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WWII USAAF Insignia Pin Size for Shirt Collar


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#1 whydavewhy

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 08:33 PM

Two questions regarding the size of WWII USAAF Insignia Pins worn on the Shirt Collar...

 

1) I have seen colonel rank insignia pins in a 1” size for the right side of the shirt collar (when not wearing a tunic), and a 1 1/2" to 1 7/8” size for the shoulders of the tunic. However, page 143 of the 1944 "The Officer's Guide" says, "General officers are authorized to wear miniature insignia of grade." Since a Colonel is a Field Officer (not a General Officer), I'm wondering if that means that the full shoulder-size rank pins were worn on the shirt collar during WWII, and the smaller ones for the shirt collar came after WWII?

 

2) For the WWII USAAF "Prop and Wings" pin, was a smaller size likewise worn on the left shirt collar, and a larger size worn on the tunic lapels? I have seen a few mini 3/4" wide prop and wings pins, but maybe they were just sweetheart pins? Other than the excerpt mentioned above, I can't find any info on pin size on the forums, or in the books I've read.

 

Any help would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

David

 


Edited by whydavewhy, 07 January 2019 - 08:34 PM.


#2 MattS

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 04:56 AM

My understanding is that full size insignia, both rank and branch, were worn by Army officers on shirt collars in WW2. Any miniature rank I've seen that was WW2 vintage was USN/USMC (and colonels eagles would be identical to the army pattern). 



#3 doyler

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 08:35 AM

Agree...its like any other branch.Infantry,Ordnance,TD,QM,Medical etc the full size were worn on the collar.

#4 Gregory

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 08:41 AM

2) For the WWII USAAF "Prop and Wings" pin, was a smaller size likewise worn on the left shirt collar, and a larger size worn on the tunic lapels? I have seen a few mini 3/4" wide prop and wings pins, but maybe they were just sweetheart pins? Other than the excerpt mentioned above, I can't find any info on pin size on the forums, or in the books I've read.

 

During WWII the USAAFers wore two patterns of thier collar wings -- WWI and WWII ones.

 

WWI pattern had 32.4mm (approx. 1 4/16in) wingspan. WWII pattern had wingspan 28.2mm (approx. 1 2/16in).



#5 whydavewhy

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 10:24 AM

Thanks for the quick response everyone!!



#6 whydavewhy

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 08:32 PM

I just found some interesting information regarding the size of colonel rank insignia pins. All the replies to this post say that the full "shoulder-size" colonel pin is used on the shirt collar as well as the shoulders of the tunic. However, I keep seeing "shirt collar-size" colonel pins and "shoulder-size" colonel pins. Now I just found a page from the 1928 edition of Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company, advertising "Colonel's Eagle" pin in sterling, and also "Colonel's Eagle in Miniature" pin in sterling. (See attached screen shot, below.) So since the smaller size was available in 1928, and I have seen the smaller "shirt-collar-size" advertised for Korean War and Vietnam War colonel pins, it seems that there must have been a purpose for the "Colonel's Eagle in Miniature." I just can't find any mention about it in any of "The Officer's Guide" books from World War II. The only reference I could find on implementation of miniature rank insignias was on p. 143 of the 1944 "The Officer's Guide," which says, "General Officers are authorized to wear miniature insignia of grade." That means just Brigadier Generals on up; not colonels. I suppose that it's possible that colonels wore the miniature pin on their shirt collar in 1928 and the 1930's, and then a change was made in WWII so that only Brigadier Generals on up wore the miniatures, then in Korea or Vietnam, colonels once again wore the smaller ones on the shirt collar. This whole thing is odd. Lots of examples of the shirt collar-size colonel pin existing (and for sale), but so far I can find no specifics on implementation for the little buggers. Anyone know any colonels?1928.jpg

 



#7 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 02:36 AM

Big and small rank insignia were manufactured then for various ranks.

 

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#8 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 03:53 AM

What is more, shoulder rank insignia could be half-moon shaped (WOJG rank on photo below).

 

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#9 Justin B.

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 05:30 AM

I will have to look up dates and details later, but in the WW1/interwar period the Army did use smaller size devices for the shirt collar when worn as outer garment. At the time, attached shirt collars were narrower than they would later be. Before WW2 the Army switched from having rank on the shirt collar to "U.S." on the right collar, branch on the left collar and grade on the shirt shoulder loops, so the full-size rank insignia were worn. Then during the war they switched back to rank on the right collar and branch on the left. Reduced-size general stars were authorized, but the rest of the officer rank devices remained full size.
 
When the USAF separated and got its own uniforms, they again authorized reduced size officer rank insignia for shirt collars. I'm not sure when they were first authorized, but basically Korean War period. They were authorized through the late 1970s when soft "shoulder marks" took over as shirt rank insignia.


#10 MattS

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 05:47 AM

Some companies (Meyer in particular I believe) made contoured rank insignia for the shoulders.

I don't believe small (shirt) size army branch insignia was available in WW2, and the mixing of full and half size insignia was forbidden. In WW2, USN captains and USMC colonels wore their rank on both collars (facing forward) which were identical to the army pattern.

I have seen plenty of photos of USAF officers wearing smaller insignia on shirts post-war, can't recall seeing any from WW2 but never say never. 



#11 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 08:23 AM

Great info everyone. Now I can sleep. Thanks so much for clearing this up. What an awesome site this is!



#12 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 10:02 AM

2) For the WWII USAAF "Prop and Wings" pin, was a smaller size likewise worn on the left shirt collar, and a larger size worn on the tunic lapels? I have seen a few mini 3/4" wide prop and wings pins, but maybe they were just sweetheart pins? Other than the excerpt mentioned above, I can't find any info on pin size on the forums, or in the books I've read.

 

David,

 

When it comes to the USAAF servicemen, AAF collar branch insignia and sweetheart pins of the AAF branch insignia -- yes, those sweetheart pins were used on AAFersꞌ uniforms but it is another story. The AAFers wore oversized AAF branch insignia (sweetheart pins) on their OS caps as you can see below.

 

The overwhelming majority of those AAF servicemen who decided to attach to their OS caps AAF branch insignia attached collar ones. But there were also the AAFers who wanted to be "more ostentatious" in their manifestation of belonging to military aviation. They wore oversized AAF pins on their OS caps.

 

When I see historic images I guess they wore AAF sweetheart pins I showed below.

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  • 3.jpg
  • 4.jpg
  • 5.jpg


#13 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 10:39 AM

 

David,

 

When it comes to the USAAF servicemen, AAF collar branch insignia and sweetheart pins of the AAF branch insignia -- yes, those sweetheart pins were used on AAFersꞌ uniforms but it is another story. The AAFers wore oversized AAF branch insignia (sweetheart pins) on their OS caps as you can see below.

 

The overwhelming majority of those AAF servicemen who decided to attach to their OS caps AAF branch insignia attached collar ones. But there were also the AAFers who wanted to be "more ostentatious" in their manifestation of belonging to military aviation. They wore oversized AAF pins on their OS caps.

 

When I see historic images I guess they wore AAF sweetheart pins I showed below.

Thanks Gregory. Great info!



#14 MattS

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:31 AM

I may be wrong, but I think the larger wing and prop isn't a "sweetheart pin" but was a cadet insignia worn by pilots in training. After training, they wore officer's rank insignia (as per regulations) on their overseas caps. 



#15 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:40 AM

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I see a lot of those large "Cap-size" prop and wings pins on eBay; not many re-enactors want to be a cadet, so I don't know how many ever get sold. My impression was that the sweetheart pins were either mini-versions of the regular pins, sometimes encased in an acrylic heart, sometimes with a small chain and a locket, etc.



#16 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:42 AM

Matt,

 

Yes, I took it into account but the AAF Cadet branch insignia were much, much larger than the ones I showed. What I showed are the AAF wings larger only a little than cadet ones.



#17 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:45 AM

Interesting. Maybe some of the manufacturers though that bigger was better (to compete with other brands)?



#18 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:46 AM

... than collar (not Cadet) ones.

 

Apologize for English imperfections.



#19 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 11:48 AM

Yes, I meant bigger than the collar one. Your English is perfect, by the way.

 

Thanks again!



#20 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 12:34 PM

Maybe some of the manufacturers though that bigger was better (to compete with other brands)?

 

Decades of researching tons of the WWII AAFers images (and WWII "foot" US Army as well) taught me humility and I agree with Matt writing "Never say never", none the less I have never seen AAFers wearing on their shirt collars such a large AAF branch insignia that I showed in pic No. 5 (upper). But… all is possible according to Mattꞌs "Never say never"…  :)


Edited by Gregory, 09 January 2019 - 12:36 PM.


#21 MattS

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 12:35 PM

There was a very large visor cap cadet insignia that was about 3" (76 mm) across. The ones for the overseas caps were considerably smaller but still larger than the standard collar insignia. 

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#22 MattS

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 12:48 PM

Wartime USAAF pilot training class books show many, many photos of cadets wearing the larger "wing and prop" on their overseas caps. I think (feel free to disagree) that there were 3 sizes of this insignia used during WW2, the 3" (76mm) visor cap size, the overseas cap size, and the standard collar size. There is a group on Facebook called "USAAF Class Book Project" that has posted hundreds of photos of these insignia in use on overseas caps. 

 

For comparison:

 

Large size (and standard collar size): http://www.database-...-50-tcs-314-tcg

 

Overseas cap size: http://www.database-...-85-tcs-437-tcg



#23 whydavewhy

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 01:38 PM

I can't find any official references to wearing division insignia (in this case, Prop & Wings) on the Overseas Garrison Cap. The 1944 version of The Officer's Guide says that when not wearing a tunic, the division pin goes on the left shirt collar, and the rank pin goes on the right shirt collar. It also says that only the rank pin is worn on the left side of the Overseas Garrison Cap. I saw the photos of folks with the Prop & Wings pin on the left side of the cap (where the rank pin is supposed to go), but that may have just been done for the photo. Not an official place to wear the prop and wings as far as I can tell...



#24 MattS

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 01:52 PM

Yes and no, only officer rank was to be worn on the overseas cap EXCEPT for aviation cadets.

Officer's guide, 1942:

officer_hat_insignia.gif

 

 

I believe every photo showing this insignia on the overseas cap is a photo of an AVIATION CADET. There were thousands of pilots who went through training and class books are filled with their photos. Upon graduation, officer rank was worn as per regulations.


Edited by MattS, 09 January 2019 - 01:55 PM.


#25 Gregory

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 01:59 PM

"Yes and no" :lol:

 

The Officer's Guide, 9th edition, July 1942.

 

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