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One of the more interesting wings I've found in years


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#1 CliffP

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 12:48 PM

"provenance Smiled on Me"

 

Several years ago while attending a local chapter meeting of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, I met a fine old Southern gentleman named Hubert S. Whitlock.  Hubert had been a B-24 bombardier between 13 November 1943 and 6 July 1944 with the 389th bomb Group in England, and our meeting lead to an immediate, long lasting friendship.

 

Later in 2006, Hubert finished writing a delightful 200 page biography called, "provenance Smiled on Me - A Life Story," in which he wrote about some of his experiences during the war.  While reading the book I was able to learn that Hubert had received his bombardier training in 1943 at Kirkland AFB near Albuquerque, NM.  When he graduated, his girl friend while in Albuquerque (named Betty Mae) pinned to his uniform a set of custom made bombardier wings fashioned by one of the Native American Indian craftsmen that Albuquerque is still well known for - and in the book he added, "I think she was hoping I would propose to her," but it never happened.  This is all documented in the book, along with a very nice photo of Hubert wearing the wings which he continued to wear throughout the war. . . and they remain with his family to this day.

 

Hubert A. Whitlock passed away on 19 February 2014, exactly two months shy of this 95th birthday.

 

"Farewell good friend on your final flight to be with the Lord."

 

I should add here that until getting Hubert's book I had never seen another set of wings like these - until two months go when Russ Wilson sent me a photo of a set he owns.

 

Well, perhaps as fate would have it, two weeks ago I saw a third set like them on eBay and while I thought they were very pricey, I could not resist getting them and I am very grateful to be able to share them with you today.

 

Cliff

 

Note:  For some reason while entering this thread the system will not allow me to correctly spell the word provenance or capitalize the letter p in that word.

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Edited by CliffP, 21 March 2014 - 01:13 PM.


#2 CliffP

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 12:50 PM

One of the most interesting wings I've found in years - Provenance Smiled on Me

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Edited by CliffP, 21 March 2014 - 12:53 PM.


#3 tarbridge

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:00 PM

Thanks for posting...That is a real "Hot Dog" set of wings...I enjoyed getting a chance to look at them and reading the story.Robert



#4 cutiger83

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:07 PM

Those are beautiful wings! Thanks for posting the story and the wings.

 

...Kat



#5 bschwartz

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:10 PM

Very, very nice Cliff.  Glad to see grab another beauty for your collection.  Thanks so much for sharing.  Sad to hear of the passing of your friend.  



#6 manayunkman

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:31 PM

The amazing detail appears to be hand carved ?

 

And is that a flaw on the back behind the disk ?

 

Never seen anything like them.



#7 Ches-Gen-4

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:36 PM

Touching story and beautifully handcrafted wings. Thanks for showing. Bob



#8 bobgee

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 02:07 PM

Great wing. Always nice to add something new and special. Congrats! Bobgee



#9 LuftStalg1

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 02:37 PM

Very nice tribute Cliff, and a beautiful wing!   To bad the maker did not add his mark, maybe I could have tracked him/her down.

 

 

Actually the base is IN Albuquerque, a stones throw from where I sit, and the AF shares the runway with the civilian flights as the primary Airport.   The old bombing range is still used, for other things..  I had the privileged of going out there with a retired AF EOD friend of mine on a little field trip and even set off some C4.  

 

I actually have an original copy of the first Kirtland AFB yearbook.  When I get back to TX I will dig it out.

 

Mark D



#10 Torch03

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 04:00 PM

Great story and nice wing!

 

Matt



#11 1SG_1st_Cav

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 04:33 PM

That is a very interesting story and set of wings. Danny



#12 mghcal

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 12:49 AM

Such a striking wing! Congrats Cliff! But even better is the story of Hubert Whitlock and I'm sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. For those who would like to read about this great man you can find his story on preservememories.net. It's well worth the read.



#13 aff96

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 05:32 AM

Beautiful attributed wing Cliff!!

A stunner! You deserve it!!

Congrats!
Greg



#14 Dirk

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 06:15 AM

Beautiful wings! And a great story. Congrats for another great addition to your collection.

#15 JDK

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 07:21 AM

Great wing Cliff! That is a real thing of beauty!

 

JD



#16 rathbonemuseum.com

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 07:44 AM

One of my favorite patterns. Literally bursting with pride.



#17 pfrost

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:18 AM

Stunning wing.  What is interesting is that Cliff really puts a solid provenance to a rather rare and unique wing pattern.  I have seen this pattern pop up a few times over the years, and it is usually marketed as a "CBI" made piece (as are almost all the hand worked wings (and most cheap castings!)).  But I had always wondered if these weren't a Mexican of Panamanian made wing, as they had that "feel" to me.  But, it never occured to me that they would turn out to be a Native American product!  When you think about it, I suspect that one of the local artisans in a very famous and important silver work/jewelry center of the US probably hand crafted only a small batch of these wings. 

 

Sure, as much "fun" as it was to try to figure out who made graduation wings .... this is so much more interesting.

 

Thank Cliff, great wing.



#18 LuftStalg1

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:36 AM

I think the beauty of these wings match the man that was proud to wear them.



#19 rustywings

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 01:16 PM

Cliff,

 

Thank you for sharing this eye-opening information. The provenance established with your studio photograph alone answers many questions. Then to add personal insight with a known recipient of this style badge adds a real "wow" factor to this fresh information!

 

I've seen and owned a few of these unique wings, but was never able to pinpoint with certainty who made them, or where?  Due to your efforts, the riddle is now solved!

 

Because each Bombardier badge is hand-chased, no two are identical...but each does have a rather gruff appearing back and the same American-style pin and catch. At 3.25 inches, they are much wider than other typical American-made Bombardier badges.  This is an important factor because someone made a few cast copies of this style and few years ago...and those reproductions are smaller at about 3.0 inches in width.  

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#20 rustywings

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 01:20 PM

Compare the width to an LG Balfour hallmarked Bombardier:

 

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#21 rustywings

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 01:28 PM

Unlike most other Bombardier badges, this wing has a very pronounced three-dimensional center stabilizer fin on the bomb and two incised horizontal lines across the body of the bomb:

 

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#22 B-17Guy

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 05:04 PM

Really great wing badge Cliff, wonderful pickup and history!

 

John



#23 Marksman

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 07:40 AM

A real beauty!



#24 rustywings

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 10:08 AM

Cliff, when we reference badge designs with names like Juarez, Dondero, Panama, Firmin, Link, and Robbins, each name conjures-up a specific wing pattern. You need to select a reference name for this newly confirmed and unique wing pattern.

 

You could name the pattern in honor of your friend who helped make the wing identification possible. Or a name which makes reference to the Albuquerque area from where they originated...or the Indian Tribe of the jeweler? 

 

Until the name of the American Indian artisan who actually designed and made these wings is identified, this unique pattern needs some type of identifier.



#25 pfrost

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 10:24 AM

Cochisadiers?  Dances with Liberators?  Falls from Sky Buffalo? 

 

Feel free to stop me any time, moderators....




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