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BLUE BACKING


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#1 claymore

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:49 AM

Maybe this is the wrong place to ask, but seems appropriate-  when did the blue wool backing for AAC and AAF wings begin and when did it cease or did it. When was is done and not? On what uniforms?  Just something I am curious about and I see both on Class A and Ikes among other examples.

I know that there are several experts here that have an answer.

 

thanks

claymore



#2 littlebuddy

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:23 PM

good question !!!   i for one would be interested to know !!  

 

LB



#3 AAF_Collection

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:36 PM

Guys, I posted the regs. covering the wear of the blue wing backing in the 8th Air Force here http://www.usmilitar...ad#entry1325818

 

It would appear the requirement to remove the backing once the individual was no longer flying combat was not widely enforced.

 

Matt.  



#4 mshaw

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:22 PM

Was the blue backing used outside of the European Theater?



#5 Lee Ragan

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 02:17 PM

Was the blue backing used outside of the European Theater?

I have never seen or heard of the blue backing being used anywhere except the 8th Air Force. From what I have read, the backing was strictly a local order to prevent non flying personnel (especially enlisted men), from pinning on wings when they went to town to impress the local girls and this was done only in the UK.



#6 claymore

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 02:32 PM

and did this also include the normal silver p/b and c/b variety of wings?  I have seen the large blue rectangular patch like backing as well as no backing at all on combat crew pictures, even 8th AF personnel. I wonder if this was a matter of choice? Or an earlier period when they were more visable. i know that some things were a bit lax at times.  good info! thanks for the regulations!!  the bit about the imposters is cool too!

 

Claymore


Edited by claymore, 07 September 2013 - 02:38 PM.


#7 mshaw

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 02:32 PM

That was my impression as well, Lee. I have never seen the blue backing on any PTO USAAF uniform but I'm cautious about saying "never" when it comes to militaria.



#8 checkit

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 07:09 PM

Regardless of why the bigwigs handed down the regs, the crewmen had their own little perspective on the reason for the blue background. My 8th AAF Flight Engineer neighbor said it was so you could get into the combat crew mess. I don't think he ever went into town to chase the girls. He showed me the navigator's log where the lead plane took a direct hit on their bomb load, and his plane went from Deputy Lead to Lead for the Group, so he changed the trim on his blue background from silver to gold. He gave me a spare piece of the gold trim and I still have it somewhere.


Edited by checkit, 07 September 2013 - 07:11 PM.


#9 AAF_Collection

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:22 AM

I have never seen anything to suggest the blue backing was used outside the ETO, but it was not confined only to the 8th, the 9th also used it. I would be interested to find out if the 15th did so as well.

 

I have never really bought into the idea that it was only intended to stop ground crew pinning on wings "to impress the girls" and I'd be interested to see anything in official regulations which supports that theory. To me it seems more plausible that it was intended to foster "esprit de corps" among combat aircrew..

 

The backing was used with pin-back, clutch-back and embroidered wings(both cotton and bullion). It could be hand or machine sewn to the coat or jacket, or in some cases just held in place by the wing.

 

Uniform regulations in the 8th were enforced to a greater or lesser degree, this is supported by records held by the AFHRA. Pictures showing men with wings but no blue backing could pre-date the introduction on the backing in November 1943, or the individual may not be assigned to combat flight duty, ie a new crew who have not yet flown their first mission, or an individual who has a wing rating but is not flying combat.

 

Matt.


Edited by M.Rimmer, 08 September 2013 - 12:41 AM.


#10 mshaw

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:46 AM

I concur that the 9th AAF used the blue back as well. This is a squadron patch and leather wing with blue background that I recently picked up from a forum member. They are identified to a pilot in the 449th Bomb Squadron, 322 Bombardment Group (M) of the 9th AAF.

 

 

449thsquadron.jpg



#11 pfrost

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 03:30 PM

There are a couple of things to consider.  The first is wearing the blue combat patch behind the wings as proscribed by the local regulations.  This seemed to be something that was unique to the 8th AAF, but even within the 8th, not all groups seemed to follow these rules--you frequently see guys on combat duty NOT wearing the patch.  It also seems that some groups in the 9th may have used these patches as proscribed.

 

Confusing this is the fact that many British-made bullion and embroidered wings were simply made on a blue backing.  This was just something that was done at the level of the local manufacturers.  As I understand it, the British used automated machines, where they would run a bolt of appropriate fabric (in most cases, a blue cloth melton type material) and embroider the wings directly on that (similar to what they did when they produced machine-made RAF wings).  At some point, a tailor would trim the underlying blue material down and attach the wings to the uniform.  This probably had nothing to do with the combat patch in many situations and is just an artifact of how the wings were being made.  

 

For example, in the US, most of the embroidered insignia were made on gaberdine material.  Thus, those wings had gaberdine backings.  In Italy and the CBI, it seemed that they frequently used a black backing, so you see wings with black backing.

 

I think that is why you see many 8th and 9th AAF uniforms with nicely trimmed down wings with blue backing that were worn by guys who weren't necessarily in combat.  Of course they had blue backing on their wings, the wings were made on blue cloth.  I suspect that in many cases this differs from those guys you see wearing a rectangular blue patch behind the wings, as described in the regulations.

 

Patrick



#12 checkit

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 04:42 PM

I haven't read the regs so am just hazarding a guess - maybe the blue backing was not required while on base, but when going off-base, or as my friend claimed, to get in the combat mess. I forgot to mention that he said the blue backing was only worn on the 4 pocket blouse.

 

His squadron patch was a little Indian brave with a tomahawk in his hand and a bomb under his arm - don't remember the Squadron Number.



#13 vostoktrading

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 06:49 PM

Here's an embroidered version.

Jon.

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#14 AAF_Collection

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:33 AM

Guys, I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone who has posted, but there seems to be a lot of guessing going on here about the origin and meaning of the blue wing backing, some of which goes contradicts the known facts from the regulations I posted a link to in post#3. 

 

I'm aware that uniform regulations were not always followed, and even when they were there will always be exceptions, but can we please try not to muddy the waters even further?.

 

So far I have only researched 8th Air Force uniform regs, but I'll see what I can get on the 9th and 15th as well.

 

There have been some great examples posted so far, perhaps we might see some original photos of the wing backing being worn? even better if they are ID'd and dated.

 

Matt.



#15 Sabrejet

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:45 AM

British-made embroidered pilots' wing.

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#16 BEAST

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 02:16 AM

Guys, I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone who has posted, but there seems to be a lot of guessing going on here about the origin and meaning of the blue wing backing, some of which goes contradicts the known facts from the regulations I posted a link to in post#3. 

 

I'm aware that uniform regulations were not always followed, and even when they were there will always be exceptions, but can we please try not to muddy the waters even further?.

 

So far I have only researched 8th Air Force uniform regs, but I'll see what I can get on the 9th and 15th as well.

 

There have been some great examples posted so far, perhaps we might see some original photos of the wing backing being worn? even better if they are ID'd and dated.

 

Matt.

 

Matt,  Good luck researching the 9th and 15th! I would be very interested in what you find for these two Air Forces.  I have an example from a 9th Air Force vet, but I have not yet seen an example from a 15th AF vet.
 



#17 BEAST

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 02:23 AM

As Patrick mentioned before, the British made wings were made on a blue background because it was the available material.  The background material was then trimmed. Here is an example from a tailgunner in the 452nd BG.

 

MVC-045F.JPG


Edited by BEAST, 11 September 2013 - 02:25 AM.


#18 Dave

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:20 AM

Confusing this is the fact that many British-made bullion and embroidered wings were simply made on a blue backing.  This was just something that was done at the level of the local manufacturers.  As I understand it, the British used automated machines, where they would run a bolt of appropriate fabric (in most cases, a blue cloth melton type material) and embroider the wings directly on that (similar to what they did when they produced machine-made RAF wings).  At some point, a tailor would trim the underlying blue material down and attach the wings to the uniform.  This probably had nothing to do with the combat patch in many situations and is just an artifact of how the wings were being made.  

 

I'd like a bit of clarification on this. I've seen and owned something in the vicinity of 50 British made Ike and four pocket jackets (probably more; I'm being conservative with this number). All of them were made with the appropriate color wool. Yes, this wool was made in the UK and was often of different composition and manufacture style than the US made counterparts, but the biggest point here was that it was the same color as what someone could buy in the US. This, to me, means that British tailors and insignia manufacturers had ample opportunity to purchase and/or requisition fabric of the appropriate color and weight to match that of the rest of the jacket.

 

Thus, saying that a manufacturer simply used the bright blue backing color for manufacturing embroidered wings because that's all they had available...I'm not buying that theory. It would seem very strange to me that, since we've proven they had ample access to the correct color of uniform material, as well as a multitude of other colors, they would just "happen" to use the same color of blue that was used as backing for the combat aircrew backing, even though they weren't intending them to be worn as such. In my opinion, if they embroidered the wing on blue backing, it was intended to be worn by combat aircrew. I'm sure there are a plethora of examples out there of these wings being worn by non-combat aircrew as well as these showing up in legit veteran groups, but I firmly believe...in the absence of evidence to the contrary...that if the manufacturer made it with blue backing, it should be considered a "combat aircrew" wing.

 

I might have missed it in one of the extensive wing threads (as I will admit I haven't collected wings in ages and haven't reviewed all of them) but I would be interested in what evidence or proof you can provide of your claim that this was not the case and was a matter of chance - the manufacturer using whatever color they had on hand at the time, color notwithstanding.

 

Thanks!

 

Dave

 

 



#19 Sabrejet

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:27 AM

I agree with Dave's hypothesis.



#20 patches

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:37 AM

What then would the story be with these Wings on Blue? It's on a 11th AF coat as we see.

 

 

post-34986-0-57797200-1378670081.jpg

 



#21 Sabrejet

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:39 AM

Breathed on?!  :o



#22 AAF_Collection

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:41 AM

I agree with Dave's hypothesis.

 

Me too. If it was simply a case of that being the only material available I would expect to see other insignia with the blue backing, eg RAF wings but so far I have not done so. 

 

I did once have a set of Brit made U.S. Airborne wings embroidered in white cotton on a blue felt backing, but I suspect these were probably produced in the mistaken belief that all American wings could be worn with a blue backing.

 

There are British produced embroidered wings which don't have the blue backing, which would suggest those with the blue backing were produced for a specific reason.

 

Matt.



#23 AAF_Collection

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:43 AM

Patches, please can we see a close up shot of the wings?.

 

Thanks,

 

Matt.



#24 pfrost

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:45 AM

There seems to be some confusion about what I posted.  

First, the use of a blue backing as defined in the regulations.  Clearly these were  was worn and it was worn primarily in the 8th AAF--BUT It was not universally used in the 8th.  Not all squadrons or groups used the combat patch, and not all crew members in combat used them.  Here is a 477th BS gunner (TSgt Wellman) who IS wearing his combat patch (and sitting in his B-17) as his gun.  He was in England flying with the 447th starting around 1943.

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Edited by pfrost, 11 September 2013 - 11:46 AM.


#25 pfrost

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:54 AM

This is a variant air gunner patch from a B-24 gunner that was given to me.  He saw a fair amount of combat flying with the 2nd AD (8th AAF), but I don't recall in what squadron right now.  I believe that he never wore this wing, but bought it when he was rotating stateside and was getting a uniform made up--he wasn't sure either when he bought it either.  Best he could recall that when he was flying combat, they only wore metal wings on their uniforms.  Wearing bullion wings while flying combat was not appropriate or something they did.  He didn't think they wore a combat patch, but considering the stress they were under while flying combat, he didn't think it would have been all that important to him, one way or the other.

 

 

But the point is, that the blue rectangle was worn.

 

 

 

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