♦ Rare WW2 WWII USAAF Air Force Society Brand Hat Crusher Cap ♦««««« Up for your consideration is this original, WW2 WWII USAAF / AAF (Army Air Force) crusher cap, made by noted manufacturer Society Brand Hat Company. This WWII era bomber pilot hat is marked on the inside leather band as follows: J.W. Neiner (embossed in gold) I recently sold a similar crusher, owned by the same officer, which was marked Lieutanant J.W. Neiner 0925839. That one was a Bancroft Flighter Crusher, and was eBay item number 290551349393. Please look at it. When you look beneath the band, it reads: Caps, Service Officers, O.D. Society Brand Hat Company Contract W669 – OM 16366 3/2-42 SPEC . P.O.D. No. 36A 2/2/42 PHILADELPHIA QUARTERMASTER DEPOT Size 7 ¼ Stock No. 73-C 32025 This crusher is in much better condition that was the Bancroft Flighter. In my opinion, and complete speculation, Lieutenant Neiner obtained this second hat for more formal occasions, or to wear to the Officer’s Club, etc. The lining is different, nicer satin, and this one has his name actually embossed, as opposed to the other one, which had his name merely hand-written beneath the brim. The American Eagle pin is intact, where the one on the Bancroft was broken…the side pins and front strap are in excellent condition. Lieutenant Neiner, whom I do not know personally, would have been a 5 th AAF officer. It has a great crusher shape wonderful leather peak. This is a very scarce cap, especially to find one in such wonderful condition. I am not the best photographer, but I did my best to capture the beauty and uniqueness of this wonderful piece of WWII history. Everything is original and in great condition, though the shield which sits above the eagle’s head shows some discoloration on the plating, but, I do not clean any of my original items. I would prefer that the ultimate owner does so. There is a bit of discoloration on the inside band, and some of the stitching came apart, which is easily repairable. Again, I would prefer that the ultimate owner handle this repair if they so desire. This phenomenal find will surely make a wonderful to you WWII militaria collection. US Army Air Force (USAAF) Crusher Caps Background Army Airforce (Army Air Corps) crusher caps were as much sort out during the Second World War by aviators as they are today by collectors. Nothing made an aviator look more seasoned than when sporting a floppy, crumpled cap riding at a jaunty angle atop his head. The Visor Cap, or Service Cap, is essentially the primary dress headgear of servicemen and it bears, in the case of the Army and Army Air Corps, the insignia of the coat of arms of the United States. As such, the service cap is a crisply angled cap with stiff support to maintain its respectable posture. Army Air Corps personnel, while wearing the visor cap in flight, took to removing the stiffening in order to comfortably wear a communications headset over the cap. In time, the cap would become crushed and softened. A cap which had seen a lot of action eventually came to be known as a "50 mission crush cap," and the wearer of such a cap came to be recognized as an experienced veteran. In deference to the air service the Officer's Guide states, "Officers of the Army Air Forces wear a similar cap [to officers of the Army] except that the front spring stiffening may be omitted and the grommet may be removed." The front spring stiffening is what supports the insignia and also keeps the front of the cap jutting strongly upward and forward. This can vary from a curled piece of wire spring to a solid metal plate. The grommet is a round support, often simply a stiff piece of metal wire, that keeps the top of the cap round and suspended. While the grommet can be readily extracted from the cap, the front spring stiffening is typically sewn integrally into the cap and is not easily removed.
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