as of 05/07/13
All current production DESCO helmets
Commercial and Pool Cleaning Masks
Light Duty Diving Outfit
DESCO Two Diver Telephone and available communications options
Third party dry suits
sold by DESCO
Composite Beat Engel Demand Helmet
as of 05/07/13
& Viking price lists.
Product warnings and
What gear it takes to dive.
What goes into making a diving helmet
Real or Replica?
Features of the various helmet models
Magazine or News articles related to diving.
Links to online diving videos.
How DESCO started
Those who built DESCO
DESCO Product Information
General product history. Catalogs, significant orders, etc.
DESCO A, B, C Rebreathers Recirculating Helmets
SCUBA Lungs, Water Skis, and Miscellaneous Water Sports Products
DESCO company photos
and photos from our archives
Commercial Diving Photos supplied by customers
Classic equipment &
hobby diving photos
Photos of helmets from
Photos of equipment in museums
Photos from some of
our repair projects
DESCO Historical Item Collection
Miscellaneous Photos, Old diver and/or equipment photos
DESCO's Collection of Historical and Other Stuff
Over the decades we have accumulated a collection of items relating to diving, relating to Milwaukee, relating to history, and some stuff we don't know why we have it. We just completed setting up a new display room. Since we moved to the third floor our display area was next to the lunch table in the office. A unused office was made into the new display room.
Our Helmet Collection
This collection of helmets and helmet components covers DESCO products and items from other manufacturers.
DESCO Mark V Serial Number 1/2
This is our cutaway half helmet. It is much lighter but prone to leak. Window fogging is not much of a problem.
Our demo unit has been around forever. The tag is dated 2-95 but that was just when we dated the tag and added the serial number. It gives an interesting view out the window.
DESCO Mark V 3038
We acquired this helmet from a retired physician, Gerald Davis MD, He had it on display in his office for many years. It has been modified with a commercial style front window.
Stillson Concept Helmet 001
The Stillson Concept Helmet is DESCO's attempt to actually make the helmet shown on the cover of the 1915 Diving Report by G. D. Stillson for the U.S. Navy. As many standard DESCO parts were used as possible but many pieces required heavy modification. Some interpretation and guesswork were required but the result was a interesting and unique helmet.
USS Squalus Commemorative Helium Diving Helmet Number 00
DESCO made twenty six 70th Anniversary USS Squalus Salvage Helium Helmets for the Historical Diving Society. A 27th helmet is the prototype made for DESCO's helmet collection. The company which produced the Sterling Silver tags made a prototype tag numbered 00. We decided to build a helmet for this tag instead of mounting to a wood base like the other special tags. It was made after the 26 helmets were completed. When production started on the series extra of the HEO2 specific parts were ordered. As construction commenced the parts were inspected and the best of the lot were used. To build 00 we used the remaining parts, which may have had visible imperfections (porosity or deep imperfections) which on production helmets would be acceptable as industry standard but would disqualified them for the run of collector helmets, where visual quality is equally important as function. 00 also differs in that it is high polished instead of Navy standard Tin plating which was done on the 26.
This helmet is dedicated to the divers and salvage ship crews who recovered the survivors and her victims, then brought her home to sail again.
Kirby Recirculator Conversions of DESCO Sponge Helmets
In his book " Hard Hat Divers Wear Dresses" Bob Kirby says he made six of these helmets on DESCO Sponge helmets. He moved over to Yokohama helmets for subsequent units. The helmets we have are DESCO s/n 1043, and DESCO s/n 1084. We think 1043 may be the first one of the six. Bob describes the evolution of the helmets in the book and the description of the first one fits 1043.
Bob Kirby Recirculator Helmet on DESCO Sponge 1043
Bob Kirby Recirculator Helmet on DESCO Sponge 1084
The big differences between 1043 and 1084 are in the windows and the recirculating system.
1043 still has the Sponge type windows with the screw rim holding the light in place. 1084 has 1" thick windows which screw directly into the base.
1043's recirculator is patterned off of the Navy Helium helmet. The gas is pushed through the absorbent canister via the high pressure jet. In 1084 the flow is reversed to draw the gas into the canister.
Early Buie Mixed Gas Helmet
U.S. Navy diver E.D. Buie came to DESCO to work on a low volume mixed gas helmet for the Navy to use clearing mines. The first low volume mixed gas helmets had a curved window like this one. Later models have a three facet flat pane window. The canister is much smaller than the Mark V Helium canister and in fact the whole helmet weighed less than half of the Mark V Helium (104lbs to 43lbs). DESCO was lucky enough to acquire this early helmet for our collection. It was missing the canister but we fortunately had the patterns for the end caps and were able to make one. It is incomplete but is good enough for display purposes.
DESCO Air Hat Prototypes
Prototype 1 Prototype 2 Prototype 3 Prototype 4
When Mr. Fifield developed the air hat it went through several stages. The most notable evolution is in the snout.
Other Manufacturers Helmets we have.
Morse Shallow Water Helmet
This helmet was given to us by collector Carlos Dominguez incomplete. The body of it was in good condition. We replaced the missing parts and put it in our collection. We keep it around largely because we have fond memories of Carlos. Some of the wildest custom projects we did were children of his mind.
Chinese Diving Helmets
Chinese TF 3 Chinese TF 12
We purchased these two helmets during the import craze of the 1990's when they were flooding the market. We purchased a TF 3 (three bolt) and a TF 12 (twelve bolt).
TF 12 before modification
Ric and Christian decided the TF 12 needed a facelift. We have done a few conversions of TF 12s. Ours was done to demonstrate and market this capability. It now has Commercial side windows set vertically, a spring lock, small telephone cup, and the plastic front guard was replaced with a Mark V Brass guard.
TF 12 after modifications
At one time our closest competitor (geographically). Aqua Bell was made in Windsor WI. The yellow collar was filled with sand for weight. Air was fed into the helmet via a nipple molded in as part of the shell. Air fed through clear vinyl tubing from a bellows foot pump. For some reason the government determined they were dangerous and had them pulled off the market.
Dive Dynamics Breastplates
These fiberglass breastplates were made by Dive Dynamics for the Aquadyne AH helmets. The Orange one is a Sponge pattern, and the Blue is a Navy pattern.
A-Lung Rebreather B- Lung Rebreathers
The A Lung, also known as the Adventurer, and the Sportster Lung. This unit was designed in the early 1950's. It was a simpler, more compact design than the B-Lung. The unit evolved during its short run. Early units had a canvas breather bag, while later units had a vinyl bag. The A-Lungs were only produced for a few years in the mid-50's.
The B Lung, also known as the Buccaneer Lung. This is the unit first developed for the OSS and U.S. Navy during WWII. The first units used a oval mask with a nose bump out. Later units were fitted with a modified Jack Browne mask. B-Lungs were produced until the early 1960's. On the 1960 DESCO pricelist the B-Lung cost $205.00. We are fortunate to have a early and a late version of the B Lung in our collection. Rebreather manufacturing ceased after several incidents of oxygen poisoning occurred. Modern Draeger Rebreathers are computer controlled so the diver only gets the amount of oxygen they need.
DESCO Air Master SCUBA Regulator Small Air Compressor
For a short time in the 1950's DESCO produced a SCUBA regulator called the Airmaster. It was sold loose or mounted to a tank. A mounted unit was known as the "D" Lung. The Airmaster regulator is rare and we were lucky to get one.
David White Sextant
This David White Co. sextant was made in Milwaukee during WWII. Leon Lyons acquired it for us.
Artifact from the lake steamer Pewabic
Mr. Fifield and Bernice McKenzie were always receiving things from customers and friends. That is most likely how this relic came to be here.
The wooden propeller PEWABIC was lost on August 9, 1865 after a collision with her sister ship the METEOR. The vessels had drawn close together in order to pass messages and packages (a common practice of the day) when the PEWABIC suddenly cut across the METEOR's bow. The PEWABIC sank in just a few minutes in 180 feet of water, with the loss of an estimated 125 lives. Fifty passengers were rescued by the METEOR. The PEWABIC was carrying a valuable cargo of copper from the Keweenaw Peninsula mines.
Our embroidered patch and decal collection
The most unusual patch. Have no idea where it came from (other than Gitmo).
A long time mascot
Don't know who he was drawn by or when. He just hangs around our office. Possibly an advertising concept for DESCO Water Sports and/or the Airmaster Lung. He does have a double hose.
DESCO is a fairly popular acronym. There were thirteen DESCO's in the Federal Supply System at our last count. There were two other DESCO's in Milwaukee. One was a medical supply company, while the other was a computer software firm. We have in our collection a few products from other DESCO's around the world.
Fire hydrant wrenches and a cap made by DeSanno Foundry and Machining Co. (DESCO) Phoenix AZ.
Electronic items by DESCO Industries
Cup and Saucer marked "DESCO Made in Occupied Japan".
WE DON'T KNOW? At first thought a creamer but it is obviously meant for hot liquids. If anybody can fill us in please do. Made in Belgium.