After acquiring the original Sweatin’ 2nd A-2 jacket for our archive, we knew that this one would make an outstanding addition to the Elite Units range as it is such an incredible piece.
Originally belonging to B-26 gunner, Staff Sergeant Anthony J. Moretti, the jacket is adorned with the most superb hand painted artwork, which tells a remarkable story of WWII literally from front to back.
To the back is a painting of Moretti’s B-26B Marauder bomber ‘Sweatin’ 2nd’ along with title slogan of the same name above. (‘Sweatin’ 2nd’ completed 166 missions during it’s wartime career, and was so named after its predecessor ‘Sweatin’ which was lost in June ’43). To the lower portion of the back panel Moretti has painted all the place names they had visited. One can see the track they took when leaving the US to head for active service in Europe, making various stops on the way as they hoped from Canada to Newfoundland to Iceland and finally England, with significant emphasis of Piccadilly Circus being underlined - no doubt a place that held fond memories of good times when they had a pass to go off base.
To the front is painted 70 yellow bombs - each one representing the 70 combat missions he flew. Above that his leather name tag, and above that, in scripted yellow text, the words ‘Purple Heart’ - the award for sustaining a wound in combat.
To the right breast is the name of the aircraft again in similar yellow script text, and underneath that are 5 ducks (shooting gallery ducks), one in grey. These signify decoy missions: As part of the Allied strategic bombing campaign in Europe these tactical missions were conceived in order to draw enemy interceptor aircraft away from the main bomber force which would be destined for the primary target. The airmen who flew these unpopular missions referred to themselves as ‘Decoy Ducks’ hence the shooting gallery ducks to indicate those particular type of missions - Moretti’s unit even referred to themselves as ‘The Decoy Duck Division’ as they flew so many. It is believed that the grey duck signifies one mission in which they were hit, and most probably where Moretti received his wound and Purple Heart.
The crews that flew B-26 Marauder bombers were commonly referred to as ‘Marauder Men”, and Sgt. Moretti can certainly hold claim to that title. Flying as a Gunner with the 557th Bombardment Squadron ‘Keller’s Killers’ (387th Bomb Group), Moretti, along with the rest of his brave crew, chalked up this incredible record of 70 bombing missions as well as the 6 ‘decoy missions. Very few bomber crewmen managed to complete so many missions - the average being 10 before being shot down or disabled - and even fewer painted such an extensive record on their jacket. In fact we don’t know of any other original in existence that has this many.
Flying through some of the toughest missions in the ETO, even D-Day (as illustrated on the back painting also), the B-26s bombed from a much lower altitude than the heavier bombers, such as the B-17s and B-24s, thus making them much more vulnerable to being hit by anti-craft flak defences. Rolling the dice that many times in determined service for the cause is truly exemplary. Moretti completed his tour of duty, and more, between June ’43 and Sept ’44 and in that time was awarded 12 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal, a Purple Heart and the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross). The 557th Bombardment Squadron received a Distinguished Unit Citation as did the 387th Bombardment Group they flew with, for their outstanding efforts and bravery. A truly remarkable story from WWII aviation history, encapsulated within a flight jacket.
Recreated from the original jacket, a Rough Wear contract 23380, using our newly developed veg-tanned Vintage War Horse® Horsehide, this offering is going to get you salivating. The character and handle of the leather is to die for as it exhibits all the craggy character that is so often seen on vintage originals. The closeup images in the photo gallery show you exactly the kind of character you can expect. The hand painted recreation of the artwork is meticulously done and is so authentic it’s virtually indistinguishable from the original, capturing the correct colours and muted tones that only originals have - there is only one way to describe it: Outstanding!
We have also gone the extra mile to make this piece truly exceptional and fitted a very rare original dead stock M-40 ‘Sunray’ Talon zip for the closure. This is really quite an exceptional detail as this model of original wartime Talon zip, in dead stock condition, is more or less unobtainable now. We acquired these many years ago, saving them for that ‘very special project’ we knew would come along one day, and so here it is. The original Sweatin’ 2nd jacket sports this exact model of original zipper, so we have elected to use this treasure stock of zips on this recreation.
On top of this the garment is given a subtle TimeWorn®️ finish to render a recreation of unparalleled authenticity. Due to the intense hand-finished nature of making such a product you can rest assured, by owning one of these, you will have something truly special as we are only able to produce a handful of these special pieces each year.
It is essentially art-in-clothing that one can wear as well as hang for display, and is a homage and maintenance of a memory to this incredibly brave airman who put his life on the line countless times so we may all have better lives today.