Rocket Fuel Handler's Coverall Outfit, known as RFHCO were worn by Propellant Transfer System Technicians, PTS, used during routine (and sometimes, not so routine) fueling and defueling operations.
The RFHCO suit consisted of a one piece butyl fire-resistant torso assembly and helmet assembly with intergrated detachable boots and gloves forming a vapor-proof sealed suit.
The Environmental Control Unit , ECU provides breathing air to the wearer. The blended air mix was about 20-25% Oxygen, 75-80% Nitrogen cryogenic.
Along the side of the ECU , a two way radio with voice accuated VOX communication harness with earphones and microphone
The Butyl-PVC gloves at first seemed bulky but, with practice, PTS troops could manage to pick-up items as small as a dime.
Weight 17 LBS
Material butyl coated high temperature Polyamide (HT-1) fabric.
Operating time approximately 1HR 50 MINUTES with 10 MINUTE egress time.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL UNIT ECU
Weight (full) 35 LBS
Liquid Air Temp -318 F.
Breathing Air +60 F.
Usable Air Time 1 HR,
Egress Time 10 min.
RFHCO SUIT SIZES
MEDIUM EXTRA LONG
PORTABLE LIQUID AIR STORAGE TANK
The Portable Liquid Air Storage Tank was filled at the MIMS (Missile Inspection Maintenance Squadron) with a mix of liquid cryogenic oxygen and nitrogen. The liquid air was allowed to settle and was tested for proper mix percentages. (21-25% Oxygen)
The Liquid Air Storage Tanks were transported by truck to the missile complex. RFHCO Technicians would ensure that ECU's were properly filled, assist the PTS Technicians in donning and doffing (removing) the RFHCO suits. RFHCO Technicians also cleaned, inspected, repaired and reassembled the RFHCO suits for the next mission sequence.
U.S. GOV. ISSUE
standard aluminum storage case.
Once the PTS Technician showered off any fuel or oxidizer fumes from the suit. The RFHCO Technician would assist the PTS Technician in removing the suit. First, unlatching the helmet, and then unzipping the pressure closure from the left shoulder, across to the right leg. The suit was placed back-side down, helmet in the cradle. The legs were folded over the shoulders, with a boot on either side of the helmet. The arms were folded over the middle of the suit. The lid was then placed and latched. Once back at the MIMS, the RFHCO suits were cleaned, pressure checked, inspected and repaired if necessary and then the helmet, gloves and boots were removed. RFHCO suits were sized individually. Once the RFHCO suit was assembled for a PTS Technician and placed in the carrying case, it was labeled and sealed with safety-wire to prevent tampering.
Air Force Personnel trained in Propellant Transfer Systems, PTS were instructed at Chanute AFB, IL and later at Sheppard AFB, TX. Usually a full year of on-the-job training was required for technicians to become proficient. RFHCO technicians were fully trained in PTS first. Clean Room Technicians made up the third section of PTS personnel. Using an ultrasonic cleaner, they cleaned and calibrated missile fuel and oxidizer components.
PTS Technician in RFHCO using a PVD, Portable Vapor Dictector. Utilized in fuel and oxidizer operations. Due to the hypergolic nature of the missile propellants, oxidizer operations and components were always separated from missile fuel operations and components
RFHCO HELMET ASSEMBLY
PTS Technicians often selected their own particular helmet.
My choice was helmet
Helmet Assembly Label
Torso Assembly Label
Thermal Undershirt and Drawers
RFHCO SUIT AND ECU
Hanging in the blast lock area at the Titan Missile Museum in Tucson, Arizona
PROPELLANT TRANSFER OPERATIONS
by two RFHCO-suited Air Force personnel on level two of the launch duct at the Titan Missile Museum.
AS SEEN FROM ABOVE
the propellant transfer technicians working on level two of the launch duct. Note, the toaster-sized green box (red dot)at the feet of the technician on the left. It is a porteble vapor detector or PVD
LAUNCH DUCT DOORS AND WORK PLATFORMS
would have been secured in the closed or down and locked position. two-person teams were always mandatory