Original U.S. WWII 8th Air Force Named and Painted A-2 Flight Jacket

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Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Lieutenant Irving Manin flew B-24 Liberators in the European Theater of Operations during World War Two. He started his tour with the 556th Bomb Squadron but we else he ended with a squadron under the 448th Bomb Group. Both units were part of the 8th Air Force and we were able to locate Lt. Manin in the American Air Museum in Britain database at this link.

This is an incredible very good condition A-2 jacket that features fantastic hand painted art. The notable ascots include a large leather 556th Bomb Squadron circular patch to left chest which shows a tiger in the clouds laying on top of a bomb.  A nearly identical singular 556th patch is currently listed on eBay for nearly $750. Around the patch in a circle are 35 small yellow painted bombs which represent successful missions. The right chest features a hand painted Irv and a cartoon character head.

The reverse of the jacket features a B-24 liberator flying down through the 8th Air Force insignia with ETO for European Theatre of Operations in full vibrant colors. The jacket is a large size 44 with original lining, original cuffs, original waistband, functional talon zipper and a data label from Rough Wear Clothing Company. The interior lining has a stitched name tag with printed lettering that reads Lt. Irving Manin. Attached to the front collar is British Air Ministry Whistle. Overall condition of the jacket is very good to excellent condition with supple leather.

The 448th Bomb Group was a B-24 Liberator Group that flew out of Seething, Norfolk. The Group flew their first mission on the 22nd December 1943 and over the next eighteen months the air crews flew 262 missions over occupied Europe. These bombing missions were a mixture of strategic ones over Germany, which aimed to destroy vital industrial sites and aircraft bases, and tactical ones over France, which supported the invasion and advance east of ground forces.

The 556th Bombardment Squadron was activated at MacDill Field, Florida on 1 December 1942 as one of the four squadrons of the 387th Bombardment Group and trained at bases in the southeastern United States with Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers until June 1943, when it deployed to the European Theater of Operations. The squadron's ground echelon departed for the Port of Embarkation on 10 June and sailed on the RMS Queen Mary on 23 June, while the air echelon ferried its Marauders to England via the northern ferrying route.

The squadron established itself at its first base in Europe, RAF Chipping Ongar at the beginning of July 1943. Although the squadron initially trained for low level attacks, VIII Air Support Command, in consultation with the Royal Air Force, decided to employ its B-26 units in attacks at medium altitude, mirroring a decision made earlier in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. The squadron flew its first combat mission on 15 August, with initial operations focusing on German airfields near the coast of France, in an effort to force the Luftwaffe to withdraw its interceptors from the coastal belt, reducing their effectiveness against heavy bombers passing through on their way to strike targets deeper in occupied Europe.[5] By early September, the squadron adopted a tactic first employed by the 386th Bombardment Group, where all bombers in a formation dropped their bombs based on the lead aircraft, rather than individually, to achieve a greater contingent of bombs on the intended target. September 1943 would prove the busiest while the squadron was part of Eighth Air Force as B-26s made heavy attacks on airfields and communications sites near Boulogne as part of Operation Starkey, an attempt to make the Germans believe an invasion of France was imminent. On 9 October 1943, the squadron flew what would prove to be the last B-26 mission flown by Eighth Air Force.

In October, Ninth Air Force moved to England to take over tactical operations operating from England, building on the core of B-26 units already there. During the winter of 1943-1944, the squadron made numerous attacks on V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket sites. During Big Week, the squadron attacked Leeuwarden and Venlo Airfields. In the spring of 1944, the squadron attacked coastal defenses and bridges prior to Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. On D-Day, it attacked targets along the coast, and supported ground forces during June 1944 by attacking line of communication targets and fuel dumps. In late July, the squadron supported Operation Cobra, the breakout at Saint Lo. During August, it attacked German forces at Brest, France.

The squadron moved to France in September, when it began operations from Maupertuis Airfield. For the rest of the war, it operated from Advanced Landing Grounds in Europe, advancing eastward with Allied ground forces. Its operations from advanced fields permitted its first attacks directly on targets in Germany by the fall of 1944. During the Battle of the Bulge, it attacked strongly defended communications and transportation targets at Mayen and Pruem, for which it was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. It continued to support the Allied advance into Germany, flying its last combat mission in April 1945.

After V-E Day the squadron moved to Rosieres-en-Santerre Airfield, France, where it remained until returning to the United States for inactivation in November 1945
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