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Thread: WWII US Army and USAAF Dress Uniforms - Shirts and Ties

  1. #1
    Call Me a Cab Zemke Fan's Avatar
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    WWII US Army and USAAF Dress Uniforms - Shirts and Ties




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    Gentlemen:

    At long last here is the thread that I've been planning with respect to USAAF shirts from WWII. The thread will contain both original examples and reproductions with my comments.

    From the 1943-44 Officer's Guide (Reprinted in Silver Wings, Pinks, and Greens):

    Shirt, Service. The service shirt is of woolen or cotton material. Woolen materials are plain or twill weave worsted shirting, 10-1/2 ounces in each case. Cotton materials are broadcloth, cotton, olive drab or khaki, and poplin, cotton, olive drab or khaki. The weights of the cotton materials do not appear to be prescribed.

    Authorized colors of the wool shirt are: Olive drab shade No. 51 (dark shade); drab shade No. 54 (light shade); khaki shade No. 1; olive drab shade No. 50. The cotton fabrics are khaki shade No. 1.

    It is noteworthy that the regulations now current [1944] authorize the wearing of the gray (drab [pink]) shirt which matches the drab [pink] trousers.

    Either the olive-drab or the khaki shirt may be worn when the service coat is worn. Commanding officers may authorize the wearing of the olive drab or khaki shirt without the coat.

    Here's a quick and dirty color translation:

    No. 01 = Khaki
    No. 50 = Yellowish green or "mustard"
    No. 51 = Dark brownish green or "chocolate"
    No. 54 = Grayish taupe/khaki that appears "pink" in certain conditions

    The following photos are items that are in my collection.

    Khaki No. 1.

    Elbeco Officer's Regulation 2x2 Tropical (Washable Wool):



    This is my favorite shirt and was purchased in 2005 as NOS from an eBay seller in Georgia. He is liquidating NOS from a store that supplied officers during WWII and I have purchased shirts, trousers, ties, USAAF belt buckles, and socks from him. All are NOS. The shirt is a very comfortable 17.5 x 35. (Still kickin' myself for just buying one and not two!)

    A close-up of the same shirt:



    V-Command U.S. Officers Regulation (Wool, Dry Clean Only):



    This shirt was purchased as NOS from the same vendor in Georgia a couple of months later. Although the size is 17 x 35, this shirt is significantly more form fitting than the Elbeco shirt. (Note the Elbeco shirt in the background for color comparison.)

    In 2005 I was able to purchase a number of uniform pieces from the estate of a 1945 West Point graduate (three time all American football player) in the unheard of size (mine) of 46L, with pant waist sizes in both 40 and 42. Included with the summer (Khaki No. 1) uniform were THREE broadcloth cotton shirts, all still pinned and in the original plastic packaging. Unfortunately, the shirts are 16.5 x 35 and thus too tight for me. However, I am keeping one of the shirts -- the "Bendone" that matches the summer uniform (lower right in photo):



    Here is a series of photos with the shirts inside the Khaki summer uniform. First, the cotton broadcloth:



    Next, the V-Command:



    Finally, the Elbeco Tropical Worsted:

    [Photo to Come]

    Here, the Elbeco and V-Command shirts shown inside an original Hart Shaffner & Marx "chocolate" (olive-drab shade No. 51) winter tunic:




  2. #2
    Call Me a Cab Zemke Fan's Avatar
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    "Pink" USAAF Shirts

    Drab Shade No. 54 (so-called "Pinks")

    I have yet to find original shirts in this color. However, I have purchased reproductions from What Price Glory and Eastman Leather Co. (Rangoon). These shirts are depicted below along with my comments.

    WPG, Drab Shade No. 54:



    This shirt is shown with original "pink" (taupe gray) trousers from WWII. As you can see, there is definitely a color differential. The WPG shirt is noticeably more gray/brown than the trousers, which have the pronounced "pink" cast to them.

    Eastman Leather Co., "Rangoon" in Drab Shade No. 54:



    The color differential is even greater with the Rangoon shirt. In addition, this shirt is significantly more form-fitting even though it's a 17 x 35. (It fits a lot like the V-Command khaki shirt of the same size.)

    Now, the color may not matter a whole lot when the shirt is worn with either a tunic or with an A-2 (for the purists, it's still NOT pink). Here's how the shirt looks with a vintage pair of olive-drab No. 51 (dark green or "chocolate") trousers and a No. 51 color tie.


  3. #3
    Call Me a Cab Zemke Fan's Avatar
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    Ties...

    Here are three OD No. 51 (green/chocolate) ties:



    Left to right:
    1. Eastman Leather Co. (reproduction)
    2. WWII issue (one used in photos in posts #1 and #2)
    3. What Price Glory (reproduction)

    And two original Khaki No. 1 color ties:



    Left to right:
    1. Regal-Aire (U.K.)
    2. Unmarked (unlabeled private issue, U.S.)

    BTW, Gents: The colors in the tie scans are pretty accurate. Although I tried to do a white balance on the digital photos, they didn't all come out precisely right. (Close enough for govt. work since you can see the contrasting colors, which was my point in starting this thread.)

    ZF

  4. #4
    Bartender PADDY's Avatar
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    CLASS A1 piece on AAF colourings of shirts and ties!

    Well Done sir!! what a fine piece of work and I have no doubt will be picked up and digested by the boys here when they have recovered from their New Year celebrations!

    About a year ago I picked up a second hand Eastman Rangoon shirt in the supposed PINK colour.

    Yes it does contrast with my original pink officers' regulation trousers. I was never too sure about it (less can go wrong with the chocolate colour/dark green than the pink colours). I feel your analysis is confirming to me that it's not really hitting the mark with getting an authentic pink, although the formed cut of the shirt (where it is tailoured into the waist in a V-shape) I actually like.

    Having seen other examples of original shirts (I have an original chocolate shirt, bespoke made for an officer with spookily, my initials embroidered on the inside!! very weird!), another difference from shirt to shirt, maker to maker, can be seen in the buttons used and also the collar shapes (rather like the difference in A2 jacket collars as they differ from make to make).

    I'm coming to the conclusion that if you do bide your time guys, you will pick up a decent original shirt on the likes of Ebay, or even 'here' (if guys are selling/trading) for less than an ELC, GARCIA, WPG..etc reproduction!

    Once again Zemke, thanks for the MAXIMUM EFFORT on this piece, you've spent a lot of time and effort in getting this piece put together!
    "Hot ginger and dynamite, There's nothing but that at night,
    Back in Nagasaki Where the fellers chew tobaccy and the
    women wicky-wacky Woo."

    An Earl Grey in a sea of Latte...

  5. #5
    I'll Lock Up BellyTank's Avatar
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    Yes!...

    ...nice work indeed Zemke- a great piece of reference.

    I have had a few of these type of AAF shirts and currently have the ELC Rangoon in the Dark Olive(Chocolate) shade. This example is indeed the trim, tailored version and looks very smart.

    You have mentioned the w-i-d-e colour variation and your expectations of what 'Pink' should look like- but, as with all uniform items, colours DID vary widely, add to that variance- laundering and age and there goes the ballpark...

    Re: the repro shirt/s you have mentioned: yes, one would expect the shade to NOT be so taupe or the more greyish hues, especially when marketed as 'Pink'. I think pink is really observed more correctly in the worsted wool/cavalry twill/elastique trousers(and dress jackets) of the 'Pinks and Greens' than in the 'matching' shirts.
    And the 'suntan'/khaki shade tropical lightweight worsted uniform should not be put into the 'Pinks' list, as it was 'khaki'(not that you did this...).

    And yes again- the only true 'Pinks' are the uniform items described as the 'Drab' shade, which display a 'pink-ish' hue.

    Nice work and a nice collection Zemke!

    B
    T
    Looking with my good ear peeled.

  6. #6
    Familiar Face
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    Very good thread Zemke and very helpful for my actual researches. I am wondering if somebody out there has a link or an idea about a chart where the different shades can be visiualy compared.
    The reason for my question is a garrison cap which I got a few days ago. It is more green than brown. What colour is the greenish brown which makes it a real chocolate?

    Semper Fi

  7. #7
    Head Bartender scotrace's Avatar
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    JUST caught this thread

    GREAT reference ZF, Thanks.

    I'm surprised at the variations in patterns moreso than color. Pocket flap shapes, tie stitching, etc.

    As a 17.5 X 35, I assume your GA friend has finished disposing of stock?
    .

    A sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth. - Fitzgerald

    .

  8. #8
    Man of Action Matt Deckard's Avatar
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    is it me or does the Eastman shirt have too much tie space?
    Looking for my Emma Peel.


    Matt Deckard Apparel
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  9. #9
    One Too Many Mojave Jack's Avatar
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    Has anyone come across information on when the pink and chocolate shades were first authorized? If I recall correctly, the OD and khaki shades originated with the uniform change in 1926, and the pink and chocolate were introduced later,

    Does the uniform regulation permit any shirt/tie combination with the khaki summer service uniform? The chocolate shirts seems a bit dark for the khakis, but might make an interesting look, if it was permitted.

    Also, what is your opinion of the quality of the various shirts? There's not a lot of difference in price for most of the repros, i.e. Eastman, WWII Impressions, and WPG. Are there others? I like the fact that the Eastman shirt is more fitted; I have to fit my shirts based on the shoulder and arms, and invariably have the waist taken in. Unfortunately I don't see many original shirts for tall, gangly folks, such as myself, though I keep looking.
    "Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the life blood of real civilization."
    --G. M. Trevelyan

  10. #10
    I'll Lock Up BellyTank's Avatar
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    They're really OK!

    My Eastman Rangoon in Chocolate is surprisingly (to me of course)good- the fabric is a good wool gab, the collar is a good size and shape(tie space OK!) and the fitted-ness is nice. It's almost a perfect match for a late '30s vintage gab uniform (civilian)shirt I have- not so much of the perod fit has been sacrificed for the modern in the ELC shirt offering, as has been in their A-2s(sadly).

    Nice!

    B
    T
    Looking with my good ear peeled.

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