Mar. 6th, 2016 09:09 am
iaymael: (Default)
[personal profile] iaymael
From the Saint Petersburg Times-

“There is no glamor and no prescribed uniform for the observer service. In the southernmost part of the Florida keys, shorts for duty are de rigeur. But at Sands Point, L.I. volunteers are still clinging to their winter flannels.
The Sands Point post is on top of a tower with a steep flight of 96 steps to reach it. During the winter, observers there wore three pairs of wool hose each, three suits of long underwear, wool shirt, two to four sweaters, windbreaker, overcoat, mittens, and heavy boots. For rain or snowy days, a rubber coverall was added at the topmost layer.”

The only uniform requirement that I have found is a request for ladies working in the plotting rooms not to wear purple lipstick as "it had a tendency to give a rather macabre appearance under artificial lighting.”
Tampa Bay History Magazine Spring/Summer 1995,vol 17, n. 1

So, in order to get started reenacting the AWS all you need 1940s clothing suitable to your area and the proper insignia, which originals of can be found inexpensivly.

The one thing you MUST have, besides a snappy wardrobe, is an AWS button.

My original was from ebay, and it sold for the impossible amount of $10. I have found a company online that is reproducing them for $12 a dozen, so if you wrangle a few friends into this, it could only cost you a few bucks.

The button is the minimum you need. But if you wish, you could add an official AWS Observer armband, which you would have received after 100 hrs as an observer. Again, eBay, and my original broke the bank at $10.
Image from the Air and Space Museum website:

Now if you wish, or if you are borderline obsessive like me, you can look at picking up AWS wings and merit awards that the Army Air Force began issuing in 1943. My original AWS observer wings were the princely sum of $12 on the eBay, with asst. chief, and chief observer wings running anywhere between $30 to $100 depending on condition.

Now, merit awards were issued corresponding to the fighter/interceptor command you were linked to, 4th fighter being the west coast, and 1st being the east. The 1st's award consisted of a small medallion with the logo of the command hung below a "For Merit" bar. Additional award bars for time spent in service, in 250 hour increments up to 1500 hours, could be added between the 'For Merit" bar and the medallion. Some added just the current award bar, others added on the new awards as they got them. Both seem to be correct.

Image from the Air Mobility Command Museum web site:

The merit awards get a bit more expensive, with the 4th group awards being the rarer. My 1st group award was $29 on eBay. I haven't seen an individual 4th group come up yet.

That's it. A set of vintage binoculars will come in handy, of course. Oh, and if you want to throw a bit more realism into your reenactment, apparently “spotter's neck” from always looking up was a common complaint.

Happy Spotting!


Mar. 5th, 2016 10:02 pm
iaymael: (Default)
[personal profile] iaymael
The purpose of this site is to provide a place where information about the Ground Observer Corps of the Aircraft Warning Service can be shared, with the focus the possibly forming a reenactment organization."What the heck is the Ground Observer Corps of the Aircraft Warning Service?", you may ask. Well...

At some point in 1941 it was decided by the Army Air Force that aircraft spotters would be needed to help with the air defense of the United States. A network of volunteer spotters dubbed, you guessed it, the Ground Observation Corps of the Aircraft Warning Service,was created. These men, women, and even teenagers, manned observation posts that were every 6 miles along the entire coastline of the country and for 400 miles inland. Working in two hour shifts, they watched the sky 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In a survey done in April of 1943 it was estimated that there were 1,500,000 spotters of all social groups, religions, and even convicts from Folsom Prison, watching the sky.

The official qualifications were, "observers must be able to speak English clearly and distinctly, and should have good eyesight."

The  Ground Observer Corps of the Aircraft Warning Service was disbanded in at the end of 1944 (although it lasted in Hawaii until VJ day), as the air war shifted to a more offensive strategy. However, with the onset of the cold war, the corps was reinstated in 1950 and became the core of the Skywatch program, which ran from 1952 to 1958,  searching the sky for Soviet long range bombers.


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The Aircraft Warning Service

March 2016

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