Original U.S. WWII Named 344th Fighter Squadron USAAF Crush Cap
Original Item: Only One Available. This visor cap, in winter OD Green issue color, is in very good condition with the iconic "crush" shape. The leather sweatband is supple and complete and has an embossed eagle. This peaked cap features a gold tone WWII Army insignia over a leather visor. The cap is in size 6 7/8.
The cap is in excellent shape with only one small noticeable nip. The leather brim and chin strap are in very good condition, as is the sweatband. This cap also has a rear chin strap, which is not often encountered. These are most likely to help keep the cap tight on the head. The celluloid inner liner window contains an original paper ID which reads:
Activated as a P-40 Warhawk fighter squadron in Alaska during World War II. Engaged in combat missions during Aleutian Campaign, 1942–1943. Switched to long-range P-38 Lightning fighters in 1944 and flew long-range attacks against Japanese shipping and airfields in northern Japan from its base at Shemya. Inactivated in 1946.
This is the classic "bomber pilot" headgear, worn by USAAF pilots in Europe and the Pacific. Actually, this was the standard Army/AAF officer dress cap, worn by pilots and non-pilots alike, but pilots gave this cap their own unique twist. Normally, this cap had stiffeners -- a support piece behind the cap device and a wire around the inside top perimeter to maintain the cap's round shape. These kept the cap in its proper, regulation military shape and angle. However, since bomber pilots wore headsets over their caps during flights, they would remove the wire stiffener to make headset wear more comfortable, causing the sides of the caps to become crushed. Eventually, the caps retained their floppy "crushed" look, giving the pilot who wore it the look of a seasoned veteran.
The crush cap identified its wearer as an experienced pro, and was as much a part of his identity as his leather flight jacket. The crush cap look quickly became popular with ground army officers and general officers.
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