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Does anyone know anything about a WASP B-16 flight jacket?


P-59A
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Let me amend that last post. Arnold's archives seem to me to be the only chance of proving beyond any doubt one way or the other about that jacket. If nothing exists in Arnold's archives between Cochran and him talking about that jacket then I think it fair to say that would be the last nail. 

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I thought this was interesting for several reasons. After Hap Arnold sent the official letter to the Director of Women Pilots(Cochran's title) about the deactivation of the WASP program, Jackie Cochran sent her letter to the WASPs  - Oct 2, 1944, the very next day. There was no confusion or doubt months ahead of time that the program was ending. The proposed inefficiency, lack of info, and the "Well, maybe they didn't get the memo"-type of assumptions made don't really appear, at least here. There is a generation bias that causes us to always assume we are smarter, more enlightened, and more efficient than previous generations. It's amazing what was done without our tech. There is a paper trail out there for sure.   

 

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I also thought this letter was interesting:

 

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Early '44. From the AAFHQ letterhead and mention of WASP requirements that included passing Army physical exam and Aviation Cadet qualifying examination, and that(in top letter) "The Army Air Force will issue a certificate of honorable service and discharge similar to the type issued to officers when they are relieved from active duty." Also a rating card to each WASP for use in obtaining CAA commercial license post service.

The perceived obscurity of WASP info due to "civilian organization" status is also not really reflected.

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vintageproductions
On 1/8/2023 at 2:10 PM, dmar836 said:

Find "Full Gear", Aota may have the actual contract dates in there. He would certainly have the answer if anyone actually wanted proof.

Sorry this is all now circular reasoning.

Best,

Dave

 

I just pulled my copy of Full Gear out and it's hard to use this publications as he does not mention any of the female flight jackets just the mens.

 

While I have been thinking about the start of this thread was an attack on the label, then Steve showed the same type of label being used in the B-17 flight Nurse flight.

 

Here is a photo of the nylon version the B-17B flight nurse jacket, with it there is at least 15-20 years proof of these type labels being used in Women's flight jackets.

b17b.jpg

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Thanks for checking Full Gear.

Not sure how a VN era jacket plays into this discussion. If every time someone shows a cloth label I respond with a host of woven labels would that convince anyone of anything? I think a divide in this thread is that label material has now been distilled as if it is the "one thing remaining" to prove. For me, that's never been the GO/NOGO at all. It wasn't the AAF standard so I'm not a fan of that but there are much greater questions that this thread has revealed. I know you all want to discredit the OP's comments and you've made your points. If these B-16s all had AAF woven labels the dates would be all that was left to discuss here. Instead we aren't discussing the dates and timeline at all. Those are the real GO/NO GO data. If you showed me an A-2 with a cloth label we wouldn't look to these cloth labeled examples as having set a new precedent and then begin reconsidering A-2 labels. Show every other cloth label we can find, now even extremely post -war variants, isn't really building the case IMO. And I'm the one hoping to stumble on some contract data.

When I look, very even very little, I stumble on all sorts of interesting documents that don't support the way the WASP program, training, equipment, or communication has been portrayed. I'd sure be interested in some new evidence. It's as if we don't want to dig for fear of what we will find. Bob, you looking in Full Gear is the first mention of researching for any contract data. Certainly appreciated but that's kinda frustrating.

Cloth or woven, what about the 1945 AAF order date on the label? What is it we are trying to prove? Fine, 86 P-59A, prove there were cloth labels during the war, but then what? Even when I concede the cloth labels are not my problem, the other questions all get ignored.

 

For a couple weeks now, the cloth labels have no longer been the problem that I see.

Dave

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vintageproductions

For starters this jacket shown is from the Korean War, not Vietnam.

 

I think the tags are a big part of the story, as even the civilian knock-offs have the silk woven tags in them, but they just have different wording.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So, in the name of humility and honesty, I will add in that I had a helpful off-thread conversation with PQD. I threw this fiscal year issue out earlier with no bites but was misleading.

I do not want to misquote him but PQD reminded me of the following, "Regarding the Purchase Order (P. O.) listed on the label, these P. O. numbers begin with the fiscal year (FY) in which the P. O. was written, so the “45” refers to FY 1945, which began July 1, 1944 and ended June 30, 1945."

So being right for the wrong reason or being wrong for right reasons is no virtue to me, thus the update.

So, this puts us back into the potential production window of Summer to Fall '44 through summer '45. It is interesting that there was a lag of at least three months from approval to a contract order when other contracts were actually completed in nearly the same time. Just can't let go of some questions.

PQD also mentioned B-16s have been found in WASP estates. That's exactly what I question and want to hear and see. If anyone has such info, please post here. My concern for this garment is that if not found in estates, documentation, or records of operational WASPs, it loses it's iconic status to me. It actually already has as discussed ad nauseam. There are other similar items that are, or were, "iconic" but have fallen out of favor with collectors when later shown to be "no so iconic".  

I assume no other paperwork or vetted examples have been dug up recently?

Let's keep digging!

Dave 

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  • 2 months later...

hello to all and excuse me for my bad english. I am French and live in France.
I am the owner of the B16 jacket pictured at the beginning of the post. If you are interested I can take more photos for you. regarding his story I can say that. this jacket was in the collection of a former resistant along with many other us and german objects. all the equipment held by this person was new from stock (I can also attach photos). there was also an M51 jacket. it seems likely that the us material comes from stock left in france and resold on the market in the 50s/60s/70s. I don't know if this jacket is authentic or not but I followed your discussions on the forum with passion.
Cordially
Thierry

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Gee dmar! I'm happy to see you are still in the mix! Not sure about sacraficing me to the mob... " What is it we are trying to prove? Fine, 86 P-59A, prove there were cloth labels during the war, but then what?" Just kidding!!!! I was wondering if Paulriaom was going to chime in. I thought his two cents was thought provoking, but it's not the nail, at least not yet. I would suggest digging into the French archives to see when that jacket starts to show up in Europe "it seems likely that the us material comes from stock left in france and resold on the market in the 50s/60s/70s. I don't know if this jacket is authentic or not but I followed your discussions on the forum with passion.". Nice job digging into Arnold's papers. It's interesting to see not one believer has taken TWU to task on thier confirmation that jacket never existed. Why is that? If the documentation exists to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that jacket is real I think they would be they would be really supper dupper interested in knowing that in order to correct the historical record, but I see no one has done that, or  is that just masking too much? Just so everyone understands, you bet that makers tag smells bad to me. That was the whole reason for contacting TWU. Prove them wrong! Then you will have standing on the legetimacy of this jacket. IMHO.

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"It seems we are just spinning wheels in the mud right now with the whole not understanding how a piece could have been issued after the program ended." This was interesting. Then what are we to make of that photo of the WASP wearing that jacket? Is she wearing that  jacket or not?

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Remember, Dave, we have to defend not only what we currently have but what we have maybe passed on to other collectors in the past. Without being slanderous, because I'm really not, there is incentive to stay with the "way it's always been".

I want the jacket time frame to be what is hoped for, though many have admitted it was never actually used when the WASPs were active. I have not been able to substantiate it - perhaps less exists than for other rarities with old collector stories.

I do take a little offense, though not much, at being looked down the nose at with sayings like, "You've just not handled enough cloth.", etc. as if that substantiates a date. Many of us can post pics of rows of WWII AAF jackets. That proves nothing so I can only assume the search will go on. At least there are those looking for evidence instead of protecting an assumption. 

No hate but it does hurt the hobby for me and for those entering.

I would still love some anecdotal evidence as discovery is why I'm here.

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Well DMAR, No one gets to have thier cake and eat it too! Either Sweeting was correct or he wasn't. Either it's WASP worn and flown or it is not. Either the documentation exists or it does not. For those with a vested interest I would have thought they would have found something by now. It seems you are the only one who has done any further digging into the records. In this case no news is not good news. In the words of Sonny and Cher, And the beat goes on...

P1012477.JPG.4d779ff2f788c8df1444dbbbee14aff9.jpg

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On 1/8/2023 at 7:01 PM, iron bender said:

Pretty sure I need that last t-shirt. Thinking of all kinds of inappropriate places to where it. Kid's sporting events, grocery store on Sunday, in-law's house for holidays.....the possibilities

 

Considering the sayings on onesies for babies, that shirt is mild for a kids’ sporting event.

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I’ve thought about this post on and off for a while, and now it’s got necroposting.  So I’ll chime in.  Considering these ladies flew prototype planes, it’s possible, if not probable, that it was a prototype jacket in 1944.  Doesn’t mean it has no financial value, but that it might be so rare because of that that we can’t ever confirm something, and because of this, scarcity may demolish the financial value.  There’s a bell curve to it.

 

I agree with @dmar836. We need to be able to defend our assertions.  I recently had to break the news to someone that a WASP wings pin wasn’t original, though they tried to defend that it was…maybe, and that was an awful feeling since I knew it would have meant a lot for them to have had an original (we discussed that auction late last year in the forum for that). When we can’t defend what we have, then pass it off as a “maybe it’s real because we can’t prove it’s fake,” we cause situations where people end up crushed to find their hard-earned money went to something they wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

 

And with very rare exception, handling a lot of fabric definitely won’t substantiate a date.  I’ve handled enough that I can tell you if a piece of silk was weighted with salt, ut even that can only tell you something like when that garment would have been made before.

 

And like dmar, I’d love to be able to say with confidence that this is an original jacket.  It’s so, so cool to me to see things we know to be original WASP things.  I so very much want this to be verified as real.

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11 minutes ago, Noelle said:

I’ve thought about this post on and off for a while, and now it’s got necroposting.  So I’ll chime in.  Considering these ladies flew prototype planes, it’s possible, if not probable, that it was a prototype jacket in 1944.  Doesn’t mean it has no financial value, but that it might be so rare because of that that we can’t ever confirm something, and because of this, scarcity may demolish the financial value.  There’s a bell curve to it.

 

I agree with @dmar836. We need to be able to defend our assertions.  I recently had to break the news to someone that a WASP wings pin wasn’t original, though they tried to defend that it was…maybe, and that was an awful feeling since I knew it would have meant a lot for them to have had an original (we discussed that auction late last year in the forum for that). When we can’t defend what we have, then pass it off as a “maybe it’s real because we can’t prove it’s fake,” we cause situations where people end up crushed to find their hard-earned money went to something they wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

 

And with very rare exception, handling a lot of fabric definitely won’t substantiate a date.  I’ve handled enough that I can tell you if a piece of silk was weighted with salt, ut even that can only tell you something like when that garment would have been made before.

 

And like dmar, I’d love to be able to say with confidence that this is an original jacket.  It’s so, so cool to me to see things we know to be original WASP things.  I so very much want this to be verified as real.

Noel, Thanks for chiming in. My stand is and will be this... If TWU who is the enity holding the largest WASP colection donated by actual WASP's has never heard of this jacket can find no documentation in writing or in the photo archives then I have to hang my hat on that nail. Is it possable paper work could show up proving this jacket is a military contract? Sure, but no one has met that threshold. For me, to make the claim it is real without having the documentation that backs the claim up beyond the shadow of a doubt is problematic. Dig in on this and see what you can find that tips the scale one way orthe other.

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I submit this letter to me from Betty Jean Williams. This confirms in her words TWU's standing as the depository for WASP's. Betty was on me to donate what I found to them and after giving everything to Roy she was on him to do the same thing. 

 Betty passed away some time ago so her contact info is no longer valid.

 

WASP Betty.pdf

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I keep coming back to TWU time and time again for one reason. They are an authority on the WASP program. No one can say they are not. They issued a finding on the jacket based on the information in their archives and found nothing that supports the claim. No one has challenged their claim. In fact no one has said anything about their finding. In the absence of any solid evidence to the contrary what TWU stated holds the high ground on this. The scale tips towards their finding until proven wrong. For those who support the claim of the jackets authinticity I challenge them to take the information they have to TWU and let them reconsider their original finding. I think that is more than fair. If they reconsider I'm good with that!

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3 hours ago, P-59A said:

Noel, Thanks for chiming in. My stand is and will be this... If TWU who is the enity holding the largest WASP colection donated by actual WASP's has never heard of this jacket can find no documentation in writing or in the photo archives then I have to hang my hat on that nail. Is it possable paper work could show up proving this jacket is a military contract? Sure, but no one has met that threshold. For me, to make the claim it is real without having the documentation that backs the claim up beyond the shadow of a doubt is problematic. Dig in on this and see what you can find that tips the scale one way orthe other.

 

I agree with this, though with the caveat that TWU doesn’t have everything.  Highest chance, sure, but not 100%.  At the WASP museum in Sweetwater, there’s a photo of a woman in a WASP uniform that is very obviously not the darker blue that we know, but rather a lighter color that is reportedly lighter blue.  TWU has no record, yet there’s a photo of that too.  No known location of one, so…well, we can’t confirm anything.  

 

Regarding this jacket, I suspect it was a prototype.  It obviously existed, but no evidence at all about it being issued.  For all we know, it was never even intended to go to the WASP.  We’re all aware that they had a lot of men’s cast-offs.  

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1 hour ago, P-59A said:

I keep coming back to TWU time and time again for one reason. They are an authority on the WASP program. No one can say they are not. They issued a finding on the jacket based on the information in their archives and found nothing that supports the claim. No one has challenged their claim. In fact no one has said anything about their finding. In the absence of any solid evidence to the contrary what TWU stated holds the high ground on this. The scale tips towards their finding until proven wrong. For those who support the claim of the jackets authinticity I challenge them to take the information they have to TWU and let them reconsider their original finding. I think that is more than fair. If they reconsider I'm good with that!

I may be making a trip there in person later this year. 😁

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3 hours ago, Noelle said:

I may be making a trip there in person later this year. 😁

Let me know if you do. I'll send you my contacts name in a PM.

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14 hours ago, P-59A said:

Let me know if you do. I'll send you my contacts name in a PM.

 

Will do! I was goimg to go last month, but then ended up deciding to do some renovations, and so were closed.  I’ll definintely be going back to Sweetwater later this year and dragging a cousin with me whose great-grand was a WASP, but I’ll need to see if I can align that trip with Denton, or if Denton will be a separate trip.

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  • 10 months later...
mysteriousoozlefinch

Hopefully not beating a dead horse, but I've not seen anyone post information on Sovereign in this thread.  Maybe I missed it.  They were based out of 711 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, on the 8th floor per 1943 ads in the Tribune looking for power sewing machine operators and had quite a few contracts for flying clothing throughout the war.  Per the Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations for the Year 1944 and 1945 that was indeed the location of the business, Burton J. Bernstein President and Agent. 

 

I've attached the list of their contracts from the Alphabetic Listing of Major War Supply Contracts Cumulative June 1940 through September 1945, Volume 4 Rey-Z.

SovereignMfgCo.Contracts1946.png.d52685d71ed9064b73699dd2fc5abe50.png

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