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
Equipment no longer in production.
Underwater work requires more than just a diver and a helmet. To stay dry he needs a tough suit or dress. With the helmet and suit he becomes more buoyant so weights are necessary. A clean and reliable air supply is mandatory. Communication with the surface is vital for safety and efficient work. Tools and equipment to support the diver and do the required tasks are just as essential. Many pieces go into making a successful dive. The best diver in the world is useless without the tools to make him effective.
After the war DESCO expanded its support equipment product offerings. A line of air compressors, miscellaneous equipment, and tools made the catalog in 1945. It might be apparent that these photos were taken at a time when TV was also Black & White. It has been a few years since these items made a DESCO catalog. The catalog pages changed over time and where possible we will present all available pages.
Below are products no longer made by DESCO
DESCO Rebreathers can be seen on the MIXED GAS & REBREATHERS page.
Buie Mixed Gas Helmets, Model 100 & Model 106 Helmets can be seen on the MIXED GAS & REBREATHERS page.
First Generation DESCO Shallow Water Helmet
As World War II wound down the scramble was on to make new products for the civilian market. In August of 1944 DESCO had catalog photos taken of a shallow water helmet they designed. It featured a formed Copper breastplate permanently mounted to a long version of a Buie helmet shell. A modified Buie faceted front window and a Agar top window were used. The helmet was fitted with "football" shaped weights front and back. The breastplate didn't have the edge bead like the Morse Shallow Water Helmet which probably made it easier to manufacture but more prone to being bent or deformed during use.
The helmet first appeared in the 1945 catalog and retailed for $130.00 (FOB Milwaukee). They couldn't get the model to quit breathing and fogging the window so they needed to retouch the photo for the catalog.
Here are photos of a DESCO Shallow Water Helmet sent to us by Victor Maidhof. Notice this helmet has a very tall top shell. Unlike the helmet above the lower front of the shell isn't bent to follow the window frame. The shell is dished out top and bottom to accept the window.
Photos courtesy of Victor Maidhof
They obviously were not totally satisfied with this helmet. The labor required to fit the front window must have been obscene. The Buie window frame was made up of multiple parts, inner and outer. Forming the shell for the facets was likely a nightmare unto itself.
We have a photo of a modified design from September of 1946 showing the original curved Buie window. This window is currently used on the Browne Utility Helmet and extra care has to be taken installing even this simpler frame. The base shape has to be right or stress can be placed on the Acrylic window. Bolt hole alignment is critical too. We have not seen an example of this version so we don't know if any were sold.
The drawing we have for the DESCO Shallow Water Helmet with the cast breastplate (currently available) is dated 9/3/1948 so the original design only lasted about four years. The new helmet used a Sponge shell mated to the cast Brass breastplate and has cast window frames that are fitted like other helmets. This eliminated the severe bends required for the faceted Buie type window. To see the current DESCO Shallow Water Helmets click HERE.
Current DESCO Masks can be seen on the DESCO MASKS page.
U.S. Navy Diving Mask
This is the mask that started it all. The Navy needed a lightweight utility mask for jobs where heavy gear wasn't necessary or practical. DESCO developed the Browne Mask to meet this need. It was also the basis for a diving outfit (see below). The unique feature of the USN Mask was 3 way valve attached to the breather bag. The bag was intended to reduce air demand and ease breathing. It didn't function as well as hoped and eventually fell out of use. DESCO even stocked a cap to block the bag port.
U.S. Navy Free-Flow Diving Mask
Cat No. 59069
The standard Navy mask. Air is fed through a non-return valve, and a three-way inhale valve which permits use of an optional breather bag assembly (see Cat. No. 59022.)
Air is exhausted on the left side of the mask through a rubber-disc exhaust valve.
U.S. Navy Diving Outfit
Cat. No. 59067
The standard U.S. Navy Mask (Cat. No. 59069) complete with breather bag and Desco (sic) light weight canvas belt. The breather bag provide a reservoir of air which permits easier breathing under conditions where air supply is insufficient or delivery pressure is intermittent.
Download The Browne U.S. Navy Type Diving Outfit Instructions in .pdf format Note: These instructions are offered for educational purposes only and not intended for training, or equipment maintenance.
DESCO CONVERSION MASK
Catalog No. DCM 1
The famous DESCO U.S. Navy type full face mask is now available to those who would like to convert their mouthpiece units to full face mask units. Suitable valves are installed on either side of the mask which has a Brass frame, molded rubber, plexiglass window, and quick release adjustable headstraps.
Cat. No. 59069-M
The Pulmonary Mask was a response to a need in the medical field. It never appeared in a DESCO catalog but a flyer was produced.
The Battelle Mask never made general production so no literature was produced. The Battelle Mask featured a snorkel tube running up the left side of the mask terminating in an exhaust valve. The article below is from a Battelle produced magazine.
The mask pictured is in our display room. It has communications installed.
DESCO Demand Valve Mask
Note: DESCO no longer offers a demand mask.
The first DESCO DVM to appear in the catalog had the cat. number DVM2. We are unsure as to the designation DVM 2. Most likely it is due to the DVM mask being stand alone from the Dolphin Lung.
First DVM Offered by DESCO
THE DESCO MASK WITH DEMAND VALVE
Catalog No. DVM2
This integral part of the Dolphin Lung is offered as a separate unit in order to give a versatility never before offered to the shallow water diver. With this combination of DESCO full face mask and chromed demand valve, both self contained and surface air supply diving is now made practical using the same piece of equipment. It can be used with a small, portable compressor exactly as the DESCO U.S. navy type shallow water mask or combining it with one of the Dolphin lung cylinder arrangements, it becomes a fine, automatic compressed air type lung. The demand valve is mounted on the mask in a position that affords breathing ease no matter what position the diver may be working in. It is designed to work at a pressure of 60 psi therefore requiring a pressure regulator if used with an air supply greater than that setting.
Second DVM Offered by DESCO
DESCO MASK WITH DEMAND VALVE
Catalog No. DVM
The DESCO full face mask with demand valve is made available to those who especially want a piece of equipment that can be used in several ways. The unit as it stands can be used as a full face mask with surface feed air from either a large or small air compressor. In this way it will be similar to the DESCO mask used by the Navy. If it is to be used with regular compressed air bottles, it is important that a pressure regulator adjusted to 60 pounds be used, if a greater amount of pressure is to flow through the demand valve.
This demand valve incorporated a snorkel device for swimming on the surface. The snorkel had a valve on the top which was closed manually before submerging. One photo shows a unit without the snorkel. We don't know if it is an early or late version. The purge button could be locked down for the mask to free flow.
Last DVM Offered by DESCO
DESCO Demand-Regulator Mask
Cat. No. 59500
The basic mask and head-harness are the. same as used on the Commercial Free- Flow Mask.
A rugged second stage regulator is, however, permanently attached to the right side of the mask.
An air control valve is mounted on the stem of the regulator. When opened, this valve converts the mask into a standard free-flow mask. When closed, air is available to the diver, on demand, through the regulator. This improves communications by minimizing exhaust noise and also permits the diver to breathe comfortably at very low delivered air pressures.
In order to avoid undesirable CO2 build up, the mask should not, however, be used in demand mode for excessive periods of time, especially under heavy work-load conditions When so operated it should periodically be ventilated by opening the air control valve.
The mask comes equipped with a non-return valve.
Diving Dresses (drysuits)
Two Piece Dress & Clamp
The Lightweight Dress came in a couple of configurations.
The first was a suit with a face seal for using the Browne Mask.
The second had a mask frame permanently attached with a hinged faceplate.
The third came with a neck opening for the Browne Utility, Model 100, Model 106, or Buie Helmet.
Accessories for the Lightweight Suit.
Gloves & Mitts
Weightbelts & Shoes
Sponge Commercial Sandal Type Chafing Shoes
DESCO offered many different styles of diver telephones.
DESCO offered a variety of air compressors from several manufacturers.
Hand Pump air compressors
Air Chisel Pneumatic Drills Pneumatic Saw Impact Wrench Wire Brush
Grapnel Hook Salvage Hook Blasting Machine Hole Punch Hydraulic Cutter
Underwater Welding & Cutting
Decompression Salvage Balloon Diver's Ladder Underwater
Recompression Litter Descending Weights
Chamber & Sounding Lead