Original U.S. WWII USAAF Officer Khaki AIRFLOW Crush Cap With Rear Chin Strap - Size 6 7/8
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This visor cap, in summer Khaki issue color, was made for a Military Store in Texas, as indicated on the crown label. It is in worn but nice condition with the iconic "crush" shape. The sweatband is embossed with AIRFLOW over REG U.S. PAT. OFF., and the underside of the crown appears to be marked Ranger(?) MILITARY STORE / WICHITA FALLS TEXAS. The celluloid lining makes the crown markings difficult to read. This peaked cap features a gold tone WWII Army Overseas insignia over a leather visor. The cap still has the original size tag under the sweat band on the right rear side: 6 7/8.
The cap is in good shape, with only minor staining to the fabric. There are some significant wear holes on the side, possibly from rubbing on headphones. This cap is also very flexible, so it may be one of the later versions with a very thin leather brim, which could literally be rolled up and put into a pocket. 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 plastic top liner has discolored over time, but it is still quite supple and not sticky, which we rarely see.
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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