Original U.S. WWII USAAF Named Officer Crush Cap by Columbia Flight

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Charles W Schiffert from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, army serial number 13203129 enlisted on June 10th, 1943 and was assigned as a doctor to the U.S. Army Air Force. This visor cap, in summer winter green issue, was called THE COLUMBIA, Gem of Caps, New York U.S.A. which is nicely marked in the crown. It is in excellent condition with the iconic crush shape. On and underneath the sweat band are two ink names that read C.W. Schiffert. The seat band is also embossed Columbia-Flight. Also of note is that the chinstrap is the style that goes fully around the head with a buckle in the rear, these were a deluxe design and a sign of a top quality hat.

After the war Charles W. Schiffert, was the director of Virginia Tech’s Student Health Services from 1971 to 1986, he died in 2016.


This is the classic "bomber pilot" headgear, worn by USAAF pilots in Europe and the Pacific. Actually, this was the standard Army/AAF officer's 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 such as the case with this example that was worn by a doctor in the USAAF.

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