Original U.S. WWII Named 14th Air Force, 425th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Group Custom A-2 Flight Jacket With B-15 Jacket Liner
Original Item: One-Of-A-Kind. . This is an exceptional A2 leather flight jacket issued to H. P. Thomas, pilot or crew member who flew in a B-24 Liberator in the Pacific Theater of CBI (China, Burma India campaign) during WW2 as a member of the 14th Air Force, 425th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Bomb Group. The 425th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with 308th Bombardment Wing at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, where it was inactivated in 1961.
The squadron was active in the CBI as a B-24 Liberator unit.
This leather A-2 flight jacket is in near excellent condition in approximate size 42. There are not depot tags present in this example, as it was custom tailored during the war to be fitted with a B-15 fur jacket liner as the temperature gets quite cold at high altitudes!
The best aspects of this incredible jacket are as follows:
- All Leather CBI Patch On Left Shoulder: The CBI Theater patch design is a combination of the Republic of China and United States flags and is made of pieced and stitched leather.
- All Leather 14th Air Force Patch On Right Shoulder: The patch is of all leather construction stitched together and features a “Flying Tiger” beneath a star. The patch is in worn condition and does have color loss as well as a few pieces missing.
- Leather Painted 425th Bomb Squadron Patch On Right Breast: The patch itself features a dragon riding a bomb with its tongue sticking out. The image is rather difficult to make out due to extensive fading present, but it is still visible enough to be able to identify it.
- Name Tag On Left Breast: The leather name tag features the name H. P. THOMAS with what appears to be Chinese characters beneath it. Unfortunately we have not been able to locate any service information on Thomas due to his name being an extremely common one. This makes for an excellent research opportunity.
The overall condition is really good and the B-15 jacket lining on the interior is still solid and appears to have its stitching retained in its entirety. The Talon marked zipper is still functional and the sleeve and waist cuffs appear to be original to the jacket.
A lovely example that comes more than ready for further research and display.
Collar to shoulder: 10"
Shoulder to sleeve: 25”
Shoulder to shoulder: 17.5”
Chest width: 22"
Waist width: 20"
Hip width: 16”
Front length: 26.5"
Activated in early 1942 in Idaho as a long-range B-24 Liberator bombardment squadron under Second Air Force. For the next three months, little training occurred while the unit worked through its growing pains, resolving administrative and personnel acquisition difficulties. Then a totally new problem arose....all but four personnel were transferred to the 330th Bombardment Group! While active on paper, it wasn't until September that personnel were taken from the 39th Bombardment Group to form a headquarters cadre for the 308th Group, again making it a viable unit. On 29 September the squadron was designated an Operational Training Unit (OTU) with Wendover Field, Utah as its home station. The unit was fully manned by November, after receiving personnel from the 18th Replacement Wing.
During this time of trials and tribulations in forming a recognizable force, the flying echelon had transferred to Davis–Monthan Field, Arizona, on 20 June for incidental training. The flight crews had been chosen and assigned, having completed their respective training schools; i.e., pilot, navigator, bombardier, engineer, radio and gunnery.
Members of the 425th had to complete three phases of training prior to moving overseas and entering combat. The flying personnel spent most of October in transition training with the B-24, training combat crews as well. Meanwhile, the ground echelon was acquiring, organizing and processing personnel and supplies at Wendover Field.
With the training complete and the personnel and supplies processed, the 308th Bomb Group and the 425th BS officially transferred to Fourteenth Air Force in China early in 1943. The air echelon began flying its 'brand new' B-24D Liberators from Morrison Field, Florida on 15 February 1943. Traveling by way of the South Atlantic Transport Route through Central and South America, the Azores, Central Africa, Arabia and finally India; while the ground echelon traveled by ship across the Pacific Ocean.
The squadron arrived in India and made many trips over the 'Hump' between India and China to obtain gasoline, bombs, spare parts, and other items they needed to prepare for and sustain their combat operations. The 425th supported Chinese ground forces; attacked airfields, coal yards, docks, oil refineries and fuel dumps in French Indochina; mined rivers and ports; bombed maintenance shops and docks at Rangoon, Burma; attacked Japanese shipping in the East China Sea, Formosa Straits, South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin.
The squadron moved to India in June 1945, ferrying gasoline and supplies from there back into China. The unit sailed for the United States, where it was inactivated on 6 January 1946.
The squadron was activated again in 1958 as Strategic Air Command (SAC)'s Boeing B-47 Stratojet fleet reached a peak of twenty-seven wings and SAC added a fourth squadron to each wing. However, newer and more capable Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses and the number of Strategic Wings equipped with dispersed B-52s more than doubled between 1959 and 1960. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. As a result, the squadron became non-operational in July 1959 and was inactivated on 25 June 1961, and its aircraft were sent to storage with the 2704th AF Aircraft Storage and Disposition Group at Davis–Monthan AFB, Arizona.
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