Ventile® fabric dates back as far as the 1930’s, but it was during World War II when the unique properties of the fabric gained national recognition.
In 1941, after the fall of France, Luftwaffe pilots were able to operate off Western France against British merchant ships in the Atlantic. The German aircrafts could reach British convoy lanes whilst staying out of range of British land-based fighters. With no aircraft carriers available to provide close air cover for convoys, the Admiralty developed the fighter catapult ships. These converted freighters were manned by naval crew and carried a single Hawker Hurricane fighter. When enemy planes were sighted, the fighter was launched into the air with rockets, in an attempt to destroy or drive away the bomber.
After combat, fighter pilots would bail out or ditch in the ocean near the convoy. These pilots were picked up if all went well, however life expectancy was only a few minutes due to the freezing temperatures of the water.
Concerned for the welfare of fighter pilots, Winston Churchill commissioned research into developing a new fabric technology which would keep pilots warm, dry and comfortable when submerged at sea and harnessed into the cockpit.
Scientists at the Shirley Institute in Manchester UK went on to develop the Ventile® fabric, to be used in new immersion suits for fighter pilots. The Ventile® fighter suit prevented freezing water from coming into contact with the body and as a result enhanced life expectancy in the water to 20 minutes. This resulted in rescues of stranded pilots increasing by 80%.
Following on from this success, Ventile® RAF clothing went into mass production in 1943 and the fabric still remains closely linked to military associations today. The designs have evolved but Ventile® suits are still used by the Air Forces to this day.
Inspired by British Heroism, Musto launches its Limited Edition Ventile® PrimaLoft® Parka this November.
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