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WW1 Navy Wings?


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#1 hawk3370

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 06:48 PM

OK all you experts out there, have a question. I picked these up years ago and have never seen this example referenced in any of the books depicting navy wings. They have the straight line along the top of the wings as opposed to those found in the 30's and 40's. Drop in catch and nice arch like an archers bow to the wing. The unique thing is the small feathers (not berries) in the shoulders. Anyone have any idea as to exact period? I don't collect navy so I am at a loss and as stated earlier have seen no ref to any navy wing with the small feathering in the shoulders. They are distinctly different than the WW2 wings.
Thanks,

Terry

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#2 hawk3370

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 06:50 PM

OK all you experts out there, have a question. I picked these up years ago and have never seen this example referenced in any of the books depicting navy wings. They have the straight line along the top of the wings as opposed to those found in the 30's and 40's. Drop in catch and nice arch like an archers bow to the wing. The unique thing is the small feathers (not berries) in the shoulders. Anyone have any idea as to exact period? I don't collect navy so I am at a loss and as stated earlier have seen no ref to any navy wing with the small feathering in the shoulders. They are distinctly different than the WW2 wings.
Thanks,

Terry


Close up of feathering in shoulder.

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#3 CliffP

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 08:27 PM

Terry,

While by no means an expert :wacko:, yours is definitely an early style WW2 type badge. The original design approved right after our entry into WW2 called for a series of "small feathers" to be added in the upper part of the shoulders where the wings break such as seen on your badge; however, it was not long thereafter before a cluster of "berries," would be adopted by the manufactures as being more appropriate... and that tradition has continued to be true up to the present day.

Cliff

#4 hawk3370

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 08:40 PM

Terry,

While by no means an expert :wacko:, yours is definitely an early style WW2 type badge. The original design approved right after our entry into WW2 called for a series of "small feathers" to be added in the upper part of the shoulders where the wings break such as seen on your badge; however, it was not long thereafter before a cluster of "berries," would be adopted by the manufactures as being more appropriate... and that tradition has continued to be true up to the present day.

Cliff

Cliff,
Thanks, that answers my question. I had looked through several ref books, but could never find any with the feathers.
Terry

#5 pfrost

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 09:18 PM

Cliff,
Thanks, that answers my question. I had looked through several ref books, but could never find any with the feathers.
Terry


I have a similar wing that is hallmarked Robbins. Here is a thread that I started some time ago on the wing transitions.

http://www.usmilitar...mp;hl=usn wings

nice wing, I would say early 30's vintage, myself.

Patrick

#6 CliffP

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:28 AM

:unsure:
Terry, there is no question that yours is a rare badge for the period in question.

Patrick. your theory has merit yet officially in March 1942 a meeting of the Navy Department Uniform Board approved the change to "feathers" based on a recommendation from the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics (BUAER), RADM John H. Towers.

-cp

#7 hawk3370

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 04:42 AM

I have a similar wing that is hallmarked Robbins. Here is a thread that I started some time ago on the wing transitions.

http://www.usmilitar...mp;hl=usn wings

nice wing, I would say early 30's vintage, myself.

Patrick


Patrick,
Thanks, good info.
Terry

#8 bschwartz

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:47 AM

Terry,

Here's a link to the same wing on my site but marked Robbins. Unfortunately it's not in my own collection so I can't get you better pictures of it. Here's another one I have but the feathers aren't quite as detailed as on the Robbin's pattern. These feather shoulder wings are out there but they are rare.

Thanks,
Bob

#9 pfrost

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:10 AM

Here is mine. It has a Robbins hallmark on one side and a 1/20th 10K mark on the other. An early style catch. This one came out of an estate to a guy who was an early 30's USN pilot. He seemed to have retired from the Navy just before WWII started.

P

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#10 CliffP

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:43 AM

Terry,

Here's a link to the same wing on my site but marked Robbins. Unfortunately it's not in my own collection so I can't get you better pictures of it. Here's another one I have but the feathers aren't quite as detailed as on the Robbin's pattern. These feather shoulder wings are out there but they are rare.

Thanks,
Bob




This is an interesting thread.

Food for thought:

Robbins made Naval Aviator wing badges through-out World War II; however, have any of us ever seen one made by them with berries rather than feathers in the upper shoulder areas, and/or a WWII type hook-under, then lock safety catch; rather than a U-shape, drop-in safety catch? No, because they never made any.

An interest study:
Badge #1 is identical to the one that Terry has with feathers in both upper shoulder areas plus a u-shape, drop-in safety catch. It does not have any markings on the back.

Badge #2 is a bit curious looking because it only has a small group of feathers in the upper right shoulder area, rather than both. It is backmarked STERLING+, 1/20 10K GF.

Badge #3 has either feathers or berries in the upper shoulder areas... so you be the judge. It is backmarked 1-20-10K on STERLING.

Cliff

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Edited by CliffP, 17 October 2010 - 12:13 PM.


#11 hawk3370

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 04:01 PM

This is an interesting thread.

Food for thought:

Robbins made Naval Aviator wing badges through-out World War II; however, have any of us ever seen one made by them with berries rather than feathers in the upper shoulder areas, and/or a WWII type hook-under, then lock safety catch; rather than a U-shape, drop-in safety catch? No, because they never made any.

An interest study:
Badge #1 is identical to the one that Terry has with feathers in both upper shoulder areas plus a u-shape, drop-in safety catch. It does not have any markings on the back.

Badge #2 is a bit curious looking because it only has a small group of feathers in the upper right shoulder area, rather than both. It is backmarked STERLING+, 1/20 10K GF.

Badge #3 has either feathers or berries in the upper shoulder areas... so you be the judge. It is backmarked 1-20-10K on STERLING.

Cliff


Cliff,
Very interesting. Badge #2 odd that the feathers are only on one side. All beautiful wings to be sure.
Terry

#12 MikeK

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:37 PM

Robbins made Naval Aviator wing badges through-out World War II; however, have any of us ever seen one made by them with berries rather than feathers in the upper shoulder areas, and/or a WWII type hook-under, then lock safety catch; rather than a U-shape, drop-in safety catch? No, because they never made any.

Cliff


Hi Cliff,

Just curious, but HOW do you know they never made any with berries and "standard" WW2 hardware? Could they have made them but simply not marked them with their company name (ie only Sterling +- gold plating details)?

Also, I'm wondering where your post was going. Do you think there is a connection between the examples you showed and Robbins, or was it simply to show a sort of progression from shoulder feathers to berries?

Regards
Mike

#13 John Cooper

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 09:04 PM

If I had a PANCRAFT navy wing I would post it so as to add to the comparison \ contrast.


BTW Terry thanks for posting your wing as it help start a very education thread.

Regards,
John

#14 CliffP

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 06:10 AM

Hi Cliff,

Just curious, but HOW do you know they never made any with berries and "standard" WW2 hardware?

Mike, it's a reasonable question but I can't agree or disagree that it deserves a direct answer. That judgment will have to be made by you and others. Yes, it's not the answer you wanted but I gave a clue in post #6. I would rather say, must someone go into greater detail on every matter that he has had to learn while on his own over the years when ever he posts a comment on an open forum? Instead, I would prefer to send you a PM when I get back later today.

Could they have made them but simply not marked them with their company name (ie only Sterling +- gold plating details)?

Yes, and Robbins did exactly that. For heightened security reasons during the early stages of WWII the War Department issued orders that any badge purchased under contract with the USAAC and USN would not carry a manufactures hallmark. It did not apply to over-the-counter or open market sales but as the war progress, that restriction was relaxed and not enforced. It was also simple overlooked by some manufactures but not by Robbins. You might also check any example that you can find which is identical to the Robbins design but without a hallmark and you will see for yourself that they only have a U-shape, drop-in safety catch.

Also, I'm wondering where your post was going. Do you think there is a connection between the examples you showed and Robbins, or was it simply to show a sort of progression from shoulder feathers to berries?

Regards
Mike

There may have been a plausible connection between the examples shown in post #10 but how would any one prove it? I just thought their differences were interesting. All the same, it was not long after our entry into WWII that a cluster of "berries" rather than "feathers" on Naval Aviator wing badges were adopted by some manufactures as being more appropriate... but not by Robbins.

Cliff

Edited by CliffP, 18 October 2010 - 06:24 AM.


#15 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:35 PM

This thread has been informative and fun to follow. Before reading Cliff's interesting and fact-filled posts, I was of the opinion Terry's illustrated wing was of late 1920's to late 1930's vintage. Now, I'm not so sure, but I'm full of questions. I'd like to share several badges with this pattern which don't easily fit into the parameters being described above.

I believe we all agree the pattern under exam here was made by Robbins Company and produced both with and without their hallmark. I don't know of any other company manufacturing this unique feather pattern badge. I also believe we have debunked the tale that USN Enlisted Aviators wore silver, rather than gilt NAP wings during WWII. All facts unearthed so far indicate that silver NAP wings were issued and worn by Naval Aviation Observer's (NAO's) for a very short time from January 1927 to October 1929. Why then would the silver NAO wing depicted below be produced twelve years later during WWII? (Please keep in mind I hold Cliff and his knowledge of this great hobby in very high esteem!)

Russ

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#16 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:41 PM

Here's the back of the near identical gilt and silver wings. Note the pin and catch hardware.

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#17 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:37 PM

Is it possible the Robbin's Company introduced this wing design in the 1920's, then only made a few modest changes in the pin and catch assembly as they progressed into the WWII era? The same could be true of the Robbin's line of Army Air Corp Pilot wings. They introduced an Adams-style US AAC pilot wing in the 1920's, then did not produce a different designed pilot wing until after WWII.

Here's another Robbin's gilt NAP badge with a more traditional WWII style stop-pin on the reverse.

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#18 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:39 PM

The back with a stop-pin assembly.

Edited by rustywings, 18 October 2010 - 11:05 PM.


#19 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:51 PM

Double-tap...

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Edited by rustywings, 18 October 2010 - 11:08 PM.


#20 rustywings

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:10 PM

Comparison shot of back of both gilt Robbins Company wings.

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#21 rustywings

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 06:51 AM

Below is a comparison shot of a WWI era Robbins NAP wing without feathers in the shoulder (top) and the later NAP wing with unique feathers (bottom). Note the similarities in the hallmark...and the back of the wings, including curvature, are nearly identical.

I see Ron Burkey has several nice examples of this wing illustrated on his web site (WWW.FLYINGTIGERANTIQUES.COM) including both "drop-in" catches and one example of a "wrap-around" catch.

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Edited by rustywings, 19 October 2010 - 07:18 AM.


#22 CliffP

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 06:21 PM

This thread has been informative and fun to follow. Before reading Cliff's interesting and fact-filled posts, I was of the opinion Terry's illustrated wing was of late 1920's to late 1930's vintage. Now, I'm not so sure, but I'm full of questions.

Hi Russ,

Just to reiterate a bit on some key points about the Robbins, Naval Aviation Pilot (NAP) wings that Terry posted in this thread:

1. The wings made by Robbins during World War I did not have any feathers, berries or dots in the upper area of the shoulders. The safety catch on the back was a “lever lock” device (1910-1918), sometimes called a “Tiffany-style C” catch. They also had an early Robbins trade-mark with three images stamped on the back. The trade-mark would look like the one in the picture at the bottom of this post.

2. All wings produced by Robbins between WWI and WWII were identical to the WWI wings but they had a “U-shape” drop-in type safety catch. Oh, and they did not have the early Robbins trade-mark on the back.

3. In March 1942 the Navy Department Uniform Board issued a change for the official design of NAP wings. That change called for adding a series of "small feathers" in the upper shoulder area of the badge. Manufactures were expected to comply with that order and they did but I don’t know of any that adding the small feathers in the upper shoulder the way Robbins did. Instead, the other manufactures added what looks more like a cluster of “berries” or “dots” in that area.

4. Exactly when Robbins released their redesigned badge in WWII is open to question but two things are certain. Their new badges were in exact compliance with the Navy Department Uniform Board order. They had the “small feathers” in the upper shoulder area, and they also sported a modern type “hook-under, then lock” device on the back. To sum it up, the identical wings that you, Terry, Patrick and me have posted on this thread are definitely WWII pattern wings made by Robbins..

Having said or repeated all that, how does one explain why the silver NAP style Robbins wing shown in post #15 can be identical to the World War II style wing also shown in post #15? Yes, based on official records, silver NAP style wings were only issued to Naval Aviation Observer's (NAO) between January 1927 and October 1929. Well, I don’t have an iron-clad explanation for that riddle. I have an idea but it is useless if not eventually confirmed by solid research.

In October 1929 the Navy may have made an exception to allow the “old salts” who were qualified to wear silver NAP style, also called NAO 2nd style, wings prior to October 1929. Consequently, rather than make those men turn in or discard their original silver 2nd style wings, they allowed those men to continue wearing their original wings as long as they remained in the Navy. In considering of that, you can be sure that a number of those “old salts” did remain in the Navy throughout World War II, and during WWII if they ever wanted an up-to-date NAP style wing in silver they could get one from Robbins.

Is it possible the Robbin's Company introduced this wing design in the 1920's, then only made a few modest changes in the pin and catch assembly as they progressed into the WWII era?

If Robbins really had introduced that design in the 1920s, it would not be out of the realm of possibility because most if not all manufactures saved their old dies.

Below is a comparison shot of a WWI era Robbins NAP wing without feathers in the shoulder (top) and the later NAP wing with unique feathers (bottom). Note the similarities in the hallmark...and the back of the wings, including curvature, are nearly identical.

That wing on top of post #21 is not a WWI era Robbins wing. If it were a WWI era Robbins wing it would have an early, three image Robbins trade-mark stamped on the back (see below). It should also have a “lever lock” device, often called a “Tiffany-style C” catch.

Kind regards,

Cliff

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Edited by CliffP, 19 October 2010 - 06:48 PM.


#23 rustywings

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 06:58 PM

I've got one more example which might be of interest to some of you. In 1991, during the early days of the first Gulf War, the Elebash Jewelry Store in Pensacola, Florida, began receiving requests for high quality gold US Naval Aviator wings which could be presented to loved ones in the Navy as gifts. According to a store employee I spoke with, Elebash has been around since 1919 and had a history of providing fine gold and silver wings and insignia to flying personnel stationed locally.

When it was apparent there was a renewed market for quality aviator wings, Elebash approached the Robbins Company and ordered up a "limited quantity" of 10 Karat flight badges. Ironically, the Robbins Company produced the order of new wings using the same wing pattern depicted in Terry's original posting. Robbins hallmarked each wing with a small "r", then Elebash inscribed their own identifier into the back of the wings. So, apparently the original dies were still in the hands of the Robbins Co. in 1991. Here's a couple of pictures of an "Elebash" ordered NAP wing.

Russ

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#24 rustywings

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 07:01 PM

Back of the "Elebash" ordered wing. Note the small "r" hallmark...and the extra long studs.

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#25 rustywings

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 07:52 PM

Cliff, thank you for the continued effort in sharing your insight into the true history of these wings. Don't give up on me...much of this is actually sinking in!

Here's a close up view of the 1991 Robbins Co. "r" hallmark. It's rather cheap and non-descript compared the flying "R" and their earlier hallmarks.

Russ

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