Knopf A2 from the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

Discussion in 'Vintage' started by Roughwear, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    I recently acquired a very well preserved Knopf A2 from a gentleman. It was one of the 10,000 A2s made by S. H. Knopf of Boston in 1942. It has an extremely rare leather patch from the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, which was part of the famous 23rd Fighter Group, 14th AF in the CBI. The jacket is a size 44, which is marked on the pocket tag. The knits are high quality replacements.

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    When the jacket arrived it had what appeared to be major's rank insignia sewn on the epaulets. In the right pocket I found a set of leather oak leaves and applied them to the rank tabs. They were a perfect fit, indicating that the vet have removed them post War. They are painted silver indicating the rank of Lt Colonel. Beneath the silver top coat is gold paint which suggests they were over painted on promotion from major. Here is a picture of one of the oak leaves, with silver over the original gold paint.

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    I have done a significant amount of research in an attempt to identify the owner of the A2. The gentleman from whom I purchased it said the rumour was it belonged to a Major Lubner. I have checked out the roster for the 118th. There are six officers who held the rank of major and two of Lt Colonel. For various reasons I have discounted all but one, Major Marvin Lubner who retired from the Air Force post War as a Lt Colonel.

    Here's the link to his burial with his rank as Lt Col:
    http://files.usgwarchives.net/fl/sumter ... onal81.txt

    He subsequently served in the US Air Force in Korea.

    Here is a photo of Lubner. His A2 has a wide collar like the Knopf and you can just make out a round patch on the left shoulder, rather than the conventional CBI shield. The stitch holes on the jacket form a similar round pattern.

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    None of this is conclusive proof that this is Lubner's A2, but on the basis of the evidence he is a strong candidate and I would welcome any additional help from members here.

    When serving as a captain with the 76th FS Lubner shot down six Japanese aircraft as a "Vanguard" squadron pilot flying a P-40, "White 115". Promoted to major in 1944, he was commanding officer of the 118th from June 1945 until the end of the War, flying a P-51K “199”. He is credited with flying that last official mission of World War II.

    Here are some more pictures of the jacket.

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  2. RayR

    RayR Member

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    Beautiful. Thanks for the photos!
     
  3. cmk-2

    cmk-2 Member

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    Location:
    Destin,FL USA
    You always find the best jackets. Great job! Question; Did original A-2 jackets come with a leather zipper pull?
     
  4. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    I think some did as the leather used for the zip pulls is the same as the body of the jacket. A good example is Doniger A2s. I have owned several over the years and the same goatskin is used for the zip puller as is used to make the shell of the jacket.
     
  5. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

  6. dujardin

    dujardin Well-Known Member

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    5,246
    Location:
    Belgium
    thanks Andrew

    cool review
    splendid jacket
    great patch
     
  7. TankBuster

    TankBuster Active Member

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    2,867
    Location:
    Midwest
    Great A-2 Andrew! The patch indeed looks like the real deal. A couple years ago I bought a group of items that belonged to a 118th pilot from a estate clean out. There was a 118th patch and his 23rd FG patch in the lot as well as other items and his photo album with over 150 wartime photos. There may be photos of Lubner in there, maybe even wearing his A-2?

    Have you checked in the sleeves or under the collar for any initials or names? I've found them in both areas in the past. Without any markings on or within the jacket, it may be tough to ever come up with a concrete I.D., but I will go through my photo album to see if I can find anything!

    23rd Fighter Group items are rare, and the 118th patch is very rare on its own. Congrats on a great jacket and patch to one of the more famous units in WW2.


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  8. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jeff. You have a great collection there. Your patch appears to have been made by the same person as made mine. I would be very grateful if you could find a picture of Lubner from among your photos! I have gone over the entire jacket without success looking for a name serial number. It is great to have an A2 from the 118th even though the attribution is yet to be conclusively proved. Whoever owned the jacket (if not Lubner) he was a senior officer and the jacket has clearly seen some action in the CBI.

    I have yet to see a Wartime photo of the patch on an A2. Here is a link to a fine collection of 118th photos.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarch ... 486616579/
     
  9. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

  10. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Active Member

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  11. TankBuster

    TankBuster Active Member

    Messages:
    2,867
    Location:
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    Hey Andrew,

    I actually have a bunch of his paperwork and citations within the group. I just didn't show them. I didn't have to do much research since his whole story is pretty much within the group. He flew the P-51 Battling Betty named after his wife.

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    I will look within the photo album over this weekend and PM you with any findings.
     
  12. a2jacketpatches

    a2jacketpatches Active Member

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    3,137
    Location:
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    Can't see the leather rank after blowing it up.
     
  13. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the much better picture. I couldn't see the leather rank insignia in this or my poorer quality picture. The folds in the leather are now clearer and he does not have a shoulder patch. I suspect its an early photo before he joined the 118th as it looks like he's in a P-40. I'm not sure when in 1944 he was promoted to major and then may have had rank insignia sewn on his jacket, assuming its Lubner's A2, which is by no means certain.
     
  14. TankBuster

    TankBuster Active Member

    Messages:
    2,867
    Location:
    Midwest
    My photo album is from the 118th Tactical Recon Squadrons P-51 era. Mid 1944 to the end of the war. If photos of Lubner wearing his A-2 are within my album, it should tell the tale.
     
  15. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Good luck Jeff. I hope you find some pictures of him. I hope there are some as presumably he would have been held in high esteem, arriving as an Ace from the 76th FS, where he had served as a captain.
     
  16. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

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    man, this is interesting forensic stuff. conclusive? not yet, but it is sure looking like lubner is your man.
     
  17. JDAM

    JDAM Member

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    487
    Andrew, like I said, I don't think you'll find any pics of Lubner wearing this jacket. His association with it is tenuous at best. The only photos in existence are of Lubner with a plain, un-patched A-2. Importantly, the same goes for pretty much every flyer in the 118th. I've gone through hundreds of photos and found none of a 118th pilot wearing this style of patch. Apparently, order came down to remove/not use the patch as the CO or some other higher authority 'thought it looked like a man running to the toilet with some toilet paper'. Anyway, some of 118th wore 14th AF or 23rd FG patches on their A-2, and later in the war they had different Sqn patch (P-51 and lightning bolts) made of cloth.

    Another good 118th photo album is here:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/112433283079510262319

    This below might *might* be a flyer (Lts. Band or Meacham) wearing this patch. But the photos are poor quality and the patch can't be identified, at least not unless you want to make a grand canyon sized leap of faith.

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    Anyway, a bloody nice jacket and a cool patch too.
     
  18. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    The patch itself is interesting and the following explains history behind the running figure dressed in mid 17th clothes.

    http://www.cbi-history.com/part_vi_118th_trs4.html
     
  19. JDAM

    JDAM Member

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    487
    Definitely. And rare too. I like the design. I've seen half a dozen and they've all been loose or removed from a jacket.
     
  20. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member


    Thanks. Of course the link with Lubner needs to be proved conclusively. The evidence suggests that the jacket belonged to a senior officer from the 118th. The initial ID of Lubner came from you. My question is where did this information/rumour come from in the first place?

    BTW the A2 which Lubner is wearing in the photo posted at the bottom of the first page of this thread was taken well before he joined the 118th TRS and before his promotion to major. There is nothing about the jacket in the photo that says its not a Knopf A2. The jacket in the photo appears to have a large collar, no collar stand and reasonably wide epaulets. The picture is not clear enough to make out if the jacket has small nickel ring snaps.
     

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