suit which would be pressurized over only limited portions of the suit in order to reduce the vulnerable area to rupture by flak and consequent loss of gas pressure.
Another object is to provide a double thickness aviators suit in which the outer garment prevents the inner garment from expanding outwardly and extends over only the torso portion of the inner garment whereby the latter is caused to press inwardly against a limited portion of the aviators body and provide greater comfort when breathing in a raritied atmosphere.
Another object is to provide an improved three position valve for use in connection with a bladder-containing pressure suit and by which the filling of the bladder and helmet is controlled and the gas to the bladder is immediately cutoff upon rupture of that member without disturbing the passage of gas to the helmet.
These objects are attained in brief by providing a suit of single thickness material made in the form of a coverall and employing a jerkin or vest which surrounds only the upper part of the suit. The jerkin is secured to the suit and a bladder containing oxygen is interposed between the inner suit and the jerkin. The long coverall suit is made of an elastic material such as neoprene rubber and the vest orjerkin is made of a flexible and inextensible material such as Dacron. A valve is attached to the vest and is under the control of the aviator, the valve having three positions (1) in which oxygen is admitted to the helmet while permitting the bladder to exhaust to ambient, (2) continuing the pressure to the helmet and allowing the bladder to fill with oxygen and (3) prevent the escape of gas from the helmet when the bladder becomes ruptured.
Other objects and features will be apparent as the specification is perused in connection with the accompanying drawings.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an elevational view of an aviators basic pressure suit to which the improved bladder-containing jerkin and the improved valve have been applied.
FIGS. 2 to 4 represent enlarged sectional views of an improved gas control valve used in connection with a bladder and helmet and having three different positions, regulated by the aviator.
FIG. 5 depicts a vertical sectional view through the valve and taken along line 55 in FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 shows a side view of the basic or foundation suit and the surrounding jerkin or vest with the improved control valve in place.
FIG. 7 depicts a view considerably enlarged, and in perspective, of the bladder accessory which is attached to the interior surface of the jerkin.
FIG. 8 represents a cross-sectional view taken along line 8-- 8 in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a similar view taken along line 9-9 in FIG. 7.
FIG. 10 depicts a rear view of the vest showing the relative position of the bladder (in dotted line) contained within the vest.
Referring more particularly to FIG. 1, a foundation suit 1 of standard construction is employed and. made of a rubberized cloth material such as sold under the name of Neoprene. The material is highly elastic and the suit, when in use, lies preferably next to the bare skin of the aviator. The suit extends, as indicated at 2, down to the boots (not shown) and also to the gloves 3 of the person. The weave of the suit material is sufficiently loose as to obtain as much natural ventilation as possible. There is a large vertical opening (not shown) at the front portion of the suit for donning purposes. This opening is closed by a zipper (not shown).
A vest or jerkin 4 is fitted over the suit 1 according to my invention and which extends down almost to the knee indicated at 5 and well beyond the crotch 6. The front of the vest, almost its entire length, is provided with an opening closed by zipper 7 to allow the aviator to don the vest. The latter is provided with arm holes at 8 and is attached by snaps (not shown) at this position to the sleeves l of the foundation suit. The lower edges of the leg portions 5 of the vest are similarly attached to the legs of the underneath garment l. The vest is made of a closely woven fabric to keep out moisture and is made of a polymer such as Dacron, which is strictly inextensible, i.e., it can neither expand nor contract when subjected to a contained gas pressure. In order to provide for natural ventilation, wedge-shaped inserts 9 of loosely woven Dacron cloth may be provided at the side seams of the vest as seen in FIG. 6, these inserts extending from just below the arm openings to the bottom of the vest. The inserts cooperate with the porous character of the foundation suit 1 to provide ample ventilation of the double thickness garment. The vest can be donned by the aviator similar to a short overcoat after the bladder referred to hereinafter has been placed in position between the two garments.
The upper end of the vest terminates in a standard metal neck bank 10 of the usual construction and is provided with screw threads (not shown) for receiving the circular-threaded portion of a helmet 1 1 made of a transparent plastic material.
In accordance with one aspect of my invention, there is positioned within the vest or jerkin a bladder structure generally indicated at 12 and made preferably of a rubberized plastic material such as Neoprene. Thus, the bladder has the facility of expansibility and is closely woven so as to be completely air and moisture proof. The member takes on a split form, as seen in FIG. 7, having two spaced portions 13, 14, which merge into a single piece portion 15 at the upper right hand position as seen in the FIGURE. Dividing the bladder in the manner stated becomes necessary in view of the position of the longitudinal opening in the vest closed by the zipper 7. The bladder constitutes a double-walled unit in which the walls are spaced apart as seen in FIGS. 8 and 9 and joined together at their edges to leave flat margins. The margin portions can be sewed as indicated by the short lines 16 without penetrating the interior space of the bladder. The bladder is placed in position within the vest such that the split portions l3, 14 extend on opposite sides of the zippered opening 7 and while in separate form pass around the shoulder of the vest finally merging into one piece down the back of the vest as indicated by the dotted lines 18 in FIG. 10.
As stated hereinbefore, the purpose of the bladder 12, when filled with gas under pressure, is to apply pressure against the vest 4 which in view of its inextensive character causes the inner surface of the bladder to expand toward the body and thus press the inner garment against the thorax or torso of the aviator. This force becomes greater as the ambient air pressure becomes less due to the higher altitudes and the inward pressure increases (Boyles Law) in accordance with the rarification of the air to keep the breathing comfort of the aviator at an optimum condition. For controlling the admission of breathable gas, such as oxygen, to the bladder, and in accordance with another aspect of my invention, a valve device 19, as shown in FlGS. l to 5, is employed. The device is carried on a flat plate 20 of plastic material which is sewn or cemented to the exterior surface of the vest 4 at a position as can readily be reached by the aviator. A ring 21 of plastic material is secured to the plate 20, this ring being provided with openings in the valve which receive tubing 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26. Conduit 22 is connected to a source of oxygen (not shown) at to pounds p.s.i.a. for supplying the helmet through the conduit 23. The tubing 25 is connected to a check valve 27 as indicated in FIG. 2, the purpose of which will be described hereinafter. The tubing 24 provides an escape for the trapped gas in the bladder to ambient atmosphere through an angularly shaped passageway 28 formed within the rotor of the valve and the tubing 26. The rotor, designated at 29, carries a knob 30 (H0. 5) and is rotatably held in any suitable manner against the plate 20. Thus, by turning the knob, the rotor can be turned within certain limits to any one of the three positions seen in FIGS 2, 3 and 4 respectively and thus control the emptying of stale gas from the bladder as well as admitting fresh oxygen to the bladderand the helmet. The rotor 29 has countersunk compartments 31 which are segmentally shaped, and also a radially extending opening 32, as well as the angularly shaped passageway 28 formed in the upraised portions. The depth of the countersunk portions are such as to leave a wall 33 of substantial thickness (FIG. 5) at the inner end or bottom of the rotor.
The flat portion of the ring 21, at the position of the tubing 22 bears the word source and midway between the ends of the upraised segment 34, there is the mark Off to which the arrow 35 on the segment is pointed (FIG. 2). The term Fill" is applied to the ring opposite from the far edge of the segment 34. The term Mission Complete" or its abbreviation MC is applied midway between the upraised segments 34 and 35 while "helmet is applied at the position of the tubing 23. The term Bypass is applied near the tubing 24 and Ambient" is applied near the angularly shaped passageway 28. The direction of movement of the oxygen flowing through the source" opening, then through the compartment 31 to the helmet is indicated by the arrows. The direction of movement of the gas trapped in the bladder at the beginning of the operation is also shown by an arrow at the positions marked Bypass and Ambient."
The second or position No. 2, as shown in FIG. 3, is used manually to inflate the chest bladder when desired to improve the breathing comfort of the aviator while retaining ventilation within the suit. in that position, the oxygen causes the bladder to expand and in view of the rigid restraint imposed by the inextensibility of the vest, the bladder presses inwardly against the thorax portion of the body. Whereas in the first and second positions of the rotor, the conduit 24 is in communication with the bladder to vent the stale gas, when the rotor is turned to position 3, illustrated in FIG. 4, the vent through the tubing 26 is closed and as to whether the bladder will receive gas through the passageway 32 will depend on the condition of the check valve 27. The latter is of standard construction including the use of a tension spring 36 and a ball valve 37 which cooperate to cutoff the flow of gas through the tubing 25 to the bladder when the back pressure on the valve, i.e., produced by the pressure of any gas contained in the bladder, becomes less than a predetermined amount. Thus, assuming that the bladder is punctured by flak or shrapnel so that the member cannot retain any gas pressure, in that event, the pressure within the compartment 31 which supplies the helmet with oxygen overcomes the tension of the spring 36 to allow the ball to close the conduit 25. Thus, even though the bladder is no longer supplied with the oxygen on account of the rupture, the helmet is still supplied with breathable gas and the remaining supply of oxygen is conserved in that a portion of it will not be dissipated through the torn bladder. This action would allow the aviator more time in which to complete his mission even though greater effort might be imposed upon him to breathe. However, the .valve would normally be placed in position 2 unless there is a strong likelihood that the bladder would be ruptured, in which case the valve would be moved to position No. 3. This third position of the valve is therefore aptly termed Mission Complete" or simply MC, to which the arrow on the rotor is pointed in FIG. 4.
From the foregoing, it is evident that l have disclosed an oxygen supply system, employing a manually adjustable valve and bladder contained within a vest and which normally overlies an ordinary foundation garment for providing more breathing balance, and when necessary automatically cuts off the oxygen supply to the bladder in the event of rupture from whatever cause.
While I have shown the valve, as attached to the exterior surface of the vest or jerkin, it is obvious that it could be placed in any other suitable position within reach of the aviator. As long as the bladder is able to retain the gas, the latter will expand in the rarified atmosphere and in accordance with Boyle's Law will exert a commensurate pressure on the thorax region of the aviator to make breathing more comfortable for him.
1. In combination a pressure suit for an aviator comprising an inner stretchable fabric garment which is adapted to lie next to the skin of the aviator; an outer nonstretchable garment covering at least a portion of said inner garment; a flexible rubberlike expansible bladder interposed between the garments; a helmet hermetically attached to said outer garment; means including a rotatable valve attached to the outer garment and operable by the aviator for controlling the amount of gas admitted to the bladder and for supplying the bladder and said helmet with breathable gas at a pressure as to cause the bladder to expand inwardly against the inner expansible garment when the atmosphere becomes rarified as higher altitudes are reached; said rotatable valve means having three positions (1) in which oxygen is supplied to the helmet while connecting the bladder to ambient air, (2) in which oxygen is supplied to the helmet and the bladder and (3) in which the oxygen is supplied to the helmet and the bladder, with a check valve means connected in the bladder supply line responsive to a predetermined differential pressure between the helmet and bladder for shutting off the gas supply to the bladder while maintaining the gas pressure in the helmet in the case of bladder rupture.
2. The combination as set forth in claim 1 and in which each of the inner and outer garments is porous and a closure member extending along the front portion of the outer garment in order to don the same, said bladder having front split portions and extending along opposite sides of the closure member from the front thigh portion up over the shoulder portion on the respective sides of the closure member, said split bladder portions merging into a single unit from the shoulder down to the rear thigh portion.
3. The combination set forth in claim 2 and in which said bladder is constituted of rubberized elastic material.
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