Original U.S. WWII 817th Bomb Squadron Officer Painted A-2 Flight Jacket

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. WW2 officer A-2 flight jacket for the 817th Bomb Squadron, 483rd Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force in extra large size US 44. Ink stamped with laundry number A-9033. Manufactured by Bronco Manufacturing under a 1942 contract. Offered in excellent condition.

Most notable feature is a hand painted insignia to the left chest for 817th bomb squadron that depicts the l’il Abner comic strip character “Mammy Yokum” delivering her “good night Irene” uppercut punch that she used to keep the peace in the fictional town of dog. Jacket also bears an unusual yellow stenciled outline only USAAF winged star insignia to the left shoulder as well as silver first lieutenant rank to the epaulette areas of both shoulders. Above the 817th bomb squadron insignia remains the painted black outline of a shield with what appears to once have been a silver painted wing badge that bore the name of the airmen who once wore this jacket.

Oral history that accompanies this jacket states that this jacket was owned and worn by an officer named Ray Wallace. However, there is no evidence of this to be found in any recent research that has been conducted on this piece. Perhaps with more and more information becoming available online, this information can one day be traced and the jacket connected to Lt. Wallace.

This is truly a beautiful, scarce museum quality example worthy of an advanced collector. Jacket shows some signs of age, wear and use but all leather remains solid, soft and supple with no signs of any sort of leather conditioner or “preservative” having ever been applied. We rate the jacket as being in very good to excellent condition. There are no holes, rips, splits, tears or other blemishes and the only visibly worn and somewhat weak area is located to the upper right sleeve and area of shoulder. However, this area remains solid and no other weak, thin or overly worn areas are present. Even what are normally problem areas such as the upper back, shoulders and elbows remain solid with no issues and the leather remains thick and soft.

Jacket maintains the original crown zipper with the bell style pull. The zipper is marked “crown” to all portions including the zipper pull, slider front and rear as well as the zipper stop front and rear. Zipper functions smoothly and perfectly and is not damaged, loose or separating in any areas. Collar maintains the hook and loop fasteners and buttons, all also remaining undamaged and functioning properly. The front pockets show no damage and the buttons function properly, but do show a bit of verdigris that should easily clean away. Jacket maintains it’s original cuffs and waistband that remain in very solid condition but do show a few snags, small holes and some repairs. The repairs to the cuffs are mostly located to the rear of the cuffs and the repairs to the waistband a very small. All repairs are not readily apparent when the jacket is displayed, but they are visible under close inspection. These repairs may have been done during the war, but we cannot say for sure. Regardless, they were done using the proper thread and are stitched quite well. The interior of the jacket maintains it’s original cotton liner that remains firmly attached and in very good condition with no rips, splits, separations or damage of any sort. Shows signs of age and wear with a few minor spots of soiling but no other blemishes and all stitching remains solid. Liner bears the stamped partial service number “A-9033″ as well as a stenciled army air forces winged star insignia. Liner maintains it’s embroidered contract tag that identifies this jacket as one of the 59,000 ordered from bronco manufacturing company in may 1942 as part of contract number w535ac 29191. Tag remains in excellent condition and as firmly applied to the jacket as the day it was sewn on. All information remains very clear and very easy to read. Size tag of “44” also remains firmly attached and very easy to read as well. Leather hanging tab also remains firmly attached to the interior collar by its original thread and remains very solid, showing only minor age and wear.

Overall, this is truly a beautiful and scarce example of a WWII USAAF issue A-2 jacket!

The 817th Bomb squadron was activated at Ephrata Army Air Base as the 817th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 September 1943 as one of the four original squadrons of the 483d Bombardment Group. In November, the squadron moved to MacDill Field, Florida, where it trained with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses under Third Air Force.

The 817th deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, where it became part of Fifteenth Air Force at Sterparone Airfield in Southern Italy. The squadron's air element flew its Flying Fortresses to Sterparone via Tortorella Airfield, while the ground element moved to Sterparone via troop ship. It began operations in April 1944 with an attack on a cement factory in Split, Yugoslavia.

The squadron engaged in long-range strategic bombardment of enemy military, industrial and transport targets, including factories, oil refineries, marshalling yards, airfields, and troop contingents in Italy, France. Southern Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans. In June 1944, the squadron participated in a shuttle mission, departing Italy and landing in the Soviet Union, attacking targets en route and on the return flight. This enabled attacks on targets too far from the squadron's base to strike and return home. The squadron received a Distinguished Unit Citation for combat action two months later. On 18 July 1944 the squadron, along with the other elements of the 483d Group, bombed the objective, an airfield and installations at Memmingen, engaging numerous enemy aircraft in the target area despite a lack of cover from its planned fighter escort. It received a second citation for braving fighter assaults and flak to bomb tank factories at Berlin on 24 March 1945.

The squadron was occasionally diverted from the strategic attack on Germany. It struck targets in southern France in preparation for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of August 1944. The group also supported ground forces in northern Italy during the Allied offensive in April 1945.

After V-E Day, the unit moved to Pisa Airfield, where it operated under the control of Air Transport Command's Green Project which was the movement of troops back to the United States. The squadron carried troops from Pisa to a staging area in Morocco. Its B-17s were disarmed with flooring and seats for 25 passengers installed. It carried passengers from Pisa to Port Lyautey Airfield, French Morocco for further movement them across the Atlantic.[citation needed] The squadron was inactivated in Italy in September 1945.

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