Original U.S. WWII B-24 Liberator FLYING CIRCUS 531 Bomb Squadron Named A-2 Flight Jacket
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a wonderful genuine WW2 issue A-2 leather flight jacket in size US 40 that is named to Frank L. Berkowitz serial number 34682935. Berkowitz was assistant flight engineer and aerial gunner on the B-24 Liberator PATTY’S PIG which was assigned to the 531st Bomb Squadron, 380th Bomb Group that was known as the "The Flying Circus."
The left breast of the jacket has the incised leather name tag that reads F. BERKOWITZ, an embossed leather bomber wings, and a painted leather DONALD DUCK squadron patch designed by Walt Dsney for the 531st Bomb Squadron. The right side of the jacket has a cloth "Ruptured duck" discharge emblem sewn to the chest. The reverse of the jacket is beautifully and vibrantly painted:
The jacket is in overall very good condition and extremely desirable due to its provenance and the presence of the ultra rare DONALD DUCK squadron patch. There is typical minor cracking to the leather, primarily on the sleeves and the collar edge. The leather remains supple and pliable. The zipper is complete and functional, the cuffs and waist bands are post war replacements.
The 531st Bomb Squadron, 380th Bomb Group, 5th AAF "King of the Heavies B-24’s "Donald Duck" :
Berkowitz was a gunner and assistant flight engineer on B-24J 44-40398 "PATTY'S PIG" with Captain Thomas J. Lenihan's crew of the 531st Bomb Squadron, 380th Bomb Group. The crew chief of this aircraft was Sgt James R RUTH.
Lenihan's crew last flew in this aircraft on 15 July 1944. The aircraft was later shot down on 9 October 1944 during an attack on Koepang Harbour, West Timor.
The 380th Bombardment Group flew B-24 Liberator bombers in the South West and Western Pacific areas in WWII. We were part of the 5th Air Force. They were known as the FLYING CIRCUS and as the KING OF THE HEAVIES.
The 380th went overseas in April 1943 to become the second B-24 unit in the Fifth Air Force at that time after the 90th Bomb Group. The other Heavy Bomber unit (the 43rd) flew B-17s.
The 380th was placed under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and assigned to the Australian North West Area Command operating out of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. They were the only heavy bomber unit available to cover the whole of the Dutch East Indies (1,000,000 square miles) from July 1943 until late in 1944. At that time the successes in the New Guinea campaign had brought the other Fifth Air Force units close enough to the East Indies to join us in that task.
The 380th made the longest bombing missions of WWII, to the oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo (200 miles further than the Ploesti mission in Europe) and to those at Surabaja, Java (as long as Ploesti).
In addition to attacks on the Japanese oil supply, they we were heavily engaged in crippling their shipping fleet to reduce the Japanese capability of supplying their far-flung forces. They also heavily bombed the numerous Japanese airfields in the East Indies to reduce the Japanese threat to Australia and our New Guinea forces.
In its service with the Australians, the 380th served longer under the operational control of an Allied country than any other Air Force unit (from June 1943 until February 1945).
As part of its duties in Australia, the 380th carried out the operational training of 52 Australian crews and their associated ground staffs so that the Australians could take over the East Indian campaign activities of the 380th when they were assigned to The Philippines in February 1945. Many of the Australians so trained have become part of the 380th Bomb Group Association.
The 380th was composed of four Squadrons: the 528th, 529th, 530, and 531st.
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