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My 'Museum' of WW2

Article about: Hey everyone! Newbie here to the forums... though I'd introduce myself and throw out some shots of my display. My name is Britt, I've been an aviation photographer for over 18 years now, mos

  1. #1

    Cool My 'Museum' of WW2

    Hey everyone! Newbie here to the forums... though I'd introduce myself and throw out some shots of my display. My name is Britt, I've been an aviation photographer for over 18 years now, mostly working with WW2 warbirds. I'm one of the main photographers for the world famous Planes of Fame Air Museum out in Chino, CA and Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, CA. I've done air to air photo work with just about every major WW2 aircraft around from Spitfires to Mustangs, FW-190s to Zeros, TBM Avengers to B-29 Super Fortress, etc etc. I've been an avid collector of USAAF items from WW2; with emphasis on early/late bomber crews, home front items, and women's uniforms from various branches. I just recently put some of the last touches on my pride and joy of the collection, a 99% complete early war B-17 Waist Gunner impression. So more on the display... (this was all from a post on another forum earlier in March of this year, since then I've collected lots and lots more, added new display cases, added more recessed lighting, etc etc... need to update it soon!)


    I recently bought a house, and with the abundance of bedrooms I was able to convert one of the rooms to an office and the other room into something I've always wanted to have... a museum! While I'm only able to put on display maybe 15-20% of my entire WW2 and 1940s collection, it's really pleasing to finally have my things on display! People who've come over have really liked checking out everything there (before at my old place I had everything hidden away in boxes and containers). Now that I've added some rope lights to the shelving on one side of the museum, I wanted to post some shots of how it looks so far! I have a lot of plans to add things throughout this year and add more lighting to the shelving. But it's off to a great start!

    There's a bit of a distortion to some of the images due to shooting with a wide angle lens and stitching some of the shots into panoramas

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Pictured (Left to Right) - Modern/Retro Coca Cola Clock, Pinup Poster

    Mannequin #1 - Early War (1942/43) B-17 Waist Gunner - AN6530 Googles, B-6 Flight helmet, HS-23/R-14 Headphones with rubber Ear Cups, A-8B Oxygen Mask (Museum quality Repro), NOS T-30-S Throat Mic, B-3 Jacket, A-4 Flight Suit (underneath), early B-3 Mae West Life Jacket, SW-141 comm set plugged into Throat Mic, CD-307 Headphone extender cord, rare early war First Aid packet attached to an AN-6513 parachute harness, Rayon Gloves under A-9 Gunner Gloves, A-3 Flight Pants with an H-1 Bailout Oxygen Tank in the pocket, and A-6A Boots with inserts (hidden). The matching early war AN-6513 Parachute pack sits at the feet along with an O-1 Ammunition Box and B-4 Clothing bag. Not seen is the ultra rare F-1 Blue Bunny Heated Flight Suit which I have hidden away in a closet heavily protected! This whole impression is my pride & joy and represents several years of research/collecting.

    Mannequin #2 - Late War (1945) B-17 Waist Gunner ** Work in Progress ** - B-8 Goggles with orange tented lenses, A-11 Flight Helmet (with R-14 receivers), M-3 Flak Helmet, A-14 Oxygen Mask, B-15A Jacket, F-3A Heated Flight Jacket (underneath) with attached F-3A Heated Flight Gloves, B-4 Mae West Light Jacket, A-11A Flight Pants, F-3A Heated Flight Trousers (underneath) attached to Q-1 Heated Flight Foot Covers, and A-6A Boots.

    The rest of the items I'll get to in the next photos...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Top Row (L to R): Assorted Photography magazines from 1941-1944 including a rare US Camera magazine from 1945, Gun Camera Film Cartridge, Kodak 35mm Rangefinder (wartime production version with 1944 Date), Universal 8MM Projector, P-51 Gun Camera, (behind the gun camera) 8mm WW2 Training Film in Secured Case, 1939 Pre-Anniversary Graflex Speed Grapic 4x5 camera with original Flash Handle (Luke Sywalker's Lightsaber)/Sync Cord/and Press Bulb (all works!), another Flash Handle (Darth Vader's Lightsaber, hidden in back), 1940s GE Light Meter, and Press Flash Bulbs.

    Second Row (L to R): A-14 Oxygen Mask in box, Rayon Flight Gloves, AAF Crewman Survival Guide Book, B-8 Goggles with Box and lenses, B-2 Flight Cap, AAF Face Mask (tan colored), A-4 Navigation Case Insert, H-3 Large Pad Headphones, C-1 Survival Vest, A-14 High Altitude Oxygen Mask Guide Booklet, another A-14 Oxygen Mask in box, and a summer A-9 Flight Helmet.

    Third Row (L to R): Various Vargas Pinups from the 1940s, Q-1 Heated Flight Foot Covers (laying flat) with F-3A Heated Flight Suit Instruction Booklet, 1940s Spotter Identification Cards, May of 1945 Dated Red Cross Playing Card Desk, YANK Magazine from December 1944, another Yank Magazine from 1944 (B-17 Cover), two Navy/War Department Recognition Pictorial Manuals, and a (random I know!) AAF 3-Hole Puncher.

    Bottom Row (L to R): B-4 Mae West Life Jacket, three Officer Garrison Caps laying on an AN-6505 Kit Bag, M-1 Flak Jacket top in the front left with a 1945 'The Wasps Nest' magazine, massive 48 Star Flag in back, Enlisted Crusher Cap, Army Air Corps Richmond Virginia Pillow Case in back, a A-4 Flight suit in front with assorted AAF patches and a brown A-11A Flight Pants Leg clip survival pouch. A 1930s Tripod for the Graflex camera sits to the right side.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mannequin #3 - Women's Enlisted WAC Uniform - Enlisted Jacket, Shirt, Tie, Skirt, Purse, Gloves, and Hobby Hat. Shoes are repro, but spot on.

    Three prints from various air to air shoots I've shot are framed on the wall (CAF's B-29 'Fifi', Palm Springs Air Museum's P-63A Kingcobra and P-51D Mustang 'Bunny', and Planes of Fame's Flug Werks FW-190 A-8)

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    Other side of the museum...

    Very Top Shelf - Tiger/Panzer Tanks, Jeep, Halftrack, Bradly Tank, and Sherman Tanks (1/18 Scale)

    Left Box Shelf - Ammo cans, Thompson Machine Gun, and other assorted GI items (leggings, Mess Kit)
    Middle Box Shelf - Three replica 1930s Radios
    Right Box Shelf - Willys Jeeps (1/18 Scale) with 1943 LIFE Magazine, M1 Helmet, and assorted GI gear.

    Left Small Box Shelf - Mid-War Bomber Crew Head Display - B-6 Flight Helmet with HS-33 Headphones, Variable Density Goggles, and A-10 Oxygen Mask.
    Right small Box Shelf - A-11 Flight Helmet (with R-14 receivers), AAF Sunglasses, and A-14 Oxygen Mask.

    (Table top items described below)
    Cupboard Shelves:
    #1 - BBI Japanese Zero (1/18 Scale) and US Navy Dog Dish (will be replaced with a Japanese Cap) with WW2 Spotter Identification Card
    #2 - BBI F4U Corsair (Marines Dream - 1/18 Scale) with USN Gunner Gloves, 48 Star Flag, 'All Aboard' WW2 Navy guide book, and NAF (USN) Shearling Flight Helmet with Chin Cup
    #3 - 21st Century Toys ME-109G with WW2 Spotter Identification Cards
    #4 - 21st Century Toys P-51D Mustang (Flying Undertaker - 1/18 Scale) with B-3 Pilot Gloves, 48 Star flag, and various AAF patches.

    Coca Cola Cooler (early 1950s) on the left, L-5 Sentinel Propeller on the right.

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    These next two shots represent the 'homefront' life of WW2.

    (L to R) - Coca Cola sign with 1940s Coca Cola hand-held carrier filled with various 1941-45 dated Coke Bottles, some still filled sitting next to a 48 Star Flag atop a late 40s Silvertone Radio. A clear wartime overseas production 1945 clear Coca Cola bottle sits next to WW2 Coca Cola Spotter Playing Cards and a late 40s Vargas Pinup Playing Card Deck. WW2 dated camel and Lucky Strike cigarettes (unopened), two WW2 'Savings Bond' match books with buttons. V-Mail miniaturized letters with original envelopes and a 1944 Bell Telephone. A box of full size unused V-Mail letters sit behind a 1943 LIFE Magazine. A 1944 LOOK Magazine and 1945 'The American Home'. Ration and Savings Bond books line the wall behind the magazines.

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    (L to R) - An original December 17, 1941 Los Angeles Examiner newspaper (Pearl Harbor Report) sits atop a August 7, 1945 Los Angeles Examiner newspaper (Atomic Bomb Report). A 1943 'how to Get Added Life from your Car' Booklet sits next to a February 1943 'Minicam Photography' magazine. A rare oversized WW2 Armed Forces Radio Service Program Record (dated 1943) with 'Gi Jive' leans behind a late 1930s Art Deco microphone and 1940s DC-3 Tin Toy. A full size 1939 Philco Radio (still works great!) Cathedral Radio rounds out the table with two more WW2 matchbooks and 'Keep Em Flying' button.
    (9/16/2016 Update, the newspapers have been put into protective sleeves and many of the magazines have been rotated out - I try to change them up every few months)

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    A closer look at the early war B-17 Waist Gunner Impression.

    In the future I hope to add more things like placards with some of the displayed items. I'd like to add an info guide behind the two gunner mannequins with a step by step view of what all the items that an early war Gunner would have worn (you can see a quick version of this sitting on the floor between the gunner's legs). I'll add some more air to air prints and I hope to line the top with .50 Cal linked bullets like crown molding. I have about 200 1/18 scale aircraft from 21st Century Toys in the garage (I used to do photography for the company) which I might pull a few more out and put on display as well.

    Once I acquire more female mannequins, I hope to add the complete Summer WAC, WAVES, and USN Nurse uniforms I have and I'd like to add another male mannequin with a complete AAF Officer Class A Uniform. I have enough uniforms that I could have several complete Army/AAF Officer/Enlisted Class A/Ike Summer/Winter displays, Navy Blue/White Cracker Jack displays, Marine Formal Dress, etc... but there's not enough room to display it all plus mannequins are expensive!

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    ABOVE - Cell Phone Shot of about 50% of the uniforms that didn't make it into the museum... this is just in my office with the rest in safe storage in the garage. There are Navy/Marine/Army/Army Air Force uniform jackets and shirts including WW1 uniform items. I'm always buying Army Air Force items whenever I can on ebay/flea markets so I'm always adding more to the collection so I'll move things around when I get them.

    Thanks for viewing!

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  3. #2


    Cheers Mate Welcome, Love your gear there

  4. #3


    Welcome to the forum. Impressive collection and nice museum you got in your home!

  5. #4


    Hi Flames..welcome to the forum..What an entrance .
    Im still trying to twist my wifes arm into having a room for myself..but shes twisting back harder .
    Pretty incredible assemblage of collectables and you will do very well here on the also help you gain more and may ad to what you you have and already know.

    Alot of great minds here and are willing to help out in anyway we can. You will be able to relax here as this forum is minus the political drama you see on Facebook and other sites. The collection of Americana " Coca Cola and Period magazines adds a great touch of past time back to life.

    Enjoy your stay. Regards Larry
    It is not the size of a Collection in History that matters......Its the size of your Passion for it!! - Larry C

    One never knows what tree roots push to the surface of what laid buried before the tree was planted - Larry C

    “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill

  6. #5


    Nice display and looks to be a good display of Coke items also

  7. #6


    The home front items really add a lot of colour to your display, nice to see it all looking so fresh.
    Instead of placards or signs you could consider some sort of photo illustrated catalogue to hand to visitors as in my opinion placards would start to spoil the just-left-behind appearance. Well done, wish I had spare rooms.


  8. #7
    JMM is offline


    WOW, a WWII private museum at your home to visit whenever and for how long you want to. Great collection and great idea.
    Congrats and thaks for showing

  9. #8


    Thank you everyone!

    Quote by Larry C View Post
    Im still trying to twist my wifes arm into having a room for myself..but shes twisting back harder .

    Coca Cola and Period magazines adds a great touch of past time back to life.
    I was lucky, it was my significant other's idea to make the extra room in the house into a museum! She gave me a lot of support on it, probably because it gets the WW2 items out of the other rooms of the house! Ha ha.

  10. #9


    Quote by Ubique View Post
    The home front items really add a lot of colour to your display, nice to see it all looking so fresh.
    Instead of placards or signs you could consider some sort of photo illustrated catalogue to hand to visitors as in my opinion placards would start to spoil the just-left-behind appearance. .
    Thanks! I wanted to have both sides of the war. I love the magazines and paper items from the US during wartime. I've been collecting LIFE, LOOK, McCalls, American Home, etc etc magazines from wartime. My goal it to collect every issue of LIFE from 1940 through 1949.

    As far as placards go, I've reconsidered a bit of that since I wrote out that post earlier this year. I still, however, want to put together an infographic showing the entire process of how a 1942/43 B-17 Waist Gunner dresses from the long underwear to the final parachute harness. Since I can't display all the layers that a Waist Gunner would wear (like the F-1 Blue Bunny, which would be covered up completely if I put it on the mannequin), it's an easier way to showcase all I've collected for that impression.

  11. #10


    Quote by kradman View Post
    Nice display and looks to be a good display of Coke items also
    Thanks! Yes, I'm a big Coca Cola fan. I've been collecting a lot of the glass bottles from 1940-49 along with any wartime Coca Cola related items I can find. Those items can get pricey super fast, more so than some of the rarer AAF items!

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