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Bell AAF Wings


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  • 1 year later...

The collection has grown since I started this topic so I thought I would post a current picture. The only non-Bell wing in the display is the Navaho bombardier wing, but since it came from Albuquerque too it seemed to fit right in. All of the wings not on cards are unique, although the only difference between a couple of the sweetheart wings is one is sterling and the other is coin silver. I managed to find the sweetheart observer today at the Indianapolis Militaria Show.



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Looks like you've nearly got a complete set! Great job! Question for you...are there Liason and Service Pilot sweetheart wings by Bell? I see the Glider all the time but can't recall either of the other two letter wings.

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I saw a sweetheart for one of those once, but it was a jeweler modified regular pilot wing with an applied letter. I have also seen a sweetheart flight surgeon wing from Bell.


There are a few other Bell wings that I know exist, both made by (or for) Bell directly or made by modifying Bell wings. I have only ever seen two types of AF wings with actual Bell hallmarks, a sweetheart aerial gunner and a sweetheart naval pilot. I have a couple of the gunners but have never found one of the naval wings. I do have several of the sweetheart wings with the Walter Lampl hallmark.

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Marty, your collection is wonderfully focused! Congratulations on putting together the best 'Bell' collection I've ever seen!


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Thanks Russ. The collection would not be as complete as it is without your help. I need to add a "Cadet" wing at some point. I almost bought one over the weekend as well from the same guy but he wanted as much for it as the observer wing on the card. I can get one cheaper on ebay. I also have a pendant from Bell headed my way that I plan on attaching to the display case. It is shaped like an arrowhead and has a depiction of the later Bell hallmark on the front (bell on a sign hanging from a signpost). I didn't realize that in the latter hallmark, the post for the sign is a cactus and the crossbar for the sign is an arrow sticking through the cactus.



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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Just added these to the Bell collection. The bracelets have the Bell Sterling logo stamped on the back. The cap-sized observer is the first "Bell" wing I have seen that is not marked at all on its back, it is not stamped either Sterling or Coin Silver.




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  • 4 years later...

The Bell collection has continued to grow and evolve and I picked up a gunner wing that was an interesting (at least to a Bell obsessed wing nut like me) variation.  I have posted before about the Aerial Gunner wings made by adding a winged-bullet device to an observer wing, most of which have the raised Sterling mark in the center.  A few of these can be found where the Observer wing does not have the raised Sterling mark in the center, but instead have an incised mark on the right wing.  This is another of those, but it is the first I have seen where the Sterling mark has the upside down and backwards G like many of the Lampl wings, a few of the 2" Pilot wings and many of the 1-3/8" sweetheart wings.  To me it is a clue that Bell and Lampl shared a common production source for all their wings, not just the sweetheart wings.



Bell Gunner front_resize.JPG

Bell Gunner rear_resize.JPG

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Here is an interesting Bell pattern wing to add that is a bit of a break away from the AAF theme of the thread.

It is in 2" Mess Dress size, but non standard Aviator design.

A USN shield and anchor with clearly Bell pattern wings.

This is the only Bell USN wing I personally have seen.


Aviator Bell Mess Dress Size #1038 001.JPG

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Other than the sweetheart sized wings, this is the only Naval wing I have ever seen from Bell either.  I am still trying to find one of these for my collection.  Thanks for adding it.


I presume these Naval wings were a later production item along with some of the AAF shirt-sized wings.  I have found Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator and Aircrew shirt-size wings from Bell that are hollow back like these Naval Aviator wings and which also have this incised Sterling mark.  My guess has been they were saving a bit of money using thinner metal to make the wings later in the war, but there is no proof or documentation for that.  These hollow back shirt-size wings were also made with different dies as there are detail difference as well on their faces, not just different backs.

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Insigina Hunter

Very nice collection! I believe I helped add to your collecting funds recently. Hopefully you find some more goodies!

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So are all the possible permutations of Bell wings exhibited in this thread?  If so, it should be considered for pinning.  If not?  Well, what's missing?

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Actually, Chris, there are a number of other Bell wings that aren't covered on this thread. Bell wings were used for some of the WASP class wings, and then a few one off variations periodically show up.  I know of one Bell observer wing with the US in the center (similar to the much earlier pilot/observer wing from the 20's).  I also seem to recall some flight school related wings as well.


There have been a number of Walter Lampl/Bell wing threads in the past.  It is pretty clear that the Lampl company and Bell company had some sort of relationship during WWII, as there are many similarities between these two unique patterns (and a third pattern that was probably also made by Bell). This includes similar hinge, pin and catch assembly, the use of a "STERLING" hallmark with an upside down "G", and very similar finish on the planchetts.


In this particular thread, I was able to find both Bell and Lampl marked sweetheart wings. Although I know that a specific unmentionable individual says he has proof that Lampl made their wings in New Jersey, the evidence that I have seen suggests that Lampl contracted out to manufacturers in Mexico and the nearby SW USA during the war (thus the name "Juarez" wings).  It has always been my suspicion (and this is well explored in the below link) that Bell and Lampl may have been using the same manufacturing "jobber", or one company had subcontracted out with the other (probably Lampl from Bell) to produce their products.


This is why these three patterns of full size wings, the 2 inch shirt wings and the smaller sweetheart wings all are so similar in so many ways.

Some of these threads used to be pinned, but over the years, have been removed.  But a search of Lampl and/or Bell will bring up a lot of good information.



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Here are a few composite pictures of the Lampl/Bell/Unknown family of wings.  As I said, there is pretty good evidence that Lample and Bell had some sort of relationship in that you can find both sets of wings with the upside down G "sterling" mark (on all three size wings), and rarely with either the Bell or Lampl hallmark on the 1 inch sweetheart wings.


Lampl is known to have closed his shop in the NJ/NY area at the start of the war.  I have found some Lampl stuff marked "Made in Mexico" (but not wings). 


This is a link to an article on Walter Lamp. http://www.milkywayjewels.com/lampl_article.html

Which was further discussed in this thread:


At some point I ended up talking with Ms Hoover via email. She confirmed that one of Walter Lampl's sons is still alive and that they had indeed moved the company from New York to Mexico during the war to get around material and manpower shortages. According to her, the Lampl Company didn't sell retail, but rather sold wholesale to a number of companies and firms around the US, and especially in the South West, likely explaining why these wings were associated with the Juarez area. In fact, one of the flight school yearbooks from one of the Schools in Arizona or Texas has a very obvious Juarez wing design on its cover.




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Finally, at some point I followed up with Ms Hoover.  It is possible that there is a Mexican connection but there is also a connection with the SW manufacturing as well.  Since Lampl didn't seem to actually be a manufacturer, I suspect that they had Bell or a Bell-related "jobber" make their wings.



I do recall our conversation.  You've been very helpful to my research.


I see a number of issues in this thread.  I'll do my best to help clarify things...


The Walter Lampl company was based out of New York.  It existed at 4 different locations

over the lifetime of the company.  Walter, Sr. died in 1945.  His widow inherited the

company and it was managed after his death by his eldest son, Walter, Jr.  Walter, Jr.

was in Europe during WW2 and had limited contact with the family business before he

assumed management as a very young man, after the war.


As far as Walter, Jr. and his younger brother, Burt, knew, the Lampl business never

manufactured anything.  All manufacturing was done by jobbers.  Jobbers worked in a

variety of places.  Lampl jewelry was manufactured by jobbers in Attleboro, provenance,

and Newark before the war.  Lampl imported carved stones from China before the war.  The

New York offices were wholesale offices and/or showrooms only.


Lampl didn't exactly move his business to Mexico during the war. Rather, he had an agent

in Mexico City who dealt with local manufacturers, shipping, customs, etc.  During the

war Lampl sold some jewelry which was obviously Mexican in style and theme.  He also sold

some jewelry which showed obvious signs of Mexican craftsmanship.  I have only seen one

pair of pins which were actually marked Walter Lampl Made in Mexico.  I just looked on

the website and in our archives for this pair of brooches and it seems to have

disappeared.  I'll have my husband look for it in the database tomorrow.  I don't believe

they sold...


I have seen other examples which I believe were almost certainly made in Mexico which are

not marked that way.  Here are a few examples:





I don't know whether the gold work in this ring was made in Mexico, but the cameo was

certainly carved there:



There are ways to get around the issue of import marks.  The most obvious is to import

parts, rather than finished items.


During the war American jewelry businesses were forced to find all kinds of ways to bend

the rules to get the materials and resources they needed.  When I get my book written

(which is now completely outlined and has an introduction!) I will explain a couple of

ways the Lampl company stretched these regulations.


I don't think there is any way to know whether the wings, specifically, were made in

Mexico or in the U.S.  Lampl continued to have some jewelry manufactured in the U.S.

during the war.  There were problems with supply and materials, however.  In April of

1943, Lampl announced in an ad that their "toolmaker's bench has been closed for the

duration" and implied that they would not be able to continue to produce new designs. 

Then, in November of 1943, he announced a "complete line of distinguished Mexican jewelry

- from our branch in Mexico City".  I have many more details about how this all worked,

and I'll be including those in the eventual book.  Some jewelry continued to be made in

the U.S., but not all.


If "***************" has information about the factory in Newark, I would love to know more

about it.  I know that was one of the places where Walter, Sr. had jewelry made, but it

was by no means the only place.


I hope this helps to clear things up a bit.  This is all ongoing research, and I would

love to hear from anyone who has information which would help to add more clarity to the

Big Picture.


Best wishes,




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