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Review: Flighter by Society Brand Hat Company


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Society's Flighter comes in a hat box with a Bancroft label on the side. The cap I received was wrapped in a plastic bag and contained a Bancroft sales ad and a “How to Care for your Flighter” card.

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EXTERIOR
The fabrics and materials used in the overall construction are about as close as 21st century materials be to 1940s originals. The top is elastique wool, shade 51, which matched one of the original Flighters in my collection almost perfectly. The cupped leather visor and strap are equal in color and have a slightly reddish tint on the caramel brown spectrum as compared to the other two. The mohair center band is probably “new old stock” and is the darker olive color. The two side buttons are the split pin type (as compared to screw-on) which matches the two originals. All exterior dimensions appear to match the originals, including the top diameter. This is a detail which nearly all other reproductions get wrong leading to a crown which either has no overhang over the cap frame, or too much.

 

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Originals left and center, SBHC Flighter on right

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CAP EAGLE
Cap eagles in WW2 came in different sizes, styles, materials (gold plated, brass), and were made by numerous manufacturers. The eagle supplied with the Flighter is a modern reproduction and marked “Acid Test Gemsco” on the rear. Aside from the obvious shininess, the pattern is one of the common WW2 variations, and was often seen on original caps. It is easily removed by one round nut on the rear and could easily be swapped with an original.

 

INTERIOR
As is common in original caps, the celluloid sweatshield in both of my examples has carmelized and all but obliterated the Bancroft label. Society's cap features a color label behind a clear sweatshield (intended to keep sweat and oil from staining the cap fabric). I imagine this is how Flighters looked when they were new, but I've never seen one in “like new” condition in my 30 years of collecting.

It takes careful examination to determine the actual color of the interior lining in the originals. In both cases, the yellow satin liner can only be observed in the center front of the crown. The material used in the SBHC Flighter appears to be a modern match and no discernible difference can be noted.

 

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SWEATBAND
The color of leather varies with age, exposure to heat, and contact with hair oils and sweat. The Flighter logo embossed on Society Brand's closely matches the originals, although the modern leather is slightly thicker and has a different ventilation hole pattern. Instead of holes encompassing the band, there are perforated sections. I know there were variations of sweatbands throughout the production run of Flighters, including the placement of the Flighter logo, and overall the execution is well done even if not an 100% match to the originals I have on hand. This is not to say it isn't an original pattern, it just doesn't match the samples I have.

 

OVERALL
I think the amount of research into the correct pattern of Bancroft Flighters is apparent in this model, and is replicated as closely as possible using modern materials. I could not find any major faults with the cap, which wears nicely and fits well. The visor retains its shape and can be easily manipulated without damage. Will modern leather hold up for 70+ years? Only time will tell, but I think that once it is broken in and obtains a patina of wear, it will look even more authentic. This is as close as you can get to a “new-in-the-box” Flighter, and I believe this reproduction will only get better with age.

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Wow, that's an incredible replica. I couldn't tell which was the original and what was the replica until I read which was which and even then they looked identical. Best replica I have ever seen.

Collecting WWI 26th Division Machine Gun and Infantry related Helmets, Equipment, Groupings, Photos and Dog Tags!


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Wow, that's an incredible replica. I couldn't tell which was the original and what was the replica until I read which was which and even then they looked identical. Best replica I have ever seen.

 

It truly is, thanks for the comment!

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

It's been 2 years and although the SBHC Flighter hasn't seen hard use, it has broken in nicely. The leather has changed color and is darker as expected. I have changed out eagles numerous times just trying out different styles.

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