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Question about British Glider Pilot wing


Tonomachi

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This glider pilot wing sold on eBay recently for $427.86 (see link & photos below).  The photographs aren't in sharp focus but it looks just like the one in the website Aviation Wings and Badges of the World Wars (see link & photos below).  The one in this website is in sharp focus and unless I am mistaken you can tell that it is a cast piece.  I collect mostly paratrooper wings and I would never touch a WW2 British made cast US paratrooper wing as I don't believe they were ever made in this fashion as in my opinion they were all die stamped.   So my question is did the British during WW2 produce cast US Glider Pilot wings?  

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/U-S-W-W-II-3-034-A-A-F-BRITISH-MADE-GLIDER-PILOT-WINGS-/184609467779?nordt=true&nma=true&si=zPB74816eizWSUrPhjchAtUDTJw%3D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

 

http://www.ww2wings.com/wings/usaaf/gliderpilot/presleyaafgliderpilot2.shtml

 

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On another thread (Post #13) are photographs of a very similar WW2 British made Glider Pilot wing that looks to be die stamped (see link and photos).  This one looks genuine and is similar to the one that just sold on eBay except besides it not being cast it has a slightly different pin back assembly where the pin is thicker pin, the catch is slightly different and the soldered on tube looks smaller.  

 

 

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rathbonemuseum.com

I saw this. I don't have a lot to add. The only other legitimate option is that someone in India copied this style of wing and remade it and provide the British style of findings. I also note that the one on eBay has the very Indian looking brassy silver. As you say, I find most examples of UK manufacturers (Gaunt, Firmin, Ludlow) are struck. I also no of none in two part make with weep holes. So I am leaning India.

 

Tod

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Tod Rathbone
Rathbone Museum of WWII Aviation Uniforms and Insignia
http://www.rathbonemuseum.com
http://www.facebook.com/rathbonemuseum

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I actually have a WW2 Indian made US Glider Pilot wing in my collection (see photo).  I guess it could be possible that someone in the CBI Theater copied a British made US Glider Pilot wing which would mean that a glider pilot in Europe would have had to transfer over to the CBI Theater sometime after VE Day.   

 

 

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I debated bidding on that glider wing, but decided I was not comfortable with the pin and the catch on it. Just a bit too off front the classic British style. It didn't dawn on me that it could be a CBI wing, but that seems very plausible. I asked the eBay seller how confident he was the they were authentic. Seller responded "100% authentic. Look at the details and patina." Which might very well be true, but did not give me anymore confidence that they were legitimate British made wings. The quality of the photos in the eBay listing made it impossible to tell if the telltale "weep holes" were present. And which are clearly visible on the glider pilot wing from the Aviation Wings and Badges website. I only have a handful of British made wings and none of them are cast.

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1 hour ago, jeff41st said:

I debated bidding on that glider wing, but decided I was not comfortable with the pin and the catch on it. Just a bit too off front the classic British style. It didn't dawn on me that it could be a CBI wing, but that seems very plausible. I asked the eBay seller how confident he was the they were authentic. Seller responded "100% authentic. Look at the details and patina." Which might very well be true, but did not give me anymore confidence that they were legitimate British made wings. The quality of the photos in the eBay listing made it impossible to tell if the telltale "weep holes" were present. And which are clearly visible on the glider pilot wing from the Aviation Wings and Badges website. I only have a handful of British made wings and none of them are cast.

I didn't bid either because I didn't trust this piece based on the above mentioned observations and my prior experience with all of the fake British made US paratrooper wings that have come out of the UK over the years.  

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Other than the price, I didn't see too much that I didn't like on this wing.  All the caveats of not having good photos etc.... But there were a couple of things that I did like.  The detail on the shield and the feather tips didn't look cast to me.  Also the catch, with a square profile along the edge is similar to what I have seen on vintage Ludlow-made badges. 

 

In fact, there are a number of Ludlow variations.  Some are marked with an excised Ludlow London hallmark that is usually very weak and "muddy" looking.  There are also some variations that seem to have been cut down from pilot wings with the different ratings added. There are also some patterns with a "weep" hole, but I am not sure what that was used for.

 

The Ludlow wings also seem to use a couple of different types of findings.  You will often find them with a very thin and longish steel pin--but sometimes you will also find them with a stronger brass type pin.  The catches that were used can etiher be a thick half round bit of wire twisted into a "C" shape.  Or they may have a "C" shaped catch that appears to have been cut out of flat metal plate, which gives the catch square shaped sides (like in this one in the OP and this Ludlow Glider badge).

 

I agree that you don't find English made wings being cast.  More often than not, they are in a white metal material that can have a yellowish hue when aged.  The metal is soft and can show some wear and tear that may be seen as "casting" flaws.  But I really don't see any signs of casting on this wing (caveat being that the photos aren't great).

 

All in all, if you take everything in stride, this seems like a rarer variation of an already rare Ludlow wing (frankly, I am not feeling that this OP wing is CBI).

 

Finally, The USAAF/USAF had a long history with the UK, during WWII and well into the cold war.  It is likeley that a fair number of these English companies provided insignia to US airmen stationed at the various post-war RAF facilities well into the 60's or 70's.  I once bought a nice English made-cold war dated late 60's early 70's USAF major's uniform (I want to say F105 pilot, but could be wrong) who had a Gaunt command pilot wing with US style findings that probably dated to the 70's when the uniform was tailored. 

 

But with any English-made wing, as a collector, you have to find your own comfort level. 

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Here is my example of this wing. As you can see the letter is applied to a base pilot wing. I see either shear marks or they could be file marks on the edges but they're pretty uniform in the same direction. Honestly I dont know if these were even cast it doesn't appear to be but I'll have a better look with a loop tonight. The catch looks british on mine. I also believe there were repros made of this wing but I could be wrong. 

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On 1/13/2021 at 2:17 PM, rathbonemuseum.com said:

I also no of none in two part make with weep holes. So I am leaning India.

 Sorry, I was mixed up and thought that "weep holes" was referring to the small pock marks from the air bubbles and are visible on those glider pilot wings posted on the website Aviation Wings and Badges of the World Wars. Not the large hole in the back center of the wing.

 

On 1/14/2021 at 12:52 PM, pfrost said:

Also the catch, with a square profile along the edge is similar to what I have seen on vintage Ludlow-made badges. 

Well I guess I just need to see and handle more of these British made wings. Hard for me to shell out that kind of money without handling them. Actually its hard for me to shell out that kind of money regardless.😜

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