Discussion in 'Vintage' started by Andrew, Jul 28, 2011.
Now i'm content...
In this hobby one is never content for long! Great Perry Andrew. How does the fit compare with your size 48?
Wow! Cool jacket Andrew! What's the story behind it, any history of the orignal owner?
Very, very nice Andrew. In the front views it looks like it had a squadron patch and name tag at one time (?). Jacket looks to be in excellent shape and the art on the back is superb! Congrats on a great catch!
Very, very nice jacket. I'd also love to hear more about it.
what a ''treasure''
splendid one, a dream for most os us
The Perry looks very fine Andrew, well done!
Wow .... look at Andrew.
So you finally jumped on it !
Congrats, that's a fantastic jacket, "back home" now.
Great jacket. Somehow looks familiar....
Fantastic jacket. Really like the painting.
This is a bit late but here’s some background to it.
I’ve always been interested in other allied air forces but particularly when there was a story about cooperation and interaction between them. So since becoming aware of the 380th Bomb Group and their connection to this Country and their role within the RAAF during WWII I’ve developed a strong interest in them. Over recent years I’ve been lucky to share this with Bill Shek and to meet one of the RAAF Pilots who flew with them and a group of us from here wound up putting together a tribute Goowdwear for him.
I love the A-2 and it’s use as flight gear so it’s been a bit of a goal of mine to either buy one of the Aussie made V505’s or to find a jacket with direct links to the 380th. So when I saw this I just couldn’t miss it. It did cost a bit so I couldn’t fund it initially but when I asked the Seller if I could pay it off he thought it would be great due to the historical links, hence the wait to receive it after the auction. That wait period was worthwhile though as I managed to do my usual research to try to identify the owner, the plane, the Crew and uncover some of its history as it was sold as an un-named jacket from the 380th. And I particularly love the graphics of the 5thAF, and the 380th's King of the Heavies logo with the Lion bapping the map of Japan.
It’s a Perry 42-16175-P size 44, with original conmar zipper and waistband but with replaced cuff knits. It’s missing it’s pocket tag and the pockets were empty and clean. The leather is very different from my other Perry which is the same contract but a 48. This finish on this leather is far more opaque and appears to be heavier than the 48 and it has a lot more in common with the leather on my RW 27752.
Aside from the outstanding artwork on the back it shows evidence of personalization and identification. It has a pair of pin holes on each ep- suggesting 1st Lt bars and it has the stitch holes on the left breast indicating a large nameplate, with what appears to be overlapping stitch holes of a pair of wings, and holes outlining a patch with an irregular shape with the bottom which indicates the 531st BS patch of Donald throwing a bomb while standing on a cloud. There is an outline decal on the shoulder but also stitch holes over this where I presume a felt locally made 5th Air Force patch would have been. What a shame all that’s gone but I’m lucky really as I could never have bought it if they were still there as the price would have been double.
So from this I knew that it had belonged to an officer in the 531st, and this particular Squadron arrived from the US via Hawaii to Amberley Airfield, Brisbane (not far from here) between 22-30 April 1943. They were placed under RAAF Command and assigned to Fenton Airfield a remote bush strip in the Northern Territory in the RAAF’s North West Area of Operation. During their time at Fenton they made some of the longest bombing missions of WWII such as the raids on the oil refineries at Balikpapan and Japanese shipping and scattered airfields. Many of the US crews contained RAAF aircrew as they provided the training for many B-24 RAAF crews to follow after the 380th left for the Philippines.
The only other identifying feature of the jacket is the code stamped in the lining “E 6567”. Using Tim’s method I did a searching the roster for the 531stBS for officers with a surname starting with “E” and having the last four digits of their serial number 6567 and bingo, there he was- Navigator 1st Lt Ralph E Ensign o-2056567!
My next research identified his other crew members and their main aircraft “Cruisin Susan”. Here’s a list of the crew;
Acft Cmdr: Forssell, Roger E., O-740783 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, 2/Lt | PAR4, SO209, 5AF, 28 Jul 45, 1/Lt |
Pilot: Lundberg, John R., Jr., O-716181 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO287, VBC, 4 Oct 44, 2/Lt | PAR4, SO210, 5AF, 29 Jul 45, 1/Lt |
Navigator: Davis, Clifford H., T-131813, O-2027153 | Smith's Crew, Forssell's Crew (93, 77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR2, SO17, FEAF CR&TC, 17 Jan 45, F/O | PR Jul 45, RM, 2/Lt |
Navigator: Ensign, Ralph E., O-2056567 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, 2/Lt | PAR6, SO197, 5AF, 16 Jul 45, 1/Lt |
Bombardier: Packer, Clyde L., Jr., O-776785 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, 2/Lt | PAR6, SO197, 5AF, 16 Jul 45, 1/Lt |
Bombardier: Stone, Howard T., Jr., T-6921, O-2027150 | Smith's Crew, Forssell's Crew (93, 77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR2, SO17, FEAF CR&TC, 17 Jan 45, F/O | PR Jul 45, RM, 1/Lt |
Flt Eng: Buschmann, William G., 32813410 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PR Jul 45, RM, T/Sgt |
Radio Opr: McCaskill, George C., 38405716 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO287, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PAR8, SO195, FEAF, 14 Jul 45, T/Sgt |
Radio Opr: Miner, Marvin D., 37676785 | Smith's Crew, Forssell's Crew (93, 77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR2, SO17, FEAF CR&TC, 17 Jan 45, Pvt | PR Jul 45, RM, T/Sgt |
Gunner: Kahn, Sheldon A., 12219575 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PAR6, SO197, 5AF, 16 Jul 45, S/Sgt |
Gunner: Kurta, Andrew R., 33279162 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PAR1, SO222, FEAF, 10 Aug 45, S/Sgt |
Gunner: Schlitter, Raymond (NMI), 37725821 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PAR6, SO197, 5AF, 16 Jul 45, S/Sgt |
Gunner: Slingerland, Roland F. D., 32856234 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR1, SO278, VBC, 4 Oct 44, Cpl | PAR1, SO222, FEAF, 10 Aug 45, T/Sgt |
Gunner: Williams, William H., Jr., 33902301 | Forssell's Crew (77), CRUISIN SUSAN | PAR2, SO17, FEAF CR&TC, 17 Jan 45, Cpl | PR Jul 45, RM, S/Sgt |
To get this far for me was quite remarkable but I wanted to try to get some pictures of the crew and plane, and to possibly dig up some info on the artwork. There is one crew picture that Bill Shek’s forwarded of the crew in front of another Plane called Toddy, and this shot is originally from the Pilots archive. Also we have found pics on the net of the noseart of Susan. I felt that the only way to go deeper was to try to see if I could contact any remaining aircrew or their families. In this regard I got some unexpected help from the Seller who was happy to refine my address searches and in the end made some calls to the daughter of the Pilot, the Co-pilot and the Bombardier. He’s had several conversations with them and has found out a few details, however I would like to make my own approaches in due time as we don’t want to swamp them.
I’ve only been told a little and it’s slightly contradictory which is understandable but according to the Bombardier they did 39 missions together with the last in “Cruisin Susan” ending with a crash landing at Lingayen Field in the Philippines after having fuel problems. He also advised that at some point they had “saved” two Filipino boys and that one of them was a great artist and he started to paint jackets for them. As time went on there were more artists who did work for them apparently.
Lt Ensign was the first to pass away in the late 50’s early 60’s and according to the co-pilot not all the crew had their jackets painted- for example he commented that he “never got into that nonsense”. I will try to find out more in time but I’m pretty happy with this amount of detail at this time.
What I plan to do next is commission Ties to do a 531st patch to keep in the pocket and possibly exchange the cuff knits for something more in keeping provided by Dr H the Perrymeister. I do have a period felt 5thAF patch which perfectly covers the shoulder stitch holes but tempting as it is it goes against my personal principles to mess with it.
Another bonus is that it’s the first painted jacket I’ve had which I can try on, however it’s far too valuable to wear and slightly too small. I’ll be looking after this piece of aviation heritage.
The Army Air Force shoulder insignia looks more like it was rubber stamped on in white paint as opposed to the common decal.
Thanks RC, didn't know that.
So has it prompted your memory of why it looks familiar?
Great stuff, thanks for sharing. Matching the history to the jacket and the man who wore it is what makes this hobby so cool.
Good for you Andrew! Great work putting a name back with this jacket. A jacket with it's history lost no more!
Nicely done, congratulations Andrew.
Andrew, respect, you're a true field historian. Fantastic research and a great jacket. Now that you've a good idea of what the missing patches were, would you ever consider replacing them. It would make a stunning jacket.