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WW2 Officer's Lewis Fly-Weighter Crusher Visor Cap

Started by Flash Boredom , May 16 2011 04:18 PM

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#1 Flash Boredom

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:18 PM

It's not a Bancroft but it's still a true crusher cap, right? Bancroft was the standard but other companies made crusher caps for USAAF officers, and I've read they were cheaper, which is why some pilots bought them. So this is a true WW2 USAAF officer's crusher? It certainly looks like this cap has been crushed a few times...
All input is welcomed and appreciated.
Thanks.

Attached Images

  • sm_Fly_Weighter_.jpg
  • sm_Fly_Weighter_1.jpg
  • sm_Fly_Weighter_bottom.jpg
  • sm_Fly_Weighter_marking.jpg
  • sm_Fly_Weighter_3.jpg
  • sm_Fly_Weighter_5.jpg


#2 dskjl

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:41 PM

IMHO I don't think it is, as the brim is made up of two or more pieces of leather rather than one piece. At least that's what it looks like from the photos to me. It is my understanding that a true crusher has a one piece brim.

Edited by dskjl, 16 May 2011 - 04:41 PM.


#3 doyler

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:49 PM

I agree.

Not a true crusher as the real ones have a thin one layer leather brim.Flywieghter is a brand by Lewis I believe reffering to more of a style of the cap they offer being a lighter weight cap opposed to the all wool style caps offered.
Great classic cap at any rate :thumbsup:
RD

#4 Flash Boredom

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:53 PM

IMHO I don't think it is, as the brim is made up of two or more pieces of leather rather than one piece. At least that's what it looks like from the photos to me. It is my understanding that a true crusher has a one piece brim.


There's a worthpoint.com article that states the same point, that two visor layers means it's not a true crusher. However, when I googled "WW2 Crusher cap" the first site that pops-up lists the Lewis Fly-Weighter in the category of Officer's crusher caps and there's an example pic of a Fly-Weighter. However, it does not show whether the Fly-Weighter is double-billed or not. Did Lewis make a Fly-Weighter with a single bill, or is this site incorrect?

Thank you all for your input!

Edited by Flash Boredom, 16 May 2011 - 04:55 PM.


#5 John Cooper

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 06:34 PM

For what its worth I think the fact that before there were purpose designed "crushers" pilots took out the stiffner and made their own... this being said I think the term "true crusher" is a bit misleading. I think you just have to look at period photos to obtain enough evidence to support this. :)

Cheers

#6 BaselA

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 10:56 PM

Most collectors define a "true crusher" as a cap with a single-ply leather visor. There are also what have been referred to as "semi-soft" crushers, or caps that don't have a single-ply leather bill, but are made to be flexible. To be honest, I care a lot more about who wore the cap than how to classify it. As John stated, aviators were removing the stiffeners before the manufacturers actually designed "true crushers."

In terms of this Fly Weighter, I would not classify it as a "true-crusher," but it is nevertheless a great example of a classic cap.

To answer your question about this model cap, I believe Lewis DID manufacture a Fly Weighter with a single-ply visor. These caps had a different logo on the sweatband that said "Aviator Fly Weighter by Lewis" and included the propeller logo. Notice the bill with the rolled edge.

Here are some photos of the true crusher version
http://img825.imageshack.us/img825/4204/flyweighter1.jpg
http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/2320/flyweighter2.jpg
http://img541.imageshack.us/img541/640/flyweighter3.jpg

Edited by BaselA, 16 May 2011 - 11:02 PM.


#7 Flash Boredom

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:00 AM

Excellent info. Thanks BasalA!! I wondered if they made a single-ply and now I know. As you can see the stitching on the double-bill of my cap is about half-gone, suggesting that my cap was crushed at some point. Can I still describe this cap as "Officer's crusher cap"? or would that be misleading? And any idea of the value-range? Thanks for all of your input.

Most collectors define a "true crusher" as a cap with a single-ply leather visor. There are also what have been referred to as "semi-soft" crushers, or caps that don't have a single-ply leather bill, but are made to be flexible. To be honest, I care a lot more about who wore the cap than how to classify it. As John stated, aviators were removing the stiffeners before the manufacturers actually designed "true crushers."

In terms of this Fly Weighter, I would not classify it as a "true-crusher," but it is nevertheless a great example of a classic cap.

To answer your question about this model cap, I believe Lewis DID manufacture a Fly Weighter with a single-ply visor. These caps had a different logo on the sweatband that said "Aviator Fly Weighter by Lewis" and included the propeller logo. Notice the bill with the rolled edge.

Here are some photos of the true crusher version
http://img825.imageshack.us/img825/4204/flyweighter1.jpg
http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/2320/flyweighter2.jpg
http://img541.imageshack.us/img541/640/flyweighter3.jpg



#8 BaselA

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 01:59 PM

No problem. I think you can still describe it as a crusher-style cap, as the stiffener has been removed and it has that look. As long as you don't sell it as a "true crusher," you would not be misleading people. You may very well be correct that the owner curved the bill causing the fraying, I have certainly seen this before. This usually occurs with the stitching right in the middle of the visor. The cap looks to be in good condition, although I see the end of the chinstrap is damaged. In terms of value, IMO this could go for around $75 to $100 on the high end, all depends on what someone is willing to pay. In my experience, tan caps tend to bring in less than their OD gabardine counterparts.

Edited by BaselA, 17 May 2011 - 02:00 PM.


#9 dmar836

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 10:28 PM

All you need to know is what John Cooper stated. Crusher was a term of function, NOT construction. To label a cap as "true crusher" only if it has a soft bill is a very shallow definition. I have caps that I know were worn in operations with headphones during WWII but are not one-piece bills. Are they not "true crushers"? They do blend in with all the stock service caps that have been altered to look like crusher but, with history, prove to be as real a crusher as they get.
Typically, the AAC/USAAF guys chose the back strap caps so that would be more of a ding than anything else without further provenance.
This question comes up again and again and is quite frustrating. The first response is typically, "Not a crusher if it can't be rolled up" IMO, this is from inexperience and nothing could be more misleading to newer collectors.
Of course some will also believe that many M-1 helmet survived the war still wearing a camo'd net(and will pay accordingly).

JMO,
Dave

#10 Dave

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 03:03 AM

I'm a little perplexed at the scientific description of what does and does not make a "true" crusher. Over the past 25 years, I've owned literally dozens (more into the hundred+ range) of Army/AAF officer hats (as well as transitional USAF blue crushers) and I've personally owned what I consider to be "true" crushers with two-piece visors. In fact, when I was younger, I used to wear a GORGEOUS khaki "flight-weight" crusher to the Great Western shows (yeah, like I said, a long time ago!) It was literally possible to roll it up and put it in your pocket if you wanted to...the whole thing was that flexible. I can also remember being crushed when the two layers of the visor split (the 40+ year old thread finally gave way)...but I was able to repair it and no one noticed the repair. So multiple-layer "true" crushers do exist. Might throw a wrench into the scientific explaination of "if the visor has more than two layers, it's not a crusher".

Dave

#11 USMCRECON

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 03:55 AM

For what its worth I think the fact that before there were purpose designed "crushers" pilots took out the stiffner and made their own... this being said I think the term "true crusher" is a bit misleading. I think you just have to look at period photos to obtain enough evidence to support this. :)

Cheers

I may not have the purist's view on this isse but, in my mind, if a pilot owned a particular hat and he wore it and treated it as a crusher in everyday service, it's a crusher. Of course, my view does leave the issue open to interpretation and to unscrupulous faking but I believe if the airman wore it as a crusher, that makes it one.
I would not want to be the one to tell an old WW-II/Korean War pilot that he has to stop calling the hat he wadded up and stuffed into his flight suit pocket for years, a crusher. ;)

#12 BaselA

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 08:25 AM

I completely agree with you guys, the term crusher can still be applied to caps with a double-ply leather visor. However, whether us cap collectors like it or not, the term "true crusher" is commonly used to describe construction rather than function. So, if one was to sell a cap with a thick brim and a crushed crown and call it a "true crusher," I think the buyer would be mislead - they would be expecting a very thin single ply leather bill.

When I buy caps I care more about the provenance than anything else. If I know it was worn in the cockpit, then as far as I am concerned it is a crusher through and through.

-BA

#13 dmar836

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:25 AM

Bill,
No one would say a soft cap isn't a crusher just because other types are as well. Any cap could be crushed, just not as easily or comfortably as some of the later designs - those made to look crushed from the get-go.

BA, That definition supports those who believe only a soft bill is a crusher. If we agree it's a misconception, who more than the educated collector community to reestablish convention? I just can't tell when and where this misunderstanding started. What you have is a host of service caps that were crushed and only a few companies that made soft-billed caps (totally different crowns too) and now we are misleading buyers if we call anything but the latest versions "crusher"? I guess I just will never get it. I guess younger guys want everything in a box and easily understood(not you). The later ones are no-brainers as "crushers" but does that mean they ever saw use out from behind a desk?

Consider this. It's like some of the ball gloves I broke in as a kid. I liked the deep "softball" shape(even for baseball) and others liked the creased "baseball" look. We would oil/tie them and even put them under the legs of our beds at night. Later they started making ball gloves that were really soft and already in the "softball" shape. They took no breaking to comfortably use. I imagine kids today would say mine were not really a "softball" style glove as they don't fit the most recent manufacturing style.

Many would say, "Who cares?" but you see similar misconceptions on History Channel shows all the time. Another is the overuse of engineering pockets on the sleeves of M-42 jump jackets.

Edited by dmar836, 18 May 2011 - 11:27 AM.


#14 Dave

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:34 AM

I wish I had a photo of it (I do somewhere) but I once had one that would REALLY throw a curveball. It was a USAF (note USAF not USAAF) crusher...for a GENERAL OFFICER! Yep, I said that correctly! It was made by Luxenberg, had both front AND backstraps, AND it had the "triple cloud" bullion "farts and darts" on the visor. The bullion was sewn onto felt that was then sewn onto the leather visor...and the visor could be folded (yes, for real, it could be). The hat came from the estate of the first US military jet pilot and later lieutenant general. Man, to only have a photo handy...

Dave

#15 dmar836

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:45 AM

Photo? I'd want the cap back!

#16 dmar836

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 12:00 PM

Test your knowledge. "True crusher"?

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y2/dmar836/Headgear/IMG_6072.jpg

#17 BaselA

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 08:06 PM

Dave, I like the baseball glove analogy, I think its a good way to look at this issue. Also, let me reiterate, I 100% agree with everything you've written. To the other Dave, I would love to see that Luxenberg cap! I think I remember seeing it on a forum or a website somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember where it was.

The cap posted is a beautiful one, it looks British made by a company called Hobson, but I may be wrong. It has all the makings of a Brit-made cap. The visor looks like it may be slightly flexible, but not single ply. Probably a regular service cap that was broken in over time.

The thinnest leather visor I have seen is on a Dobbs cap I restored recently. Here are a few "before and after" shots. Unfortunately, the owner of this cap was KIA.
http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/832/img00630201103211620.jpg
http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/6962/img00631201103211620.jpg
http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/883/img00709201103262205.jpg
http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/4426/img00715201103262210.jpg
http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/9567/img00717201103262211.jpg
http://img861.imageshack.us/img861/5068/img00711201103262207.jpg

Edited by BaselA, 18 May 2011 - 08:20 PM.


#18 dmar836

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 11:43 AM

Great job. I have a friend who flew P-47s and he dug out his cap - a Bancroft. It's in pitiful shape. Maybe I can do the same to his. Strong work!

Yeah about the caps, it's sort of a pet peeve of mine how there is this blanket assumption made. Every hobby has such myths but it is typically the newbs that fall for it. Here, there is a diverse group of "believers". It's as if we don't stop and think what the term "crusher" actually means or never heard the term "50 mission crush" and what that implied.

Good eye on the cap. 'Twas actually made in London by J. Collet Ltd and was worn for 2 1/2 yrs by the Intelligence officer of the 394th BG. I'm confident this guy had some true "crush" time.

Dave
KC

#19 KVSkelton

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 01:51 PM

While no where near as cool as the cap Dave described, here is a USAF visor that was part of a uniform grouping I picked up at the SoS. The owner was a B-17 pilot (35 missions) with the 347th BS, 99th BG, 15th AAF during WW2 and finished his career as a Captain in the USAF. The visor is a Flight Ace Five Star. It doesn't have a back strap, but to me at least has a crusher look to it that a veteran pilot would favor. Hope y'all don't mind me posting it.

http://i1109.photobucket.com/albums/h432/kvskelton1/USAFVisor01-1.jpg

http://i1109.photobucket.com/albums/h432/kvskelton1/USAFVisor02.jpg

#20 USMCRECON

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:43 PM

Below are a couple examples from both sides of the coin. Forst is a WW-II vintage officer's service cap with khaki lining. It is manufactured in the crusher style with a single thickness leather brim and very flexible side frame. However, it belongerd to a dental officer and it retains its front frame and stiffener hoop.

Khaki_1.jpg

Khaki_2.jpg


Edited by USMCRECON, 19 May 2011 - 02:44 PM.



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