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?Best visual reference chart(s)?


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I've done a lot of searching and searching and searching, everywhere possible...

 

Can anyone suggest online source(s) for comprehensive and accurate visual charts for referencing US Army aviation wings chronology from earliest times up to the onset of WWII, please.

 

In the process of completing memorial biographies for fallen and deceased airmen trying to be accurate as to which wings and insignia etc. each one would have worn at their given moment in aviation history is rather complicated, and finding something reliable and accurate for reference would be greatly appreciated.

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I think you would want to start with a number of references: These all provide a fair amount of information on the pre-WWI, WWI and post WWI wing insignia.

 

Cambell, J. Duncan. Aviation Badges and Insignia of the United States 1913-1946. 1977. The Triangle Press.

 

Maguire, Jon. Silver Wings, Pinks and Greens. 1996. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Atglen, PA.

 

Maguire, Jon. More Silver Wings, Pinks and Greens. 1997. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Atglen, PA.

 

Morris, Terry. United States Army Air Service Wing Badges - Uniforms and Insignia 1913-1918. Scott A. Duff Publications

 

Rosignoli, Guido. Air Force Badges and Insignia of World War 2. 1976. Arco Publishing Co. New York.

 

The problem is that nothing is every cut and dried. The earliest 1913 badge (the gold Military Aviator badge), awarded to about 24-26 individuals would start your time line. During WWI, the wing designs, requirements and styles changed a number of times between about 1916 and 1919. You see a wide range of mixes of styles between State-side and Overseas pilots, new and old times, etc. Still, you may want to look at the original Hap Arnold designed Military Aviator, Reserve Military Aviator, and Observer bullion styles that eventually morphed into the metal style wings of the later war period.

 

By 1919 with the new "Adams" style wing, you quickly open up a whole new can of worms, as the general style of wings were changed. Also, with a number of short lived alterations in the uniform regulations, the inter-war years seems to be a rather nebulous and poorly defined era in wing collecting. In addition, a small post WWI Air Force, very few pilots, and general economic and military stagnation during the late 20's and into the Great Depression 30's, more than likely resulted in a few wings being made. Thus, accurately identifying WHEN a wing was made or worn, more than likely represents a mixture of guess work and scholarship (ie. having dated pictures or knowing when a particular company may have been out of business can provide some answers). Yet, by the late 30's, as the pre-Pearl Harbor economy and military began to build up, you again see a flourishing of wings and wing styles.

 

Compounding this is that wings could be generated from dies over a LONG period of time. Thus a company could have been using a specific wing die and could have been making wings for sale to pilots in 1928 as well as 1942. Or stock could have sat on the shelf from 1931 until 1945 when it was finally purchased or issued. Who knows? Of course, some pilots may have had long careers and have been wearing wings made from many different "periods".

 

Still, it ought to be fun to try to nail down the type of wings that were worn during the periods you are looking at in your project. Good luck.

 

Best

Patrick

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