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Liaison and Service Pilot


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#1 Tinman

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:38 AM

Hello all – I’m hoping that someone can provide some information. I’m trying to put together a collection of Bell pattern ‘Issue’ wings, both 3” and 2”. I have everything except the Service and Liaison. My question is do the 3” version of the Liaison and Service pilot wings even exist? I have searched far and wide and I have found nothing. - Jim

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#2 Tinman

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:40 AM

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#3 pfrost

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:55 AM

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Yes, I believe they do both exist. However, they are pretty highly sought after.

Patrick

#4 John Cooper

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:44 PM

I hope you post back if you do find them...

#5 B-17Guy

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:31 AM

Very nice group of wings!
I believe any of the Bell S, G, or L wings go for quite a sum.
I recently encountered a Bell 3" Glider wing from a private collector, asking price was $650.
Personally, I have not seen a L or S wing in 3", but I would think they exist.
All the other Bell wings (in 3") seem to be fairly common.

Best, John

Edited by B-17Guy, 28 June 2012 - 08:35 AM.


#6 CliffP

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:17 AM

Personally, I have not seen a L or S wing in 3", but I would think they exist.

Best, John

:unsure:
That makes two of us since I've never see a full size 'Bell' pattern Liaison or Service pilot wing either.

Cliff

#7 pfrost

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:34 PM

:unsure:
That makes two of us since I've never see a full size 'Bell' pattern Liaison or Service pilot wing either.

Cliff


If anyone knows for sure, it would be Russ.

Patrick

#8 John Cooper

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:24 PM

IIRC there is a Bell G wing on eBay or was in the last week.

Cheers
John

#9 rustywings

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 07:31 PM

If anyone knows for sure, it would be Russ.

Patrick



As much as I would like to give hope to those who are looking for a Liaison Pilot or Service Pilot in this pattern, I've not seen either in my years of collecting outside of the two inch shirt size.

Russ

#10 B-17Guy

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:28 PM

IIRC there is a Bell G wing on eBay or was in the last week.

Cheers
John

You are correct, one closed on ebay yesterday for $611.00.
Best, John

#11 John Cooper

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 06:02 PM

You are correct, one closed on ebay yesterday for $611.00.
Best, John


It would have been nice to have!

Cheers

John

#12 5thwingmarty

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:34 AM

Does anyone have Bell Flight Surgeon or Flight Nurse wings in their collections?  I have heard they also exist but have never seen a photo of them.

 

Marty



#13 5thwingmarty

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:14 PM

I learned at this year's SOS that the Bell 3" letter wings are a slightly different pattern.  I was able to pick up a 3" Liaison there that a wing expert friend of mine spotted for me.  He says the 3" Bell Liaison wings are their most common letter wings.  Their 3" Glider wings are much more scares.  This is the inverse of their 2" letter wings where the Glider wings are most common among their letter wings.

 

I think there is another thread where this pattern is discussed as being a Bell variant but I couldn't find it.

 

By the way, I will be back at the SOS at least for the morning at a table near the center of row CC if any forum members want to swing by.

 

Marty

 

 

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#14 rustywings

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 09:27 PM

Nice pick-up Marty!  Looks like the SOS hunt is treating you well.  I've heard a number of collectors refer to the design of your Liaison Pilot as a "first pattern Bell" and the more common design as a "second pattern Bell."  If that is true, then Bell produced their first pattern badges in both "STERLING" and "COIN SILVER." 

 

Here's two past threads with a few more nice Bell examples:

 

http://www.usmilitar...rn#entry1334622

 

http://www.usmilitar...=+bell +pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 



#15 CliffP

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 05:11 AM

This thread is a perfect example of how 'myth' can suddenly become accepted as FACT.

 

Collectors never cease to amaze some of us at how quickly we are willing to accept a rumor picked-up at a militaria show or via general word of mouth speculation based on hearsay.  To attribute the design of this particular badge to 'Bell' without any proof or documentation what-so-ever in order to back the claim is nothing more than pure speculation.  What is the point?

 

If anyone can produce documentation to support the 'myth' that this badge was made by 'Bell' I would love to see it.

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Edited by CliffP, 01 March 2014 - 05:24 AM.


#16 pfrost

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 11:31 AM

You raise an interesting point, Cliff.  To be fair, I have never seen any "proof" that the Bell wings were made by Bell.  Up to about 5 years or so ago, no one I knew ever seemed to know who made them, then I started hearing them refered to as "Bell wings" amongst a certain group of collectors.  Apparently, when I asked, I was told that someone had a box or paper card with this pattern of wing on them and the "Bell" name (IIRC it was Bell Trading Company, but I could be wrong).  Still, no one has ever actually shown me any "proof", such as a Bell catalog or salesman's sample, a patent application, or even a letter or note from an old employee of Bell.  Not that I don't think Bell is as good a candidate for these wings as any other, but I don't think I have seen proof one way or the other.  It could be that there is proof, but I haven't ever seen it.

 

On the other hand, if you look at the other pattern wing, they are actaully rather similar in the quality fo workmanship and construction.  They use a highly polished silver planchet, and have very similar hardware.  While the pattern isn't exact, I have never had any issues with believing they COULD be from the same manufacturing firm that made the Bell wing.

 

But your point about lore become fact is well taken, but maybe the myth goes deeper--maybe Bell is just dealer lore as well?  Just wondering?

 

Patrick


Edited by pfrost, 01 March 2014 - 11:32 AM.


#17 rustywings

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:34 PM

I can't offer any formal documentation proving the two different patterns came from the Bell Trading Company.  Prior to this thread, I didn't have much interest in the topic until I read comments by Patrick and Paul S in the archive threads. Now I understand why a number of collectors believe these two patterns were produced by the same hands.

 

I realize offering a list of similarities between the two patterns is nothing more than circumstantial evidence when searching for a formal connection, but there might be some interest in it. 

 

Here's a comparison of the two patterns in Glider Pilot rating:

 

IMG_4845a_crop.jpg

 

 



#18 rustywings

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:44 PM

Identical raised "STERLING" marks on the back.

 

Same brass pin.

 

Same hinge and catch.

 

Similar high-quality die strikes.

 

Similar rim details and finishing.

 

Similar thickness and attention to uniformity.

 

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#19 pfrost

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 04:15 PM

Like what Russ said!

#20 rustywings

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 04:18 PM

Another tidbit of information which I find interesting is the pattern in question was also produced with an incised "COIN SILVER" stamp.  We know Walter Lampl ventured into Mexico during WWII to procure "COIN SILVER" in order to produce his line of Juarez-style wings.  Considering the Bell Trading Company was located in Albuquerque, New Mexico...and hired Navajo Indian jewelers and silversmiths, it's not much of a stretch to consider Bell may have also produced badges using Mexican coin silver and marking their product as such.  (Please keep in mind this is nothing more than speculation.)

 

Here's the back of a variant Glider Pilot and Pilot badge with "COIN SILVER" markings.

 

 

 

      

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#21 rustywings

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 06:40 PM

Again, my input is an effort to stimulate ideas and participation from all interested Forum members.  I want to hear what you have to say about the possibility of these two patterns being produced by Bell.    

 

I absolutely respect and honor Cliff's ideals in seeking out and upholding only that documentation which is verifiable and true. I personally consider Cliff the single most knowledgeable and forthright U.S. aerial badge historian this world has to offer. But if I can push him to the edge of his seat while revealing something new about a particular wing pattern, then we all benefit and this terrific hobby is only enhanced!

 

Take a look at the similarities and differences in these two patterns.  Are they from the same manufacturer?

  

 

IMG_4852a_crop.jpg

 

Yes, the shields are slightly different in size and shape. The feathering and wing design is distinctly different. But the horizontal lines in the upper shield and the vertical lines between the ribs of the shield are uniquely similar.  I can't help but think even if Bell was not responsible for both patterns, the original dies were produced by the same artist.

 

 

 

       



#22 5thwingmarty

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 07:11 PM

I can't see it on Rusty's lower glider wing, but on my similar pattern Liaison wing the wing feathers have fine detailing very similar to my other Bell wings. 

Rusty, how do these two glider wings compare in dimensions.  I can't tell if one wing is really quite a bit wider than the other or if this was two separate photos you have pasted together and it just made one look bigger.

 

Cliff, I don't know you or anything about you.  I don't know if you have 10 wings or 1,000.  I do know my friend has 100's of wings, has been collecting for many years, and consults with many other extremely serious collectors about his collection.  He has almost every variant in every size from every known U.S. WWII AAF wing manufacturer, probably lacking less than a dozen known wings.  Since he told me these are Bell wings, I am going to take his word.

 

Patrick, the book "Silver Wings, Pinks & Greens" was published in 1994 and it had a photo of a 2" Navigator wing on the card from Bell Trading Company, and the pattern on the wing is the typical "Bell wing" pattern with the 3 notches on each shoulder and the fine detailing on the feathers.  The card my gunner wing is on is just like this card. 

 

And although I don't know of any 2" or 3" "Bell" wings with a Bell Trading hallmark, I have a smaller sweetheart gunner wing with a Bell Trading Hallmark.  It doesn't have the fine feather detailing but it does have the same sort of draped winged bullet as the 1-piece 2" and 3" Bell gunner wings I have.  By draped I mean the observer-type background has a curve across the face of it (like a slice of a ball) and the winged bullet curves from the tip of the bullet to the tip of the bullet's wings and from one side of the bullet's wings to the other.  Here are pictures of my 2" Bell gunner to try and illustrate this (sorry for the poor photo quality).  Other one-piece gunner wings I have seen look like the winged bullet is lying on a flat surface.  To me this is evidence that all these gunner wings are from the same maker, and that maker was Bell Trading.

 

One last point to all this.  I don't know if there is any evidence that Walter Lampl ever had a wing made in Juarez, but everyone seems to prefer calling his wings Juarez wings instead of Lampl wings.  Juarez is just a rumor but no one is attacking anyone who makes a post calling a wing a Juarez wing. 

 

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#23 CliffP

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 10:14 PM

I absolutely respect and honor Cliff's ideals in seeking out and upholding only that documentation which is verifiable and true. I personally consider Cliff the single most knowledgeable and forthright U.S. aerial badge historian this world has to offer. But if I can push him to the edge of his seat while revealing something new about a particular wing pattern, then we all benefit and this terrific hobby is only enhanced!

 

Russ, thank you for those kind words.  I will be the first to admit that more often than not I have provoked discord on this forum but I will always welcome your willingness to push any of us to the edge of our seats anytime you feel it might benefit current and future collectors. That has always been my goal too.

 

With regard to whether or not 'Bell'' was a manufacturer may be open to question for many years to come; however, I still contend that at the present time to say both of the two badges in question were made by them without any proof to back it up is still based purely on hearsay and not on fact.

 

Having said that it does not rule out the possibility that some (one) individual might have had a hand in making the die for both badges.  Personally I see no reason to believe that is what happened in this case but I could be wrong.  Why?  Because it does not rule out a well known fact that most of the highly skilled artisan-craftspeople who made wing badge stamping dies often worked in close consultation or collaboration with more than one manufacturer.

 

In other words, the same craftsman who made the die for the wing badge which most of us have long associated with the name of 'Bell' may have made the die for the second wing too. . .  but for another manufacturer.

 

Cliff


Edited by CliffP, 01 March 2014 - 10:36 PM.


#24 pfrost

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 07:22 AM

While I may not be the only one to have concluded that the two patterns came from the same place, to my knowledge, I was the first one to post that idea on this forum (back in 2010 or so), so I can't be accused of hearsay.  But like Cliff say, my idea was not based at all on facts--so Cliff is correct--I'm guilty.

 

The story of how and why I started to investigate the Watler Lampl source as the Juarez wings is in one of the pinned threads (again, I may not have been the first or only one to figure that out, but I believe I was the first to post it on this forum).  I believe (and there are some facts to support this) that Walter Lampl had his wings made in or around Mexico (or the American Southwest) during WWII.  When someone told me that the wings with the very fine feathering was made by the Bell Trading Co of New Mexico, I wondered if they shared some similarities.  When I compared the Juarez, the "Bell" wing and the second "Bell" wing, I saw a number of matches, albeit the Juarez wing being the odd man out.

 

I then did some internet searches on the Bell Trading Co.  They were a mom-and-pop outfit that went into business in 1935 and primarily seemed to sell "tourist" indian-style copper (and some silver) items in the SW.  I suspect that they were more of a retail type business than a primary manufacturing business. 

 

The Bell wings (in all sizes) are rather common (especially here in So Cal), I used to see the pilot and aircrewman's wings all the time, but have recently become much more sought after.  I believe that they the were made in very large batches, probably for the large USAAF market in the south west US.  Based on that, I had always assumed that the Bell Trading Co (like Luxenberg) was only a retail outlet for insignia made by another wholesale manufacturing company.

 

I believe that if you examine the two "Bell" patterns (as Russ showed) and the Juarez pattern wing, you will see enough similarities in manufacturing techniques,  hardware and construction, to come to the conclusion that they were made in the same place (if not in the same shop, then in the group of artisans (as Cliff says))--in or around the American Southwest.  Frankly, I doubt strongly that Bell actually made any wings themselves or even had a high capacity die striking manufacturing plant to produce their wares.  Rather, I suspect some other tool/die or metal working company is the guilty party, and if so, then why couldn't all these wings have come from the same place?

 

I got me no proof, but that is what I thinks.

 

Patrick 

 



#25 pfrost

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 07:46 AM

Also, while I have never seen the 3 or 2 inch Bell wing with a hallmark, I have seen the little 1 inch wing with a hallmark for the Bell Trading Co (as well as some paratrooper jump wings).

 

That being said, the small 1 inch wing, when it is just marked "sterling" is very characteristic of some of the Juarez wings.  The STERLING mark (for example), if you look closely, has an upside down "G".  You see the same thing on some Juarez wings, with an upside down "G".

 

Also, as Russ has said, Juarez wings are frequently found with a "COIN SILVER"  mark, as is the  unknown Bell? wing.  

 

The use of COIN SILVER is not uncommon (especially in Mexico silver work), but the same upside down "G" in the sterling mark?  On two different hallmarked wings.... one could argue that they came from the same place (thus the same typo) rather than they came from two DIFFERENT places that made the same mistake twice.  Or perhaps they both used the same dyslexic tool maker?

 

My point is that all three wings have connections to each other.

 

Patrick 


Edited by pfrost, 02 March 2014 - 07:47 AM.



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