Pilots during WW2 were one of the bravest of the brave. After a rigorous selection process, often years of training followed. On average it took between 18 months to 2 years for a pilot to gain his wings, and then even longer to be fully prepared for frontline battle. Let’s take a look at some American pilot clothing for sale from WW2 and beyond.
Vietnam Lightweight Flight Suit
Before even sending ground troops to Vietnam, they sent the Air Force to drop bombs over the area for some years. Then from 1965 US involvement increased significantly, with it peaking in 1969. This flight suit is dated 26th of September 1968 so it almost certainly saw Vietnam combat.
Pilots were often fairly small in stature and build, so it’s not unusual that this flight suit is a size S. The markings state it is a K-2B model suit. These suits were made of cotton and were not fire retardant. Instead, pilots used Borax solution regularly on it, to protect themselves if the plane went up in flames.
There is a rip on the back of the overalls coming down from the right shoulder, which seems to have been repaired at the time, but apart from this, the flight suit is in great condition. It has original badges and even a name tag, indicating the owner was called ‘Fish’. He was in the 1st Infantry Division, which was heavily involved in Vietnam between 1965 and 1970. They had over 6,000 men killed in action, and had 16,000 more wounded. This takes up almost 10% of all US soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam.
There is a Vietnam-era US Army Aviation Centre & Training School badge and above the army tag, there’s the pilot insignia. The wings indicate army rather than air force, and the star above means he was a senior pilot. His collar badge is an infantry insignia; two guns crossed over each other.
Available from Battleflag Militaria £175.
WW2 US Navy Winter Flight Trousers
25,000 feet up in the air in a WW2 fighter plane is cold at the best of times, let alone in the winter. Pilots would need to stay warm and sheepskin is just the thing for the job. These flight trousers are in great condition, complete with their shearling lining.
The outer material is dark brown leather, and it also has double zips down the legs to make them easier to remove, as well as many large pockets. The zippers and buttons are all intact and functioning. The suspenders are of a stretchy material and they are attached on the back, with the front being adjustable.
Available from The Collector’s Guild $1,000
Cold War US Air Force Summer Flying Suit
Air Force involvement has been a key element of any conflict since the First World War and the Cold War was no exception, although this time it was slightly different. Planes were mostly used for reconnaissance and as a scare tactic but they also distributed supplies during the Berlin Blockade for example. The US built an increasing number of new air bases all across friendly territories and airspace as a potential combat zone became more and more recognised.
The veteran who owned this 1950s US Air Force Summer flying suit had seen it all! He fought in WW2 as a pilot and then continued to serve until Vietnam, when he was in the Navy Reserves. This suit came directly from his family so we have a lot of information about him and his history, all of which will be shared with the buyer.
Available from The Ruptured Duck $220.
US Army A2 Air Force Flying Jacket
The A-2 flying jacket, often referred to as a bomber jacket, is an iconic and sought-after WW2 uniform. It became the symbol of American pilots but has since become a fashion item as well. Movies and other pop culture references have helped maintain its popularity over the years.
This original A-2 bomber jacket belonged to one J. M. Smolev. He was in the Military Air Transport Command, or ATC, as per the patch on the jacket’s chest. The ATC had a few different objectives. They transported supplies and equipment from mainland US over to the front, ferried planes once they were manufactured, and they also carried military personnel all across the world, wherever they were needed.
The jacket is made of brown leather and was manufactured by Cooper Sportswear Manufacturing Company. It is a size 38 and the label is still intact. The A-2 jacket was the pride and joy of pilots and they often embellished it with their own designs, patches and rank marks. On this particular example there are rank patches in leather on each epaulette indicating thst he was a major.
Overall the leather is in very good condition. No leather rot is present but it is slightly dry so could be treated with leather food and recoloured. The wool cuffs and bottom band all retain much of their elasticity. There is only a slight fluffing to the wool. The jacket retains its original nickel Conmar zip. The lining is all complete, non-shredded and in overall great condition.
Check out this article : WW2 Allied Combat Equipment
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