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Cairo Command ATC North African Wing - Named

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Good evening gentlemen. By a delightful and very surprising blessing, it is with great gratitude I have another installment to this thread. This new and most excellent half wing is again from a particular division of the Air Transport Command which was one of the busiest, most set upon with duty and clearly vested with a vibrant intraorganizational cohesion and brotherly wartime camaraderie. This brotherly comradery, sense of mission and vigorous activity, gave them a unique esprit de corps. The North Africa Division Air Transport Command, having Cairo as its primary "Port of call" if you will, became a central hub through which supplies were delivered, aircraft were ferried and countless men and women of wartime purpose and activity were spirited through the heavens to their destinations.

 

The strong ties in this rich subculture of Pilots, ground crews, navigators, radio operators, engineers, air traffic controllers and myriad other responsibilities taken up by these intrepid men of the North African division ATC, gave them impetus to fashion and to have forged by local metalsmith artisans, an insignia specific to their division and rich with cultural significance regarding their organization.

Earlier I had introduced Al Berkowitz, a navigator in North Africa, he flew for two and a half years starting in 1942, with the division. Al had fashioned, a half wing with The Fez cap as the centerpiece with a red, gold and black enamel representing material covering the cap and a black tassel coming down the side with the letters C C denoting the North African Division's informal moniker... "Cairo Command"! The Fez hat was well known as the adornment of Cairo Command's ? camel with everything from mail to war supplies on his back most frequently seen and the jacket patches, usually of leather, hand-painted and spectacular. The North African division, especially coming into 1944. The end of 1943 and beginning of 1944 saw a the flurry of China-Burma-India bound activity ramping up to facilitate Operation Thursday's execution in March of 44. This operation given approval directly from FDR saw vast resources allotted to its successful implementation, including the first helicopter to be utilized in rescue of the wounded commandos from the jungles of Burma, as well as transporting glider pilots, power pilots, commandos, flight surgeons, ferrying aircraft etc. As 44 progressed, Cairo Command began moving specific supplies to India where the India-China Division Air Transport Command headed for high altitudes to conquer the Himalayan "Hump" into Kunming for meeting the needs of the the B-29s flying from Chinese forward bases. With these colossal efforts the North African Division ATC became one of the largest and busiest military transport hubs in history.

In this installment, I am revealing the second known example to the collecting community, of insignia from the North African division, Air transport command. This wing has no star over The Fez and thus is reflective of the standard ATC design of the half wings regarding a central escutcheon with a single wing to the sinister side or left side.

As you will see, there were two different makers evident regarding the two wings, which makes sense because in Cairo, just as in Calcutta India, there were countless small shops catering to the military echelons of every nation. one of the Wings is made from a brass alloy, the Navigator with the star Superior to the escutcheon and the other wing was forged of a silver alloy which was the engineer / radio operator wing.

The shops and artisans who served the military insignia, embroidery, uniform etc needs of the airmen and soldiers included metalsmiths who forged theater made insignia from designs either attempting to mirror the standard insignia or designs such as this scenario. These Wings were given consideration and the basic artistic skills of the airmen where called upon to generate ideas and then a consensus of the airmen who intended their wear and who had approval by their superiors (most likely with a wing given this much thought and design) recorded the design. After being translated to documentation and communicated to the metalsmiths, these creative entrepreneurs in Cairo went to work and brought these delightful and most excellent and well-made wings to fruition. We have an American style pin assembly on the Navigator wing with the star added to the standard ATC wing and escutcheon design and a standard wing and escutcheon design on the engineer / radio operator but an English style pin assembly is what this airman chose. Both designs are quite precise in there specifications and utilize a cupping design in The Fez into which the enamel was poured within the the appropriate channels created by tiny dividing Walls to hold the appropriate colored enamel in conformity with the design itself.The British style pin assembly is absolutely exquisite and VERY strong, a fine piece of theater made insignia.

 

There is much to be learned and discovered in this new ATC collecting niche that is the North African Divisionn Air transport Command. I look forward to Future discoveries and I am filled with anticipation to find a pilot wing if one exists as a double winged work of awe , with that wonderful camel's Fez enthroned as the centerpiece!

 

A shot of the wings side by side begins our visual survey... Berkowitz' Navigator half wing on the left and the engineer / radio operator on the right.

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Vertical stack view

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Rear shot of both

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This shot reveals the design utilized by the wing maker regarding the cupping of The Fez design by creating a reservoir above the main body of the wing, constructing a fez shaped reservoir to receive the enamel with tiny boundaries within the cup to hold specific enamel colors within specific geometric spaces. I presume the CC was one of the most difficult aspects of the enamel pouring. Just exquisite, detailed, difficult, painstaking work

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This shot emphasizes the two differing alloys utilized in the construction of the Wing by the two different wingmakers.

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Close up of the Navigator escutcheon with star superior.

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Here is a close up of the escutcheon on the engineer / radio operator wing, showing the beautiful, well-executed pouring of the enamel with virtually no overlap or splash outside the intended design areas.

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Here is a shot of the interesting rear portion of the escutcheon on the engineer / radio operator Wing in that there is a concave reservoir even upon the rear of the escutcheon. The pin assembly is most excellent with a solid and thick solder of the hinge tube and a thick pin of excellent quality utilized as well. The concave reservoir on the rear of the escutcheon ends up flushing the pin to the rear a little bit and thus giving a more flush to the tunic wear of the wing. Just excellent craftsmanship.

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An overhead shot of the hinge and pin on the rear of the escutcheon. The pin at this angle is opened to the point where it meets with resistance to go any further which I believe was part of the design. Very solid feel to moving the pin

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Overhead shot of rear with pin opened to the angle designed to provide resistance at.

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Full face shot of the radio operator / engineer wing.

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Rear shot for comparison, of the Navigator wing with a U.S. style pin assembly

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Final shot gentlemen of the Navigator full facial , thank you so much for your time and indulgence and I hope you enjoy learning about this new niche in Air Transport Command collecting... North African Division Air Transport Command...

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Mel.....WOW! Thanks for posting such a rare wing.


Always looking for 4th Fighter Group and 490th Bomb Group items.

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Super stuff!


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Here are a few more of the patches from the Rick Breithaupt collection, spotlighting our friend "Nad" the camel. I named him Nad of course after North African Division ATC. I figured he needed a name if we were going to talk about him. Great mascot! These patches good examples of what patches came out of Air Transport Command in North Africa and the CBI regarding the hand painting method.

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Notice our intrepid NAD the camel always aloft that magic red carpet symbolizing our technological leap into what was still a relatively new frontier of exploration and the activities of mankind, including warfare, the firmament.

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This version of Nad the camel, gives us a more ?️ desert feel, subduing in Brown a lot of the accoutrements including the carpet upon which he traverses the heavens and our trademark Fez cap. On Nad's back is what typically looks like an ammo crate, a suitcase with the proverbial luggage tag hanging on as it flaps in the wind and finally the balm upon the heart and mind of so many soldiers throughout the war, the mail from home and to home.

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I believe the first patch, NAFD - ATD

is North African Ferry ATC


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WANTED: U.S. MARKSMASHIP MEDALS AND BADGES AWARED FOR EXCELLENCE-IN-COMPETITION

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Thanks so much for the clarification cookie man!! That's awesome! I looked at the camel and saw NAD and ATC in the lettering and just passed over it! What a delightful addition to the history, seeing that they actually had an exclusive patch for the portion of pilots and aircrew concentrating on ferrying aircraft exclusively, in the North African division of the ATC!!

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Ironically, I just picked up a patch today that fits into this thread.

 

North African Ferry Division, ATC

1252nd AAF Base Unit.

 

Was located in Casablanca at Cazes Field

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Whoa... THAT is a first!


HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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Thanks so much for the education. I saw these for sale but had no idea what I was looking at and searches for "cairo commando" as the seller had them listed, produced no results. Congrats on a really nice wing!

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Thanks so much for the education. I saw these for sale but had no idea what I was looking at and searches for "cairo commando" as the seller had them listed, produced no results. Congrats on a really nice wing!

 

Ditto, I saw them as well. I knew I had seen one before, now I remember where....This thread that I even commented on! haha

 

Nice score. Congrats.....

 

JD


AAF Collector...........
**Always Buying WW2 Aviation Related Items: Especially Operation Tidal Wave items (1st Ploesti Raid) ..... WW2 Fighter Ace Related Items.....Higher End A-2 Flight Jacket Groups....AAF Related Valor Medal Groups**

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