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When did aircrews get to wear the Aerial Gunner Wing?


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Hello All,

I have multiple photo's of Bomber Crews stateside wearing Air Crew wings prior to being stationed in England,

I understand they were given AC wings when they qualified as Aircrew. It also took and additional 6 weeks at Gunnery school to qualify for the Aerial Gunner wings, I thought the Gunnery school was prior to being crewed up. So why I am I seeing these photo's with AC wings being worn on bomber crews versus the Aerial Gunner wings?

 

I thought the Aerial Gunner wings were something that would have been worn only once in a combat theater of operations. Yes /No?

 

I'm just trying to figure out the time frame of when they went from their AC wing to the Gunner wings.

I looked in my copy of "Silver wings ,Pinks and Greens" and online and I could not find an answer to my questions.

 

So I would apprciate any help with this.

Thanks

Semper Fi

Phil

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Hi Phil,

 

I think the reason why is because early on, there were only aircrew wings for the gunners (and I think the bombardiers too). At some point (maybe mid 1943), the air gunner wings came out and they had a choice what they wanted to wear.

 

From what I recall my dad telling me, after he graduated aerial gunnery school (or aerial gonorrhea school as they used to jokingly call it!) in October/November 1944 (after radio operator school), he was awarded both his air gunner wings and his corporal stripes (straight from private). I have a picture of him shortly after wearing both. He was still in the USA at that point. Thus, air gunners were allowed to wear their wings even if in the USA. I once bought an AAF uniform from a guy who never went overseas. It had a nice pair of air gunner wings.

 

After aerial gunnery school, everyone was then sent to attend advanced crew training for specific bombers, such as B-17s, B-29s etc. My dad ended up in B-17 advanced crew training, also in the USA. I’m not sure if he had to go to and graduate crew training in order to wear air crew wings or if they just started wearing them when they were in advanced training.

 

Once he arrived in England, as an aircrew member, he was allowed to wear both the air gunner wings and the air crew wings on his uniform although from what he said, most EMs chose to wear the air gunner wings. I have three of his wings: one sterling aircrew wing, one sterling air gunner wing and one British made bullion and velvet gunner wing.

 

I hope this info helps.

 

Best,

Dan

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I looked up the air gunner wing online (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunner_Badge) and it said it was created and authorized on April 29, 1943. Perhaps the pics are prior to this date. Another possibility is that even though they were authorized on that date, it likely took a while for the authorization to filter down and for the air gunner wings to catch on.

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Thank you Dan,

I greatly appreciate the lesson from a Vet's son. You can't beat that info.

Its good to hear the order of training. So tech school then Gunnery then flight training. That is great info!!!

 

That makes a lot of sense about the pic's I'm seeing being prior to the Gunner wing authorization date.I'll have to go back and see what dates these were taken.

 

Awesome information Dan

Thank you again for clarifying it for me.

 

Semper Fi

Phil

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Thank you 5thwingmarty,

Another bit of information I did not know..

 

Another reason that I do love this site is the education one can get here when he asked questions.

Thank You All for being here and replying to these.

 

Semper Fi

Phil

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On 4/21/2020 at 10:13 PM, AZPhil said:

Thank you Dan,

I greatly appreciate the lesson from a Vet's son. You can't beat that info.

Its good to hear the order of training. So tech school then Gunnery then flight training. That is great info!!!

 

That makes a lot of sense about the pic's I'm seeing being prior to the Gunner wing authorization date.I'll have to go back and see what dates these were taken.

 

Awesome information Dan

Thank you again for clarifying it for me.

 

Semper Fi

Phil


Hi Phil, it’s my pleasure.  For some reason, from an early age, I had a fascination with militaria and war history and I was constantly asking my dad questions about his experiences but especially about his wings and patches!  He was always happy to answer my questions and through your questions, I was able to relive talking with my dad.  It brought back great memories.

Best,

Dan

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Don't know exactly how long it took to get them handed out, but I have a pair of wings from an Alabama aerial gunner with the 15th AF. He was an aviation cadet in Dec 1943 and by July 1945 had already had a 30 day furlough back home after doing over 51 missions over Italy in under a year. I have his graduation picture in full leather jacket and flying helmet wearing the aeiral gunner wings I have. So, between Dec 1943 and July 1944, they handed them out!

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Found I have another aritcle that states the flyer I mentioned above was awarded his gunner wings Summer 1944 at Harlingen, Texas.

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If you ever want a custom hand-embroidered (no machine) patch, I'm open to commissions! Pay or trade!
***********************
For an idea of my military collecting interests and wish list, see my profile page!
Looking for Old-Style US Coast Guard Commendation Medal (w/ or w/o ribbon)!

Oh, tarry and be strong; Tell God in prayer. What is thy hidden grief; Thy secret care.

Yet, if no answer come; Pray on and wait: God's time is always best; Never too late.

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Although not officially authorized until April of 1943, the process to establish the Aerial Gunner rating started at least as early as 1942.  There is a Quartermaster General's diagram dated November 30, 1942 illustrating the Aerial Gunner wing.  Also, the book for the Tyndall Field Aerial Gunner School Class 42-47 includes a drawing of the Aerial Gunner wing.  This was the first Tyndall class book to include such a drawing.  This class would have graduated around November 20, 1942.

I have Tyndall class books up to class 44-12, and they continued to have a drawing of the Aircrew wing on the back cover, and drawings of both the Aircrew and Aerial Gunner wings scattered throughout the books.

It is my understanding that many of the Aerial Gunners who were issued Aircrew wings bought the Aerial Gunner wings as they liked them better.

Marty

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4 hours ago, militbuff said:


Hi Phil, it’s my pleasure.  For some reason, from an early age, I had a fascination with militaria and war history and I was constantly asking my dad questions about his experiences but especially about his wings and patches!  He was always happy to answer my questions and through your questions, I was able to relive talking with my dad.  It brought back great memories.

Best,

Dan

Dan,

I'm Very Glad to hear I did that for you!!!,

 My Uncle never spoke about his service even after me asking him every time I saw him. His family told me the same thing. Now his experience was a little traumatic, Being shot down ,and blown out of the B-17(MACR).  4 out of the 10 crewmen were KIA on April 13th 1944 and he spent the duration of the war in Stalag XVIIB. I was fortunate to become friends with the left waist gunner of that crew. He's 99 now and still sharp as a tack!! When he told me what happened that day, I understood why my uncle never spoke about it!!!

Take Care and Stay Safe!!!

 

Marty,

Thank you for the additional info about the wings.

I'll have to ask my friend Phil where he went to Gunnery school.

 

Semper Fi

Phil

 

l

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  • 3 weeks later...

My father graduated from Tyndell flexible gunnery course in 1943.  As I recall he told me that he was presented with Air Crew wings but bought his gunner wings later from a vendor.  I will look for the exact dates.  As an aside, he was shot down on his 51st mission on a night intruder raid to take out the last bridge over the Po River in Italy.  The pilot was killed bailing out too low.  My father, the other gunner and bombardier evaded capture for 9 days and returned to American lines.   

Gary B

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Most of my Tyndall books have been scanned and are posted on the aafcollection.info website.  If you don't have his class book you can look through those and see if you can find him.  If he is not in any of those let me know as I have picked up a few more Tyndall books that I still need to scan.

Marty

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