Jump to content

post WWII, 50's & 60's US Air Force uniform photos


Bob Hudson
 Share

Recommended Posts

...I'm wondering about the braid piping (that appears to be) around her overseas cap. Think they were still using the AAF colors?

My wholly unscientific WAG on the question of transitional USAF enlisted cap cord colors is "yes," the former AAF colors ultramarine blue and golden yellow were used for this purpose by both enlisted men and women. The unlikely alternative would have been for the WAF to wear the WAC colors old gold and moss-tone green (I kid you not)…and that seems to be a losing proposition. Proof? None. However, here are a couple of pictures of another WAF, taken ca. 1949 and ca. 1951, which show a bi-color cap braid. The earlier picture even appears to be a black-and-white copy of a full color or colorized portrait — too bad we don’t have the original in color to conclusively answer this interesting question.

 

post-1963-1318196706.jpg

 

post-1963-1318196736.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wholly unscientific WAG on the question of transitional USAF enlisted cap cord colors is "yes," the former AAF colors ultramarine blue and golden yellow were used for this purpose by both enlisted men and women. The unlikely alternative would have been for the WAF to wear the WAC colors old gold and moss-tone green (I kid you not)…and that seems to be a losing proposition. Proof? None. However, here are a couple of pictures of another WAF, taken ca. 1949 and ca. 1951, which show a bi-color cap braid. The earlier picture even appears to be a black-and-white copy of a full color or colorized portrait — too bad we don’t have the original in color to conclusively answer this interesting question.

********************************************

 

Just to confuse the isssue a little more, here's picture of my Dad (USAAF/USAF 1943-1969) wearing an overseas cap with no piping at all. Picture taken in Celle, Germany, July of 1949.

post-7471-1318202734.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Just to confuse the isssue a little more, here's picture of my Dad (USAAF/USAF 1943-1969) wearing an overseas cap with no piping at all. Picture taken in Celle, Germany, July of 1949...

Yes, I remember that picture well. Thanks for reposting it on this thread, astra, where it shall have a permanent home.

 

Your dad is wearing his garrison cap (aka “flight cap” per AFL 35-4, Sept. 1, 1948) “as issued” i.e., without branch braid. The idea behind bare garrison caps was that the soldier would be responsible to attach cap braid of the branch needed to match his unit of assignment, just as he would sew on appropriate unit shoulder patches. Of course, these types of unit insignia were issued by unit supply and in the transitional USAF their availability undoubtedly became problematic as time went by (how about soon after Sept. 1947). Perhaps your dad had just picked up a new khaki garrison cap but couldn’t find the old AAF blue and yellow piping in his unit supply room or maybe he didn’t even try. Think about it: How long would the USAF remain interested in supplying Army legacy items for the benefit of airman whom they wanted to be going Blue in any case?

 

By the way, the “flight cap” was AWOL from the first generation of USAF Blues, which provided for a service cap only (per AFL 35-46, April 8, 1949). This blunder probably was soon corrected. Does anyone have an early dated photo of an officer or airman wearing the blue flight cap to post here? I’ll open with the following from October 1952.

 

post-1963-1318215231.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
...By the way, the “flight cap” was AWOL from the first generation of USAF Blues, which provided for a service cap only (per AFL 35-46, April 8, 1949). This blunder probably was soon corrected. Does anyone have an early dated photo of an officer or airman wearing the blue flight cap to post here? I’ll open with the following from October 1952...

June 1952 in Korea.

 

post-1963-1319445362.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here’s a scene from the pilot for The Brat in the Hat, a T.V. series about growing up in the Air Force ca. 1955. What? You never heard of it. Unfortunately “The Brat” lost out to Leave it to Beaver, which aired for six seasons starting in 1957.

 

post-1963-1319445901.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here’s a scene from the pilot for The Brat in the Hat, a T.V. series about growing up in the Air Force ca. 1955. What? You never heard of it. Unfortunately “The Brat” lost out to Leave it to Beaver, which aired for six seasons starting in 1957.

 

post-1963-1319445901.jpg

Wow!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

USAF Master Sergeant wearing 14th Air Force patch ca. 1950.

 

post-1963-1320028209.jpg

 

Another excellent picture....don't know where you find them.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

England, 1951: Picture on the left, my Dad, with his buddy, Bray, taking a little time off by the sea. On the right, same two guys in fatigues back on base at RAF Manston; but note S/Sgt Bray still wearing Army chevrons......

post-7471-1321667813.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My old man, (then) PFC Gordon Ellis, USAF -- Copenhagen, Denmark, 1949. I think on a few days leave from the Berlin Ailrlift. Hard to see for sure, but looks like the wartime USSTAF patch on his shoulder? But by 1951 he's wearing that patch on the left arm....(see an earlier posting).

post-7471-1321668074.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a uniform photo, but certainly from the early USAF period, so I guess this is the best place to post the picture. This was my Dad's personalized suitcase; the style I believe known as a "B-4 Bag". (If I'm wrong on that, I'm sure somebody will let me know.) I think it was a dark blue color. Surely dates from late '40s? Notice the "AF" prefixed on his serial number. I have my Dad’s dog tags from WW2/AAF and also USAF – seems the AF ones came into use as early as 1948. Hope this is of some interest...

post-7471-1321929385.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Notice the "AF" prefixed on his serial number. I have my Dad’s dog tags from WW2/AAF and also USAF – seems the AF ones came into use as early as 1948. Hope this is of some interest...

Nice B-4 pattern bag, Astra.

 

Indeed, your dad's serial number is very interesting. When your dad enlisted during WWII, serial numbers with lead digits “10” were allotted to the Army’s overseas “Departments” (which were held to be equivalent to Army Corps Areas) for assignment to Regular Army enlisted men. Hawaiian Dept. ranged from 10 10 0000 to 10 19 9999; Panama Canal Dept. 10 20 0000 to 10 29 9999; Philippine Dept. 10 30 0000 to 10 39 9999; Puerto Rican Dept. 10 40 0000 to 10 49 9999. Then there was a big gap before First Corps Area which ranged from 11 00 0000 to 11 99 9999. The "AF" prefix was added to USAF serial numbers of Regular Air Force enlisted men in September 1949.

 

Your dad's number 10 60 1439 does not fit this pattern at all. Where did he enlist?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice B-4 pattern bag, Astra.

 

Indeed, your dad's serial number is very interesting. When your dad enlisted during WWII, serial numbers with lead digits “10” were allotted to the Army’s overseas “Departments” (which were held to be equivalent to Army Corps Areas) for assignment to Regular Army enlisted men. Hawaiian Dept. ranged from 10 10 0000 to 10 19 9999; Panama Canal Dept. 10 20 0000 to 10 29 9999; Philippine Dept. 10 30 0000 to 10 39 9999; Puerto Rican Dept. 10 40 0000 to 10 49 9999. Then there was a big gap before First Corps Area which ranged from 11 00 0000 to 11 99 9999. The "AF" prefix was added to USAF serial numbers of Regular Air Force enlisted men in September 1949.

 

Your dad's number 10 60 1439 does not fit this pattern at all. Where did he enlist?

 

Wailuna -- you have very sharp eyes. My Dad enlisted in USAAF in 1943 right after turning 18, in London, England. (The family were in Britain at the time.) His brother was already in the British Army, and at some point after Pearl Harbor, as a US Citizen he was able to transfer to the US 29th Inf Div, and found himself going up Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a uniform photo, but certainly from the early USAF period, so I guess this is the best place to post the picture. This was my Dad's personalized suitcase; the style I believe known as a "B-4 Bag". (If I'm wrong on that, I'm sure somebody will let me know.) I think it was a dark blue color. Surely dates from late '40s? Notice the "AF" prefixed on his serial number. I have my Dad’s dog tags from WW2/AAF and also USAF – seems the AF ones came into use as early as 1948. Hope this is of some interest...

Manston in '51? We were there at the same time though I don't have any memories of our stay, except riding the trains.

Anyhow, I am pretty sure the B~4 bag in the picture is a commercial version sold in most base/post exchanges of the time. It was a different material than the issue version and was almost always adorned with whatever way the owner chose to personalize it. They still sold these when I came in in the late '60s and what else I remember is the zipper not being "mil~spec" so it was always good to have a belt or cord to prevent a truly catastrophic wardrobe malfunction.

Great pics, thanks for helping stir memories.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Manston in '51? We were there at the same time though I don't have any memories of our stay, except riding the trains.

Anyhow, I am pretty sure the B~4 bag in the picture is a commercial version sold in most base/post exchanges of the time. It was a different material than the issue version and was almost always adorned with whatever way the owner chose to personalize it. They still sold these when I came in in the late '60s and what else I remember is the zipper not being "mil~spec" so it was always good to have a belt or cord to prevent a truly catastrophic wardrobe malfunction.

Great pics, thanks for helping stir memories.

 

Thanks for the info on the personalized B-4 bags. I wish my Dad had kept his!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearer pic.....Notice some are still wearing what appear to be unit award ribbons above right breast pocket. Was '55 the last year this was authorized?

post-7471-1322098105.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearer pic.....Notice some are still wearing what appear to be unit award ribbons above right breast pocket. Was '55 the last year this was authorized?

 

My grandfather (on the left looking at photo) is still wearing his, along with a two others not wearing nametags, and the award has February 1961 written on it.

 

SFKimballSACawardcrew.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandfather (on the left looking at photo) is still wearing his, along with a two others not wearing nametags, and the award has February 1961 written on it.

 

 

 

I had heard that USAF completely "cleaned up" the uniform in the mid-50s. I guess not! Thanks for posting this interesting photo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...I had heard that USAF completely "cleaned up" the uniform in the mid-50s. I guess not!

The USAF uniform “clean-up” project was well underway by 1955 but it was still a work-in-progress for some items until the 1960s. The Distinguished Unit Citation (renamed Presidential Unit Citation in 1957) was one such case. As we see it was being worn Army fashion as late as 1961 in the images above (also here and here). According to USAF directives ca. 1957, the DUC (PUC) was “…worn immediately above the pocket of the right breast to the wearer’s left of all other such emblems.” (source: The Air Officer’s Guide, 10th ed., January 1957, p. 259).

 

There were two unit awards that the Air Force did "clean up" before 1957: The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was authorized in January 1954. This unit award was worn over the left breast pocket, the ruling that evidently launched the current USAF practice of wearing all ribbons above the left pocket. At the time it was created, the AFOUA ranked between the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, which were both used by the USAF until the corresponding Air Force Commendation and Good Conduct medals were authorized in March 1958 and in July 1960, respectively. The AFOUA replaced the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, which the USAF stopped awarding and prohibited wearing on the Air Force uniform (same source as above), although the MUC was authorized in USAF colors ca. mid-1950s (link here). It would be interesting to know if MUCs awarded to members of USAF before this ban were converted AFOUAs...probably not but more research needed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The USAF uniform “clean-up” project was well underway by 1955 but it was still a work-in-progress for some items until the 1960s. The Distinguished Unit Citation (renamed Presidential Unit Citation in 1957) was one such case. As we see it was being worn Army fashion as late as 1961 in the images above (also here and here). According to USAF directives ca. 1957, the DUC (PUC) was “…worn immediately above the pocket of the right breast to the wearer’s left of all other such emblems.” (source: The Air Officer’s Guide, 10th ed., January 1957, p. 259).

 

There were two unit awards that the Air Force did "clean up" before 1957: The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was authorized in January 1954. This unit award was worn over the left breast pocket, the ruling that evidently launched the current USAF practice of wearing all ribbons above the left pocket. At the time it was created, the AFOUA ranked between the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, which were both used by the USAF until the corresponding Air Force Commendation and Good Conduct medals were authorized in March 1958 and in July 1960, respectively. The AFOUA replaced the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, which the USAF stopped awarding and prohibited wearing on the Air Force uniform (same source as above), although the MUC was authorized in USAF colors ca. mid-1950s (link here). It would be interesting to know if MUCs awarded to members of USAF before this ban were converted AFOUAs...probably not but more research needed.

 

 

Thanks for the info.....this topic has evolved into a very informative thread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...