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Other Cloth Insignia Not Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

Second World War

Army Air Force Squadron Patches

350th Squadron 375th Squadron

350th Bombardment Squadron
(Courtesy: Robert Tharratt
and Bruce Armstrong)

375th Bombardment Squadron
(Courtesy: Gabe Burbano)
378th Squadron 552nd Squadron 320th Squadron

378th Bombardment Squadron
(Decal on Leather)

552nd Bombardment Squadron
(Courtesy: Michael Gorin)

320th Fighter Squadron
(Chenille Type)

Among the best known of World War Two patches are Army Air Force aviation jacket patches. The designs were similar to those used to mark aircraft, but were also worn as patches on the left upper chest area of the leather A-2 flight jackets. They were sometimes worn below a nametag. Both approved and unapproved designs exist. They were made in many different ways. The example from the 552nd Bombardment Squadron, which belonged to B-26 navigator Ned Gorin, is machine embroidered on felt and typical of U.S. manufactured ones. Others are manufactured with a thick pile and referred to as chenille. Many are painted on leather, decals on leather or made of cut out and applied leather elements, as our example from the 375th Bombardment Squadron. In addition to squadrons designs existed for larger units, such as groups or even commands. These were worn by the appropriate personnel on their flight clothing. The designs were not worn on service coats or jackets, although there were some exceptions. For example, the Air Transport Command insignia exist in a larger and in a smaller version that were worn both as a shoulder sleeve insignia on the uniform coat and in the fashion of a squadron patch on the A-2 jacket.

The designs used tend to be less formal than those used in shoulder sleeve insignia. They depict elements suggesting the unit's mission, for example the bombs in the above patches. It addition the designs often included skulls, cartoon figures or other fanciful elements.

Individually squadron patches are very rare. Squadrons were not large units. A fighter squadron was 25, a medium bomber 16 and a heavy bomber 12 aircraft. Unfortunately, they have been extensively reproduced. The result is that collecting squadron patches is the province of a small group of specialist collectors and the novice must exercise extreme caution when acquiring any.

MORE: Images of Various Squadron Patches
Web Site: Airforce Squadron Patches (Brian French)
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