Gen Billy Mitchell's boots and spurs

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Philip S
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Gen Billy Mitchell's boots and spurs

Post by Philip S » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:15 pm

I found this little drawing I did years ago of Gen Mitchell's boots and spurs on display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The caption reads:
"Bombardment and pursuit formations...would have an independent mission, very much as independent cavalry used to have." (Mitchell in memo to Pershing June 13, 1917)
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Pat Holscher
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Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:00 pm

Very nice!
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Post by bisley45 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:34 pm

Wow....those are pretty "puncher"-looking spurs, aren't they?
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Post by wkambic » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:06 am

Interesting looking gear for an upper class kid from Milwaukee!!! :lol:
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Post by Pat Holscher » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:16 am

Interesting period photograph:
Pat Holscher wrote:Note the spurs the one pilot is wearing:

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Post by Philip S » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:38 am

It is striking that early aviators wanted to make a connection between themselves and horsemen. The comment about the Mitchell wearing fancy cowboy boots and spurs reminds me of urban cowboy fashions.

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Post by Dave J. » Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:58 am

Philip S wrote:It is striking that early aviators wanted to make a connection between themselves and horsemen.
Not too surprising. The Air Corps performed essentially the same functions as light cavalry. Scouting, observing for the Field Arty. Most of the pilots came from the cavalry in search of adventure, when they realized horse cavalry was going to mostly sit it out on the side lines.

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Post by Philip S » Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:23 pm

Dave J. wrote:
Philip S wrote:It is striking that early aviators wanted to make a connection between themselves and horsemen.
Not too surprising. The Air Corps performed essentially the same functions as light cavalry. Scouting, observing for the Field Arty. Most of the pilots came from the cavalry in search of adventure, when they realized horse cavalry was going to mostly sit it out on the side lines.
All very true but I think it goes deeper than that. The early aviators were consciously trying to pattern themselves after the romantic vision of the cowboy. It is notable that only in America did this happen.

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Post by detriquette » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:43 am

All,
Great discussion about aviators, boots, spurs and the why of it all. One thing is missing however. Uniform regulations of the day had officers in boots, with spurs and breeches. No matter what the flying horsemen thought about themselves they were just wearing what their brother officers were wearing.
That being said, I'm sure, like General Mitchell, there were plenty of aviators who took liberties with their uniforms to give them a personal touch. I guess if you wanted to take the whole, "they saw themselves as horsemen", thing a step forward; you could say that the nose art that adorned their "ships" were throwbacks to the days of knights who sallied forth with their coat of arms emblazoned on their shields and overgarments.
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Groundless supersitition ill becomes an army, vlaor is the only deity that rules in the warriors breast. Silius Italicus
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Post by Pat Holscher » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:28 am

detriquette wrote:All,
Great discussion about aviators, boots, spurs and the why of it all. One thing is missing however. Uniform regulations of the day had officers in boots, with spurs and breeches. No matter what the flying horsemen thought about themselves they were just wearing what their brother officers were wearing.
That's true, but there's an interesting added element to it, although we have to approach it with a bit of caution.

In modern (let's say post 1890) times, at any one time in military history, there's been a branch that's been thought of as glamorous, and the other branches have tended to mimic their clothing. Beyond that, the things closely associated with that branch have sometimes been subject to special treatment, if uniform behavior tolerated it.

As late as WWII there was a lot of tolerance for variety in officer's uniforms. Mitchell was greatly departing from the regs here, but apparently it was allowed. It's interesting that officers were allowed various variances in spurs. I wonder if that wasn't their way of associating themselves with a branch that was still regarded as glamorous, and not yet regarded as antiquated?

Sort of like the wide post WWII use of paratrooper boots, perhaps.
That being said, I'm sure, like General Mitchell, there were plenty of aviators who took liberties with their uniforms to give them a personal touch. I guess if you wanted to take the whole, "they saw themselves as horsemen", thing a step forward; you could say that the nose art that adorned their "ships" were throwbacks to the days of knights who sallied forth with their coat of arms emblazoned on their shields and overgarments.
On that, I wonder what we'd find if we looked at European examples in comparison to American? Europe had a direct mounted knight inheritance, and knights would have provided a direct example of a prior glamorous mounted class. In the US, with a fairly restrained military history, cowboys may have seen more "American" and glamorous. And, of course, they were adopting the styles of a class that was (and is) still in existence, which may have encouraged that. It would send a different message, of course, as cowhands, rightly or wrongly, sort of stand for near anarchic freedom, while knights do not.
Pat

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Post by Kelton Oliver » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:56 pm

The connection between cavalry and aviation is not particularly obscure. The first aviation units were assigned to the cavalry. To this day, the only units designated as "squadrons" rather than "battalions" in the U.S. military are aviation units...and cavalry.

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Post by detriquette » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:00 am

I believe the USN still uses the "squadron" terminology for surface vessels, as in "Desrtoyer Squadron".
Tom

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Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:40 am

Kelton Oliver wrote:The connection between cavalry and aviation is not particularly obscure. The first aviation units were assigned to the cavalry. To this day, the only units designated as "squadrons" rather than "battalions" in the U.S. military are aviation units...and cavalry.
I think the 1st Aero Squadron was categorized as a Signal Corps outfit. It was attached to Pershing's command for the Punitive Expedition, of course, but part of the reason for that, as Couvi has pointed out, was because it was the only unit in the U.S. Army that had all motor transport. It's trucks were nearly as useful, at first, as its aircraft. Of course, the aircraft were useful.

During WWI it was attached to the 1st Division.
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Post by Pat Holscher » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:30 pm

Bump.
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Post by Pat Holscher » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:39 am

Bump.
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