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American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c.2002


Army Enlisted Aviation Student's Khaki Shirt


This aviation student is wearing an enlisted man's cotton khaki shirt. During the Second World War officers' and enlisted men's shirts were different. Both types of shirts were worn by personnel in the aviation cadet or student programs depending on their status. Officers' shirts had shoulder loops running from the seam of the sleeve to the base of the collar and buttoning at the base of the collar. Enlisted shirts lacked any shoulder loop as in the example above. Prior to 1934 the Army used a slip-on, closed front shirt. This shirt required special looms to produce. Shirts with buttons down the front, called "coat style," had become the dominant civilian shirt. In event of mobilization and to best use production capacity an Army shirt similar to civilian ones was desirable. A major problem with the early versions of these shirts was that sweat made the khaki color deepen.

The khaki shirt worn on the eve of World War Two required a tie. When worn as an outer garment without the service coat this was tucked in between the first and second visible button according to regulations and as shown in this photograph. In September 1941 a newer style shirt was convertible to open collar and could be worn without a tie. The insistence of General Patton that all his soldiers wear a tie with the khaki shirt was a cause for grumbling in his command and the subject of a Bill Mauldin cartoon.

The hat has a khaki cover and an aviation cadet's hat insignia. The hat still has the grommet, which stiffens the crown of the cap. Removing the grommet produces the "50 mission crush," appearance popular among airman and justified by the need to wear headphones. The aviation cadet program was responsible for the rapid build up of flight personnel of all categories not just pilots.

The insignia on the shirt is a machine-embroidered shoulder sleeve insignia of the Army Air Forces. Under it is a single chevron of a private first class. It is likely that the soldier also wore the enlisted aviation student insignia on the right sleeve.

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