"Of all the branches of men in the Forces, there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariner.
Great deeds are done in the air and on the land; nevertheless, nothing surpasses your exploits." - Winston Churchill.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Wilson VC, the Controller of the Royal Navy, summed up the opinion of many in the Admiralty at the time when he said in 1901, "Submarines are underhand, unfair, and damned un-English. ... treat all submarines as pirates in wartime ... and hang all crews." In response, Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral Sir) Max Horton first flew the Jolly Roger on return to port after sinking the German cruiser SMS Hela and the destroyer SMS S-116 in 1914 while in command of HMS E-9. Decades later in 1982, returning from the Falklands conflict HMS Conqueror flew the Jolly Roger depicting one dagger for the SBS deployment to South Georgia and one torpedo for her sinking of the Argentinian Cruiser Belgrano.

During World War Two it became common practice for the submarines of the Royal Navy to fly the Jolly Roger on completion of a successful combat mission where some action had taken place, but as an indicator of bravado and stealth rather than of lawlessness. British submarines fought a deadly battle with their German counterparts during World War Two. The British submarines succeeded in sinking 12 German U-boats, for the loss of 4 of their own to U-boats. British submarine development between the wars owed much to the versatile E-boats built at the start of the Great War. The most notable types were the H and L classes that continued in service until well into the Second World War. The L Boats in particular were well liked by their crews and many successful submarine commanders were trained in them.

It took a certain type of personality to become a Submariner, something still true today. They were considered a different breed to the usual Royal Navy sailor. The 'Perisher' (as the Submarine Command Course is better known) is a 24-week course all officers must take prior to serving as an Executive Officer on board a Royal Navy Submarine. It has been run twice a year since 1917, usually starting on 2 July and 14 November each year. It is widely regarded as one of the toughest command courses in the world, with a historical failure rate of 25%. If at any point during the training a candidate is withdrawn from training he will be nominated for boat transfer and kept occupied until the transfer. His bag is packed for him and he is notified of the failure when the boat arrives. On departure he is presented with a bottle of whiskey. A failure on Perisher means that the unsuccessful candidate is not permitted to return to sea as a member of the Submarine Service (although they are still allowed to wear the dolphin badge). He is, however, permitted to remain in the Royal Navy, moving into the surface fleet. In more recent years, the United States Navy has sent some of its own submariner officers to undergo the 'Perisher', in order to foster and maintain closer links with the Royal Navy.

At some point during World War Two the Submarine Service became known as the 'Silent Service' mostly due to the fact that their missions were covert and went unreported, they were often deployed in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean and accompanying coastlines, sometimes not having enough depth to sneak away after an attack. Not all of their actions were combat based, often their missions would be to drop agents off and pick others up, rescue downed airmen from the clutches of the Axis or carry out intelligence surveys.

In 1939 the Allies primary maritime tasks were based on the assumption Britain and France will go to war against the European Axis powers of Germany and Italy. The Royal Navy will be responsible for the North Sea and most of the Atlantic, with the French contributing some forces. In the Mediterranean, defence will be shared between both these Navies. At the outbreak of War Britain had 58 submarines available, 47 of which could have been considered as up to date. As the war progressed, the Royal Navy and its few Allied-manned submarines neither had the target opportunities of the German U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean nor the US submarines in the Pacific, and certainly in the early years suffered heavy losses for comparatively few gains at least in Axis warships. But if account is taken of such vital activities as the heavy merchant ship sinking in the Mediterranean, certainly in the battle for North Africa, the many dangerous cloak-and-dagger operations so vital to Churchill's command to "set Europe alight", helping to cut Germany supply routes from Norway and Japanese ones to Burma, then the even more silent part of the "Silent Service" played a major role in clearing the seas of enemy ships. 73 British submarines were lost in the war, reflecting the difficulties of their operating areas and targets: the well protected German shipping around Northern Europe, the clear and shallow Mediterranean, Malacca Straits and Indian Ocean. A total of over 2000 men lost their lives in service to the country.


It's no secret that Americans love outlaws, from the legends and lore of rebellious (and illegal) acts by the Founding Fathers, to the bushwhacking and bank-robbing capers of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to the "bad boy" music of Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and Dr. Dre.

American culture and mass media have led inexorably to characters that embody this bad-boy attitude - a recent example being Jax, the heartthrob outlaw biker star of the TV show "Sons of Anarchy". Western society has a long established canon from which we "learn" about society from fictional dramas. And the more we watch shows like "Sons of Anarchy," the more a news story will seem to fit our mental construct of "how those people are." The same is true of popular TV crime dramas' portrayal of American minorities' involvement in violent crime. And it seems that every time outlaw motorcycle clubs are portrayed in the news, it's because of something terrible, such as the deadly events in Waco, Texas. Add to this the fact that the outlaw biker narrative has been largely controlled over time, not by members of the culture, but by outsiders and the misconceptions grow.

The term 1%er was first used in print in the pages of Life Magazine during the 1960’s. The article was a contrived response to an AMA rally in Hollister CA, after encouraging certain individuals to get drunk and ride through town the media then reported on 'drunken' motorcycle clubs giving rise to the popular misconception of bikers and also the movie The Wild One. The American Motorcycle Association stated that 99% of the people at their events were God fearing and family oriented. The other 1% were hard riding, hard partying, non mainstream type people. Thus the term 1%er found its place in popular vernacular.

Motorcycle clubs were historically born of a love of the machine, racing, riding and from military service. Gangs began for various reasons as well, but largely as a form of protection for outsiders or ethnic immigrants residing in inner cities. Their social structure is overwhelmingly democratic from the local to the international levels. Officers are democratically elected and hold office so long as they meet the memberships' needs.

In contrast, Motorcycle Gangs can be seen as more autocratic than democratic, where leaders emerge more for their charismatic leadership and illicit earning abilities than for their abilities to run organisations. Motorcycle clubs are organised hierarchically, with strictly defined chains of command and lines of communication. MCs elect secretaries whose jobs are to maintain meeting minutes, keep track of committees and chairs, and see that old business is complete and new business is on the agenda. Treasurers also are elected officials and they attend to fiduciary responsibilities such as collecting membership dues, paying clubhouse expenses and financial planning for the future. Both secretaries and treasurers are required to produce written documents for the membership to review and approve during each meeting.

It's not easy becoming a patch-holder. Many have compared "prospecting" - the process of earning full membership - to that of military basic training, where the individual is broken down in order to be reformed into a part of a collective: To think not of one's self but of others, and to understand that one's actions or inactions impact the team and the organisation. But prospecting takes months and sometime a year or more (5 years for one MC). Prospecting is physically, emotionally, and intellectually demanding and not everyone can do it. A significant amount of social status is conferred upon those with the steel to make it. Perhaps this is the only obvious similarity between MCs and gangs. MC is generally reserved for those clubs that are mutually recognised by other MC or outlaw motorcycle clubs. This is indicated by a motorcyclist wearing an MC patch, or a three piece patch called colours, on the back of their jacket or riding vest. Outlaw or 1%er can mean merely that the club is not chartered under the auspices of the AMA, implying a radical rejection of authority and embracing of the "biker" lifestyle as defined and popularised since the 1950s and represented by such media as Easyriders magazine, the work of painter David Mann and others. In many contexts the terms overlap with the usual meaning of "outlaw" because some of these clubs, or some of their members, are recognised rightly or wrongly by law enforcement agencies as taking part in organised crime.

That sense of brotherhood was on display at a funeral for a patch-holder slain at Waco. Members of the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Mongols, Vagos and more than 50 other motorcycle clubs come together in peace to mourn the passing of a man who touched the lives of so many in his community. To them, he was much more than a biker or a patch-holder -- he was their Brother, with all the familial love, respect, and honour that that word conveys. Possibly such a gathering has never happened before. This convergence of contrasting MCs was no media stunt. There were no media in the funeral that day (although there was one white, unmarked van, out of which came uniformed men clad in body armour and armed with assault rifles).

Perhaps the singularly most important distinction between outlaw motorcycle clubs and gangs is evidenced through philanthropy. Many motorcycle clubs are closely intertwined with charity work: MC family members are or have been affected by the maladies the charities seek to eradicate, and members of the local community are in legitimate and immediate need. MCs support a wide variety of local, national, and international charities that seek to end disease, poverty and hunger, but especially supported are disabled veterans organisations. Charity is to members of motorcycle clubs as petrol and oil are to their machines. For some, it's a major reason why they join and stay in MCs. Clubs have been observed providing 24/7 security at battered women's shelters, holding motorcycling events such as Poker Runs to raise money for local families whose homes were destroyed by fire or natural disasters, or to help families stricken by some other tragic event get on their feet. If a member of the community is in legitimate need, and the MCs are able to help, they almost always do. Even if it's just "Passing the Hat," where patch-holders literally pass around a baseball cap into which members place what cash they can spare. This might not seem like much, but to a family in desperate need of short-term assistance, this can mean the difference between having electricity and water and going without.

The above puts perspective on the recent statement that certain US law enforcement officials and organisations have labeled outlaw motorcycle clubs as a domestic terrorist threat, something is that is obviously more concerning since many of these clubs are made up of veterans who have fought bravely in recent wars for their country.

    The lineage of the term Hell's Angels can be traced back many years, while the famous Californian motorcycle club can undoubtedly find its origination in combat veterans who went on to find camaraderie riding motorcycles together post WWII, the phrase actually originates in this context from a 1930 aviation war movie directed and produced by Howard Hughes. The Hollywood blockbuster starred Ben Lyon, James Hall and Jean Harlow, and centred on the combat pilots of World War I. Despite its initial poor performance at the box office, it eventually earned its production costs twice over. Controversy during the Hell's Angels production contributed to the film's notoriety, including the accidental deaths of several pilots, an inflated budget, a lawsuit against a competitor, and repeated postponements of the release date. Originally shot as a silent film, Hughes retooled the film over a lengthy period. Most of the film is in black and white, but there is one colour sequence—the only colour footage of Harlow's career. Hell's Angels is now hailed as one of the first sound blockbuster action films.

    Hell's Angels received its premiere in Hollywood on May 24, 1930. All the stars and makers of the film attended, as well as Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin with his girlfriend Georgia Hale. A program with leather cover was designed for the premiere by famed aviation illustrator Clayton Knight. Reviews were universal in acclaim for the flying scenes but the mundane plot and maudlin characterisations were also noted. The Hell's Angels screening revealed many traits of pre-code Hollywood. In addition to some fairly frank sexuality, there was a surprising amount of adult language (for the time) during the final dogfight sequence, e.g. "son of a bitch", "goddamn it", and "for Christ's sake", along with the words "ass", "hell", and a few uses of "God" in other scenes.

    Harlow, Lyon and Hall received mixed reviews for their acting, Hughes was praised for his hard work on the filming and aircraft sequences. Mourdant Hall, reviewer for The New York Times, was especially critical about Harlow's performance, saying, "his film is absorbing and exciting. But while she is the centre of attraction, the picture is a most mediocre piece of work."

    Probably the most well known usage of the phrase Hell's Angels in a factual military context can be seen in the USAAF 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), the group was activated on 3 February 1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon and finally assembled later that year at Molesworth, England, flying its first combat mission on 17th November 1942 with a planned strike at the St. Nazaire submarine pens. Over the months and years that followed, lessons were learned, equipment was improved, and the tale of Hell's Angels "Might in Flight" evolved. First targets were usually airfields and marshalling yards in France and the Low Countries. Several targets in Paris were struck in 1943 and, although it was defended by about 250 flak guns, only one plane was lost in six attacks. The 303rd formations often encountered the 'Abbeville Kids', the yellow-nosed FW 190s flying out of the airfield just north of Abbeville, France. Their attacks were in retaliation to the 303rd's bombing of Abbeville on 10 July 1943. They didn't take kindly to our bombing and took great joy in finding a 303rd BG formation.

    Soon, many German targets were hit and, to mention a few, Mannheim and Ludwigshafen were attacked 12 times with only five losses. The transport and industrial centre of Frankfurt was bombed nine times in 1943 and 1944, in which only three aircraft were lost. The 15 August 1944 attack on the Wiesbaden airfield cost the group nine bombers. Cologne rail lines and industry were the targets on 10 missions, including the famous glide bomb attack. The largest marshalling yard in Germany, located at Hamm, was hit six times and its flak defences accounted for two aircraft down. In the later stages of the war, the 303rd bombers struck industrial sites, transportation hubs, and oil refineries at Munich, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen, Merseburg, Leipzig, Essen, Schweinfurt. Bremen, Stuttgart, Kiel and Brunswick with increase in efficiency and decreasing losses.

    As part of the joint USAAF-RAF objective to eradicate the "buzz bomb" threat, 303rd crews attacked 12 sites between 28 February and 30 August 1944 at altitudes of 12,000 and 14,000 feet. On 11 January 1944, leading the First Division, the 303rd hit Oschersleben, Germany, after most of the 8th Air Force and its fighter escort had aborted due to weather. The devastating strike was the beginning of the end for the German Air Force, but cost 10 aircraft (42 altogether in the First Division). For this valuable contribution to the war effort, the men of the Hell's Angels Group, both air and ground echelons, wear the badge of a Distinguished Unit Citation.

    On 6 March 1944, the Group participated in one of the first strikes on Berlin. Later, they carried their bombs as far east as Poland, where one of the most compact bombing patterns of the war destroyed an industrial site. The 303rd was, of course, part of the aerial support on D-Day, 6 June 1944. On that date, the crews flew three separate missions between dawn and dusk in a ground support role rather than a strategic bombing force. Bombing almost around the clock occurred in June when 29 missions and 1000 sorties were flown. In tribute to one of the most famous Flying Fortresses of World War II, 'Hell's Angels' #41-24577, the 303rd Bombardment Group took its name. In the inventory since the Group's beginning, this aircraft was the first heavy bomber in the 8th Air Force to complete 25 missions.

    While the 303rd's usage of 'Hell's Angels' is the most well known, the first noted use of the phrase was actually with the 3rd Pursuit Squadron of the American Volunteer Group (AVG). The AVG, more famously known 'The Flying Tigers' were a secret United States military operational entity, authorised and approved by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on 23 December 1940. As part of this covert operation, which had been requested by Claire Lee Chennault (a former USAAC pilot instructor and veteran of the 94th 'Hat in the Ring' squadron during WWI) on behalf of Chaing Kai-Shek and the Chinese government, who had been at war with the Empire of Japan since 1937. The AVG received 100 P-40 fighter aircraft, diverted from a shipment to England. The personnel were recruited from active branches of the War Department: the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Pilots, maintenance, communications, clerical and medical personnel were secretly recruited from active duty units. All documentation, equipment and personnel transfers were processed through and by the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO), as approved by the US Government. Nothing could then be traced to the United States government, which was not yet in conflict with the Empire of Japan. Chaing Kai-Shek appointed Chennault Commander of the AVG.

    The AVG was divided into four elements: a headquarters squadron and three fighter squadrons. Each squadron selected their respective name, which was the custom of the time for military aviation units. The First Pursuit Squadron (1PS) became the Adam & Eve's. The Second Pursuit Squadron (2PS) became the Panda Bears. Chuck Older, Ken Jernstedt, Tom Haywood and Ed Overend, all former USMC pilots, selected the name 'Hell's Angels' for the Third Pursuit Squadron (3PS). Each squadron designed their own squadron insignia. The 'Hell's Angels' opted for a red silhouette of a curvy woman with halo and wings outlined in white. Each Hell´s Angels pilot had his own 'Lady' painted on his individual aircraft and this same insignia is still used today by active United States Army, Marine Corps and Air Force squadrons. During the seven month combat operations of the AVG this unit acquired a record of 297 Japanese aircraft destroyed, as confirmed by British and Chinese Intelligence. Other sources have placed the total Japanese aircraft destruction, caused by the AVG, at well over 600 to 900, including aircraft destroyed on the ground during strafing operations. The AVG was disbanded on 4 July 1942, at which time few accepted returning into the US Army Air Force, most optioned to return to the US where they returned to active service or other war efforts. Chennault continued to command the 14th Air Force in the China Burma India Theatre (CBI). The 14th Air Force all referred to themselves as 'Flying Tigers', even though the real 'Flying Tigers' had been deactivated on 4 July 1942.

    According to the lore of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club it was Arvid Olsen, the former Squadron Leader of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron that gave the idea of the name to the actual founders of the HAMC, in Fontana, California in the late 1940's. Although Olsen was never an actual member of the HAMC, he was known to associate with the founding members. The selection of HAMC colours, red on white, could be viewed a result of the association of Olsen with the HAMC founders, like the insignia of the 3PS "Hell's Angels". It is also worth noting that the Deathshead insignia of the HAMC, can also be traced to two USAAF insignia designs, the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron.

    It's undoubtably true that the majority of motorcycle and car clubs of the late 1940's were started by WW2 veterans, illustrated by the military clothing worn in many of the periods photographs. Motorcycle and car clubs exploded during this time, especially in California. Various reasons can be attributed to being the catalyst for this - many veterans returned with new mechanical skills and applied this training to making their vehicles go faster and perform better, others missed the camaraderie they found in in the brotherhood of combat and some found it difficult integrating back into society, whatever the reasons, these clubs created a lifestyle and culture that still resonates today.


    “The basic specifications for United States aircraft now flying in combat areas were laid down five years or more ago, an indication of the slow process of aeronautical design in peacetime. Germany had a definite plan for employment of its aircraft then under test. So did Japan. So, for different reasons, did the designers in England. A striking proof of their conviction is the Spitfire – a splendid fighter, admirable in all respects for the defence of France and, as it later proved, of England itself.”
    US Office of War Information, 1942

    When the Eighth Air Force began arriving in England in 1942, it was initially planned that what fighter units would be assigned to it would utilise the Lockheed P-38 Lightning for high-altitude, long-range fighter escort, while the Bell P-39 Airacobra would provide escort for the medium bombers that were coming.

    The first P-39 unit to arrive in England was the 31st Fighter Group – the first unit to have taken the Airacobra operational the previous year – though they arrived before their aircraft. In the interim, they were equipped with the Spitfire Mk. V. By the time the similarly-equipped 52nd Fighter Group arrived, the RAF had been able to convince the Americans of the unsuitability of the P-39 for aerial combat in western Europe. As a result, both groups were equipped with Spitfire Mk. Vs.


    During the summer of 1942, the 307th and 308th Fighter Squadrons of the 31st Fighter Group went to Biggin Hill and Kenley respectively for temporary attachment to RAF fighter wings where they could receive an introduction to combat. The 309th FS went to Westhampnett, and by August 5, all three units were operational. Their baptism of fire came on August 19, when they flew air support for the Dieppe Raid, losing eight Spitfires and seven damaged, with one pilot killed and another made prisoner; two Fw-190s were claimed destroyed, with three probables and two damaged. With this, the 31st was considered blooded, and was reunited as a group at Westhampnett, while the 2nd and 4th Fighter Squadrons of the 52nd Fighter Group took their places at Biggin Hill and Kenley.

    Before either group could have more effect, they were transferred to the XII Air Force that September, as the North African invasion loomed; by late September, both units had left England to enter combat in the Mediterranean. During the opening day of Operation Torch, Major Harrison Thyng, CO of the 308th FS, shot down two Vichy D.520s to open the unit’s score in the Mediterranean Theatre. In December and January, the 52nd Fighter Group entered combat in defence of the port of Bone. On January 13, 1943, 1st Lt. Norman Bolle shot down 114-victory Lieutenant Wilhelm Crinius of II/JG-2. On February 4th, their luck was reversed when 12 Spitfires of the 4th FS escorting ground-strafing P-39s were hit by Kurt Buhligen and Erich Rudorffer of II/JG2, taking down 3 of the Spitfires for no losses. Throughout this period the Americans found themselves frequently outclassed by the flying of JG2 and JG77, sent to counter the North African invasion.

    By March 21, the Americans had adopted the more aggressive tactics of the RAF’s Western Desert Air Force, and 36 Spitfires of the 31st FG ran across 17 Ju-87D-3s of III/St.G.3, escorted by Bf-109s and Fw-190s of JG77 and JG2. While the 307th FS held off the fighters, the 309th shot down 4 Stukas and claimed another 4 as probables, for one loss; the following day the 52nd FG claimed 5 Bf-109s, 2 Fw-190s and 2 Ju-88s for one loss – a crash-landing due to flak damage. The two Spitfire units had come into their own.

    During April 1943, Captains Norman MacDonald and Arthur Vinson of the 52nd FG became the first USAAF Spitfire aces, though Vinson was lost immediately after shooting down his 7th victim. By the time of the Axis surrender in Africa on May 13, the 52nd FG claimed 86 victories and had added a third ace – Lt. Sylvan Field – while the 31st FG claimed 61, and two aces, Lt Col. Thyng and Major Frank Hill. Hill would become the top US Spitfire ace of the war with 7 victories. In August 1943, the 308th FS of the 31st FG – the group’s most successful squadron – became the first USAAF unit to operate the Spitfire Mk. VIII, the group having had some Mk. IXs in limited operation since the previous April, with enough in each squadron to provide a high cover flight for the Spitfires Mk. Vb. The new Spitfires first saw combat over Palermo, Sicily, on August 8, 1943, when 20 Bf-109s were encountered, of which 3 were shot down. On August 11, the 308th claimed two Fw-190s and a Macchi C.205. There would be additional combat over Italy in late September during the Salerno invasion, and then things quieted down.


    By December 1943 the American groups were flying bomber escort in Southern Italy. In January, 1944, 1st Lt. Leland P. Molland, a recent arrival, made the first two of his eventual five scores in the Spitfire Mk. VIII, in combat with Fw-190s intercepting American B-25s escorted by the Spitfires.

    The Anzio invasion on January 22, 1944, brought the Luftwaffe out in force once again, and the 31st FG scored against 18 Fw-190 fighter bombers over the beachhead. That evening, Spitfires of the 2nd FS, which had moved to Corsica with the rest of the 52nd FG, intercepted 50-60 He-111 torpedo bombers of KG26 bound from Marseilles to attack the invasion fleet off Anzio, and forced most of the German bombers to drop their torpedoes, while shooting down seven Heinkels and damaging three Ju-88s. The next day, the 4th FS intercepted six Do-217s equipped with Fritz-X bombs and shot down two, scattering the others.

    Through the rest of January, both units engaged in numerous combats over the beachhead and as far inland as Rome. On February 6, 308th FS CO Maj. Virgil Fields was shot down and killed. Lt. Molland, who became an ace with his fifth kill in the fight in which Fields was lost, moved up to command the squadron.

    By March 21st, the 308th had raised its total score to 62, with 1st Lt. Richard F. Hurd becoming the second highest-scoring US Spitfire ace with 6 victories. On March 11, 1944, the 31st FG had received their first P-51B Mustang. On March 24, the unit was taken off operations to handle full conversion to the Mustang, despite the feelings of many of the pilots that they were being asked to take an inferior airplane to their Spitfire Mk. VIIIs and IXs. On March 26, 1944, the 31st flew their last Spitfire mission, with four Spitfires Mk. VIII of the 308th FS finding 20 Fw-190G fighter bombers, of which they claimed one destroyed and three probables for the group’s last victories in the Spitfire.

    The following month, the 52nd Fighter Group followed the 31st into the Mustang and on to the new 15th Air Force, with the last US Spitfire victories being 3 Bf-109Gs shot down of 6 that attacked the Spitfire IXs of the 5th FS of the 52nd FG during a bomber escort to Orvieto, Italy.

    Uncle Sam’s Spitfires had written a little-known chapter in US fighter history. Though the USAAF used over 600 Spitfires during the war, the aircraft was never given a US designation, and little publicity was given to the exploits of the 31st and 52nd Fighter Groups – nothing like what they would get in the summer of 1944 during the wild air battles over Ploesti when they flew Mustangs. This is most likely a good example of the US military’s overall dislike of having to admit to using “NIH” (Not Invented Here) equipment.

    During their time in Spitfires, the 31st FG claimed 194.5 confirmed, 39 probables and 124 damaged; the 52nd claimed 152.33 confirmed, 22 probables and 71 damaged. Thirteen pilots became aces on the Spitfire. Leland Molland went on to score another 6 victories in the summer of 1944 in the P-51 to bring his score to 11. Harrison Thyng added 5 more victories to his 5.5 as CO of the 4th FIW in Korea, while Royal N. Baker, who scored 3.5 in Spitfires added another 13 in Korea.

    Article originally published on The Spitfire Site.

    In the words of Slidin’ Sonny Nutter, speedway racing was “Four guys, four laps, for all the marbles.” It’s widely accepted that all riders probably have a screw loose. Racers, then have at least two screws loose. But speedway racers must have at least three to get out there and give it all they’ve got on the dirt ovals.

    A speedway race is, as Sonny Nutter said, four racers competing for four laps on a dirt track from a standing start. The tracks are 260 to 425 meters long, and are always oval-shaped. A speedway event consists of multiple heats of races, and racers score points for whatever place they finish each heat in, and the winner is the racer with the most points at the end of the event. Straightforward enough.

    Speedway bikes are a different story. A speedway bike has only one gear, runs on pure methanol, weighs a minimum of 170 pounds, has no electronic components managing the engine, and has no brakes. As required by FIM’s “Track Racing Rules.” For the record, bikes often get up to 80 miles per hour in the corners during these races. The only controls they have are the throttle, clutch, and handlebars. Speedway racing has been a fan-favourite internationally since the early 1900s, although its origins aren’t exactly known. Sometime during the late 1910s and early 1920s people started racing in an early form of speedway racing, and by the late 1920s was an international hit. The first organised races were held in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and many racers who competed in what was then known as “Short Track Races” gained star status because of how flashy and exciting the races were. The first racer to inspire the term “broadsiding” was an American racer named Don Johns in 1914, who was said to be able to run the entire course with the throttle wide open, throwing huge showers of dirt up into the air as he ripped through each turn.

    The legend of Slidin’ Sonny Nutter, as do many legends, originates with a humble beginning. Sonny’s love for motorcycling was born in 1958 when he was 13 years old and working as a 'gunk brush' at Jack Baldwin’s motorcycle shop in Santa Monica, California. A gunk brush, if you didn’t already know, is someone who cleans the really hard-to-get-off gunk from a motorcycle by spitting on said gunk, and then scrubbing it off by hand. Spending so much time around motorcycles sparked a deep interest that eventually grew into an unstoppable passion.

    From there, Sonny spent every Friday and Saturday night at the races, watching and learning from the both the best and the locals. One of his favourite places was the iconic Ascot Park in Gardena, California. Sonny started his own career in racing during the 1960s as a flat tracker, and went on to win numerous races.

    It was in the early 1970s that Sonny found niche in the “brakeless” speedway races. He was so good at them he was able to make a regular living off the winnings, and raised a family while racing five nights a week at the local Southern Californian circuits.

    Sonny’s legend is crowned by two major achievements. He was asked to be the captain of the speedway team representing his country in Israel at the World Speedway Championship and won the most competitive and extremely longed-for California Speedway Championship, twice! Another title he’s rather proud of and will tell you about with a winning grin and a charming glint in his eye is that he was voted the AMA’s “Most Liked” racer in 1970. Look at that face and tell us you wouldn’t have voted for him too.

    Sonny still lives in Santa Monica, building “Nutterized” trackers from his own workshop. These trackers are authentic throwbacks modelled after the oil-in-frame trackers that legends like Sonny raced on in the 70s. If you're looking for the real deal then look no further!

    The Swedish motorcycle maker Husqvarna has a history filled with controversy, success and massive failures to its present-day position in the motorcycle world. It was sold out, bought out and nearly ground out, time and again. From an American perspective, Husqvarna essentially bred off-road motorcycling in the US and changed the entire industry.

    Like many old European brands, Husqvarna’s history is steeped in military armament. Originally founded in 1689 in the town of Huskvarna, the company produced muskets and weapons for the Swedish king, but once the conflict was over, idle wartime production equipment was left seeking a new use, and that’s how Husky transgressed into the motorcycle world. First it was hunting guns, then household appliances, white goods like stoves and sewing machines, and finally motorcycles and power equipment. Its first bike was produced in 1903 sourcing engines from other manufacturers. Thirty years later the company started road racing with its own V-Twins under the guidance of renowned engine-builder, Folke Mannerstedt. Like most brands at the time, off-road machines were nothing more than modified street bikes. This, combined with age restrictions, eventually led to unexpected success in the dirt.

    Motorcyclists had to be 18-years-old to ride, but bikes under 75 kgs were deemed appropriate for riders aged 16 and up. Husqvarna first targeted the lightweight motorcycle realm with a 98cc moped, inadvertently starting down a path that would change off-road racing. In 1955, the “Silverpilen,” or “Silver Arrow” was introduced in Sweden with a 175cc motor and three-speed transmission. Consumers immediately began modifying the 2-stroke for off-road use, and by 1959 the factory produced five special machines for its racers which featured an enlarged 250cc engine and 4-speed transmission. Rolf Tibblin claimed the European 250 Motocross Championship that year and Husky began toying with a 500cc 4-stroke. But, for all intents and purposes, it was the 2-stroke design that launched Husky to fame. Husqvarna produced 100 replicas in 1963 which instantly sold out, and production began virtually doubling for the next several years.

    Fighting other European brands like Triumph, Bultaco, Maico, Greeves and CZ, Husky’s critical advantage was the difference in weight. Success on the World Motocross GP circuit made for an easy transition into the American market where the sport of motocross was lagging. In January of 1966, Edison Dye imported two Husky 250 machines and gave them to Malcolm Smith and John Penton. In the fall of that same year, Dye brought over someone who could fully demonstrate the potential using the proper style and technique. Torsten Hallman won every race he entered in what came to be known as the 23-Moto Streak – an exhibition of superiority that ignited Americans’ imaginations and put Husqvarna on the map in the US.

    In the early 1970s, Steve McQueen was the highest-paid movie star in Hollywood, a major sex symbol and an obsessed biker with a staggering collection of sports cars, four-wheelers and of course - motorcycles. So when McQueen dropped his trusty Triumph in favour of the new Husqvarna 400 Cross - overnight Husky became the only off-road bike that seemed to matter. The Husky also got a starring role alongside Steve McQueen (as well as riding legends Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith) in Director Bruce Brown’s classic movie - “On Any Sunday”.

    A veteran surf documentary director, Bruce Brown's interest was initially triggered after going to Ascot Park and watching the dirt track races. Brown said. “I met a few of the racers and was struck by how approachable and how nice most of these guys were. It wasn’t at all like the image a lot of people had about motorcycle riders in those days. I just thought it would be neat to do a movie about motorcycle racing and the people involved.” Even though Brown already had a successful movie to his credit (Endless Summer), he found that financing a film on motorcycling wasn’t going to be easy, until McQueen step in and told him he would back it, the rest is history and together they created an iconic and aspirational motorcycle movie that would be a catalyst for increasing the popularity of off road bikes.

    As demand increased Penton took the role of East Coast distributor while Dye handled things on the Pacific side until 1974 when Husky took over. With sales and racing success in the States and abroad, Husqvarna’s management was content to rest on its laurels, refusing to make a 125cc machine despite Penton and Dye’s feverish requests for a small-bore.

    Husqvarna began constructing a new plant for its motorcycle production, called M73, but the vision was never realised. Swedish white goods powerhouse, Electrolux, purchased Husqvarna in 1977. Acquired for its line of appliances, Electrolux took on the motorcycles simply as part of the deal. After realising the profit available in chainsaws, it headquartered that effort at M73. Motorcycles were split off into their own division, Husqvarna Motorcycles AB, and transferred nearly 50 miles away to a separate factory in Odeshog. After this Husqvarna changed ownership again and unfortunately took another step further away from their glory days.

    Husqvarna’s influence has reached countless riders. The list of heroes who rode Huskies at some point in their career is a Who’s Who of motocross, enduro and desert racing legends. Edison Dye is widely considered the grandfather of motocross, but Torsten Hallman was the man responsible for demonstrating Husqvarna’s motocross prowess. His fluid, aggressive riding style was unimaginable for Americans at the time. Husqvarna's history is a first-hand account of the greatness, demise and resurgence of America’s off-road racing heritage.

    American aviator Leslie Irvin is predominantly known for designing the iconic RAF sheepskin flying jacket in the early 1930s, a jacket that would go on to later become synonymous with his name, however his this wasn't his first claim to fame, he was also the inventor of the parachute “rip-cord” system.

    Irvin was born in Los Angeles in 1895. He became a stunt-man for the fledgling Californian film industry, for which he had to perform acrobatics on trapezes from balloons and then make descents using a parachute. Irvin made his first parachute jump when he was fourteen and jumped from an airplane for the first time in 1914, sailing 1,000 feet to the ground in a stunt for the movie Sky High. He later joined the Army Air Service's parachute research team at McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio. After World War 1, Major E. L. Hoffman of the Army Air Service led an effort to develop an improved parachute for exiting airplanes by bringing together the best elements of multiple parachute designs. Participants included Irvin and James Floyd Smith. The team eventually created the Airplane Parachute Type-A. In 1919, Irvin successfully tested the parachute by jumping from an airplane. The Type-A parachute was put into production and over time saved a number of lives. This was the first premeditated freefall parachute descent. With Smith flying the plane and Irvin making the jump, the new chute performed flawlessly, though Irvin broke his ankle on landing.

    Less than two months later, The Irving Air Chute Company was formed in Buffalo, New York, the world’s first parachute designer and manufacturer, Legend has it that 'Irvin' was inadvertently changed to 'Irving' by a secretary who mistakenly tacked a 'g' on the end of the name. An early brochure of the Irving Air Chute Company credits William O'Connor 24 August 1920 at McCook Field as the first person to be saved by an Irving parachute. Two years later, Irvin's company instituted the Caterpillar Club awarding a gold pin to pilots who successfully bailed out of disabled aircraft using an Irving parachute. In 1926 he opened a factory in the UK, at Letchworth and by the end of the 1930s Irvin parachutes were in use worldwide.

    As aviation advanced so did the altitudes to which pilots could fly. Suddenly aircrew were flying to thousands of feet where temperatures would easily be sub-zero, not a good thing when aircraft construction still provided basic, un-insulated cockpits. It was this situation that drove Irvin to create The Irvin Flying Jacket.

    The design was approved by the Air Ministry in 1932, and although often referred to as the 'Irvin' its production was contracted out to many manufacturers in order to meet demand. Irvin’s jacket was made from heavyweight sheepskin, its thick natural wool provided incredible insulation. And, while the sheepskin was considered heavyweight the jacket itself was comparatively light and remarkably comfortable. Irvin insisted on the most supple sheepskin: in a cramped cockpit movement was already restricted and no pilot or crew would want to be constrained further still. The Irvin jacket was a masterpiece of design, maximum warmth and comfort combined with maximum mobility. The jackets had long sleeves zipped to enable gauntlets to be worn. The wide collar could be raised to provide excellent insulation around the neck and lower part of the head and face while a belt at the waist to ensure draughts couldn’t drop the pilot’s body temperature and reduce his level of alertness. The original jackets didn’t have pockets as these were not needed. The pre and early war jackets were manufactured with undivided one-piece body and sleeve panels. This produced a fantastic looking jacket, but proved to consume an extravagant amount of material. With the coming of war and the demand for greater quantities of jackets a more efficient use of the material was devised. The full piece panels were divided and subdivided into small pieces, resulting in a design made up of more seams.

    In the Summer of 1940 the most famous air battle of the war took place over Southern England and the channel - The Battle of Britain. Although only just around the corner, the multi-panel jackets had not yet come into being, so the full-panel garments were all that were being worn during this time and hence are often referred to as the Battle of Britain pattern Irvin. After the war demand fell away and Irvin stopped producing jackets. Fans maintained a buoyant second-hand market, but eventually supplies dwindled away and the jackets became very hard to find.

    Eastman offer three different models of this iconic flight jacket - the 1940, 1942 and 1944 patterns, each reproduction replicates the specific RAF jacket meticulously. One feature of some of the later war jackets was that they were produced from a breed of sheep (Devons) that had a unique curly character to the fleece. We are the only manufacturer to offer this model reproduction. The Devon breed is an extremely rare breed now, and accordingly the sheepskin industry yields very low quantities of skins that can be acquired. We offer this model whenever we can procure the skins, so it's only available for limited periods of time.

    You can find these products in the Eastman British flight jacket section HERE

    As many of you will know, the ELMC brand takes inspiration from, and centres around, west coast, road and motorcycle counter-culture of the mid 20th century. For many years, we have had an appreciation for garments and articles from the civilian genre of heritage clothing, particularly those of the motorcycle club and road culture, not least the amazing jewellery and trinkets worn by bikers during that era.

    As with any Eastman product, the materials and components we produce are to the highest degree of quality and authenticity possible. As such, when we decided to offer some Southwestern biker inspired jewellery within the ELMC line there was only one brand we had in mind to work alongside - The Peyote Bird. Gem, owner and creator of the line has been immersed in Southwestern and Native American culture for many years, collecting and curating antique pieces from this bygone age, she also has a keen appreciation for biker style and historical detail, painstakingly sourcing each antique component direct from the US,

    Original antique Native American Navajo or Zuni made pieces from the turn of the 20th century onwards are cleverly reworked alongside Mexican and Military trinkets from that period, various styles of vintage chain and handcast brass and silver connectors are utilised to make necklaces that hark back to those worn by the mid century motorcycle riders seeking freedom and exploring the vast expanses of the US and Mexico.

    The age of the antique pieces used varies from early sandcast silver to Fred Harvey era coin silver, their respective age imbuing them with unique qualities and character. Antique coins are also often used from Indian Head nickels to Liberty pennies, some dating back to the 1860's. No expense has been spared in the sourcing of materials. Each necklace is benchmade by Gem herself from start to finish.

    Every Peyote Bird necklace is one of a kind, no two are the same ensuring complete individuality and style. Each piece is presented in a handmade pouch constructed from vintage Navajo or Saltillo blanket and comes complete in a Peyote Bird gift box. Exclusive products, for exclusive taste.

    You can view our current range of The Peyote Bird for ELMC necklaces in the Treasures section HERE

    One of the lesser known photojournalists in Vietnam was actually the son of Hollywood royalty. Sean Flynn was the only child of the marriage of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita. After studying briefly at Duke University, Flynn abandoned a lukewarm film career to join a band of intrepid journalists documenting the civil wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. At first, Flynn drew international attention merely by virtue of being the even-more-handsome son of his movie-star father entering a combat zone. He and his colleagues' brazen lifestyle and daring work in the field became the stuff of legend and inspired a cast of colourful characters in war films and literature. More significant, their photos, shot within the frenzied theatre of combat, became pivotal in exposing Americans at home to the brutality and ambiguous profit of their military's involvement in the region.

    In March 1966, Flynn was wounded in the knee while in the field. In mid-1966, he left Vietnam long enough to star in his last movie. He returned to Vietnam and made a parachute jump with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne in December 1966. In 1967, he went to Israel to cover the Arab Isreali War. He returned to Vietnam in 1968, after the Tet Offensive, with plans to make a documentary about the war. He went to Cambodia in early 1970, when news broke of North Vietnamese advances into that country.

    The 1970-75 conflict in Cambodia, a spillover of America's war against the North Vietnamese, pitched the US-backed government headed by Lon Nol against Khmer Rouge insurgents supported by the government in Hanoi. The war was eventually won by the Maoist-influenced Khmer Rouge forces, which then put in place a murderous four-year regime that caused the death of up to 2 million people.

    On April 6, 1970, Flynn and a group of journalists left the city of Phnom Pehn to attend a government sponsored press conference in Saigon. Flynn and fellow photojournalist Dana Stone (who was on assignment for CBS news) chose to travel on motorcycles instead of the limousines that the majority of the other journalists were traveling in (the limousines had been previously used by tourists before the journalists took them over). Reporter Steve Bell, who was one of the last Westerners to see the two alive, later said that after the press conference, Flynn and Stone had gotten word that there was a checkpoint on Highway 1 manned by members of the Viet Cong. Eager to get a photograph of the Viet Cong, Flynn and Stone decided to set out on Highway 1 alone. Before they left, Bell snapped the last photo ever taken of Flynn and Stone. They were never seen or heard from again and their remains have never been found.

    "Afterwards we all headed back to Phnom Penh, but they said they wanted to go forward. They had heard there was a checkpoint that was manned by the Viet Cong. It was thought that you could see the Viet Cong there," said Mr Bell, who took a photograph of the two men as they set off on what would be a final journey. "We headed back to Phnom Penh and no one ever saw them again... I think they were among the first to go missing. It had not reached the point where we knew quite how dangerous it was."


    Although it is known that Flynn and Stone were captured at a checkpoint on Highway 1, their true fate is unclear. It has been suggested that they died in the hands of "hostile" forces. Citing various government sources, the current consensus is that Flynn and Stone were held captive for over a year before they were killed by Kymer Rouge in June 1971.

    Flynn's mother spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, with no success. In 1984 she had him declared legally dead. In March 2010, a British team searching for Flynn's body thought they had found it, when they uncovered the remains of a Western hostage allegedly executed by the Khmer Rouge.Tests results on the human remains found at the grave site in eastern Kampong Cham province, Cambodia, were released on June 30, 2010, and they were found not to be the remains of Sean Flynn. Lt. Col. Wayne Perry of the Joint POW / MIA Accounting Command said there was no match between DNA from the recovered remains and DNA samples they had on file from the Flynn family.

    The story of Sean Flynn was immortalised by The Clash in the song "Sean Flynn" from the album Combat Rock. He also has a prominent role in Michael Herr's book about his experiences as a war correspondent, Dispatches.

    Combat photographers and correspondents played a vital role during this time, changing public opinion and creating a groundswell of anti war sentiment. But their contribution was not without cost: at least 37 journalists were killed or went missing in Cambodia during the 1970-1975 war between the U.S.-backed military government and the North Vietnamese

    Motorcycle’s and black leather jackets are synonymous today, but it wasn’t always that way. The majority of the early leather motorcycle jackets were adapted from aviation and military gear following World War I. During this time, leather jackets were associated with speed and adventure. Interestingly, it was Hollywood and the movies that gave the motorcycle jacket its enduring mystique.

    ‘‘The Wild One’’ shaped a creed of cool that has never really aged and it's iconography of the motorcycle jacket still resonates today. Brando’s 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T riding 'Johnny' instigated this social revolution — until then most notable as the protective gear of highway patrolmen — the motorcycle jacket became an institution on the strength of the way he wore it. Together they made the ultimate Sign — where the signified and signifier were equal in power. A look swiftly mimicked, cloned, spoofed, appropriated by fashion and silk-­screened by Andy Warhol in a series of works that constituted its sanctification. In ‘‘Four Marlons,’’ Warhol printed one still in quadruplicate on a raw linen canvas evocative of gold. Here was a personality to build a cult around.

    Two years later, “Rebel Without a Cause” staring James Dean, was released. The film and Dean’s subsequent death in an auto accident, sealed the connection, in the public mind, between speed, danger, rebellion, and the black leather motorcycle jacket. The movie’s success ushered in an era where the motorcycle and the leather jacket began to be identified with the rebellious youth, especially in America.

    Just as actual 1930s gangsters aped the style of characters played by the actor George Raft, real-life delinquents turned to black leather. You didn’t need a motorcycle to be in a ‘‘motorcycle gang,’’ according to the moral-­panic logic of the day. What is more, you didn’t even need a gang to enjoy the aura of a gangster, a fact attested by the many teenage rebels whose acquisition of a motorcycle jacket constituted the full extent of their rebellion. But for the fashion subcultures — that is, for rock bands and teen cliques devoted to them — the motorcycle jacket is an international uniform impervious to becoming obsolete. It is a garb for all tribes: from goths in Iceland to rockabillies in Japan.

    Writing about the Ramones, the critic Tom Carson once sketched the dynamics of the masquerade: ‘‘Their leather jackets and strung-out, streetwise pose weren’t so much an imitation of Brando in ‘The Wild One’ as a very self-­conscious parody — they knew how phoney it was for them to take on those tough-guy trappings, and that incongruousness was exactly what made the pose so funny and true.’’ The Ramones’ imitators did not necessarily get this, and instead, reading the self-­parody as an uncomplicated statement of force, copied that.

    While Brando's motorcycle jacket was eventually appropriated by fashion and taken down some terrible avenues (especially during the 1980's), other motorcycle jacket silhouettes fared better. As style conscious 50's teens embraced the classic Brando jacket, actual motorcycle riding apparel manufacturers including Langlitz, Buco and Beck among others, pushed forward during this time creating new innovative styles based around real functionality and protection. One of these styles was the now classic J-100 by the Joseph Buegeleisen company in Detroit Michigan, a sleek and less bulky jacket, the form and cut is one of the most flattering of all cafe racer designs ever produced. Made specifically for racing, the full-piece panels and tubular sleeves make the garment appear very aerodynamic. The extra body length, with high mounted zip allows the rider to sit down without stressing the garment around the hips, but still keeping the lower back covered when riding.

    These futuristic jacket silhouettes ushered in a new era of motorcycle style and continued in popularity through the 1960's into the 70's with the Cafe Racer being immortalised by Peter Fonda in the movie Easy Rider.

    Click HERE to view the new ELMC J-100 Cafe Racer reproduction

    The last US Navy propeller attack aircraft to disappear from the decks of the flat tops was the Douglas AD Skyraider. This aeroplane had a unique capability: even when it carried its full internal fuel of 2,280 pounds, a 2,200 lb torpedo, two 2,000 lb bombs, 12.5 inch rockets, two 20 mm guns and 240 pounds of ammunition, the Skyraider was still under its maximum gross weight of 25,000 pounds.

    Entered in service just in time to take part in the Korean War, the Skyraiders in the improved A-1H version were quite slow; nevertheless in spite of performance not even comparable to those of the other assets in the Air Wing’s strike group, the propeller-driven attack aircraft managed to shoot down two MiG-17s during the early part of the Vietnam War.

    In fact, some of the most unusual kills of the conflict did not come from the F-4s, F-105s, or F-8s but from the Korean War era piston-engine Skyraiders, thanks to the four M3 20 mm fixed forward-firing cannons capable of firing 800 rounds per minute, that fitted the A-1Hs.

    The first of these victorious engagements took place on Jun. 20, 1965, when a flight of Skyraiders from the Strike Squadron 25 (VA-25) Fist of the Fleet, took off from the USS Midway (CVA-41) supporting the rescue of a downed USAF pilot in the northwest corner of North Vietnam were attacked by a flight of MiG-17s. The two enemy jets launched missiles and fired with their cannons against the two A-1Hs, but both Skyraiders’ pilots, Lt. Charles W. Hartman III, flying A-1H BuNo 137523, radio callsign “Canasta 573,” and Lt. Clinton B. Johnson, flying A-1H BuNo 139768, callsign “Canasta 577,” evaded them and manoeuvred to shoot down one of the MiGs with their 20 mm cannons.

    Lt. Johnson described this engagement in Donald J. McCarthy, Jr. book 'MiG Killers' as follows: “I fired a short burst at the MiG and missed, but got the MiG pilot’s attention. He turned into us, making a head-on pass. Charlie and I fired simultaneously as he passed so close that Charlie thought I had hit his vertical stabiliser with the tip of my tail hook. Both of us fired all four guns. Charlie’s rounds appeared to go down the intake and into the wing root, and mine along the top of the fuselage and through the canopy. He never returned our fire, rolled, inverted, and hit a small hill, exploding and burning in a farm field.” The subsequent MiG kill of this engagement was shared by both Hartmann III and Johnson.

    The second victory of the propeller-driven Skyraider against a North Vietnamese MiG-17 jet fighter, took place on Oct. 9, 1966 and involved four A-1Hs launched from the deck of the USS Intrepid (CV-11) in the Gulf of Tonkin flying as “Papoose flight.”

    The flight was from the Strike Squadron 176 (VA-176) Thunderbolts and it was led by Lt. Cdr. Leo Cook, with Lt. Wiley as wingman, while the second section was led by Lt. Peter Russell with Lt. William T. Patton as wingman. It was during the RESCAP (the REScue Combat Air Patrol, a mission flown to protect the downed pilots from ground threats) flight, that the “Spads” (as the Skyraiders were dubbed by their pilots) were attacked by four MiG-17s. This engagement ended with one Fresco confirmed as being shot down, a second as probably shot down and a third heavily damaged.

    According to McCarthy, the MiG-17 kill was awarded to “Papoose 409,” the A-1H BuNo 137543, flown by Lt. Patton who, after having gained a position of advantage on one of the MiGs, opened fire with his four guns, hitting the tail section of the enemy jet. Patton followed the MiG which descended through the cloud deck and when Papoose 409 emerged from the clouds he spotted the enemy pilot’s parachute.

    The U.S. Navy Skyraiders last combat tour took place from July 1967 to 1968 onboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43), but this versatile propeller aircraft continued to fly with the U.S. Air Force and with the Vietnamese Air Force until the end of the conflict thanks to its unparalleled capabilities in close air support.


    It is widely regarded that The Graduate marked the beginning of countercultural consciousness in American movies. In the fading memory of that moment, now layered with so many ironic reversals, retrenchments, and disappointments, it is less the film that is recalled than the potent effect it produced. Shorn of its contemporary context, Nichols’s film is a nicely executed comedy of romantic embarrassment spruced up with Felliniesque close-ups.

    The movie that finally breached the already crumbling fortress of old Hollywood was Dennis Hopper’s 1969 bombshell, Easy Rider. In Easy Rider, the fabled ‘road' equals freedom, befouled by ugly Americana. But in Monte Hellman’s 1971 classic, Two-Lane Blacktop, it becomes something altogether different and far more interesting: a repository of dreams and fantasies, for squares, hipsters, and obsessives alike. Where Hopper’s film is set in the Great American Dreamscape, Hellman’s vision of the American West is far less pretentious, parcelled out in nicely measured, seemingly offhand portraits. Where Hopper wears his hipster credentials on his sleeve, Hellman obscures his and even tones down his well-made soundtrack choices in the mix. Where Hopper and Fonda “play” disenchantment and disaffection (offset by Nicholson’s authoritative charm), James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, and Laurie Bird are three non actors who embody a sense of youthful restlessness (offset by Warren Oates’s heartbreakingly eloquent woundedness). And where Easy Rider is finally a series of choices and strategies and inventions clustered around a big concept, Two-Lane Blacktop is a movie about loneliness, and the attempts made by people to connect with one another and maintain their solitude at the same time—an impossible task, an elusive dream.

    The rough cut of Two-Lane Blacktop was three and a half hours long. “We were contractually obligated to deliver a two-hour movie, so we lost half the script,” said Hellman. “We lost some good scenes, for sure, that I fell in love with.” Gone are the flavour and colour of street-racing life and the road, evoked so beautifully in Wurlitzer’s script. What is gained is a trancelike absorption in movement and ritual. Hellman’s film is composed of many of the in-between moments that most filmmakers would cut. In the process, a strange terrain of tenderness and disconnection inhabited by the four principal characters is mapped out: their shared remoteness is exactly what makes it safe for them to venture into one another’s company. This movie about a cross-country race between a car freak in a lovingly souped-up ’55 Chevy and a fantasist in a store-bought GTO moves at an even, gliding pace, and it’s all about stopping to gas up, eat, make some bread in local quarter-mile drag races, pick up hitchhikers, let the engine breathe, share a drink.

    Though he visually reads ‘hippie’, Taylor is the classic introvert, for whom everything is swallowed up and contained by the road. Oates is the smiling extrovert-dreamer, for whom everything becomes a part of the Playboy dream he’s spinning on his drive across America. Wilson provides the authenticity of a genuine drag racer and car fanatic who oozes the Californian dream. Taylor’s aquiline face may be the visual center of the movie, buoyed by Bird’s pout and Wilson’s West Coast stoned softness, but Oates is its emotional core. Oates’s nameless would-be hipster is perfect in every way: V-neck sweaters (they keep changing colour), driving gloves, a wet bar in the trunk, music for every mood, a cocky grin that looks like it’s been practiced in the mirror. The actor imbues his character with a strong sense of physical uneasiness—he can’t even lean against a building comfortably.

    Unlike Oates’s GTO, who projects his desperate longing out onto the open spaces, for Taylor’s Driver the road is a refuge. Or perhaps a cocoon. The nihilistic tone achieves grandeur in itself, up to the controversial and bravura finale. “It was really the most intellectual, conscious manipulation of the audience that I’ve ever done,” said Hellman. “I thought it was a movie about speed, and I wanted to bring the audience back out of the movie and into the theatre, and to relate them to the experience of watching a film. I also wanted to relate them to, not consciously but unconsciously, the idea of film going through a camera, which is related to speed as well. I think it came to me out of a similar kind of thing that Bergman did with Persona.” Hellman is literally arresting his character’s fantasy of dissolving into pure speed and limitless road (the burn of the image begins in Taylor’s head), a fantasy shared by countless movies, then and now. Including Easy Rider.

    Two-Lane Blacktop is the least romantic road movie imaginable. Nonetheless, Hellman saw it as a romance. In finished form, it is ultimately a great film about loneliness and self-delusion. Warren Oates’s GTO (as he’s credited) is every pontificating drunk, every reformed junkie, every guy who moves to another town to begin again. “We’re gonna go to Florida,” he tells Bird in the film’s most acutely poignant moment. “And we’re gonna lie around that beach, and we’re just gonna get healthy. Let all the scars heal. Maybe we’ll run over to Arizona. The nights are warm . . . and the roads are straight. And we’ll build a house. Yeah, we’ll build a house. ’Cause if I’m not grounded pretty soon . . . I’m gonna go into orbit.” Meanwhile, she’s ready to doze off in the passenger seat. Like all dreamers, he’s just talking to himself.

    Post WWII thousands of A-2 jackets still remained in air depots and other bases. In order that these garments would give the best continued service they were treated with a reconditioning process which involved the re painting of the outer surface of the shell. Reissue A-2s are jackets that went back to the quartermasters inventory after active service and subsequently went through a refurbishment process. This included a re-coating of the leather shell with a very dark brown lacquer. After years of wear these garments would accrue a distinctive beaten-up vintage patina due to the way the lacquer would wear off. It was a beaten-up re-issue A-2 such as this (and Rough Wear model 16159) that was worn by Steve McQueen in the iconic movie The Great Escape, and is why so may have admired its vintage appeal ever since.

    The last contracts for A-2 jackets were placed in 1943 and by the 27th April 1943 it was relegated to 'Limited Standard Use'. When the war ended thousands of servicemen returned home and rejoined civilian life meaning there was an abundance of military equipment and material that had to be sorted and re-inventoried. Countless millions of dollars had been spent producing it, so careful consideration was given as to what was to be kept for continued use, stored or discarded.

    As you would expect, tons of it had gone overseas to various theatres of operation, so much thought was given as to what was worth bringing home and what should be left. In those few years of war, military technology had accelerated to a point where some equipment was being made obsolete almost as soon as it was put into service, such was the impetus behind a raging war machine that was totally committed to defeating the enemy. For example, 'flight' went from plodding bi-planes to supersonic jets in less than 10 years. Accordingly, this same degree of improvement took place in all other fields of military design including flight gear. However, the A-2, although being a design from the beginning of the 1930's, was considered a valuable piece of military equipment, even by 1943 it was still deemed worthy of a place in the Quartermaster's wardrobe.

    The A-2 was then put in line for 're-issue'. Experience had taught that the darker a garment was the more serviceable it would be, not showing oil stains and soiling. Because the jackets were made from aniline finished hides which tend to absorb rather than repel they were re painted with a dark brown poly-acrylate dye, which provided an altogether tougher barrier. Characteristics of this re-coating process would be that certain hard-to-get-at areas, such as down inside the pockets, back of the windflap etc, were not reached. The finish was often unevenly applied, giving rise to mottled shading and varied texture.

    However it transpired that this over painting method whilst initially achieving its aim, very soon started to look shabby. The over paint would crisp and flake off. Not only this, but it would take a lot of the original under-finish with it (effectively skinning the hide), leaving just the pale, buff, skin tone of the dye-base). This left an extreme contrast between the surviving dark painted areas, and the paler skinned ones - not a good look for a military garment. This disastrous technique effectively sealed the fate of the A-2 as unsightly jackets were quickly plucked from service. The finish would wear off in irregular patterns bearing the lighter shade of the nap beneath giving a distinct contrast between those areas, and where the coating remained. All of this however is what has given these garments their latter-day vintage appeal. Nevertheless, the A-2 continued to see service well into the late 40's and can even be seen on occasion in archive images from the Korean War.


    Nowhere was this look more immortalised than the jacket worn by Steve McQueen as Capt. Virgil Hilts in the movie The Great Escape. McQueen’s jacket was one such original re-issue A-2. After careful analysis of many original stills from the movie we have been able to confidently identify the jacket he wore as one made by the Rough Wear® Clothing Company, under contract number 16159. So our re-issue A-2 is made as this model. As part of the reissue process that his jacket underwent, it can be seen that the original zip, which would have most certainly been a Talon M-39 (with rectangular puller), has been replaced with a Talon M-42 with bell-shaped puller - a detail replicated on our product.

    We have recreated this model in the most discerning method possible, by literally repeating the steps of production right through to the reissue finish, to bring you a garment of stunning vintage authenticity. First we produce the garment as a factory fresh original maker Rough Wear® 16159, which is made in an aniline dyed, Havana shade, veg-tanned horsehide. We then re-coat the garment with the correct shade of dark brown lacquer (just as they did at the quartermasters - by hand, with a brush), after which the garment is put through an extensive and specialised TimeWorn® process to positively re-create the high-contrast distressed wear affect of a classic vintage original. This all requires a tremendous amount of hand-done work, but is the only way this standard of authenticity can be achieved.

    In accordance with AAF regulations of that time, re-issue A-2s had a mandatory Army Air Forces decal applied to the shoulder, as well as a stamp to the lining. These stamps were generally randomly positioned somewhere on the back panel no doubt due to haste, not clinically centred and perfect, so our recreation is done exactly the same way.

    This garment is presented first and foremost as a plain re-issue A-2, so it comes in standard form without any insignia (apart from the mandatory shoulder decal). However, one can order the jacket with whatever extra insignia one likes from our inventory, and of course in ‘V. HILTS spec’. Click HERE to view the Eastman Re-Issue and 'Escape' A-2.

    The star was a drunken hippy. One of the writers was an acid-fried biker. And the director was a paranoid control freak. But the really bad news was that all three of them were Dennis Hopper.

    Hopper's subversive road movie burst onto the cinema screens of a confused America in 1969, the title was in itself a double entendre, the term Easy Rider was slang for a hooker's old man - 'not a pimp, but the dude who lives with her, because he's got the easy ride'. But it was also a telling and powerful reference to what was happening to America in the late Sixties, in the words of Hopper - 'Liberty had became a whore and the whole country took an easy ride.'

    However, it isn't the sex, music or huge drug intake - both on and off-screen - that links Easy Rider inextricably to the late Sixties. What really marks the film out as a product of that fractured, uncertain age was that it got made at all. And, in particular, that it got made by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

    Certainly, when the pair announced their intention of making the ultimate biker movie, few sane people would have wagered on them finding the finance - let alone producing a film that not only became one of the biggest box-office hits of 1969 but also completely changed the way major studios treated their burgeoning baby-boomer generation. If the film's proposed subject matter - two doped-up philosophising hippies (Hopper and Fonda) use the proceeds from a drug deal to ride across America in search of 'freedom' - wasn't enough to put off potential investors then Hopper and Fonda's Hollywood reputations undoubtedly were.

    Hopper was a Dean generation character actor who had been blacklisted following a bust-up with director Henry Hathaway. Kicked out of mainstream pictures, he was reduced to working with underground filmmakers like Roger Corman. It was while shooting Corman's The Trip that Hopper got to know Peter Fonda. The son of Hollywood legend Henry, Peter had thrown away a promising career in respectable cinema to appear in zero-budget exploitation movies like The Wild Angels.

    Starring roles in The Trip did little to improve either man's standing. Far more helpful was their decision to hook up with satirical author and screenwriter Terry Southern. Southern's involvement provided them with a title, Easy Rider, and a backer in the shape of Bert Schneider. The latter was a fledgling film producer who had just hit the big time courtesy of his kit-form boy band The Monkees and was happy not only to provide money but to let Hopper and Fonda become director and producer respectively.

    As it turned out, any problems the production may have had over finance were as nothing compared with the trauma of the Easy Rider shoot. During most productions, on-set drug-taking and a leading man breaking his ribs would constitute major concerns. In the case of Easy Rider, these seemed minor inconveniences when weighed against the bizarre antics of Hopper himself. A heavy drinker, famed for his to-the-edge performances and confrontational manner, the director's instability and paranoia resulted in clashes with everyone from Fonda downwards. When he wasn't picking fights, Hopper would fill his time forcing Fonda to relive memories of his mother's suicide and dragging actress Karen Black through the streets of New Orleans in search of inspiration.

    Hopper justified his behaviour on the grounds that he wanted to make a special film. And he did. The massive commercial success of Easy Rider ensured that for a couple of years major studios were happy to throw money at any wild-eyed auteur capable of capturing some of that youth buck - a period that Hopper himself brought to the close with 1971's The Last Movie.

    Peter Fonda later recalled, 'Easy Rider really was a trip. Back when I was making studio pictures like Tammy And The Doctor, I got a lot of fan mail - thousands of letters a week asking for my autography and my picture. When I did Easy Rider, I got letters from people saying, "What do I do?", "How do I speak to my father?", "How do I keep myself from committing suicide?", "How do I live?" Nobody was asking me for my picture and my autograph any more.'

    Most importantly, the film represented a crossroads in the film industry, one where the old Hollywood system had become stagnant while young filmmakers were revitalising the medium with fresh, creative ideas that were having a real impact on the culture and their generation. The movie was responsible for launching Jack Nicholson's career at a time when he was about to give up acting for producing. And it certainly enabled Fonda and Hopper to pursue their own separate visions on film while maintaining creative control.

    Unfortunately, the tensions that arose between Fonda and Hopper during the film's making erupted into an ongoing dispute over the "authorship" of the movie with Hopper claiming solo credit for the story idea and script in a lawsuit. Hopper, in turn, was later sued by Rip Torn for spreading lies about a physical confrontation the two had in a public restaurant, which may have been the reason Torn was replaced by Jack Nicholson in the film. To it's fans though, none of this matters much, the movie stands alone for its iconic soundtrack featuring songs by Steppenwolf, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and others, the innovative, freewheeling cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs, Nicholson's scene-stealing performance and the its fresh take on two young nonconformists looking for the real America.

    False flag operations have changed the course of World history on countless occasions for hundreds of years. The contemporary term false flag describes government led covert operations designed to deceive the general populous, of its own country, in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities, groups, or nations. Historically, the term "false flag" has its origins in naval warfare where the use of a flag other than the belligerent's true battle flag is displayed as a deception, or, ruse de guerre, before engaging the enemy.

    If one follows the money in any false flag operation, you will see that the people with the most to gain have always occupied the key military and civilian positions, not only to ensure the success of the mission, but also to cover up the crime and reap the most reward. Such is the hallmark of false flag operations throughout history. Leading Nazi Hermann Göring once stated: "Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, England, America, or Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

    The most common false flag operations consist of a government agency staging a terror attack, upon its own people, to then falsely blame the uninvolved entity (country/organization etc). The resulting carnage brings about a groundswell of public indignation and opinion in favour of the government and whatever policy they put forward. At least two millennia have proven that false flag operations, with healthy doses of propaganda and ignorance, provide a great recipe for endless war. During the 20th century they were as numerous as they were insidious. From The Manchurian Incident in China, the Reichstag Fire in Berlin, the myth of the 'surprise' attack on Pearl Harbour, to the Tonkin Gulf incident that facilitated the Vietnam war.


    One operation in particular (which thankfully was never implemented) could have easily precipitated a nuclear World War III - Operation Northwoods.

    In 1962, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by General Lyman Lemnitzer, unanimously proposed state-sponsored acts of terrorism on American soil, against its own citizens. The head of every branch of the US Armed Forces gave written approval to sink US ships, shoot down hijacked American planes, and gun down and bomb civilians on the streets of Washington, D.C., and Miami. The plan was only overturned when President Kennedy refused to endorse it. The concept of Operation Northwoods was to engineer a situation where the blame for the (self-inflicted) terrorism would fall on Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, after which the American public would beg and scream for the Marines to storm Havana. Among other heinous acts, Operation Northwoods proposed faking the crash of an American commercial airliner. The disaster was to be accomplished by faking a commercial flight from the US to South America, the plane would be boarded at a public airport by CIA agents disguised as college students with aliases going on vacation. An empty, remote-controlled, clone of the commercial jet would then swap places for it at a given rendezvous point in flight, as it left Florida, and the real airliner would then land at a secure area in Eglin Air Force base. A May-Day transmission pertaining to come from the commercial jet would then be sent out stating that they had been attacked by a Cuban MIG fighter. The empty remote-controlled clone would then be blown up and the public would be told that all of the US citizens aboard were killed.

    The document also suggested numerous other acts of domestic terrorism including using a possible NASA disaster (astronaut John Glenn's death) as a pretext to launch the war. The plan called for "manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans if something went wrong with NASA's third manned space launch. Further to this buildings in Washington and Miami would be rigged with explosives and blown up. Cuban agents (undercover CIA agents) would be arrested and confess to the bombings. In addition, false documents proving Castro's involvement in the attacks would be "found" and given to the press. Another element of the plan suggested attacking an American military base in Guantanamo with CIA recruits posing as Cuban mercenaries. This involved blowing up the ammunition depot and would obviously result in material damages and many dead American troops. As a last resort, the Pentagon even considered using public taxes to bribe another country's military to attack their own troops in order to instigate a full-scale war, the plan specifically mentioned bribing one of Castro's commanders to initiate the Guantanamo attack. Below are some of the actual declassified Northwoods documents


    Operation Northwoods was only one of several plans under the umbrella of Operation Mongoose. Shortly after the Joint Chiefs signed and presented the plan in March, 1962, President Kennedy, still smarting from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, declared that he would never authorise a military invasion of Cuba and refused to endorse the Northwoods project. In September, Kennedy denied the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Lyman Lemnitzer, a second term as the nation's highest ranking military officer, and by the winter of 1963, Kennedy was assasinated, apparently by Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist sympathiser, in Dallas Texas.

    The public would only learn about Northwoods 35 years later, when the Top Secret document was declassified by the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board.

    Nearly 40 years later a very similar event would actually take place on American soil bearing all the hallmarks of Operation Northwoods - the destruction of the World Trade Centre on the 11th September 2001.

    Military footwear can be traced back over thousands of years, even as far back as the Roman Empire, and just like humans, the combat boot has evolved through generations of change and adaptation. Arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment or gear anyone in a combat situation may possess, the combat boot has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

    Several important military traditions were given birth to during the historic break from England in 1770's. The U.S. was still young, and its military was tiny compared to England’s oppressive command. Smaller militias lent aid to the cause from all across the original colonies, most of which had their own distinct colours and apparel, alluding to the different military divisions we know today. The typical dress worn would be - a hunting shirt, breeches, leggings, wool jacket, hat, and whatever footwear was available. Since raw materials were expensive, and taxes high, many soldiers, and even civilians, were forced to improvise with their footwear. In the colder colonies, where shoes were necessary to fight against frostbite and hypothermia, ground troops used whatever materials they had on hand. Scraps of cloth or raw animal hide were popular choices, but on occasion blankets tied to the feet would prove better than going barefoot into battle.

    Cavalry, ranking officers, and those that could afford them typically wore Hessian boots. Hessian boots originated in Germany, and were knee high with a short heel, tailored for riding on horseback. The boots typically had tassels on the front, and were later cut lower in the back to help with manoeuvrability white still offering protection for the knee. The boots were styled for a close fit and worn with knee high breeches. Due to the tightness of this boot, a boot hook was often necessary to properly put the boots on, which proved a lengthy process.

    Standardised boots were hard to come by during the 19th century, and much of the military still wore whatever shoes they were able to afford. Infantry units wore calf high riding boots in a style similar to the Hessian Boot. Trooper boots that went up past the thigh offered the most protection, but were expensive and impractical for ground units on long marches. The beginning of government issued boots came about in the War of 1812. The War Department ordered as many pairs of ankle high boots that were available to the at the time, and outfitted the soldiers that would need them the most. The boots were typically sewn on straight lasts, a type of shoe mold that made each shoe completely symmetrical. Until they were properly broken in the boots proved uncomfortable, often leaving blisters. Sometimes called Brogan boots, they were usually made of calfskin or patent leather.

    One of the first revolutions in military footwear came about in 1837 when a 'pegging' machine was invented, this made for the faster production of cheap boots and booties. The pegs, usually small pieces of wood or metal, were used to hold the shape of the boot, but deteriorated much faster than the hand-sewn method. By the time the American Civil War came, the government reverted back to the original design of hand sewn boots. The price for pegged boots decreased to just over $1.25, while hand sewn Cavalry boots were often purchased at three times that price. The idea of soles became more popular during this time, and most were hand sewn. The Hessian boot was replaced by a Wellington style M1851 Artillery Driver’s boot, which were outfitted to cavalry and artillery drivers. The heel was slightly shorter than the Hessian boot, and the toe was more squared. In an effort to improve durability, brass tacks were inserted in the sole.

    Union soldiers had access to better quality materials, while their Confederate counterparts suffered with boots of sub-par quality. The soldiers fighting for the North were first issued hand-sewn boots, and pegged boots only as a last resort. Most boots worn by the Confederate Army were pegged, nailed, or riveted, and fashioned in a style similar to that of the British Military at the time. Some of the greedier manufacturers used poor materials in an effort to take advantage of the civil turmoil. Rumours of cardboard being used circulated, and some even sharpened the pegs or brass tacks in the soles to make them wear out more quickly.

    With the evolution of explosives and artillery like grenades and machine guns, trench-style warfare became more common during the early and mid-1900’s. Given the wet, cold, and unsanitary nature of the trenches, military gear and equipment, boots in particular, had to hold up against extreme conditions.

    The modern combat boot we know today began to take shape in WWI. Most boots made in the early 1900’s had a distinct left and right, as opposed to previous versions with each shoe being virtually interchangeable. In the early years of WWI, the Russet Marching shoe was the most widely accepted boot worn in the military. It was highly polishable and made of machine-sewn calfskin. The inner lining was made from feathers. While this boot proved far more advanced than previous issue boots, it did not hold up well on French terrain. A later version, modelled with specifications from France and Belgium, was made from vegetable retanned cow hide, and featured both a full and half-sole. Rows of hobnails and iron plates were affixed to the heel of every boot. The heel and sole were attached with screws, nails, and stitching, and despite their superior construction, still did not hold up against the rough conditions.

    In 1917 the Trench Boot was born, offering vast improvements from the Russet Marching Shoe. While it offered better protection against the wet conditions, it was not waterproof, which lead to various diseases like trench foot. The look and styling was similar to the marching shoe, but the insole was composed of new materials like; canvas, cork, and cement. Due to the rigid nature of the soles, the boots were highly uncomfortable until broken in and the natural movement of the foot caused excessive damage. The Trench Boot offered little in the way of insulation, and many soldiers complained of cold feet. It became common practice to wear multiple pairs of socks, and order boots a few sizes above what one would normally wear. Several different variations were produced in an attempt to fix the early issues of waterproofing.

    A year later, the 1918 Trench Boot, or “Perishing Boot” was released, offering improvements over earlier versions. Better quality materials, such as heavier leather and stronger canvas were used in an attempt to improve the longevity of use. The boot’s soles were attached in a similar fashion with screws and nails, but held three soles in total, as opposed to the previous issue’s one and a half. The metals used in hobnailing conducted the cold, and the thicker sole helped eliminate that problem. Iron toe cleats were added to the toe of each boot, offering extra protection, but making the boots bulkier.


    During the initial stages of WWII, the standard issue US military boot was the M-42 'Service Shoe', an all leather toe cap boot with a two piece stitched sole, this style was eventually replaced by the rough-out boot, probably the most recognisable boot of the war. After the Normandy invasion the American military started updating their equipment, one of the items they replaced was the canvas gaiters and rough out ankle boot. They did this by basically making the rough out boot higher by adding a double buckle leather gaiter onto the top of the boot. The M-43 buckle boots where in general issue by the winter of 1944/45 and where worn by all branches of service including the Paratroopers, Armoured and Infantry in the Battle of the Bulge. They were titled 'Boots, Combat Service', and nicknamed “Double Buckle Boots.” While previous military boots like the Trench Boots only had laces, these boots went back to the older buckle style. These boots were made from synthesised rubber and other recycled materials, and had a leather fold-over cuff with two buckles. With only a single sole, they proved uncomfortable, but much easier to move around in than the Trench Boot. In times of shortage, some units, particularly Rangers, were issued Paratrooper Jump boots, which were quite distinct from all other boots at the time. The Paratrooper boots were highly sought after by regular troops who often purloined or "acquired" via alternative means.


    Previous issue boots with minimal variation were used during the Korean War, but were not fit for purpose in Vietnam. Vastly different climates and temperatures rapidly deteriorated the soles and integrity of the Combat Service Boot, which was eventually replaced by the Jungle Boot.

    The general idea behind Jungle Boots first came about in Panama and the latter part of WWII for Soldiers serving in the Pacific. While these boots consisted mainly of rubber and nylon, they did not hold up well. The government issued boot was typically the traditional all leather combat boot, or the Jungle Boot. The U.S. Department of War tasked the company Wellco with solving the troops various issues with moisture, insects, and sand. Wellco created and sold a prototype which held up better than their previous counterparts. The boot was composed of a black leather sole and canvas upper with an attached tongue, which helped to keep out insects and debris. It built upon earlier generations by using rubber and a canvas with a cotton blend, but added in the durability of leather. Water drains were added to help keep the feet dry and prevent bacteria from growing.

    After in-combat testing and feedback, the Jungle Boot was adapted to better suit the soldiers’ needs. The canvas blend was replaced with a nylon canvas that dried faster. Steel plates were affixed to the soles of the boot, to protect the feet against punji stakes used to pierce the foot. Additional nylon webbing reinforced the boots’ uppers, increasing the durability. While these boots did not last as long as all leather combat boots, they did offer a vast improvement over the earlier versions. Soldiers were known to carry multiple sets of boots, and often wore their jungle boots only when absolutely necessary. These high tech jungle boots signalled the dawn of a new era, over the next 20 years combat boots would evolve into the lightweight protective boots worn today.

    While impossible to predict the future, it’s a safe bet that combat boots will continue to grow and evolve alongside those that wear them. From the Roman Empire to the sands of present day Iraq, it’s easy to forget that something we see regularly can have such a rich history. With huge leaps in all aspects of technology, who’s to say which direction the design and features of future boots will take.


    World War Two conjured up many extraordinary characters. But even among the most exalted company William Ash - the model for the Vergil Hilts character played by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape - stands out. Ash was an American who, while his country was still reluctant to enter the war, crossed into Canada to train as a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was posted to Britain and flew Spitfires with RAF 411 Squadron.

    In March 1942 he was shot down over northern France but escaped from the wreckage of his plane and was given shelter by a number of courageous French women and men. He was captured in Paris by the Gestapo and condemned to death. His life was saved by the Luftwaffe who argued that as an airman, Ash was their prisoner. He spent the rest of the war in various Prisoner of War camps. But instead of being grateful for his salvation he became an obsessive "escapologist" - seeking to break free by whatever means came his way.

    Ash always modestly denied the claim he was based on McQueen's character. For one thing he didn't ride a motorbike, he said. For another, he did not take part in the breakout from the Stalag Luft III camp, on which the movie is based. The reason he did not participate in that particular breakout was that he was locked up in the "cooler" - as the camp jail was called - as punishment for a previous escape attempt. In actuality, Ash was every bit as charismatic as the fictional Hilts with whom he shared many characteristics. Apart from being American, he was good looking, dashing and more than a bit of a rebel. He was also delightfully self-deprecating. He described some of his exploits in his writings, though he often underplayed his sufferings and achievements.

    He had a tough upbringing in Depression-hit Texas where his father struggled to bring up a family on what he made from his job as a travelling salesman. Young Bill worked his way through university but could find no job at the end of it and spent months riding the rails as a hobo, seeking whatever work he could get. His experiences shaped his political views. He was too young to join the idealistic Americans fighting Franco's nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. But when World War Two broke out, he was determined to do his bit to combat fascism.

    William Ash

    It rankled with him that he did not do more fighting. He only managed to shoot down one German aircraft for certain before he was downed himself. He decided to use his incarceration to wage war on the enemy by other means. Most of his fellow inmates had little interest in escaping. Having survived the trauma of being shot down, the majority decided they had used up their store of luck and tried to pass the time behind the wire as best they could, often studying and acquiring new skills, while they waited for the war to end.

    Bill Ash belonged to a hard core devoted to overcoming every obstacle the Germans put in their way to returning home and carrying on the fight. They often found it hard to analyse precisely their motivations. Some felt it was their duty. For others, focusing on a project was a way of combating the stultifying boredom. In Bill's case it boiled down, he said, to "an unwillingness to crawl in the face of oppression".

    He lost count of his escape attempts, or the number of times he was condemned to a spell in the 'cooler', which meant solitary confinement and a bread and water diet. Some of the escape bids were opportunistic efforts like the time he wangled his way on to a work detail tasked with unloading a train then made a run for it when the guards' backs were turned.nOthers were complex, long-term schemes that required a huge amount of organisation, ingenuity and endurance. A little-known but extraordinarily ambitious project was the Latrine Tunnel Escape which took place in Oflag XXIB, a camp near the Polish town of Szubin.

    Bill had a hand in devising the plan, which was not for the faint-hearted. It involved digging a tunnel more than 100 yards long from a starting point beneath a large lavatory block. Every day for three months teams of diggers would lower themselves through a trap door set into a toilet seat trying to avoid falling into the lake of raw sewage beneath. An entrance set into wall of the latrine pit led into a chamber where the tunnel began. Day after day they would scrape away at the sandy soil working by the light of margarine lamps. They lived in fear of cave-ins and asphyxiation and panic attacks brought on by claustrophobia. Tunnelling was in some ways the easy part. To stand any chance of making it out of Nazi-controlled territory they needed civilian-style clothing, money, and documents. Here they were helped by other prisoners who brought a wide variety of skills either acquired in peacetime or learned in the camp.


    Eventually, one night early in March 1943, 35 men dressed in outfits fashioned from Air Force uniform and blankets and armed with convincingly forged identity cards crawled through the narrow tunnel and under the perimeter fence to freedom. One managed to get as far as the Swiss border before being recaptured. Two made it to the Baltic and were on their way in a rowing boat to neutral Sweden when they disappeared, presumed drowned. All the rest were recaptured within a few days. It was a bitter disappointment, but almost all carried on trying to escape. Bill finally succeeded a few days before the war ended, breaking out of a camp near Bremen just as the British Army arrived.

    His experiences as a prisoner had a profound effect on his political outlook. After the war he stayed on in Britain and seemed set to follow some of his camp comrades - like Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Tony Barber and TV presenter and historian Robert Kee - into a successful conventional career. He went to Oxford University and joined the BBC, which gave him a top administrative job in India. His increasingly radical views made it hard for him to conform, however. He rejected the Communist Party of Great Britain as being too compromised and helped found a breakaway group. He also lost his full-time job with the BBC, though he continued to do some work for the drama department.

    Ash was a happy and gregarious man who never lost a touch of his boyhood innocence. His career as an escapologist showed him that in wartime people were capable of extraordinary selflessness. Why was it, he wondered, that this spirit could not be carried on into peacetime?


    World War II changed the world and laid the foundation for the American car-crazy phenomenon that exploded in the 1950s - Hot Rodding. Once the hostilities in Europe and Asia had ceased, those lucky enough to make it back wanted to enjoy living the way they couldn't while serving Uncle Sam. Finally home, ex-GIs couldn't get enough of cool cars, all-American burgers and fries, and the girl next door who had grown up since they left. Building a hot rod or custom car was a method of self-expression, and for many, the cars provided the means for the social life they desired.

    Many GIs also found it hard to let go of the adrenaline rush of enemy action. Something inside them yearned for a little bit of that thrill, but without the potential wartime consequences. Getting behind the wheel of a cool hot rod or custom car fulfilled those conscious and unconscious desires. And with many coming back from the war with some money saved and a job waiting, they had the means to acquire what they wanted.

    The timeline for hot rods and custom cars starts before World War II. Teens itching to tinker with cars and go fast were racing cheap Ford Model T's on Southern California's dry lakes and street racing in Los Angeles even in the 1920s. The Harper, Muroc, and El Mirage dry lakes -- all 50 or so miles north of Los Angeles -- saw racing activity from the '20s up to World War II. Racing at El Mirage continues today.

    Speed junkies could jump in their hopped-up, chopped-down Model Ts and be at one of the dry lakes in less than three hours. Or, if the need was urgent, they could find a deserted back road or open field. At the lakes, the cars were timed with handheld stopwatches and placed in a class determined by the resultant time. The vast majority of the cars being run were four-cylinder Ford Model Ts or their successor, the four-cylinder Model A. The cars were cheap, plentiful, lightweight, and easy to work on. They responded to simple "hop ups" like higher compression, ignition and timing adjustments, additional carburettors and more radical cam grinds.

    The drill was fairly simple: Buy the nicest roadster you could find (because roadsters were the lightest); strip off everything not needed to go fast, like the fenders, headlights, hood, and top; find some cheap used tires to replace your bald ones or to mount over your existing tires for a little extra tread; and go racing. Paul Chappel's Speed Shop on San Fernando Road in Los Angeles and Bell Auto Supply in neighbouring Bell were the first stores in the country devoted exclusively to supplying speed parts for those who wanted to run with the fast pack. Performance parts included high-compression heads, exotic overhead-cam conversions, and radical cams (also called "sticks").

    The Ford flathead V-8 was born in 1932 and with it a new opportunity to go fast. Though slow to be accepted by hot rodders, more 65- and 85- horsepower flathead V-8s found their way into junkyards as the '30s progressed and thus began the transformation from four-bangers to flatheads. Also released in 1932 were the lightweight '32 Ford or "Deuce" frame and roadster body. The combination was unbeatable in terms of performance potential and looks. To this day, a flathead-powered Deuce roadster is the quintessential hot rod. That engine and frame combination would also provide an excellent foundation for many types of bodies, or sometimes hardly any body at all.

    As interest in racing grew, kids began to try out their "gow jobs" more often on public streets. What was mostly good, clean fun could get ugly -- and it often did. "Speed contests," as the police called them, were occurring with greater frequency and more dire consequences. Casualties were described in detail in local newspapers, branding the hot rodder as a social menace requiring increasing control or, better yet, elimination. More hot rodders were finding the dry lakes a safer, less public alternative to racing on the streets. But this "detour" was having its own problems. Multiple casualties were reportedly occurring during the middle of the night on the dark racing courses of the dry lakes. Hot rodders ran unmonitored, without thinking that a like-minded racer could be coming from the other direction. The result was sometimes catastrophic.

    Help was on the way, though. In 1937, the Southern California Timing Association was formed. The SCTA formalised classes, developed more sophisticated timing systems, and made racing safer and more organised. Then, in 1941, a monthly publication called Throttle Magazine was created to track racing results, feature some of the better cars, and report on new safety and speed issues. The scene was starting to gel, but after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, and the U.S. became involved in World War II, hot rodding would have to wait.

    As the 1940s began, the hot rod and custom car fad continued to trickle down to car enthusiasts throughout the Los Angeles area. Now it involved older used cars that were transformed into "mystery cars" through sometimes minor, sometimes major body modifications. But it remained a relatively small and localised fad before many of the participants in this trend were called into service in WWII. Two things happened to spread the gospel of hot rods and custom cars during World War II. First, many servicemen were filtered through California on their journey to the Pacific. There, they witnessed firsthand America's car-culture capital, with its unique customs and stripped down hot rods ripping through the streets. It must have left quite an impression on many.

    Second, many GIs from Southern California spread information and pictures of hot cars to any soldier with time to spare. The racing and cruising activities must have seemed cool and exciting to any young soldier. Simple exposure must have been enough to spark the interest of young soldiers. So once the seed was planted, it had to be nurtured, and for that we can thank Robert "Pete" Petersen and Hot Rod magazine, which came on to the scene in 1948. After the war, the economy boomed. Young veterans had a bulletproof attitude after facing the horrors of combat, and they now found themselves with excesses of time and money, along with mechanical skills learned in the service. The postwar energy helped hot rodding grow more than it ever had in Southern California, and Hot Rod spread the word nationwide.

    Hot Rod picked up where Throttle left off, the latter never returning after its one-year run in 1941. The fledgling magazine touched on all aspects of the car-enthusiast arena, covering hot rods, custom cars, drag racing, and even circle-track racing. Hot Rod also informed readers about the latest speed equipment, and taught them how to perform engine and body modifications. Hot Rod was in a good position to promote safety, and to help organise early drag racing and car shows, all of which helped promote and organise hot rodding itself. Speed-parts manufacturers and custom and performance shops had a place to advertise. It was a win-win situation for all involved.

    As the end of the 1940s approached, hot rods and custom cars were poised to become not just a trend but a lifestyle. Postwar adolescents were discovering the freedom and social significance of driving a unique automobile on the streets of Downtown, USA. Picture this - It's a summertime Saturday night in the 1950s, and the Southern California suburbs are hopping with hot rods. In the San Fernando Valley just north of L.A., ex-GIs are bent over their crude roadsters doing last-minute checks before heading out at midnight to one of the dry lake beds east of Los Angeles.

    Their goal is to be first in line for the heads-up racing that starts at dawn. Soon they'll aim their headlights for the excitement of speed and the camaraderie that goes with running the straight, dusty courses. But first, a few of them conduct impromptu light-to-light races down San Fernando Road to check out the clutch and size up the competition. Over in the bedroom communities of Lakewood, Lynwood, and Compton a few miles west of L.A., cruisers in their late teens and early 20s are "drive-in hopping." It's a ritual that takes off from The Clock drive-in in Bellflower, then heads down Pacific Coast Highway to The Clock on Sepulveda in Culver City, over to Tiny Naylor's in Hollywood, onto the freeway to Toluca Lake and Bob's Big Boy, over to Bob's in Pasadena, a straight shot west to Nixon's on Whittier Boulevard, and finally back to The Clock in Bellflower.

    Occasionally, street racing accidents end up on the front page of the Orange County Register in grisly detail. There is safer, organised racing in Orange County, too. It's the abandoned airstrip, which is considered the first organised drag racing venue in the country -- Santa Ana Dragstrip.

    It's the golden age of the hot rod and custom car, and Southern California is the place to be. Decades from now, these scenes will be relived and recreated thousands of times. Hot rods and customs from this period will be revered, copied, and restored to preserve for all time this magical era in automotive history.

    The 1930's fatigue uniform of the US Army consisted of blue denim pants, shirt and 'Daisy Mae' - a floppy brimmed hat nicknamed after a character in the popular hillbilly cartoon strip 'L'il Abner'. In 1938 this was changed to medium weight sage green cotton cloth woven in a herringbone twill (HBT) pattern. The blue denim remained the fatigue issue until 1941 however. The green of the original HBTs was found to fade quickly in use to an unsuitably light shade. In the Pacific this problem was sometimes remedied by vat-dyeing them en masse to a darker, even blackish colour. In 1943 the HBT manufacture colour was changed to the darker green OD7 shade.

    Most GI's felt that the HBTs were hot and rather slow to dry, but generally pretty good. In North Africa and Europe HBT's were commonly worn as combat clothing alone and over brown woollen uniform for extra protection , camouflage and warmth. One 32nd Division Pacific veteran summed up the question of uniforms with the pithy and convincing comment, 'I don't believe there is any clothing or equipment adequate for jungle fighting'.

    The HBT shirts all featured flapped breast pockets and exposed blackened steel '13 star' (or sometimes plain plastic) buttons. The M1942, the first of four patterns, had a two button waistband with buttoning cuffs and rear 'take up' straps; the pleated breast pockets had clip cornered flaps. The more common M1943 HBT shirt had larger breast pockets but lost the buttoning cuffs and two button waistband; it was made in a darker green than the first pattern,. The first version of the M1943 shirt had unpleated pockets, while the next had a pinched sort of pleat. The rarely seen last pattern HBT shirt (M1945) was made with smaller pockets with clipped bottom corners and squared flaps. At the end of the war a new thinner cotton poplin fabric was just beginning to be issued.

    Rank was rarely displayed on fatigues, though NCO stripes were sometimes inked onto HBT sleeves. According to Capt Edmund G Love, a 27th Division historian, this formation at one time had a coded unit and rank symbols stencilled on the rear of the HBT combat uniform in black - a system copied from the US Marines. The division was identified by an outline parallelogram, enclosing unit symbols - eg a T, a 'bar sinister' and a Irish harp shape for the 105th, 106th and 165th Infantry Regiments respectively. Left of this, numbers indicated some ranks (8 for sergeant, 15 for captain) and right of it company letters were stencilled. Given the actual conditions of combat and the frequency with which HBTs had to be replaced, it is doubtful this complex system was maintained for long. Even in the six Marine divisions, which in 1943-45 seem to have had a throughly worked out system of back stencils, it is comparatively rare to see them in combat photographs.

    An HBT one piece jumpsuit work uniform had been designed in 1938 based on the B1 Air Corps Mechanics coveralls. In 1941, the M1938 was produced in HBT and featured a full buttoning front, an integral belt and a bi swing gusseted back; it had two breast pockets and rear and sideseam pockets. It was intended to be worn loose over other clothing, and the sideseam pockets opened to allow the wearer to reach inside. It was commonly worn by tank crewmen and mechanics but sometimes by other front line troops. It could be cumbersome to take off and proved incomfortably hot. A 1943 version was simplified and made in the darker OD colour.

    Both HBTs and issue wool shirts commonly featured an extra length of material inside the buttoned closure, intended to be folded across to protect the skin against chemical agents; this 'gas flap' was sometimes cut out by the user. Trouser flys were also made with an extra interior flap of material for the same reason. In the Normandy landings of 1944 chemically impregnated HBTs and woollens were worn by landing troops as a precaution against chemical warfare.

    The first pattern HBT trousers had a sideseam and two rear pockets of a very civilian style. The second pattern (M1943) had thigh cargo pockets and sideseam pockets but no rear pockets. The last pattern of the M1943 trousers had pleated thigh cargo pockets.


    HBT fabric was also used for the first widespread use of camouflage by American military forces in 1942. Prior to this point, the US Army Corps of Engineers had been applying themselves to developing camouflage for military applications as early as 1940. Nevertheless, the process of its introduction into the US supply system was rushed, brought about by an urgent request General D. MacArthur in July of 1942 for production of 150,000 jungle camouflage uniforms for use in the Pacific Theatre. The pattern chosen was actually designed by civilian Norvell Gillespie (horticulturist and garden editor of Sunset, Better House and Gardens, and the San Francisco Chronicle). The green dapple or spot design, reversing to a tan/brown variation, began distribution to US military forces beginning in August of that year. Nicknamed 'frogskin' by many GIs, the pattern consists of a five colour green dominant 'jungle' camouflage pattern printed on one side, with a three colour brown dominant “beach” pattern printed on the opposite side. Produced in a variety of uniform styles as well as some articles of field equipment, the pattern was most widely utilised and made famous by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific Theatre.

    'Frogskin' fatigues were also issued to a limited number of Army units in the European Theatre of Operations, most notably the 2nd Armored Division. The Germans already had a highly evolved set of different camouflage uniforms which resulted in some confusion and friendly fire incidents in the ETO. The frogskin camouflage garments were withdrawn from use in the ETO because of these incidents. Consequently, the production of frogskin uniforms and field gear was limited.

    The first style of frogskin combat camouflage uniform was issued as a one-piece jungle jumpsuit. It had built in suspenders to help keep the suit up under load. It is rare to find these specimens with the suspenders intact as many were cut off in the field as they were felt to be a nuisance and very warm. The one-piece jungle jumpsuit fell rapidly out of favour by Marines as it was way too hot to wear in the Pacific and made evacuating bodily functions a major operation, leaving the Marine quite vulnerable.

    Note that step number one in authenticating frogskin camouflage is the presence of Herringbone Twill in the Army pattern, not in the USMC pattern. The USMC pattern of Herringbone Twill is HBT in a true chevron pattern. The material repeats rows of chevrons. This type of HBT was used on the green USMC utilities from WWII. The Army pattern of which all frogskin uniforms were made has a non-slanting row interfering alternately with the chevrons.

    R & D went back to the drawing board following the failure of the one piece suit and then issued the P42 combat shirt and pants. The design was simple. The shirt and pants featured frogskin Herringbone Twill. The shirt had a front bottom right top opening pocket with brown button closure. The right chest featured a patch pocket with USMC Eagle Globe Anchor stamp and no button closure. It had midline snap closures and was reversible frogskin with a green pattern opposite a beach brown pattern. The pants were also reversible and had domed snap pockets or metal buttons. The pocket configuration was front right slash and rear left patch. Once broken in, the camo uniform wore like a comfortable pair of pajamas.

    Because P42s were used in all the legendary campaigns such as Tarawa, Bougainville, Peleliu and New Guinea among others, they are the most sought after of the basic frogskin uniforms. The P42s are associated with all the early victorious battles that were publicised in the newsreels.

    Late in the war, P44 combat shirts and pants were issued. They were quite different than the P42s. P44 shirts had large buttoned vertical slash pockets just to the side of the midline button closures. The trousers had large three or four button side snap flaps. One pocket connected to the other pocket in the seat of the trouser, creating a pouch in which garments like a poncho could be carried. Drawstrings on the ankle cuffs were found in the 1st pattern P44s. Because these P44s arrived late in the war, it is much more common to find mint unissued specimens than the P42s. Frogskin camouflage is representative of some of the most celebrated battles in US history. Consequently, artifacts are heavily sought after and command high prices.

    At sunset on February 23, 1942, Commander Kozo Nishino of the Imperial Japanese Navy and his I-17 submarine lurked 1,000 yards off the California coast. It was less than three months since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles residents were tense to say the least, soon after dark, the I-17 surfaced and began firing armour piercing shells at the Bankline Oil Company refinery in Ellwood, a small oilfield community 12 miles north of Santa Barbara. Commander Nishino targeted oil storage tanks, piers and other facilities he had toured before the start of World War II. Several of the shells struck while others passed over Wheeler’s Inn, whose owner reported the attack.

    “We heard a whistling noise and a thump as a projectile hit near the house,” recalled another witness. “I thought something was going wrong with the refiners.”

    The shelling continued for 20 minutes before I-17 escaped into the darkness. It was the first Axis attack on the continental United States of the war. “Shell California! Enemy U-boat sends many shots into oilfields near Santa Barbara, entire area is blacked out,” declared the February 24 front page of the Chicago Tribune.

    Although there were no injuries and minimal damage (a wrecked derrick and pump house), the barrage led to a public panic that soon intensified. Witnesses claimed seeing offshore enemy “signal lights.” Many newspapers began referring to the attack as the “Bombardment of Ellwood.”


    sub attacks oilfield


    Commander Nishino sailed on to new combat assignments in the Aleutians – unaware of the strange result of his attack on Ellwood’s oil refinery. Despite missing their targets, dropping into the sea, on the beach, and into nearby cliffs, the Japanese artillery shells brought dramatic result not least an “Avenge Ellwood” fund-raising campaign was created in early 1943 for a war bond drive whipping up local fervour and also bringing about Japanese- American internment in California.


    The attack not only fuelled West Coast invasion fears, but also soon led to the largest mass UFO sightings in U.S. history. In the early morning hours of February 25, 1942, the sleep of two million Americans, in the vicinity of Los Angeles, California, was interrupted by the sound of air raid sirens and anti aircraft fire. Groggy residents awakened by the high pitched warnings and the almost ceaseless firings of artillery were rewarded with a light show that made the night into day.

    Thousands of U.S. Army anti-aircraft searchlights flooded the skies searching for attacking aircraft. They rapidly crisscrossed the black void desperately hoping their beams would pierce the black veil and disclose the enemy planes. Only days after the surprise Japanese attack, Los Angeles was not prepared for another sneak attack as the events of the morning would reveal.

    Air raid wardens stopped cars and insisted lights be extinguished and home window shades drawn. Neighbourhoods and streets were now darkened, denying the enemy easily lit targets. Overhead, silently, a glowing object was moving slowing as air craft batteries focused by spotlights began took aim.

    Katie, a young woman that had volunteered to be an air raid warden received a phone call from her district supervisor. The supervisor notified her of the alert and then asked if she had seen an object in the sky that was very close to her home. Without hesitation she went to the window and looked into the sky. "It was huge! It was just enormous! And it was practically right over my house. I had never seen anything like it in my life!" she said. "It was just hovering there in the sky and hardly moving at all." "It was a lovely pale orange and about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. I could see it perfectly because it was very close. It was big!"

    Katie added that the anti-aircraft searchlights had completely surrounded the object. "They sent fighter planes up and I watched them in groups approach it and then turn away. There were shooting at it but it didn't seem to matter." Katie states that U.S. fighter planes did attack the object. "It was like the Fourth of July but much louder. They were firing like crazy but they couldn't touch it." "I'll never forget what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvellous. And what a gorgeous colour!", said Katie.

    With lights off, residents were now able to witness what was to be known as the "Battle of Los Angeles". It was a scene often depicted in future Hollywood science fiction movies. The "War of the Worlds" seems eerily familiar as U.S. military personnel bombard the space invaders with hundreds of artillery shells, bathed in brilliant light from an array of searchlights. The 37th Coast Artillery Brigade's antiaircraft batteries began firing at 3:08 a.m. and ceased at 4:14 a.m. In total nearly 2000 12.8 pound artillery shells were fired into the night sky at an undisclosed and seemingly indestructible object. The all clear siren was heard at 7:21 a.m. and the citizenry exhaled a collective sigh of relief. They had survived! The question as yet unanswered, who or what had attacked?

    Newspaper reports were scarce. Government and military officials often gave conflicting statements to the press. Local resident witnesses were not interviewed or the information they gave not deemed credible by the news agencies. The only mention of the event in the Los Angeles Times was a brief article of page one which started with the headline: "Chilly Throng Watches Shells Bursting in Sky". The article written by Marvin Miles went on to describe "explosions stabbing the darkness like tiny bursting stars" and "searchlight beams poking long crisscross fingers across the night sky" and so on. The article did not mention an unknown object or enemy planes.

    Initial reports cited witnesses seeing formations of warplanes overhead resulting in dogfights between enemy and U.S. fighter planes. Still others reported seeing flares falling from the sky. A naval intelligence warning indicated an attack was expected within the next 10 hours. Various radar stations picked up an unidentified object 120 miles west of Los Angeles. Immediately following the blackout the information centre was inundated with phone calls from patriotic citizens reporting enemy planes in the sky.

    A Coast Artillery colonel spotted 25 planes at 12,000 feet over Los Angeles and others saw a balloon carrying red flares hovering over Santa Monica. The military stated that no U.S. aircraft were in the air. Stories of dogfights were erroneous. Officials explained that because of its limited number of aerial assets, the planes had remained grounded, until identified enemy planes could be located and verified.

    The Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox announced at a February 25 press conference that there was no evidence of enemy planes and that the raid was simply a "false alarm". The Fourth Air Force believed that there had been no enemy planes over Los Angeles. Finally the Army issued the War Department report which indicated that between one and five unidentified objects had flown over L.A. These objects were believed to be Japanese. However, at the conclusion of World War II, the Japanese claimed that they did not send aircraft and did not attack Los Angeles or Southern California in February 1942!

    Non-military witnesses, some using binoculars, describe a large orange object that moved slowly over the coast between Santa Monica and Long Beach. The object traveled the twenty miles in approximately 30 minutes and then disappeared. An employee of the Los Angeles Herald Express said that he was certain many of the artillery shells had hit their target - but had had no effect. The photograph below seemingly shows the unknown object, caught in the web of searchlights.


    The incident has ended up with conspiracy theories attached. Was it a flying saucer attack? Was it a weather balloon? Was it a false flag operation designed to inspire support for the war effort? According to a 1980s investigation, it was just itchy trigger fingers and ‘war nerves’. The incident went on to inspire Steven Spielberg’s first war film, 1941 and demonstrates the power of mass hysteria and media manipulation.



    One band that has kept me well sustained over many years is Baltimore’s critically acclaimed Arbouretum, a mighty psyche/folk/rock beast often compared to Crazy Horse era Neil Young with definite leanings toward the country and folk traditions. Engaging, hypnotic and truly beguiling, Arbouretum's live shows are far from self-indulgent; every note, every tone, every solo and every beat is an essential component to expansive and engaging story telling.

    Although a fan for many years, I first met Arbouretum's leader Dave Heumann while developing the Eastman sister brand ELMC. While planning the brand launch it was decided a short film would be made to communicate the concept of our new American motorcycle culture based project. The film was to embody the ethos of the brand and the freedom associated with riding a motorcycle along with the cameraderie and brotherhood of being part of a club. The soundtrack was an all important component to this and would essentially drive the film itself. Our immediate thought was to use an Arbouretum song, we contacted Dave Heumann for permission and after many discussions and a lot of work on Dave's part, the result was "Out to the Reaches", a song written and recorded specifically for the film, perfectly capturing a dark journey with an endless moving horizon.



    After 5 albums with Arbouretum and numerous other acclaimed projects, Dave Heumann has just released his first solo album entitled "Here in the Deep". Taking this as an opportunity to explore other sides of his song-writing craft, while still bearing a few of the hallmarks of his band, it is a record steeped more in country/folk traditions than psychedelic epics. Of course, under the surface it was always a sense of traditional song-writing that drove Arbouretum, but here it’s much clearer and allowed a sense of freedom to roam. Unhurried, it takes its time to unfold allowing moments of clarity as the music betrays it hidden depths. The almost simplistic nature of it is disarming though and there is much happening under the surface, or indeed on some of the more experimental tracks that show a musician unafraid to take risks. Arbouretum’s thicker tones are replaced by more dappled textures that privilege the folk-rock formalism that has long underpinned much of Heumann’s music.

    Anyone who has seen Arbouretum live will be aware of Heumann's prowess in creating mesmerising, trance-like guitar solos which often take the songs into unexpected places, "Here in the Deep" though channels an almost English folk nature into an otherwise very old time American album. Almost as if to nod to bands such as Fairport Convention, it accepts that a widening of musical influences is necessary to a greater understanding of what makes a song tick. It an album concerned more with song writing and consequently, the songs contained within its groove are shorter and more compact affairs and ones that display another side to Heumann's craft. The subtlety that's displayed throughout the record is deftly played out on the penultimate song "Ends Of The Earth", a ruminative jam that builds from gentle foundations into a substantial climax of increasing tempos, noise and sensitive guitar work.



    We caught up with Dave last week as he prepared for his current European tour and asked him some questions about his approach to music and the album itself.


    This is your first solo record, what were the driving themes and impulses behind it?

    I wanted to make a record with the kinds of sounds and textures not usually found in an Arbouretum album- acoustic guitars, hand percussion, etc., also I wanted to include some song ideas that occurred to me at the time to be a little more pop in their sensibilities than what was common for Arbouretum to do.


    With a solo project, one would assume you have complete creative autonomy, as such how did this process differ from making an Arbouretum album?

    With Arbouretum, it's usual for me to come in with a skeletal idea and then say to the guys, "how do you think we should come in? How many times should this part go? What should the tempo be like?", etc. With this project I didn't have the usual guys giving feedback on these kinds of things, so I really had to trust my own judgement there.


    Your lyrics are crammed with rich and evocative imagery, often communicating a complex story or allegory, is this literary approach to songwriting something you consider key to your work?

    It's what works for me. I like to appeal to whatever parts of the psyche that respond to poetry. My lyrics aren't poetry, but they are designed to be expressive in a similar manner.


    Nature appears to play a big part in your creative process, can you explain why?

    To me, nature is as pure or as real as anything else in the world of experience. Much of what we surround ourselves with wasn't around 100 years ago and won't be in 100 more, but nature is enduring and true, even when it's degraded by human activities to an extent.


    You're well known for incredible modal sonic excursions in your work, can you tell us about your chosen equipment for this record - guitars, pedals and so on?

    For this record I used mainly a smaller Ampeg amp - I forget the model number, but it's all-tube and low wattage. It has a really great quality when paired with my Martin EM-18 electric, and also with my recently acquired Westone Thunder guitar. Pedal-wise, I'm still using my Eventide Time Factor as my main delay, along with an assortment of other stompboxes- Fulltone tremolo, Electro-Harmonix Freeze and so on. I didn't use much overdrive on the record. I mainly would use a boost pedal for the solos to bring out more amp tone.


    You're also an avid photographer, what is it about the photographic process you find appealing?

    It's just another means of self expression. I mainly just shoot on my phone these days, because mine has a good shooter and it's conveniently always with me, though I've experimented with film cameras and DSLRS in the past. My process with it has a lot to do with editing, and I'm more natural at shooting landscapes as opposed to people-oriented shots.


    What records are currently on your own playlist?

    I've been listening to a lot of Hamza El Din lately. Also a current band from Australia called Dick Diver is something I find myself putting on a lot. Red River Dialect, whom we are honored to be playing with soon in London, has also been a mainstay. There latest record is fantastic, and so was the previous one.


    You're currently on tour in Europe with a fantastic backing band (comprised 1 part Arbouretum and 2 parts The Trembling Bells), with Alex Neilson who is considered one of the finest freestyle drummers around today, can you tell us how this special group came together?

    Yes. I asked Alex because not only is he a very expressive and fluid drummer who can play very freely, but he has an extensive background in the folk tradition, which is something I'm always looking to explore more. He recommended Alasdair Mitchell as being a fine bass player with a good ear for vocal harmonies. Matt I asked because he's a reliably good musician on any instrument he plays, and also having someone from Arbouretum with me on this tour helps me feel anchored a bit more than if I had gone to solely with people I hadn't previously toured with.


    What's on the horizon for you in the future?

    I haven't mapped out all of it of course, but the next thing planned is to finish writing and recording another Arbouretum record. After that, who knows!



    "Here in the Deep" is out now and available from al good record shops, iTunes and Thrill Jockey HERE

    Dave is currently on tour in Europe with dates below remaining, check out a show if you can!

    Fri Nov 13th Prague, Czech Republic – Divadlo Dobeška
    Sun Nov 15th Leipzig, Germany – UT Connewitz
    Mon Nov 16th Berlin, Germany – Magnet Club
    Tue Nov 17th Cologne, Germany – King Georg
    Thu Nov 19th Schorndorf, Germany – Club Manufaktur
    Fri Nov 20th Utrecht, Netherlands – Le Guess Who?
    Sat Nov 21st Oxford, UK – Audioscope Festival
    Sun Nov 22nd London, UK – MOTH CLUB

    More at

    https://www.facebook.com/daveheumannmusic
    https://www.facebook.com/ThrillJockey
    http://thrilljockey.com/thrill/Dave-Heumann/Here-In-The-Deep


    The Type B-3 flight jacket, arguably the most recognisable flight jacket in history, was principally inspired by the British 'Irvin' flying jacket. Leslie Irvin first designed what we now regard today as the classic sheepskin flying jacket during the early 1920's. In 1926 he set up a manufacturing company in England, and became the main supplier of flying jackets to the Royal Air Force during most of WWII. However, the demand during the early years of the war was so great that the Irvin company engaged subcontractors, which explains the slight variations of design and colour that can be seen in early production Irvin flying jackets.

    The USAAF took the classic 'Irvin' design and from it developed the type B-3, standardised on May 8th 1934, the jacket underwent a series of specification changes over the years, culminating in the simplified pattern of late 1943. As aerospace technology improved, the altitudes at which aircraft operated increased. Most heavy bombing raids in Europe during World War II took place from altitudes of at least 25,000 ft, where ambient temperatures could reach as cold as negative 50 degrees Celsius (negative 58 Fahrenheit). The cabins of these aircraft were uninsulated, so a warm, thick flight jacket was an essential piece of equipment for every member of the crew. The B-3 would become the standard issue 'Heavy Zone' flight jacket for the next 10 years.

    During the autumn of 1942, the United States introduced the B-17, a long-range strategic bomber better known as the Flying Fortress, in Europe. The plane would prove instrumental in winning the war. Over the ensuing months, as the bombing campaign intensified over the skies of France and then Germany, the men who flew the armed colossus proved their mettle against incredible odds. As the Allied crews flew punishing 8-9 hour missions, it was essential to retain body heat in the cold, unpressurised cabins at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet. No amount of armour, fire power, or flying savvy could prepare the men for these brutal, below freezing temperatures. It was then and there that sheepskin leather made its fateful appearance and the B-3 Jacket earned its place in aviation history. No man-made material could master such inhospitable temperatures over a sustained period and allow the crewmen to perform their critical duties.

    Even today's high-tech synthetic fibres strive to provide the same incredible warmth and soft-as-butter comfort that natural sheepskin jackets offer. Unlike other materials, the crimp of the sheep's wool creates insulating air spaces, naturally retaining heat and wicking away excess moisture when the body generates it. This protection was essential to the crews of the B-17. The men who donned the B-3 Jackets relied on their rugged and tough exteriors as much as they did on their soft and pliable interiors. Furthermore, the unforgettable images that emerged from the fabled dogfights above London, Paris, Hamburg and Berlin have remained in American consciousness way past that Great Generation's heyday. The B-3 Jacket perfectly reflected that ethos of bravery and determination. The rugged simplicity of its materials squarely embodied the country's character as a no-frills, tough-as-nails but stylish uniform that could withstand the elements while providing much needed comfort and succour to cold, battle-weary men.


    The type B-3 has become an item proudly passed from father to son, generation after generation, not to be replaced, traded or retired, but cherished and worn for its amazing natural properties. It has been immortalised in history and on film by some of the worlds greatest icons from McQueen to Monroe. Our many exacting reproductions of this timeless flight jacket can be found HERE in the Eastman USAAF Sheepskin section.

    Due to the escalation of WW2 in 1940, American Congress funded an increase in the strength of the US Army Air Corps from 29 to 54 combat groups and increased pilot training to 7,000 per year. The quickest way for the Air Corps to obtain additional bases was to utilise existing civil airports. Across the nation airports were commandeered for military usage in readiness for war.

    On September 21, 1940, the Air Corps announced a $1.5 million project to build facilities at Daniel Field in Augusta, Georgia to support 100 to 110 pursuit aircraft and 2000 men. Because of technicalities in the land transfer, construction did not begin until March 1941. Once begun, a large construction program was needed to turn the civil airport into a military airfield. Construction involved runways and airplane hangars, with three concrete runways, several taxiways and a large parking apron and a control tower. Several large hangars were also constructed. Buildings were ultimately utilitarian and quickly assembled. Most base buildings, not meant for long-term use, were constructed of temporary or semi-permanent materials. Although some hangars had steel frames and the occasional brick or tile brick building could be seen, most support buildings sat on concrete foundations but were of frame construction clad in little more than plywood and tarpaper.

    Although the Army initially planned on using Daniel for fighter aircraft, it was utilised instead mostly by transport and observation squadrons. This was due to the fact that Daniel's longest runway was a relatively short 4,200 ft (1,300 m). The geographical restrictions of ravines to the west and the city of Augusta to the east made the extension of the runways impractical. Aside from aircraft training, enlisted men were also given regular firearms and PT instruction.

    Initially assigned to the Army Air Corps Southeast Air District ,the first units at Daniel Army Airfield the 14th and 15th Air Transport Squadrons of the 61st Transport Group arrived on July 12, 1941 from Kelly Field, near San Antonio, Texas. The 61st's group headquarters was formed at Olmsted Field, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The squadrons flew C-47 Skytrains, as well as Doulas C-39's, which was the Air Corp's version of the Douglas DC-2. After organisational training and flying a few paratroop operations, the 61st and its squadrons were sent to Lubbock Field in Texas.

    During the week of October 20, Daniel Field hosted the 40th Pursuit Squadron which came to Daniel Field from Selfridge Field, Michigan which took part in III Interceptor Command exercises, flying P-39 Aircobras.

    With the United States at war in 1942, activity at the airfield expanded dramatically. In early February. Five transport squadrons of the Air Force Combat Command 89th Transport Group, the 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th were activated at Daniel AAF. These squadrons were equipped with C-47s and Douglas DC-3's pressed into military service from the airlines. The 89th stay at Daniel was a short one. Only five weeks later the group moved on to Air Technical Service Command depot at Harding AAF, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Also during February, three observation squadrons, the 16th, 111th, 122nd, and 154th, arrived from various other bases and forming the Third Air Force 68th Observation Group. Pilots trained on Douglas O43-A, Vultee / Stinson O-49 / L-1 Vigilant and Douglas A-20B Havoc aircraft performing antisubmarine patrols along the South Carolina and Georgia coast.

    In 1942, newly built Army Airfields were becoming available in the southeast and the Air Force no longer had the need for Daniel Field and its short runways. No other operational units were stationed at Daniel after August 1942. In February 1943, Daniel was reassigned to the Air Technical Service Command. The facilities became a repair and replacement depot for Third Air Force aircraft. Most of the military flying at Daniel was by transient aircraft undergoing 3d and 4th echelon heavy maintenance work.

    Daniel also activated and trained 32 chemical warfare companies. Chemical companies were equipped and taught to use smoke pots, tear gas, chemical trailers, trucks, blasting caps, and how to fill aircraft spray tanks. During the last part of the war, Daniel was used to prepare vehicles for use in the planned Invasion of Japan. In addition, the field had a branch prisoner of war camp with about 1200 POWs working on the field and in the nearby forests.

    By war's end, the Army's air operations at Daniel were discontinued, with the airfield being returned to full civil control on October 31, 1945.

    We have made an exact reproduction of a late war Daniel Field t shirt, made from a superior quality 'slub yarn' cotton, they are constructed as per the original in terms of cut, seam-style and shade and feature a print taken from an original 40's Daniel Field AFB t shirt. You can find them HERE in the webshop.

    Originally starting out in July of 1943, this squadron’s was first designation was VB-146 (bombing squadron). After going through a number of other designation changes without any recorded insignia it finally became VP-ML-6 (Medium Patrol Squadron) on the 15th November 1946.

    Upon the inception of this new designation the squadron was given its first official squadron insignia emblem featuring the animated icon Popeye the Sailorman. The usage of cartoon characters on unit insignia had been popularised during WWII with Walt Disney granting usage of all its characters to the US Military. The VP-6 insignia was developed by Bradley Kelly of the King Features Syndicate, it depicts Popeye astride a P2V Neptune bomber with missile in left hand and and .50Cal machine gun in the other, blazing away. Originally introduced as a minor walk-on character on the 1920's animated cinema short ' Thimble Theater', Popeye quickly became the star. With Popeye’s arrival came a host of new, off-beat funny folks such as Swee’pea, the “infink” Popeye adopted; J. Wellington Wimpy, the world’s most notorious hamburger-obsessed moocher; and Bluto, his hard-headed, lead-fisted antagonist. Popeye joined the U.S. Navy in 1941, with The Mighty Navy (1941), the first of several war-related shorts and the first time he would appear in an all-white uniform. Popeye was the one of the most popular cartoon stars from the 1930s through to the 1960s with over 753 Popeye cartoon segments existing to date.



    In 1950 VP-6 deployed to Korea as the first patrol squadron in the theatre of operations after the outbreak of hostilities and the first to fly the Lockheed P2V Neptune in combat. During this tour the squadron operated from Johnson AFB, Japan 7 July-6 August 1950: Tachikawa AFB, Japan, 6 August 1950-12 February 1951: and a detachment at Atsugi Japan, 5 January-12 February 1951. Combat patrols were flown over the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan from bases in the north of Japan. Special assignments included reconnaissance flights, cover for the Inchon landings and the evacuations of Hamhung and the Chosen reservoir.

    In July 1950, two VP-6 P2V-3s, piloted by Lieutenant Commander R. L. Ettinger and Lieutenant William J. Pressler, sighted a train along the Korean coast near Chongjin. The two crews destroyed the train with 5-inch rockets and 20-mm bow guns. The following month two Neptunes, led by Lieutenant Commander E. B. Rogers, attacked several boats and barges engaged in mine laying near Chinnampo. Three boats and two barges were sunk. Roger's P-2 Neptune was holed six times by enemy fire. On the same day, other VP-6 aircraft damaged two surface craft near Wonson, Korea. Later that month a VP-6 P2V-3 Buno 122940 piloted by Ensign William F. Goodman, attacked an enemy patrol vessel near Chinnampo, Korea. The starboard engine of his aircraft was damaged by enemy AAA fire and was ditched 6 miles west of Paeng Nylong-do. The entire crew was rescued by Royal Navy cruiser HMS Kenya. As a result of this loss, patrol aircraft were no longer assigned attack missions in Korea.

    While on deployment in Japan, Patrol Squadron SIX acquired the name "Blue Sharks" as a result of a feature story in Collier's magazine entitled "Ble Sharks off the Red Coast". The article described the Lockheed P2V "Neptune" as a "Blue Shark." The unit took on this new moniker and went on to participate in the Tonkin Gulf Crisis with the 7th Fleet during the Vietnam war.


    In collaboration with clothing brand TSPTR we have recreated the VP-6 US Navy jacket model M422A - along with the Korean era Popeye unit insignia taken exactly from the original and made on the correct military quality looms to produce a high-quality reproduction. As with all of the garments in the Elite Units section, it is subtly time worn to give the garment true vintage appeal and is our homage to this great unit. This is an officially licensed product from King Features Syndicates.


    Many of the original West Coast motorcycle clubs were formed by ex-servicemen just returned from World War II. They were men whose lives had been interrupted by the horrors of war. They were looking for excitement and craving fun but more importantly, they were longing for the brotherhood they had while serving on the Worlds battlefields. They gravitated together through these desires and the commonality of riding motorcycles.

    The club gave them the sense of belonging they had experienced in their military units but also afforded them a new found freedom you could only find on the open road. Infamous clubs including the Hells Angels, Boozefighters and the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington came together not long after the end of World War II, bringing a new culture and language to post war America. The Fall 2015 ELMC collection celebrates these innovators, not only for their spirit and sense of adventure but also for their knack for turning military issue equipment into functional motorcycle riding gear.


    This series was shot by regular Eastman collaborator and well known motorcycle aficionado and collector Gary Margerum.