Original U.S. WWII B-17 The Character 339th Bomb Squadron Painted A-2 Flight Jacket
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 42-40016 aka "The Character" was delivered to Long Beach, CA 3/11/43; Kearney, NJ 14/11/43 then assigned to the 8th Air Force, 96th Bombardment Group, 339th Bomb Squadron which was stationed at Snetterton, England on 30/11/43. During the war the Bombardier: Douglas Leeper (KIA-by 20mm shell, pilot was Chris Wunnerberg who landed back at RAF Woodbridge, Sfk) on 10/2/44. The plane went Missing in Action over Augsburg Germany on 13/4/44 with John Daniel Jr, Radio Operator: Chas Gilmore, Ball turret gunner: Jim Preston, Waist gunner: Jim Curran, Waist gunner: Emery Raiman,Tail gunner: Cyril Mullin (6 Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Joe Kiska, Navigator: Jim Hathaway, Bombardier: Andy Detmers, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: John Drozd (4 Prisoner of War); flak, crashed 30 miles SW of Augsburg, Germany. Missing Air Crew Report 4267.
This jacket is not named but the reverse side of the jacket depicts the nose are from the B-17 Flying Fortress 42-40016 "The Character"! Furthermore, this jacket was de-accessioned from the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (formerly the Mighty Eighth Heritage Center) and comes with the original accession paperwork!
The plane can be found on the American Air Museum in Britain website at this link. Where it described the nose are as "Side view of man's cartoon face with hand on top of head." which is exactly the same as this jacket!
Overall condition of the jacket is very good and it is approximately a size 38. The leather is still supple. The lining is a replacement as are the knit cuffs and waistband. The zipper is original to the jacket and functional and is marked on the slider and pull with Talon, a known maker of quality zippers.
The best aspects of this incredible jacket are as follows:
- Original yellow paint on the left breast reads Smily with a pilot wing badge painted through the lettering.
- Reverse side reads "The Character" in red lettering with 27 bombs across the top and a German swastika underneath. The design features a blackface character with orange hair, the painting has which is faded but is present and clearly visible.
Overall a wonderful jacket from a known B-17 along with original museum accession paperwork!
The 339th Bombardment Squadron established as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber squadron; trained under Second Air Force. Deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO), assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England, Flew combat missions over Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe until the German capitulation in May 1945.
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