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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:38 pm 
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A question was asked on the WRG MySpace page about websites for USAAF re-enactment groups. Not sure of where the person was located, but does anyone have a listing of contact points and websites for re-enactment groups I may send him? Thanks!

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 3:37 pm 
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Ryan, I know there are several on Yahoo Groups. There are a few on MySpace Groups as well.

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 9:58 pm 
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I've been a member of the WWII Airmen's Preservation Society (APS) since 1989. They've been around longer than that and were one of the first groups to participate in Reading's WWII Weekend. Good bunch of guys and they have wings in DC and CT.

Most often we portray a WWII forward airbase encampment with L-birds and such, but we've also done bomber and fighter crews and some of them even participated in Jeff Ethell's "Roaring Glory" Video series with the 918th Aviation Re-enactment Group, which is now pat of the APS.

Navy and Marine re-enactments have also been a part of the APS' mission, even going so far as to participate in a History Channel piece on USN WWII Skipper, Richard O'Kane of the USS Tang.

A diverse group of guys and a lot of fun.
Here's a link to their website.

http://home.earthlink.net/~sgtbrown103/apspage1.html


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Last edited by Jerry O'Neill on Wed May 30, 2007 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 5:35 pm 
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Thanks for posting this, I am the one that messaged you on Myspace. I am located in east of San francisco, California.

So if anyone knows of reenactment groups in northern cali please tell me, thanks!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:21 am 
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From what I've been aware of, the APL is pretty much the largest group out there right now. There have been other ones, but I'm thinking many of them have disbanded in recent years. I have a complete AAF impression stowed away in two aviator bags in my closet, and haven't felt the desire to wear any of it since a group event we did for the Museum of Flight (Seattle) B-17 back in 2003. The biggest problem is that there are very few people who do AAF in groups and even fewer who do it right. I've been in a few "bomber crew" groupings myself, and most were random folks who didn't belong to a specific "AAF re-enactor" group. Re-enactment groups are divisive by nature, they often disband and split off, and folks come in and out of them quickly. Entire groups surface literally overnight, and are sometimes gone just as fast. Doing an AAF impression is about one of the most expensive impression you can do unless you get into automatic weapons or vehicles. That's why so few folks do it (that and most re-enactors don't fit in the smaller sized original equipment you find). Also, some of the items are just so impossibly hard to locate and aren't being made in reproductions, so many people stop short of the parachute harness for some reason. Many "AAF re-enactors" have a flight suit, A-2, shoes and a cap, and that's it. Very few have all the complete gear. Don't take my word for it, look at most of the photos on the group websites and tell me how many of them even have parachutes on or in the display photos! A lot of folks also like wearing the PTO cotton uniforms even though they do a ETO impression because it's more comfortable (but also more historically inaccurate) that way.
Thankfully, more good repro stuff is coming out slowly, but there isn't as much money in it as making, say, even more M-42 jumpsuits with 101st AB patches on them (the "Bandwagon of Brothers" principle, as called by many ground pounder re-enactors). There's also a lack of venues for such an impression. You have airshows, which are often very hot to wear all that stuff, usually taking place in the summer and rarely with any shade around. Most "running around the woods" events seriously frown on AAF impressions for pretty obvious reasons.
Now, if you're looking for any kind of WW2 re-enactment group, I suggest looking here first: http://atthefront.com/links_units.htm
Here's another good links listing for AAF folks as most of their links seem to still be working: http://www.doolittleraid.com/reenactors.htm

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:15 pm 
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p51 wrote:
Doing an AAF impression is about one of the most expensive impression you can do unless you get into automatic weapons or vehicles. That's why so few folks do it (that and most re-enactors don't fit in the smaller sized original equipment you find). Also, some of the items are just so impossibly hard to locate and aren't being made in reproductions, so many people stop short of the parachute harness for some reason. Many "AAF re-enactors" have a flight suit, A-2, shoes and a cap, and that's it. Very few have all the complete gear. Don't take my word for it, look at most of the photos on the group websites and tell me how many of them even have parachutes on or in the display photos! A lot of folks also like wearing the PTO cotton uniforms even though they do a ETO impression because it's more comfortable (but also more historically inaccurate) that way.


P51;
You’re right about the expense of AAF stuff, but I also think it can be one of the most inexpensive ways to get into re-enacting. As long as you’re willing to do a SWPA or MTO impression. There are lots of B-25’s out there, and the US didn’t use them in England, so khaki’s are a good and cheap way to start. Now I might get some “flak” for this, but every AAF re-enactor doesn’t have to have a whole complete kit. I’ve always said that the single most important piece of AAF re-enacting is the Mae West. The minute you put one on, it says “AVIATION”!
Olive, khaki, leather whatever you got under it, you put that on and it screams aviation.

I have photos of a combat pilot in the ETO (B-26) flying missions with a grey sweat shirt, khaki pants, shoulder holster, 50 mission “Crush” and sneakers!
I also have photos of B-25 pilots in the CBI flying with shorts and a t-shirt. None of them used O2 masks either since it was all low level stuff.

Khaki’s are easy, you can get a garrision cap cheap, and if you fork over the cash for a decent Mae West, you’ve got the basic equipment.

In addition, the crews didn’t walk around all day with their parachutes and heavy leather gear on. That was only when they were suiting up for a mission or just returning. Granted, when you’re with the public you want to show the gear and explain it, but as it warms up, you can very quickly ruin some very expensive gear.

Also, if the re-enactment group is portraying a mission ready crew, it’s understandable that they should all have appropriate gear. But I’ve seen very well known groups, known for their “accuracy” and demanding, member flight gear requirements, portray crews in big color books that don’t even have the right equipment. In one shot, half had A-8 O2 Masks and the other half had A-14’s. That would have never happened in real life since once the aircraft changed from a constant flow to a demand O2 system, there would never be a mix of mask styles. Yet these guys were considered the experts. Believe it or not, they were debated about and were more concerned about the Jeep they used on the shoot, as it didn’t have combat rims!

To get all the stuff, and get it right for an AAF impression, it’s going to costs thousands of dollars. But there are less expensive AND accurate ways to get started.
Blue skies,
Jerry

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:02 pm 
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Jerry, I'm about to pick apart some points you made. I hope you don't take it personally!
Airdales wrote:
I have photos of a combat pilot in the ETO (B-26) flying missions with a grey sweat shirt, khaki pants, shoulder holster, 50 mission “Crush” and sneakers!
I also have photos of B-25 pilots in the CBI flying with shorts and a t-shirt. None of them used O2 masks either since it was all low level stuff.
Yeah, and I have a photo of a US ground pounder wearing, British tan shorts, an HBT shirt, helmet liner and mirror lens shades. That certainly doesn't mean that was the standard, now does it? I'd have to contend that re-enactors should largely adhere to the standard, not the exceptions. I'm not saying a MTO impression is a cop out, as I've seen some done very well, usually by people who could do the more expensive ETO impression correctly if they wanted to.
Airdales wrote:
To get all the stuff, and get it right for an AAF impression, it’s going to costs thousands of dollars. But there are less expensive AND accurate ways to get started.
I agree, but my experience is that the vast majority of people start there. And also end there. They never get anything other than that. Imagine someone saying they portray a paratrooper, yet don't even own a rifle and has no intention of ever getting one? To me, that's the same as an AAF guy not even owning a parachute. Yet, that's the way most "AFF re-enactor" types operate. Tell me you don't want to wear it all day, and I'll agree. But tell me you never got one because you don't want to wear it all day, and I'll roll my eyes and walk away mumbling.
Airdales wrote:
I’ve seen very well known groups, known for their “accuracy” and demanding, member flight gear requirements, portray crews in big color books that don’t even have the right equipment. In one shot, half had A-8 O2 Masks and the other half had A-14’s. That would have never happened in real life since once the aircraft changed from a constant flow to a demand O2 system, there would never be a mix of mask styles. Yet these guys were considered the experts. Believe it or not, they were debated about and were more concerned about the Jeep they used on the shoot, as it didn’t have combat rims!
I snicker at exactly the same thing, even though one of the guys in those books used to be a good buddy of mine when we lived reasonably close by each other. I've noticed the mask issue too. The biggest problem with AAF groups is that there's rarely a standard for specific gear, and everyone gets what they want and they wind up with a strange mix of early and late war items. It did happen, but not very often, not in the ETO anyway among bomber crews, as they all drew their gear from the same sources. Among fighter pilots, it was more varied though. As for the Jeep issue, well, I've seen a video of a "AAF crew" in a B-17, and the Jeep they're in isn't even WW2, it's a postwar CJ-2 with a tailgate! I own a 1944 Willys MB and that's something I notice easily as well.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:05 am 
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No offense at anything.
It's a great topic for discussion and I hope some others out there join in.

I actually have one of each type of parachute, and I don't really advocate using the sweatshirt and sneakers deal! It was just a statement of the varied theater attire that the individuals gravitated to in combat.

Lately I've been doing the mechanic thing because as I've gotten older, I don't really fit the part of young, active aircrew. I believe in trying to get at least close to the age group of the actual crews. Unfortunately, High School seniors and kids in college don't have the discretionary cash to throw at a complete AAF set-up, but keeping the age as close as possible helps. My extra chutes and stuff help to outfit younger guys when we do events.

It's funny, but for years the only guys who were actual, licensed pilots in our group, played the role of mechanics! (Me and another one!) I'd actually teach the pilot re-enactors how to use the E-6B Flight Computer.

You're right about the Airborne Gun thing too! What's the point if you don't have it? Of course, there were plenty of other jobs in the AAF that didn't require aircrew flight gear, but it's not the overall impression that the public wants to see. Flight Surgeons and Operations Officer's just aren't sexy enough for shows.

Let's hope some others out there jump in on this.
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Jerry

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:58 pm 
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p51 wrote:
Here's another good links listing for AAF folks as most of their links seem to still be working: http://www.doolittleraid.com/reenactors.htm


Thanks for the information! I haven't checked those links in a while. I've got my uniform for a DR impression, and enough to do a 12 AF 1st Lt. as well, but I'm kind of moving away from actually flying with the stuff on. For sure I'm not going to go buy a bulky parachute (that isn't legal for use) to wear in the plane, or the headgear such as headphones and masks - it's just not practical. I do try and get close to what some liaison officer might have worn, but there's a limit to what length I'll go. As previously mentioned in this thread, it gets quite expensive, IF you can find the stuff you want for the impression. Thankfully, most people appreciate it either way.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:18 pm 
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Airdales wrote:
It's a great topic for discussion and I hope some others out there join in.
I suspect it might hit a bit too close to home for some…
Airdales wrote:
Lately I've been doing the mechanic thing because as I've gotten older, I don't really fit the part of young, active aircrew. I believe in trying to get at least close to the age group of the actual crews.
I hear you there! When I got into this, I was about 20 and the gear wasn't that tough to find at that point as interest in US WW2 hadn't exploded yet and most US impressions were considered the "cheap cop out" option at that time. I was also very thin then, about 6 feet and 150 pounds. I very much looked the part then and I too had several parachutes as well (I never go in public with an incomplete impression). But I'm pushing 40 now, am about 200 (mostly muscle from my real life Army days, but civilian living has added some padding) and just don't look like a kid anymore. I haven't done AAF aircrew in 4 years but I still have all my gear. I did do a mechanic impression at an airshow, wore coveralls, a M-41 jacket with an AAF patch, and a mechanics cap. Lots of vets loved it, especially when I relaxed in my Jeep!
I do recall something funny that happened to me at a ground re-enactment at Ft Eustis once. I had just captured a SS trooper from New Jersey (yeah, that accent coming out of a guy dressed as a German was very odd) and he was griping about how us GI re-enactors have it made as German costs oh so much more. I calmly told him I also do AAF aircrew with complete equipment. He stopped in mid rant, bug eyed, and said, "Oops, I'm sorry, then you DO understand what an expensive impression is all about," and quickly changed the subject!
These days, due to increasing age and shifting interests, I'm getting more into the War Correspondent thing now as it's an impression you can do almost anywhere and at any age or physical condition. Nobody expects a newspaper guy to be a "hard charger"!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 2:42 pm 
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thanks for the links guys


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 Post subject: AAF Re-Enactors
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:43 am 
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When I started the 14th Liaison Squadron, it was meant as a way to put airplanes and ground re-enactors together. It has worked for that mission, but I have gotten some negative feed back from AAF re-enactors, who prefer the big name units and aircraft as their back drops for re-enacting. I don't see anything wrong with that, but opportunities are few as stated.

To change gears a little, I think the re-enacting community has some fences to mend between themselves and aircraft owners. My impression from many owners is that the re-enactors did not have respect for the airframes, and some numbers of them had no sense when it came to actually being around an airplane. I think they were more concerned about safety of flight and general safety issues.

My solution for all this is to create ground schools for re-enactors to work around actual aircraft, get some aircrew training and aircraft marshalling experience and learn more in general about the aircraft. After all, the WWII aircrew experience began and ended with airplanes.

Anybody interested in such a ground school?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:10 am 
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Forgotten Fields,

I'd be interested in what you guys do and how you've gotten the 14th Liaison Squadron setup. Here with the Alamo Liaison Squadron I'd like to convince more of the members to do something similar. We're also having an event in December with a well-known Reenactors group from the area. I think that this could turn into something huge if it goes off well. More details will be available later.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:45 pm 
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in CA...check out RPS (http://www.ww2rps.com/about.htm) and CHG (http://www.chgww2.com/)

both have links to various units and re-enactor sites

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:43 pm 
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reenactors.net has lists of all groups (air, ground)

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