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WWII USAAF Insignia Pin Size for Shirt Collar


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#51 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 10:40 AM

According to William Emerson's Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms, a 1-inch tall AC insignia was used for the officer's garrison cap from 1925-1937, while the collar/lapel insignia was 3/4 inch. Cadets started wearing the garrison cap insignia in 1928.

 

As to the collar rank, I looked it up and the miniature rank insignia was authorized for a shorter time than I thought, 1916 to 1924, but obviously it was sold and used a lot longer than that. Here's a quick summary:

attachicon.gifarmy_shirt_collar_rank.jpg

Perfect; the drawings spell it all out. Thanks Justin!



#52 doyler

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 11:15 AM

You may want to get a copy of an officers guide from WW2. There is a lot of information in it to uniform guidelines and items that were required versus optional etc.

#53 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 11:57 AM

You may want to get a copy of an officers guide from WW2. There is a lot of information in it to uniform guidelines and items that were required versus optional etc.

I have the 1944 one. I found it on Amazon of all places, for $8.95!



#54 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 12:05 PM

Here's the way I understand WW2 US Army uniform regulations concerning the wearing of rank and branch insignia on shirts and overseas caps for officers of the Army Air Force. Others should correct me if I'm wrong.

Prior to August of 1942: Shirts were worn without collar insignia when the coat was worn. If the shirt was worn as an outer garment, rank was worn on the shoulders, US on the right collar and AAF prop-and-wing on the left and on the matching (OD or khaki) overseas cap. Aviation cadets wore a visor cap with a blue cap band and the large 3" cadet insignia while a 1" version of the aviation cadet insignia was worn on the overseas cap.

After August of 1942: Shirts were worn without collar insignia when the coat was worn. If the shirt was worn as an outer garment, rank was worn on the right collar and AAF prop-and-wing on the left and rank was worn on the matching (OD or khaki) overseas cap. Aviation cadets wore a 1" version of the aviation cadet insignia on the overseas cap. 

 

I think it would be a very rare occurrence for an officer of the United States Army Air Force to show up to an awards ceremony in Class As and be out of uniform (in other words, in violation of uniform regulations). 

MattS's post about overseas caps (renamed “garrison caps” in 1940) brings up some interesting questions…

 

These caps came in 2 flavors:

Olive Drab #51 “chocolate” in wool (winter), and Khaki #1 in cotton (summer)

 

You mentioned that either could be worn, however, judging from most (not all) of the photos in this post, it seems that USAAF servicemen wearing a khaki shirt are wearing a khaki cotton garrison cap, and servicemen wearing an OD #51 chocolate wool shirt are wearing an OD #51 wool garrison cap.

 

Let’s say it’s 1943, and I’m a USAAF field officer (2nd or 1st Lieut., Capt., Maj., 2nd Lieut., or Col.), stationed in England. I’m going to a big dance, which I know will be a great morale booster for my men…

 

In the movie, “Memphis Belle,” there is a dance scene with a big band in a hanger, where all the servicemen are wearing their Class A winter tunics. Some also have their Class A service caps (but are not wearing them). Even though they are in England, where the winter uniform was usually worn year-round, there is no way that you could dance in one of those heavy wool uniforms, especially with the addition of a wool shirt and heavy wool “Pinks” trousers. I played in a big band for years, and have also danced to them, and I swear I didn’t know my body could produce so much sweat!

 

Perhaps they just got it wrong in the movie, but in most of the WWII photos I see of servicemen dancing to big bands, it appears that they are wearing Class B lightweight khaki shirts and trousers, and they arrive wearing the khaki garrison cap.

 

Perhaps rank has something to do with it; I could see how enlisted men would arrive in khaki Class B uniforms, and be going nuts picking up all the “birds,” working up a sweat, doing the Lindy Hop, etc. And maybe the officers, being older men, might already be married, and might not be into swing music, coming from an older generation; therefore, they might arrive in their Class A tunic and service cap (to keep up appearances and respect for the rank), and just watch. Or were ALL servicemen supposed to wear their Class A uniform to social events?)

 

The reason I bring this up, is that I go to a reenactment each year where I live, and I’m going as a USAAF colonel because of my age. (I could never pull off being a cadet!) I would be wearing the Class A wool tunic, wool pinks shirt, and wool pinks trousers. If I wanted to dance with my wife, I would need to remove my tunic, place the appropriate pins on my shirt collar, and dance away. (I don’t think there was a “Pinks” garrison cap, so if I went to a dance without the tunic, I guess the OD garrison cap wouldn’t clash as much with the Pinks shirt as the khaki garrison cap, right?

 

(Sorry this was so long.)

 

 



#55 MattS

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 04:03 PM

I think I see where you are coming from. Yes, the winter weight uniform was OD coat and the cap (whether it was a garrison/overseas cap or service cap) had to match. If there was a dance scheduled, the CO would announce the "uniform of the day", generally Class A. Once you arrived, you could take off your coat (and EM had the advantage of having their stripes already on their sleeves) but officers would have to add rank and branch insignia to their shirt collars. Most of this is covered in the 1944 Officer's Guide, page 128 "Component Articles of Service Uniforms", halfway down on page 131 under  "Shirt, Service", and on pages 142-143, "Insignia on Shirt".



#56 MattS

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 04:15 PM

Here's 5 EM USAAF shirts I have handy, 3 winter (wool) and 2 summer (cotton). Sometimes the term khaki gets thrown around and has different meanings to different people.

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Edited by MattS, 10 January 2019 - 04:17 PM.


#57 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 06:55 PM

Here's 5 EM USAAF shirts I have handy, 3 winter (wool) and 2 summer (cotton). Sometimes the term khaki gets thrown around and has different meanings to different people.

I see what you mean.



#58 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 06:57 PM

I think I see where you are coming from. Yes, the winter weight uniform was OD coat and the cap (whether it was a garrison/overseas cap or service cap) had to match. If there was a dance scheduled, the CO would announce the "uniform of the day", generally Class A. Once you arrived, you could take off your coat (and EM had the advantage of having their stripes already on their sleeves) but officers would have to add rank and branch insignia to their shirt collars. Most of this is covered in the 1944 Officer's Guide, page 128 "Component Articles of Service Uniforms", halfway down on page 131 under  "Shirt, Service", and on pages 142-143, "Insignia on Shirt".

Thanks Mat. I'll read it. Great info as usual. 



#59 whydavewhy

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 10:02 PM

I think I see where you are coming from. Yes, the winter weight uniform was OD coat and the cap (whether it was a garrison/overseas cap or service cap) had to match. If there was a dance scheduled, the CO would announce the "uniform of the day", generally Class A. Once you arrived, you could take off your coat (and EM had the advantage of having their stripes already on their sleeves) but officers would have to add rank and branch insignia to their shirt collars. Most of this is covered in the 1944 Officer's Guide, page 128 "Component Articles of Service Uniforms", halfway down on page 131 under  "Shirt, Service", and on pages 142-143, "Insignia on Shirt".

(Last question)

 

Under "Shirt, Service" (p. 131), it lists the following...

Authorized Wool Shirts:

No. 01 = Khaki

No. 50 = Yellowish green or "mustard"

No. 51 = Dark brownish green or "chocolate"

No. 54 = Olive Drab 54 Light Shade (Grayish taupe/khaki that appears "pink" in certain conditions) also “Taupe”

 

Authorized Cotton Shirts:

No. 01 = Khaki

 

 

It does not specify which shirts go with the winter or the summer uniform, but I'll assume that all the wool shirts go with the winter uniform, and the cotton with the summer.

 

Technically, based on the book, one could say that an officer would be authorized to wear a winter uniform consisting of OD51 tunic, OD54 pinks trousers, 01 khaki shirt and khaki tie. The problem is that the "tan" 01 khaki shirt looks really strange with the "pinks" OD54 trousers. I have seen a lot of movies (Memphis Belle included) where the officers appear to be wearing this combination (with the tunic), but it never shows the combo without the tunic. (Maybe because it's just to hard for the movie companies to find the exact shade of the pinks material. I know that I bought an Eastman "Rangoon" Pinks Shirt, and it wasn't even close; more of a dark greenish gray. Almost impossible to find genuine pinks shirts for anything but tiny people.)

 

Do you know if khaki (tan) wool shirts were ever worn with pinks trousers (without the tunic)? I'm thinking that in real life (not movie life), when wearing the Class A winter uniform, the khaki shirt might have been worn with the dark OD51 trousers,  and mostly the OD51 chocolate shirt and OD54 pinks shirt was worn with the pinks trousers.

 

(The OD50 mustard shirt looks cool too, but I haven't found many photos of officers wearing that. Seems like most of the higher ranking officers wore the pinks shirt, and most of the pilots wore the chocolate.)

 

Thanks,

 

David



#60 MattS

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 04:30 AM

Pretty much every combination was possible. There are photos of officers wearing pink shirts with dark trousers, dark shirt with pink trousers, As long as it was a wool winter shirt with wool winter trousers, it was probably worn at some point.



#61 MattS

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 05:34 AM

It's not just the shirts, but the trousers and tie colors that could be different. Check this out: https://wartimeni.co...toome-airfield/

 

Of the 9 USAAF officers on the right, 3 wear dark trousers and one has a dark tie (and sunglasses in formation!). Also note that all 9 are without collar insignia on their shirts as was regulation when wearing the coat. They are all wearing authorized uniform components and therefore all are within regulations.

 

Somewhere in the book, it states the 2 types of uniform (winter/summer) are defined by the material, wool or cotton. Basically, as long as it was wool and an authorized color, it could be worn as part of the winter uniform. 



#62 Gregory

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 02:11 AM

Excellent thread and discussion.

 

BTW -- what WWII era AAFers wore throughout war on their OS caps were not only collar branch insignia. Also: DUIs, collar "U.S." (both EM and Officerꞌs versions) and miniature wings as worn by aircrews over left pocket.



#63 MattS

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 06:10 AM

Some of those were regulation and some were not. Almost every branch of the US military adopts morale boosting habits that may not be regulation but are tolerated in order to maintain esprit-de-corps. Nose art on planes, liberty cuffs on sailor's jumpers, tiger stripes in Vietnam, squadron painted insignia on flight helmets all fall into that category.



#64 Gregory

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 11:09 AM

Almost every branch of the US military adopts morale boosting habits that may not be regulation but are tolerated in order to maintain esprit-de-corps.

 

That's right. And very good! This is much, much better method to keep up morale than primitive Prussian discipline.

 

:)



#65 Justin B.

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 05:37 PM

If I wanted to dance with my wife, I would need to remove my tunic, place the appropriate pins on my shirt collar, and dance away.
 


Don't worry about putting the pins on the shirt. That was for when it was worn as the outer uniform basically all day. If the coat was being worn and temporarily taken off for comfort, no one would bother to change the pins. Pinning and unpinning would eventually show on the collar, so many officers kept some shirts without collar pin holes to wear under the coat.

Edited by Justin B., 12 January 2019 - 05:37 PM.


#66 Gregory

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 02:59 AM

Justin is right.

 

Here is situation when AAF shirt served as uniform showing all possible things: SSI, collar U.S., collar branch insignia, rank insignia, DUIs, pilot badge and ribbons of decorations.

 

Attached Images

  • 26.jpg


#67 MattS

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 07:18 AM

Nice early war photo (pre-August 1942 anyway) of a colonel who saw action in WW1.



#68 Gregory

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 09:09 AM

And -- as Matt wrote -- situation after August 1942.

 

At present July 1943.

 

The "U.S." disappears from collar; rank insignia disappears from shoulder loops; PUC is added; and AAF shirt still serves as a main "uniform".

 

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  • July 2nd, 1943.jpg


#69 Justin B.

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 10:37 AM

 

Wait, in post 25, the 1942 Officer's Guide shows DIs were worn on the garrison/overseas caps? Was there a change between 1937 and 1942?

 

Good catch, that was only in the section of his book about the Air Corps branch insignia. I have to assume that the 1937 date mentioned was for Air Corps only, back when overseas caps were less standardized and locally controlled. But it is clear that for the Army at large, officer rank on the left side of the overseas/garrison cap was standardized in August 1942 as MattS said.



#70 MattS

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 05:52 AM

And -- as Matt wrote -- situation after August 1942.

 

At present July 1943.

 

The "U.S." disappears from collar; rank insignia disappears from shoulder loops; PUC is added; and AAF shirt still serves as a main "uniform".

 

 

Looks to me like a group of pilots in the PTO wearing summer khaki cotton shirts as the uniform of the day. Hard to see the wings, but they could be a bomber crew or something similar. 

 

Somewhere in the past, I read something that defined the 3 classes of dress uniforms (shirt only) as 2A, 2B, and 2C maybe? Class 1 was dress blue jacket with all insignia. But as I recall, 2A was long sleeve with tie, all insignia, badges and ribbons, 2B was long sleeve with tie and only rank and chest badges (wings), and 2C was a short sleeve shirt (no tie) with rank and chest badges only. I don't remember there being an option for short sleeves with ribbons as it too informal. That may have been Civil Air Patrol regs though from my youth. 



#71 Gregory

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 06:44 AM

@ post #68 -- they are from Troop Carrier Command.

 

@ shirt only -- there were Class C-1 and C-2. Below there is a fragment of WWII plate of Fort Belvoir.

 

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  • 28.jpg


#72 MattS

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 07:49 AM

"@ post #68 -- they are from Troop Carrier Command." That makes sense.

 

That illustration is close to what I remember although I'm probably thinking of USAF uniform regs.


Edited by MattS, 14 January 2019 - 07:51 AM.


#73 Gregory

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 08:25 AM

Okay friends, and what period are double U.S. on both shirt collars?

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  • 30.jpg

Edited by Gregory, 14 January 2019 - 08:26 AM.


#74 MattS

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 08:39 AM

Pre-August 1942 for generals only as they do not wear branch insignia and wear double US insignia on their collars. That continues until today, US army generals do not wear branch insignia. 



#75 Gregory

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 08:42 AM

Thanks a lot Matt.




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