The HGU -4/P was introduced in 1958 and is still in use in 2018 marking an unpreceded 60 year period, a design classic in all aspects!
Although the USAAF Aviator Sunglasses (AN6531 and the G-2) are probably the most iconic (aviator) sunglasses in the world and still in production today (Ray-Ban being the most well known maker) they were in official Airforce use from 1941 until their replacement in 1958 so they “only” lasted a period of 17 years.
General Douglas MacArthur with the earlier G2 Aviator Sunglasses and A2 leather jacket
They were then replaced with the sunglasses that are the subject of this blog: the HGU-4/P Aviator sunglasses. An extensive testing was done in 1958/59 and the HGU-4/P was considered the better compared to the G-2 that was still in stock at that time.
Here you can read the original report of that testing: HGU 4P
American Opticals designed these glasses for more comfortable use with helmets in mind resulting in the iconic bayonet style arms. The original version had a 52mm frame and was gold filled, later versions became gold plated and also available in matte chrome. Since 1982 Randolph started supplying the US forces with these glasses and they still do today. Both brands made these glasses also available for the commercial market and they still do today. Minor differences between the commercial and military versions can be found.
A few military examples in matte chrome, from the internet:
Here some photo’s from the internet of the glasses being worn in Vietnam:
And some celebrities on and off the screen (from the internet again):
And my own set I bought as new old stock (recently fitted with prescription multifocal glasses), an RE from December 1991: