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Bell AAF Wings


5thwingmarty
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My Bell wing collection has been growing so I thought I would share what I have so far. I may never be able to find or afford any of the other more rare Bell AAF wings, but I like what I have right now. The little sweetheart aerial gunner wing has the Bell Trading hallmark on the back. This wing lacks some of the details of the larker wings such as the fine feather detail and the three notches on the shoulders of each wing, but the general outline is the same as is the way the gunner emblem sort of drapes over the observer background.

 

I will post shots of each of the individual wing types in additional posts.

 

 

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Thanks guys. So far the 2" Glider Pilot wing has been the most expensive. Hopefully at next year's SOS I will have some money saved up and will be able to get another Bell wing or two.

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Okay, question. In the Navy we wear miniature wings with miniature medals on mess dress. These are about the size of the sweatheart-size aerial gunner wings pictured above. Does the Army/AAF/USAF do the same thing? We have a few of the very small ones at the museum and I want to be sure how to classify them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, at Tim's suggestion I picked up another Bell gunner wing, this one a two-piece version. The detail of the wing feathers is not as sharp, and all of the ones I saw on ebay seam to have had some damage to the die along the bottom edges of the wings. I also spotted a couple of what appear to be cast replicas of the "two-piece" Bell gunners where the aerial gunner device was cast in one piece with the rest of the wing, not made as a separate piece.

 

 

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The flaws are closer t0 the wing tips. I will post a series of "Bell" two-piece gunner wings with some notes added. One thing that is consistent on these wings is the incomplete center notch on the right shoulder of the wings.

 

I believe this first one is a cast copy.

 

 

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No. 4 is the one I bought. This photo just shows the flaws along the edges better than the photo I posted of it previously.

 

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And No. 6. This is also I believe another cast copy. I messaged the seller about this one and they said it was a one-piece wing, and looking at the horizontal lines behind the gunner device you can see where they stop. This seller was also incredulous when I suggested this was a Bell wing as they were very familiar with Bell-made sterling pieces, and in their opinion all Bell pieces are poorly made and of inferior quality.

 

 

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Marty,

 

You may be getting paranoid in your old age. :lol:

 

I checked my two-piece wing this morning and in the photos, I can see the indentations on the lower two center feathers. I do not see any indentations on either wing tip like those shown in your photos. My badge does have a brass pin, so perhaps it's an earlier strike before they developed, or your examples slipped in the die??

 

In hand, honestly, I can barely see the two indentations I do have in the center. I think we have to remember, enlarging these items in photos, can bring out concerns that really shouldn't be there. I think you have a nice set of wings.

 

I can't comment on the other ones you showed PIC's of but, one of these you think might be cast is supposedly from Huff's old collection. So, I don't know what to add on that point. Are they really casting Bell pattern wings???

 

Tim

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Thanks Tim. I think my wing is ok as well, it was just interesting that there were so many of these available at the same time for comparison and they had such similar flaws on the wing edges. Perhaps the flaws really were due to someone being careless during the manufacturing and letting the die slip. The distribution of the flaws seamed pretty consistent on many of the wings, but not all of them as on yours where it is just the edge of the bottom feathers.

 

That one wing is from the Huff collection, which if you look at the listing has an edge view of the wing and you can se there is no void behind the gunner device, it is filled in solid behind it. On my wing and your wing there is a definite void behind the attached device. I have not messaged the Huff collection seller to ask if this wing is a one or two-piece wing, but the other seller I contacted said theirs was definitely a one-piece wing. So unless Bell made three versions of gunner wings, I am guessing there are faked Bell gunner wings out there in the market.

 

Also, this is a one-piece Bell wing on ebay right now that also has the flaws on the bottom edge of the wing.

 

 

Marty

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Added another baby Bell to the collection. Unfortunately it had been modified into a bracelet at some point, but still another pretty little Bell wing and one I did not have. Sorry for the poor quality photo. I just can't seem to get my camera to take decent close-up photos. This was a two-inch wing that has had the pin removed, holes drilled at the tips for a chain and the whole thing has been bent to a curve. It had to have been done to make a sweetheart piece as the curve is so extreme it would not fit any man's wrist.

 

 

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