example of a G-1 with squadron insignia, this painted directly onto the goatskin,
depicting a nautical "Black Cat" in a Mae West and Dixie Cup brandishing two pistols and
smoking a cigar. designed by famed Milton Caniff for night operating PBY
Catalina units, described below by squadron member W.F. Thomason . You can't make it out but the waistband on this is, atypically,
non-bidirectional and, instead, 2-ply, just like the AAF issue. Lining shade is also
an atypical but not unknown reddish brown. Specification
AN6552, often tagged as ANJ-3A.
Regarding this jacket, we
are elated that VPB-71 veteran
W.F. "TOMMY" THOMASON came across this web page and kindly sent us the following
combat history and background:
I WAS A MEMBER OF VPB-71 ON THE 1944/1945 TOUR. WE WERE A "BLACK CAT"
SQUADRON FLYING PBY CATALINA AIRCRAFT PAINTED FLAT BLACK. AMONG OTHER
ASSIGNMENTS, WE FLEW NIGHT SEARCH MISSIONS FROM MOROTAI IN THE NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES
TO THE PHILIPPINES, BORNEO ETC. AFTER JOINING IN THE INVASION OF LUZON AT
LINGAYEN GULF, WE FLEW NIGHT SEARCH MISSIONS TO FORMOSA HONG KONG AND OTHER
POINTS ON THE CHINA COAST. WE WERE CREDITED WITH SINKING AROUND 85,000 TONS OF
JAPANESE SHIPPING ON THESE MISSIONS AND WERE AWARDED THE NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION.
THE INSIGNIA IS A BLACK CAT, IN KEEPING WITH OUR NIGHT MISSIONS, AND WAS
DESIGNED FOR US IN 1944 BY MILTON CANIFF AT THE REQUEST OF OUR INTELLIGENCE
OFFICER. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TWO FORTY-FIVE AUTOMATICS THAT THE CAT IS
WIELDING IS THAT WE WERE AGGRESSIVELY SEEKING AND SINKING ENEMY SHIPPING AS WELL
AS BOMBING SHORE INSTALLATIONS. MOST PBY SQUADRONS WERE INVOLVED IN DUMBO,
AIR-SEA RESCUE OR SIMILAR OPERATIONS SO THIS SET THE "BLACK CAT" SQUADRONS APART.
I AM KEEPING A ROSTER OF 71 MATES THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTACT AND A
RAPIDLY GROWING DECEASED LIST. I SEND OUT TWO "ALL HAND'S BULLETINS" EACH YEAR
WITH INFORMATION ON REUNIONS AND ANY OTHER NEWS THAT I HAVE. IN THIS CAPACITY
I HAVE ACCUMULATED LOTS OF INFORMATION IN THE FORM OF PERSONAL MEMORIES FROM
OUR TOUR. I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THE STORY OF YOUR FLIGHT JACKET TO THESE
MEMORIES. THE NAME OF OUR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER WAS WARD MACFADDEN AND HE WAS FROM
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA. I HAVE SOME INFORMATION ON HIS ACTIVITIES AFTER WWII
BUT DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHERE IT IS AT THE MOMENT. HE DIED ON 24 AUGUST 1979.
THANKS FOR BRINGING BACK WONDERFUL MEMORIES WITH YOUR PHOTO OF THE VPB-71
W. F. "TOMMY" THOMASON