WW2 Japanese Navy Pilot Fight Suit Rank – Lieutenant Commander
The flight leaders, under Commander Fuchida, who lead the First Wave Pearl Harbor Air Attack were all Lt. Commanders. Each wore this type of insignia on their uniform.
The Leader of the First Wave Dive Bombers was Lt. Commander Kakuichi Takahaski.
The Leader of the First Wave Zero Fighters was Lt. Commander Shigeru Itaya.
The Leader of the First Wave Torpedo Bombers was Lt. Commander Shigeharu Murata.
Lt. Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki was the Overall Leader of the Second Wave.
Lt. Commander Takashige Egusa was the dive bomber leader for the second wave.
WW2 Japanese Navy Pilot Officer Fight Suit Rank was worn as a single on the left sleeve only. This rank is quite noticeable in period photographs. It truly distinguishes a Naval Aviator’s flight suit from their Army counterparts. This rank makes a flight suit POP!
Flight suit rank is extremely unique and quite rare as only pilots wore it. The line Navy and Special Naval Landing Force had their own rank worn either on their collars or their shoulders.
As you can see, the background cloth is green, with a cotton muslin backing.
The stripes are tacked, by hand, in place, just as they should be.
This rank has never been sewn on a uniform. So, if you have an excellent or unissued Navy flight suit this rank patch would be a great addition to your display.
With the cost of any Japanese Navy flight suit now between one and two thousand dollars, without rank insignia of any kind, this is a small investment to upgrade your prize to what it would have looked like during the War.
As you already know, very few IJN flight suits have rank on them. In fact, we have seen only a handful since the mid 1970s that had rank. Most IJN Flight suits we have seen are unissued and were likely found in Japan after the War ended. Most IJN pilots died in attacks so patched flight suits are extremely rare.
Although this rank patch is unissued, this rare insignia would also be correct for a used flight suit. As a pilot’s rank progressed during the war, especially as attrition took its toll, they would be promoted and change insignia more than once if he survived. For example, an IJN Officer pilot would start as an Ensign and rise to the rank of Lieutenant in short order, again, if he survived. Similarly, a Lt could be promoted to Commander in just a few years. The Japanese Navy, like any Navy at war, would certainly never discard a used flight suit just because they had been promoted and wanted a new flight suit to show off his new rank patch.
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