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The USAAF B2 shearling cap


warguy
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I have two of these in my collection, both decent examples. Since I have not seen much else posted on these, I thought it might be beneficial to others to open a discussion. I have always admired these little caps, they are so iconic of the war in the air in WWII. I also find them distinctly American if that makes sense, and its hard not to imagine that they are essential a leather baseball cap with ear flaps. It is also hard not to think of the B3 and B6 jackets these were often worn with. In the book "Flight Gear by Mathieu Bianchi, he lists known makers as Perry Sportswear, Rough Wear Clothing, Shaw-Barton and Werber Sportswear. I have one example from Perry Sportswear and another from Shaw-Barton I will share here. I invite others to share any examples they may have in their own collection, especially of other manufacturers. 

 

First up, the Perry Sportswear model. It is well made although one can tell these were made in the thousands. This example is made of two different color of leathers, the dark chocolate shearling and a lighter russet shade on the bill and reinforcing tape. The two tone is my personal favorite. I believe the russet shade leather may be horsehide on this example. This piece also has an AAF transfer decal on the left side of the cap, partially hidden by the ear flap. The decal is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, not too big and not too small in my opinion. Here are some photos. 

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As mentioned, the second example in my collection was manufactured by Shaw Barton. It is distinctly different in many ways. First off, it is all dark chocolate in color with no contrasting bill or reinforcing tape on the cap. I have seen that some collector and reenactors prefer this. Also, there is no evidence there was ever a decal or transfer on this hat. The most notable difference in my opinion however, is the stitching of the three main panels along the top. Bianchi in the book mentioned above, (page 8) states the following in his caption of a Perry Sportswear model:  "B-2 cap by Perry Sportswear, which differs rom those made by Shaw-Barton by the three lines of assembly stitching on the crown". When I first read this, I assumed Shaw Barton must have only two lines of stitching instead of three ((as the Perry Sportswear photographed in his book has three stitch lines). However I believe what he is trying to express is that Shaw Barton "tucked" their shearling in and stitched it from the underside as opposed to exposing the stitching to the exterior. If you look at the exterior of the cap body and compare it to the Perry Sportswear model, I think you will see what I am describing. It is my understanding that Shaw-Barton was the only manufacturer to construct the B-2 cap in this fashion. Here are some photos of the Shaw-Barton B2. Thanks, and once again, I hope to see some other examples, maybe a redskin and or a Werber. 

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phantomfixer

I have a redskin that I can dig out tonight...

nice examples you have...The B-2 is one of the most iconic pieces of headgear worn by the AAF...in all theaters, by all types of crewmen and personnel...

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Thank you warguy for the tutorial on these.

I also have a love of these iconic caps.

I got some great information on this site when I was searching for my addition.

Mine turned out to be the US Navy version of this cap.

I do plan on adding a AAF version of this cap and finding good material to study would help. 

 

Since you reference the book  "Flight Gear by Mathieu Bianchi"

 May I ask is this a good reference book for these cap's?

 

I have both books by Sweeting , But they are limited to the information/B&W photographs provided.

 

Why do some have the AAF decal and other's do not?

 

Great B-2's by the way!!!!

 

Semper Fi

Phil

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phantomfixer

In the late 90s, Shaw Barton caps surfaced, the ones I am referencing were all size 7 1/4.  All had aged sheepskin bodies, sheepskin we would expect to see on a 55 year old cap, but they had new bills, or at least no wear on the bills, yet the sheepskin showed typical aging characteristics...the book Gear Up references the SB in 7 1/4...the 1990s SB caps always intruiged me, mainly because so many showed up on the market at the same time with the same physical description and size

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I always believed that someone must have found a box of unissued B-2 caps and they were all the same size as would be expected. We all know that the shearling degrades and begins to tear even with only the slightest pressure. I have always assumed that it was the leather treatment that was put on the sheepskin that has caused the leather to become so fragile. Untreated "arctic" flight gear does not tend to be nearly as fragile. Back when these caps surfaced, the prices they were commanding was not sufficient for me to think that someone was making new caps out of old flight jackets. Today, there may be a little more motivation to try to fake these caps, but there still is a lot of work that would have to be done to make a convincing reproduction.

 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the thread.

 

Allan

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Great discussion guys, thanks. My SB is sized a 7. I agree that even some of the repros are reasonable priced today (I just bought one from Five Star for $99.00) but with originals still selling for reasonable amounts I don’t know if there is enough profit margin for the fakers. As the reproductions today age, I could certainly see mistakes made in the future as many reproductions have original maker labels in them. The Perry Sportswear shown here came from an estate sale and I have an original letter mailed to the airman dated 1944 who wore it. He was with either the 44th bomb group or 40th bomb group (looks like there was some confusion and both of those are referenced on the envelope). I can’t remember where I acquired the SB as I have owned it for about 25 years. It shows more age and wear than the Perry especially to the shearling inside. 

 

AZ Phil, I do like the Flight Gear book mentioned, but I have pretty much shared all of the information in the book on these caps. He has just a short section on them with one photo. I haven’t been able to find a lot of detailed information on these B2’s, and even a search here on the forum came up pretty thin, which was why I thought a thread on them might be beneficial. 

 

Phantom fixer I cannot wait wait to see your redskin. Thanks again guys. 

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phantomfixer

HLB corp B-2...scored last year in a good size, and wear it from time to time, but mainly stays in a no UV ray enviornment...still soft and pliable. 

I have an Eastman from 20 years ago and it is a daily winter cap, and I had a Fivestar redskin, but the sheepskin did not like the rain and ice/snow...sadly. The Eastman has endured 20 years of ice and snow and rain...anyway....

 

Love the redskin caps

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Very nice, thanks for sharing. HLB is a fifth maker and not mentioned in the reference book I cited in the OP. Thanks again!

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5 hours ago, phantomfixer said:

HLB corp B-2...scored last year in a good size, and wear it from time to time, but mainly stays in a no UV ray enviornment...still soft and pliable. 

I have an Eastman from 20 years ago and it is a daily winter cap, and I had a Fivestar redskin, but the sheepskin did not like the rain and ice/snow...sadly. The Eastman has endured 20 years of ice and snow and rain...anyway....

 

Love the redskin caps

 

So I am curious, why would you buy a Five Star if your ELC was so good? Five Star isn’t currently making a redskin. I have read some good reviews recently on their product so maybe they changed their leather or tanning process. I haven’t received it in the mail yet. 

5 hours ago, phantomfixer said:

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phantomfixer

Simple...my Eastman is not a redskin...a great cap..but not a redskin...and wanted a redskin I could wear...daily during winter hikes...

The 5star also used a thicker shearling...maybe their stock B2s are of the correct thickness shearling..mine was a custom request.....

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Gotcha, thanks. I considered an ELC but their photos all show a bill that is turned up. Maybe they don’t come that way, but I prefer a baseball cap shape and just couldn’t get past that. I am a big ELC fan though, costly, but high quality. I have several of their jackets. 

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Here's one I made years back.  I used USN shearling IIRC. It's a bit thicker.thumbnail3.jpg.31f6171ad10c07eeb1aaf28ef2767266.jpg

 

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Had to rush it back out of the room as repros aren't allowed in there!

 

 

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Wow dmar, nice SB and you did a great job making one yourself. I can’t even darn my own socks! Thanks for sharing. 

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