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General of the Air Force rank epaulettes

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Gents, here is a selection of US General of the Air Force rank epaulettes. From left: The McPeak version, with crests and without crests. Comments are welcome.

usa-af-gen5-set-small.jpg

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Makes you wonder, since Hap Arnold was the only person who ever has been able to wear that insignia. And, he died in 1950, before the uniform which these would have been worn with was adopted (I think). Just for interest, he was the only general to ever wear 5 stars in both the Army and the Air Force uniforms.

The insignia manufacturers and sellers are constantly making stuff which nobody can wear-- just in case. I am reminded of a time in Germany, when I saw in the PX about 35 sets of the Army Master Flight Surgeon Wings--- I knew for a fact that I was the ONLY person in Europe authorized to wear that wing (and at that time there were fewer than about ten authorized in the whole Army), and I certainly didn't need 35 sets........ Doc

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Now I can understand why they are sometimes called "surplus stores". Was that the time when the Air Force parachutist badges were shield-shaped?

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Sorry, no knowledge of AF parachutist's badges, but Yes, "surplus" means "excess to requirements".... Therefore, "surplus stores". Doc

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I dont know of anyone else that held that ranking. Does htis make the set an attributed grouping?

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Not at all, Paul.

When I got these ranks, they were described as prototypes. I can't be 100% sure, but if they really are, I would be very happy with them. On the other hand, they could well be fantasy junk. Close inspection of the embroidery, however, shows them to be consistent with the four-star ranks of the same type, so they appear to be good.

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Paul, definitely not an attributable grouping, unless there is more information than has been presented in this string. Lots of military insignia is made, and not necessarily worn or sold. Technically, I can buy 5-star shoulder boards at the PX, but that doesn't make them attributable, unless someone has documentation that they were actually worn by a specific person. Doc

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In a different post, I mentioned that this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_of_the_Army_(United_States) reported that there was a proposal to make the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a 5-star general. Air Force and Naval flag officers alternate with the Army as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. As a proposed insignia, the uniform contractor would produce samples showing how the insignia would appear according to the regulations. Custom has it that 5-star generals/admirals have a wide degree of latitude in designing their uniforms. Few choose to deviate from the regulations, although George C. Marshall was photographed wearing striped socks with this Class A uniform (WW2 era "pink & green").

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Yes, these USAF ranks are test prototypes. I met the fabulous collector who has a virtual warehouse of incredible insignia, actually from around the world, and tons from the USA that were made and placed under consideration by the Uniform Boards of the US military departments. This person was on the inside and had unbelievable access to these things. Many of them dont have listings on the references or charts, but the saying that the map is not the territory is quite true and this is the case here. In fact, if I remember correctly, there must have been a half dozen more styles of these USAF ranks, and the same can be said for the US Army and Navy!

Edited by KNAR

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Wow! I would love to see more of these prototypes.

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They are absolutely gorgeous and that collector is an expert on so much but very private and I think will donate most to the US National Archives.........its a treat to see all that has been acquired......and apparently some of those historical officers actually wore some of the pieces......... "fantasy junk". ....lol..............gems and treasures indeed to those who are in the know and have done their homework! I wish my collection was filled with it!

Edited by KNAR

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Donating his collection to the national archives might be a big mistake. The stuff might get neglected, abused, stolen, or lost forever, as happens in many archives like these around the world.

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I think these prototypes are very interesting pieces. I have seen the "prototypes" of rank insignia for the Singapore Armed Forces made in the factory, and there are variants using many different types of thread, and fantasy ideas on four and even five star general ranks. Of course, these don't exist, but there they are in the factory display. Anybody who happened to be on the up and up with the factory owner could very well have access to these things.

Alf

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I hope that there is a way that you can convince him to at least share photos through an anonymous source so that we can at least see them... It is a shame to have such things hidden from those who are interested in seeing the images.

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