Bomber Boys...WWII Flight Jacket Art

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C OPYRIG HT 2021 JO HN SLEMP. ALL RIG HTS RESERVED.

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TO PRODUCE A BEST-IN-CL ASS BOOK OF ARCHIVAL QUALIT Y CONTAINING THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COLLECTION OF FLIGHT JACKETS, ARTIFACTS, AND PERSONAL ACCOUNTS FROM THE W WII HISTORICAL ER A.

w wii er a flight jacket art, artifacts and personal accounts

GOAL:

We have taken the standard for a publication of this type and raised the bar, connecting for the first time personal accounts and other historical artifacts of the war time effort with the highest standard of photography and design. We believe we can accomplish our goal with the right sponsor, or group of sponsors and investors.

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The highly individualistic art depicted on WWII “bomber jackets” continues to fascinate, educate, and entertain to this day. Painted on the back of leather A-2 work jackets, these highly collectible uniform items depict the attitudes of young airmen subjected to the vagaries of modern warfare in the sky, and the successes, failures, and eventual triumphs of surviving 35 missions over stubbornly defended enemy territory. For the first time, these military mementos have been photographed in extreme detail, and brought back to their original colorful glory. Worn as unique identifiers and to create an atmosphere of “esprit de corps” amongst the crews, these jackets offer a visual diary of a man’s service in the US Army Air Corps. The examples photographed often reflected the hedonistic mindset of these extremely young airmen, pride in their part of fighting the enemy, and the social mores of the time. Supplemented with contemporary research, audio and video interviews, and recent veteran portraits, this book will offer a glimpse into this seldom seen genre of military folk art and the stories they tell, before they pass into obscure history. The fact that the jackets have impacted generations of fashion design worldwide has been overlooked and we’ll examine this influence in detail.

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FOREWARD

Previous pages: A small selection of the flight jackets are shown. The jackets do not correspond front to back, but represent a cross section of what to expect from the entirety of the collection.

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FEATURES

Jackets from various institutions including the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the 390th Memorial Museum, the March Field and 475th Fighter Group Museums, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and private collections will be featured along with other artifacts and personal accounts of the men and women of WWII.

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JACKETS PHOTOGR APHED TO DATE

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P-51 PILOT bob

“punchy ”

powell

A whistle was a standard uniform item for airmen flying over the English Channel, so they could be located by boat rescue crews, in case they were forced down in low light or foggy conditions.

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c o n t.

The high resolution photography will, for the first time, offer a view into what the jackets may have looked like originally. Careful attention has been paid to isolating the jackets from the background, and to accurate color. Professional digital processing has enhanced the original color, and brought it back to life. In addition, interviews with the original owners, historical images, other artifacts, and background research has been done on a number of jackets that helps tell the story of the artwork. Supporting audio and video brings additional value to many of the stories, and helps to illustrate the hazardous nature of serving in the Army Air Corps.

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FE ATURES

Various memorabilia as shown on this page will enhance the stories and serve as adjuncts to the broad spectrum of ephemera and military vernacular depicted throughout the book.

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AUDIENCE

THERE ARE

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683 AVIATION MUSEUMS WORLDWIDE

AND COUNTLESS OTHERS INTERESTED IN W WII

This page: Bomb tags kept as souvenirs of the 34 missions Walter Thomason flew over occupied Europe.

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AS OF 2018, THERE ARE OVER

633,000

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT OVER

THERE ARE MORE THAN

27,000

200,000

7,800

THE AIRVENTURE AIRSHOW DR AWS OVER

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11,000

PILOTS WILL BE NEEDED BY 2038

AIRCR AFT OWNERS & PILOTS ASSOCIATION MEMBERS

THE EXPERIMENTAL AIRCR AFT ASSOCIATION HAS OVER

THE COMMEMOR ATIVE AIRFORCE HAS

PILOTS IN THE USA

700,000

414,000

MORE THAN

W WII BOMB GROUP MEMBERS ON FACEBOOK

MEMBERS

MEMBERS OF THE EA A FORM THE WARBIRD SUBSET

600,000

MEMBERS AND

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THERE ARE CURRENTLY MORE THAN

VISITORS ANNUALLY

298,451

FACEBOOK FANS

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MINIMUM REACH

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2.9 MILLION This figure is an estimation on the basis of combined audience membership in relevant aviation based groups. We estimate the total potential reach of the final piece, in conjunction with an exhibition and website, to be much higher.

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B-17 GUNNER & RADIO OPERATOR larry goldstein

Larry Goldstein was a top turret gunner and radio operator on a B-17 bomber. He describes his arrival in England during an interview for this project.

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Art of the Flight Jacket

Hell Bent for Leather

American Flight Jackets

Jon A. Maguire & John P. Conway

Derek Nelson & Dave Parsons

Jon A. Maguire & John P. Conway

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

Motorbooks International

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

1995

1990

2000

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COMPAR ABLE BOOKS

While the titles above do a good job of showcasing a wide variety of original A-2 jackets from the war, the photography is of a non-professional calibre, with a heavy reliance on the incorporation of period black and white snapshots. Very little, if any, information about the men themselves is shared, aside from the usual description of their unit, the type of aircraft flown, their rank, and aircrew positions. We want to go beyond the military veneer using the jackets as an appropriate vehicle to share individual stories about their wartime experiences, and how this important period in their lives shaped their eventual destinies.

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INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1 Brief History of the A-2 Construction of the A-2 The Artwork Maps & Illustrations Locations of Army Forces Worldwide Illustrations of W WII Aircraft CHAPTER 2 European Theatre - 8th Air Force Mediterranean & North Africa China, Burma, India, & the Pacific CHAPTER 3 Inf luence on Fashion CHAPTER 4 Information for Collectors APPENDIX Acknowledgements Bibliography Index Supplemental Material Process and Documentation Book Design Specifications

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CONTENT OUTLINE

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Insignia of rank were either embroidered or painted on, as metal insignia on the epaulette could have been a puncture hazard in a crash or become entangled in a parachute harness. Only officers wore rank

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insignia on their jackets.

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CHAPTER SYNOPSIS

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE A-2 A brief discussion of how the A-2 jacket came into being, and the thought process behind the evolution from the original A-1 jacket. CONSTRUCTION OF THE A-2 An overview of how the jackets were procured, their design and physical construction, and various details to look for. THE ARTWORK Details on how the jackets were painted, by whom, and what was or was not allowed will be described. MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS This section will include various maps and other illustrations that depict the location of Army Air Forces worldwide. Additionally, there will be brief discussions of the P-51 fighter aircraft and the B-17 bomber. We want the audience to understand that while these aircraft appear large on the outside, they were actually quite small on the inside, especially when wearing full cold-weather and ballistic protective gear.

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CHAPTER 1

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CHAPTER SYNOPSIS

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CHAPTER 2

EUROPEAN THEATRE - 8TH AIR FORCE A brief introduction to the European Theatre of Operations, with a focus on jackets from the Eighth Air Force. MEDITERRANEAN & NORTH AFRICA Jackets from the Mediterranean and North Africa. CHINA, BURMA, INDIA & THE PACIFIC Jackets from the Far Eastern theatre of operations.

CHAPTER 3

INFLUENCE ON FASHION There are numerous influences on culture and fashion the jackets have had over the years. This section will focus on this cultural phenomenon through artifacts and historical references. A subject matter expert, Laura McLaws Helms, has joined the team, and will develop this content.

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CHAPTER SYNOPSIS

INFORMATION FOR COLLECTORS This chapter is a discussion for those who would be interested in collecting these jackets, including what to look for, how to find them, what to avoid, and how to establish provenance. Instructions and recommended ways to care for the jackets will also be included.

APPENDIX

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / BIBLIOGRAPHY / INDEX Resources, museums, and other groups or individuals who helped bring the book to life or otherwise contributed will be listed. This portion will also include references and an index of terminology. SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL This section will contain information on the process used to capture the images, including the lighting setup used. This section will also include the thought process behind the images, and working with museums across the country. Book design material, techniques and production specifications will also be listed.

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CHAPTER 4

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PEDAGOGICAL ELEMENTS

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APPROX.

45K ESTIMATED WORD COUNT

Audio and video interviews have been conducted with a number of veterans, and a website is envisioned that will accompany the book, which will be searchable by unit, name, participating institution, and of course, by the artwork. Additional items that may be included are mission logs, personal diary and scrapbook entries, newspaper clippings, maps, and other ephemera. Currently, we do not have a good estimate on the number of images that will be included in the book. Over 3500 relevant images have been created, and although there has been a great culling of the selects, much will depend on the stories that go along with the jackets, which is currently being written. We estimate between 300 and 400 images will appear in the book.

APPROX.

400 PROFESSIONAL IMAGES & OTHER HISTORICAL VISUALS

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The text of the song “Lili Marlene.” The date, June 6, 1944 coincides with the Invasion of France.

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Lt. Erickson flew 35 missions as a B-17 pilot with the 95th Bomb Group (Heavy) out of Horham Airfield, England, from February through September 1944. The “Lili of the Lamplight” (44-6085) was his usual ride into battle. The aircraft was so named due to an earlier experience in Reykjavik, Iceland where the crew was fortunate to see movie star Marlene Dietrich perform a USO show on the way to their combat assignment in England. Witnessing Dietrich singing “Lili Marlene” quite impressed Lt. Erickson, and a modified version of the song title stuck when it came time to name their future Flying Fortress. The then-popular German love song “Lili Marlene” was originally written as a poem in 1915, and set to music in 1937. During the war, it became wildly popular with soldiers on both sides, and frequently ended Radio Belgrade’s broadcast each night at 10pm.

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LT. ERNEST ANDERS ERICKSON

Bottom right: Lt. Erickson is shown with Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle, commander of the Eighth Air Force, in June, 1944 at Horham Airfield, England.

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front

Aero Leather Clothing Company in Beacon, New York was the manufacturer of this jacket. The contract date was May 25th, 1942, for 50,000 jackets. When the A-2 was introduced, zippers were a relatively new technology for garments, and were a welcome improvement over the original A-1’s buttons.

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Getting up this morning was worse, harder than the many others that have passed this year in England. Whether it was the unconscious anticipation of the day ahead, I do not know. Many times this had happened: the tap at the foot of my bed, my name called out in the cold damp darkness of the barracks, the flashlight and footfall of the CQ (Charge of Quarters) waking the chosen for today’s flight — all this at 02:30am. As my feet hit the cement floor beside my bed, my head feels dizzy, too many flights and not enough sleep, or was I just tired and afraid of the whole situation. The bad weather, cancelled missions, changing of targets after the flight had started, the target socked in with two or three layers of clouds, dumping our payload somewhere over the countryside on the way back, ironically called a target of opportunity, when often we knew we were just plowing out something we never see down below, just bursts and smoke as we head back to the Channel and home. Then it was just the miserable, bad weather, back at the airfield, often landing at alternative strips. Waiting for clearing for another mission, all this plus knowing of the fear in the pit of my stomach even on my weekends in London. “Up Lindy, the truck will pick you up at Barracks C in fifteen minutes.” The silhouette with the flashlight said. I noticed my weekend buddy, Taylor, in the bed next to me slept on, grunted at the invasion of light and then rolled over back to sleep. My crew were the only ones picked for today’s flight. I was dressed in less than 10 minutes, in spite of the darkness. We let the rest of the barrack boys sleep away. Many would be fortunate not to be on the day’s flights or the unfortunate sleep away. Others if you were in a hurry to get your tour complete and go back home. Either way it was our day up and we would be off in a couple of hours. As I crawled into the truck, I hit my head on the canopy support, dam!! Everything was going to be bad today! Breakfast of fried eggs, bread and coffee was

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LT. ERNEST ANDERS ERICKSON ENTRY IN PERSONAL DIARY

BRIEFING 0330 HOURS

followed by the normal briefing. Our target was Berlin, my first time over the 800 antiaircraft guns that could be aimed at us at any one time. I had heard the stories, and they weren’t good. I feel I have to get these feelings out of my head, my men are all a bit jittery and I have to show them, all’s fine. Berlin? It’s a long way back from Berlin to the airfield with 109’s on our tails and coming from God knows where. I have to get my mind straight on all this.

Time to go.

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LT. ERNEST ANDERS ERICKSON

c o n t.

BIOGRAPHY BY MARK ERICKSON

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In 1949, Ernest earned a degree in aircraft design and engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and two years later took a job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California. Within the year he would meet and marry his wife Bernice, whereupon the couple purchased a home in the Hollywood Hills and began raising a family. He was soon selected to work on special projects under the supervision of Kelly Johnson, chief engineer at the “Skunk Works” facilities at Lockheed. Kelly Johnson hand-picked engineers to work on small teams tasked with pushing the limits of aeronautical design engineering, to develop the worlds most advanced airplanes. Lockheed had received a contract from the CIA to build a spy-plane, and Kelly Johnson needed top engineers to design the new airplane. Soon to be known as the U-2, this aircraft was built primarily for the purpose of flying over the Soviet Union to photograph strategic sites.

Mark Erickson wearing his dad’s jacket as a child.

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Getting in on the ground floor, Ernest continued to work for Kelly Johnson for more than two decades, as a design team engineer. Many of the projects were top secret. To this day I am unaware of what his participation could have been. In addition to airplane design, Ernest also played a role in the design of the Mercury spacecraft, collaborating with engineers at McDonnell Aircraft. Before he retired in 1988 he spent time working with Northrop Aircraft.

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For a six-year period in the early to mid 1970’s, Earnest and his family were transferred to Italy and Germany for various F-104 Starfighter related projects. Work on Ernest’s final project at Lockheed included stress analysis drawings and designs for the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, which utilizes the “Have Blue” technology. It was the first operational aircraft designed for stealth application. The maiden flight of the F-117 was conducted in 1981, and it achieved initial operating capability status in October, 1983. The airplane was finally revealed to the world in November, 1988. Some of Ernest’s other projects included design work on the C-130 Hercules, the Constellation, the C-141 Starlifter, the L-2000 “SST” Supersonic Transport (he worked on the SST for several years and was quite disappointed when it never came to fruition), the L-1011 Tri-Star, and the immense military transport, the C-5A Galaxy. Following his retirement in 1988, my parents resided along the Venice Canals in California, partnering in Los Angeles real estate investments and traveling extensively. Influenced by the art work of my mother Bernice and my grandmother Blanche he delved into drawing, ceramics and stained glass, and studied art at Santa Monica College.

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He spoke about the many flyers and aerospace individuals he met over the years. One acquaintance was the former Air Corps flyer, Chuck Yeager, who at the time they met was a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base). As my father’s aerospace career spanned the 1950’s and into the early 1960’s their paths again crossed during a NASA project.

My father, Ernest Anders Erickson, passed away on June 7th, 2013 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 90.

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john slemp

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laura mclaws helms

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author

John’s specialities include creating images for advertising, corporate and editorial uses. Location lighting is a strong suit. He is organized, proactive, and thoughtful, and has a well developed sense of humor. His ideal contact is the person who can make a decision regarding hiring him to create images—art directors, graphic designers, corporate communications managers, and creative directors—or anyone who has a need for exceptional photography for marketing and advertising needs.

THE TEAM

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photographer

He is an experienced, innovative, and award-winning commercial photographer, with an emphasis on bringing studio techniques to location work. He is now capturing extremely high resolution files that are suitable for advertising, corporate, trade show and other applications, and is increasingly involved in showcasing his work through galleries and museums. Past clients include: The Company of Others ad agency, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Epps Aviation, Goodyear Aviation Tires, EAA’s Sport Aviation magazine, General Aviation News, Smithsonian Air & Space magazine, Jet Support Services International, Avfuel, The Lindbergh Foundation, and Women in Aviation International.

fashion & cultural historian

Laura is a fashion and cultural historian based in New York and London. Specializing in the influence of vintage clothing on contemporary design, Laura acts as an exhibition curator and design consultant to stylists, editors, and designers within the film, advertising, and fashion industries. Laura curated an exhibition, Thea Porter: 70s Bohemian Chic, at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London (2015), and wrote an accompanying monograph, Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic, published by V & A Publications. In addition, she has written for a number of publications, while also collaborating with advertising companies (like Chandelier Creative) and fashion websites (like Heroine) on a number of fashion and pop culture-centric articles and talks. She is the co-founder of the arts and fashion publication Lady and the clothing line Marshmallow. Laura also hosts a podcast, “Lady’s After Hours”, where she interviews elderly artists and creatives as they look back over their lives and careers. Ms. Helms worked towards her PhD at London College of Fashion and holds a Master’s Degree in Fashion History, Theory & Museum Practice from The Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as a BFA from The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in Photography and Imaging.

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daren guillory

strategist

design director

Lee Anne has over 25 years of experience in motorsports and is one of the first women to be a Promotions Director for a national race track, work as a Series Director—doing so for Carroll Shelby, and work as a Team Owner and Team Manager in IndyCar. She loves the competition and the emotion of sports and is enamored by the platform it creates to change people’s lives with good cause marketing. She has a talent for seeing unapparent connections and generating relationships between companies, people, and missions.

Daren is a visionary designer, artist, illustrator, and entrepreneur. His work is as diverse and varied as his experience, and ranges from brand identity design, web design, industrial design, architectural design, copywriting, illustration, user experience design, and design consultation.

Her expertise includes designing and building turnkey programs, developing visionary business networking strategies, designing results-oriented marketing programs, creating proposals that sell, and coordinating activation with measurable results; including the creation of public relations campaigns, promotional items, successful hospitality, and good-cause marketing elements. She has worked at Q95 (Athens, GA) and 96 Rock (Atlanta, GA) in the 80’s, producing numerous commercials, having voiced many of them. After talking over engines for the past 25 years, her voice has mellowed even more leaving her with a warmer, richer tone. She is now revisiting her roots in copywriting and voice talent and acting.

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He is responsible for establishing a design vision for all projects and the creation and implementation of conceptual and thematic elements that result in a unified aesthetic, while working with and managing a team to explore, produce, and implement those ideas. He has extensive experience in systems design and the creation of principles that establish and guide brand related decision making. He is considered a regional design leader and has contributed to or served on numerous panel discussions and symposiums as well as written articles for professional design organizations on a local and national basis.

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lee anne patterson

His work has been published or featured in nearly every nationally recognized professional awards organization or program.

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You are invited to join us in creating a monumental quality archive of some of most inspiring moments in American WWII folk art history— a definitive collection that leaves a lasting legacy and honors the brave men and women who served in the military for generations to come. To learn more about how you can partner with us in this enduring effort, please reach out directly to:

John Slemp john@johnslemp.com 404.245.2411

Lee Anne Patterson leeanne@thegroundeffects.com 404.441.0916

johnslemp.com

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w wii er a flight jacket art, artifacts and personal accounts

JOIN THE EFFORT

©2021 John Slemp. All Rights Reserved. All content and copywriting herein is copyright protected and may not be reproduced, modified, or distributed without express written permission. Design by Fournir in Houston, TX.

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