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Vietnam era "Skull" Jump Wings special forces


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#1 TNFISTER

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:26 PM

Opinions on these I ran across. Don't have a pic of the reverse. Yet. Any body ever seen a pair like this in country? Or likely fake?

enjoy

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#2 vintageproductions

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:43 PM

Not like any of the real ones I have seen and handled.



#3 TNFISTER

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 09:06 PM

Thanks for the reply and opinion



#4 pfrost

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 09:39 AM

Maybe Bob can provide some information about these.  I recall reading an article somewhere (more than likely on line) that said that the use of these skulls on wings was never used.

 

The article went on about how these skulls were more reminiscent of the Nazi totenkopf symbol and the chances of a US Army paratrooper being allowed to wear something like that on his wings was pretty low.

 

On the other hand, you do see a lot of these type of things out there.  Are they fantasy pieces or real?  Was this something that was only worn in country or was it more widespread?

 

I am just curious.

 

Thanks

Patrick



#5 triplecanopy

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 09:39 AM

Not to upset anyone, but the US wings with a skull attachment are all novelty badges. Yes, there were a few made in Vietnam and some were also made in Bangkok, but they were never approved for wear. Supposedly SOG wings like B&T 75 indicated connection with the highly classified Studies and Observation Group. First of all if worn, the badge would identify the wearer as a member of a special unit. Not a good idea, especially in a War Zone. Second, They were never worn in the field and class A uniforms were a rarity in Vietnam. So what purpose? Maybe worn off duty at a team party, but that too is a strech.31200179.JPG

Here are some of the skull wings I have collected over the years just for fun.


Edited by triplecanopy, 01 October 2013 - 09:59 AM.


#6 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 10:51 AM

Not to upset anyone, but the US wings with a skull attachment are all novelty badges. Yes, there were a few made in Vietnam and some were also made in Bangkok, but they were never approved for wear. Supposedly SOG wings like B&T 75 indicated connection with the highly classified Studies and Observation Group. First of all if worn, the badge would identify the wearer as a member of a special unit. Not a good idea, especially in a War Zone. Second, They were never worn in the field and class A uniforms were a rarity in Vietnam. So what purpose? Maybe worn off duty at a team party, but that too is a strech.attachicon.gif31200179.JPG

Here are some of the skull wings I have collected over the years just for fun.

 

There are numerous original Vietnam made skull wings, from the time period. I agree they were never worn in the field but neither were 99% of the other original Vietnam made items you see. The "original" ones you see from wartime are sandcast made, or there are numerous variations in embroidery styles. When I see standard US made ones I think of surplus stores or the Ebay seller Grossritter, or whatever name he is using today.

The line about SOG not wearing insignia to identify them as special unit is a bit off. There are more then enough original photos showing SOG team members wearing pocket patches for their teams, boonie hats with the patches and insignia on them, etc..



#7 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 10:53 AM

Maybe Bob can provide some information about these.  I recall reading an article somewhere (more than likely on line) that said that the use of these skulls on wings was never used.

 

The article went on about how these skulls were more reminiscent of the Nazi totenkopf symbol and the chances of a US Army paratrooper being allowed to wear something like that on his wings was pretty low.

 

On the other hand, you do see a lot of these type of things out there.  Are they fantasy pieces or real?  Was this something that was only worn in country or was it more widespread?

 

I am just curious.

 

Thanks

Patrick

Patrick-The ones you are thinking of are shown in Ian Sutherland's Special Forces history book, published by Bender. There are photos of Sutherland wearing Totenkampf style skulls, that were made in Vietnam. These were not widely worn, like some Ebay sellers would have you believe. I have only seen photo proof of Sutherland's unit wearing them.



#8 triplecanopy

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 11:11 AM

I knew Ian Sutherland very well and we served together at Fort Benning and at Fort Bragg. He did indeed wear the Totenkamf skull on his boonie hat. That said, it was totally unauthorized and mostly worn at the drop zone.  And this from another old hand who was there:  "I saw a couple of the skull wings in VN, usually in a Saigon shop.  Always considered them a novelty.  I never saw them being worn anywhere.. and do not think it would have happened.  Had it been so, it would have been on the fatigues and noticed.. no one has those out, that I know of. Cloth versions?

FWIW.  the skull wings I saw, have at least one in collection, were easy to identify, as all were local, sand cast.

Only SOG people I knew of were up in Danang/;Monkey Mtn and never saw there.   heck, few were ever in class A's, and fatigues were very casual.

Where and when they became associated with "SOG" I also have no idea but just part of a fable.

That said.  Now.. we see more and more of these, current made, well made, etc.  BS and just to catch the uninformed.


Like I offered earlier. These skull wings were made up in Vietnam, but who can say that they are real? Let's see your examples and we can all learn more about them. I have an old photo of B&T 75 that I'll post. So show me yours.


Edited by triplecanopy, 01 October 2013 - 11:20 AM.


#9 triplecanopy

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 11:55 AM

Here is the classic B&T 75. If anyone has this exact badge, I'd love to see it up close front and back. This is the only example I have.

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#10 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 01:17 PM

The "true" Vietnamese made sandcast model of these looks completely different. They are pot metal construction and then plated. The skull is part of the canopy and has a open mouth. Not near of a "scary" look as the one you show from Bragg & Turner's book. The only time I have ever seen them worn is on boonie hats. I agree, I don't know who gave them the SOG name, but I have seen that id since the early 80's.

On the cloth ones, I have seen a Japanese made style, wearing a helmet, the Vietnamese classic hand embroidered, and a Thai made. Will find try and find photos.

The only time I have ever seen actual photos of these being used in the field are on some of the early / original Mike Force flags. The most well know photo is the one of "Blue Max " holding one of these flags with his SVN counterpart.



#11 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 01:21 PM

Here is the Japanese style that is direct embroidered on a USMC VN tour jacket

 

tjskl.jpg

 

Here is a Thai made version

 

dfa.jpg



#12 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 01:26 PM

Here is a field used flag attributed to SGM Lisi that came out of his estate, when I purchased his VN items.

 

lisi.jpg

 

I thought I had a image saved of the sandcast wings but can't find it right now.



#13 gwb123

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 01:28 PM

Not to get too far off topic, but here are some of the fakes Bob was referring to.

 

http://www.usmilitar...ull#entry507267



#14 Patchcollector

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 04:38 PM

Here is a wing I picked up some years ago.This piece is authentic,and VN war period made.This wing has been copied,and I also have one of the copies.
I posted these some time back,here is the thread:

 

 

http://www.usmilitar...ing#entry692839

 

In my prior thread I posted pics of both the authentic and the copied wing for comparison

 

I can get them out and take them off of the cards and post pics of the backs.

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#15 Patchcollector

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 04:38 PM

Just to clarify,these two pics are of the authentic piece,the pics of the copy are on the thread I posted a link to.

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Edited by Patchcollector, 01 October 2013 - 05:02 PM.


#16 Tonomachi

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:29 PM

Here is an original South Vietnamese made sand casting "skull" wing.  It was identified once as a 9th Cavalry piece in the VICN (Vietnamese Insignia Collector Newsletter) Vol 1, No. 3.  However after this appeared in the VICN a number of original members of the 9th Cav were contacted over the years and not one had ever come across this piece so it is still a mystery.

 

The one with the wide open mouth with a unique hallmark of a "C" in a circle as well as a "parachute & lighting bolt" was supposedly made in the US as it was available for purchase at Fort Bragg during the Vietnam War.   

 

There is a Japanese occupation made skull wing with ruby eyes that I've only ever come across once a number of years ago and copies exist.    

 

I have in my collection a WW2 era paratrooper wing with an attached gold skull that was supposedly made up after a combat jump by survivors of one of the D-Day jumps.  This wing came with another WW2 era paratrooper wing with a single large silver star (5 jumps) and a Xerox  copy of a hand written letter from the veteran who owned both wings.  The letter details the four combat jumps (Sicily, Salerno, D-Day & Holland) and one amphibious assault (Anzio) which in the letter supposedly counted towards one of the stars on his paratrooper wing.  The veteran was with the 504th PIR, 82nd Abn Div,  in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio.  The veteran switched to the 502nd PIR, 101st Abn Div for the D-Day and Holland jumps.  I can't make out the veteran's last name only his first of Bill.   Unfortunately the letter does not make mention of the reason behind the skull wing which came from the seller who obtained the pair of wings from the veteran.  So there is a possibility that a skull wing existed during WW2.  

 

 

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  • SOG or 9th Cav Wings (2).JPG


#17 Tonomachi

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:30 PM

Back

 

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#18 vintageproductions

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:36 PM

Dennis, the one you have shown is the one I was trying to describe.

Thanks,

Bob



#19 triplecanopy

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:11 AM

Here is another pre-Vietnam skull parachute badge hallmarked P-24 (Ed Piera) Sterling. I have heard that some WWII Pathfinders and a few other small Airborne units attached skulls to their wings.  Were they ever authorized? Most likely not. Tolerated - maybe. I'll really like to see some wartime photos or documentation about skulls on parachute badges. Any of you advanced collectors have skull wings not yet featured?

31210179.JPG


Edited by triplecanopy, 02 October 2013 - 11:15 AM.


#20 triplecanopy

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:14 AM

Here is the back.  This is obviously a Post WWII parachute badge made sometime in the 1950's. Sterling and die struck with a gold skull added by a jeweler most likely.

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#21 Tonomachi

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:45 AM

Here is the classic B&T 75. If anyone has this exact badge, I'd love to see it up close front and back. This is the only example I have.

 

For those that are searching for this particular skull wing a copy was made in South Korea sometime during the 1970s (see photo).  My guess is that this is a one of a kind skull wing so the odds of finding one is pretty slim.  I have seen a really well made skull wing sell for a bunch of money on eBay that supposedly belonged to a LTC Daniel Baldwin of MACV SOG.  My bid wasn't even close to the ending bid and strangely enough several months later another one popped up on eBay except a different sterling wing was used to attach the solid gold skull and crossbones to.   

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#22 34BDQ

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 09:57 AM

Dennis here is LTC Baldwin's wing that he had made. As I understand it was jeweler ordered by him (he had 5 or 6 made) that came from his estate. The wings are silver and the skull is gold plated.

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#23 triplecanopy

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 11:18 AM

Both above are great looking wings. The wings Tonomachi posted are as close to exactly being Bragg & Turner's B&T 75 as any I have ever seen. The 1st Book they published, Parachute Badges and Insignia of the World came out in 1979 and the wings featured are actually drawings, so it could very well be that B&T 75 is that one in post #21 above. The quality of the skull and cross bones in #22 is remarkable. These are all cool, but still IMHO they are all novelty badges much like parachute wings with other unauthorized devices. As much as everyone like skulls on wings, they have never been authorized.



#24 Tonomachi

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 11:48 AM

Dennis here is LTC Baldwin's wing that he had made. As I understand it was jeweler ordered by him (he had 5 or 6 made) that came from his estate. The wings are silver and the skull is gold plated.

Thanks for the information about the skull and crossbones being plated as I thought they were something like 10K solid gold.  I'm guessing these were made stateside after the Vietnam War?  



#25 triplecanopy

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 12:07 PM

Here is another one that I saw a while back . Notice that it has two combat jump stars. This is also a well made badge. I do not have a photo of the back. It was also represented as a MAC-V SOG parachute badge.

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  • MACV-SOG 2.JPG



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