Original U.S. WWII B-17 Touch the Button Nell 535th Bomb Squadron A-2 Flight Jacket

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This jacket was featured on page 131 of the wonderful book AMERICAN FLIGHT JACKETS by Jon A. Maguire and John P. Conway considered by many to be the bible of flight jacket collecting. A full color printed gloss paper copy of page 131 is included with the purchase of this jacket.

Wallace D. Beckman was an air gunner with the 535th Bomb Squadron, 381st Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force in the E.T.O. during WWII. His A-2 jacket features the name "Touch the Button Nell I and II" which indicates he was a crewman on both planes during his service. The 30 mission bombs painted on the back indicate he completed one combat tour with the 535th Bomb Squadron but little else is known due to lack of contact with the original owner. Establishing this jacket's affiliation with the 381st was only made stronger by locating an original photo of the B-17 "Touch the Button Nell II" in the National Air and Space Museum archives which was marked to indicate it was in fact a ship from the 381st bomb group.

This A-2 flying jacket has fantastic features which include:

- Reverse of jacket features "Touch the Button Nell I and II" hand painted in glossy red paint. Note also the unusual configuration of the 30 mission bombs. It's interesting that the pigment has failed on only the paint used on the bombs. Often the bombs were not actually painted until the veteran had arrived home from overseas.

- The left chest bears a beautiful "letter jacket" 535th Bomb Squadron Running Devil Chenile patch. This style of embroidery resulted in a well wearing and colorful insignia. These are very desirable patches.

- The right chest has glossy red hand painted name "Wallie" over flap pocket.

Overall condition of the jacket is excellent. Offered in a large size 40. The leather is still supple and does not have any major cracking or damage. The liner is original and the cuffs and waist band are also original with expected wear. The zipper is CONMAR and fully functional. There is an original maker data tag which reads:

DWG. NO. 30-1415
NO. W535-AC-27753

Also included is a glossy printed copy of a period photograph of the B-17 "Touch the Button Nell II" identified to have been attached to the 381st Bomb Group. (NASM via Valant). Further information about the B-17G Touch the Button Nell can be found on the American Air Museum in Britain website at this link.

A truly amazing A-2 jacket with wonderful had painted art which was all documented in the bible of U.S. Flight Jackets!

The 381st Bomb Group, of which the 535th was a component, flew their first mission on June 22, 1943. They suffered devastating losses on the infamous August 17 Schweinfurt mission, and flew the second strike on that target on October 14. They earned the Presidential Unit Citation for the Oschersleben strike on January 11, 1944. During the week of the Normandy Invasion, the 381st flew 9 consecutive missions in 7 days. After their final mission on April 21, 1945, the 381st was credited with 297 combat operations, including 20 trips to Berlin. They dropped over 22,000 tons of bombs on the Third Reich, and were credited with 223 enemy aircraft destroyed.

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