Original U.S. WWII USAAF Named Officer Khaki Crush Peaked Visor Cap by Bell - Leonard A. Wilkes

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This visor cap, in summer Khaki issue color is used but very good condition, with the iconic crush shape. This peaked cap features a gold tone WWII Army Overseas insignia over a leather visor. It features fiber band construction and a leather sweatband which is in excellent condition. Overall condition is good with signs of use and age, it is the real deal. There is no size marked, but it appears to be around a size 7 - 7 1/4. The satin crown of the cap is marked with the maker: Bell UNIFORM COMPANY of HOUSTON, TEXAS. Originally there would have been a celluloid plastic covering, however only the edges are left, as this material degrades over time.

The underside of the leather visor is stamped with the owners name: LEONARD A. WILKES. We have not been able to find any information regarding this owner, making this an excellent research opportunity. The cap really is in nice shape, with all the leather in excellent condition. There is a bit of staining to the band, but nothing major.  Ready to display or even wear!

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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