Wheels in the Wells

On April, 4th, 2012, Vintage Wings of Canada, with the support of the Ottawa International Airport Authority, launched the second Gear-up aviation heritage-inspired clothing and gift shop at Ottawa's spectacular and award-winning airport terminal building. The newly completed space will offer up some of Vintage Wings' best selling swag and clothing, designed to commemorate our heroes of the Second World war and honour our veterans from the First World War to Afghanistan. We are unabashedly proud of these remarkable Canadians, these sons and daughters of Canada and their families and of the sacrifices they have made.

It is hoped that this shop along with our flagship store at the Vintage Wings of Canada hangar and others in the future will inspire Canadians to wear and carry messages of support and at the same time raise funds to keep our important mission going. Without the financial infusions from donors, sponsors, government grants, events and sales of our gear, Vintage Wings of Canada cannot reach Canadians with the message of honour and commemoration of our aviation heritage.

On hand to open the store were two of Ottawa's biggest aviation stars – Entrepreneur and philanthropist Mike Potter, Founder of Vintage Wings of Canada (VWC) and Paul Benoit, the President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority (OIAA) who has overseen the creation of an airport widely recognized as the best in its category in the world. The two executives cut a ribbon to welcome guests to the new shop–found at the arriving baggage carousels on the ground floor of the airport. the location is temporary as VWC and the OIAA work together to find a new location in the busier departure areas.

Paul Benoit (right), President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority and Michael Potter, Founder of Vintage Wings of Canada were both on hand to cut the ribbon that signaled the opening of the Gear-Up Shop. Paul Benoit and his airport staff have been huge supporters of Vintage Wings of Canada since day one. Benoit, who has continuously welcomed our presence at his world-class facility, can be seen any day and any time walking the concourses, retail spaces and air side operations keeping an eye one goings on and greeting his many employees. The airport earned the distinction of placing 1st among airports in North America, and 2nd in the world (for airports that serve between 2 and 5 million passengers) in customer satisfaction. One visit to Benoit's airport and you can see why. Photo: Peter Handley

Benoit and Potter cut the ribbon and welcome the press and airline passengers to browse the wares. Photo: Peter Handley

The two executives peruse the products. Photo: Peter Handley

Not five minutes after the opening, Julien Brown, store manager, scans in the first sale. Photo: Peter Handley

Paul Benoit has enthusiastically invited and welcomed Vintage Wings at the airport. A perfect example of this support is when he suggested that we park one of our vintage aircraft inside the terminal. Now, arriving passengers can see one of the world's most classic and famous aircraft and read about Vintage Wings mission and activities while awaiting their baggage at the carousels. The Vintage Wings de Havilland Fox Moth was once the personal aircraft of His Royal Highness, David, the Prince of Wales, who would become Edward VIII, the King who would abdicate. Photo: Peter Handley

Vintage looking signage welcomes visitors while Gear-up store manager Julien “The Voice” Brown (left) welcome clientele waiting their baggage at the carousels. Photo: Peter Handley

The Victory Collection
Royal Canadian Air Force Nose Art to Wear

This spring, taking the lead from the couturiers of Paris, the Vintage Wings of Canada Gear-up shop will launch two new lines of aviation heritage-inspired t-shirts - the Victory and Home Front Collections. Inspired by the sometimes cheeky, sometimes sexy, always youthful “nose art” of the Second World War, the Victory Collection features five classic designs actually found painted on the aluminum skins of Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft during the war. These shirts honour the airmen and the fallen of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Victory Collection celebrates the creativity of RCAF ground crews and the youthful exuberance of our young men who risked, and often lost, everything in the world wide conflagration that was the Second World War, Thoroughly researched by military historian Clarence Simonsen, who is Canada's leading authority on the popular culture of and provenance of Canada's “nose-art”, each design was selected to tell a unique Canadian story of airmen in both Fighter and Bomber Commands. Each shirt comes with a supporting written story of the aircraft, the unit and RCAF airmen paid tribute to by the design - all based on Simonsen's research.

In a world where our youth seem farther and farther out of the reach of traditional means of communication it is important to engage them in any way possible. Vintage Wings is recognized the world over for its innovative programs, engaging website, informative blogs and newsletters, and a growing Facebook presence. If teaching our youth today via the means of fashion forward, vintage-style, aviation-heritage inspired clothing, then so be it. We'll attach a message of honour and respect for duty done, we'll educate them about the history that inspires the design and set them free to wear the message. We will wear our remembrance the year round.

The 419 Squadron Stork-Baby Shirt. Following its introduction on an Avro Anson trainer at No. 5 Service Flying Training School in Brantford, Ontario, this nose art design featuring a stork delivering a baby who is in turn delivering a payload, made its way across the Atlantic, appearing first on a Handley Page Halifax Bomber of No. 419 “Moose” Squadron, RCAF based at Middleton St. George, Durham County, England. This version of the artwork differed from the Anson original in that the stork was not carrying bombs in its feet. 419 Squadron aircrew (Moosemen) flew a total of 4,325 operational sorties during the war from Mannheim to Nuremburg, Malan to Berlin and Munich to Hanover, inflicting heavy damage on the enemy. As a result of its wartime record, 419 Squadron became one of the most decorated units under the RCAF during the Second World War

One 419 Squadron officer, Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski received the Victoria Cross posthumously, one of two awarded to the RCAF during the Second World War, for an act of heroism during a Lancaster sortie over enemy-occupied France. The 416 Squadron Stork-Baby Nose art shirt honours Mynarski, the aircrew of 419 Squadron and all the aircrews who flew the Handley-Page Halifax into harm's way. At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The Night Fighters “Pugnacious Pup” Shirt. This shirt pays tribute to the Canadian night fighter and intruder crews flying the de havilland Mosquito during the Second World War.  During the war, 410 Squadron RCAF pilot F/O Jim Fullerton and navigator F/O B.E. Gallagher were assigned to a new Mosquito Mk. XXX – serial number MM744. During the four week training-up period for the type, pilot Fullerton had the squadron artist paint an impressive "Bulldog" insignia on the Mosquito's starboard crew door. The artist was LAC Don Jarvis from Vancouver, BC. The original cartoon came from a 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post magazine that featured an article regarding the Battling Bulldogs of the 355th Fighter Squadron, U.S. Army Air Force. The Pugnacious Pup image was their official insignia. It is common that crews of other squadrons adopted the Walt Disney-inspired insignia of American units and for the same nose art to be used numerous times by other aircraft  in the air force. At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The V for Victory, 10,000 Tribute Shirt.  The RAF's No. 107 Squadron's insignia featured an RAF bald eagle about to snatch its prey in front of a large "V for Victory". Flight Sergeant Albert Stanley Prince was a member of 107 Squadron and was the first of ten thousand Canadians killed serving with Bomber Command. Prince was also the first Canadian casualty in any of the services. Before the war in Europe had ended, over five and one half years later, these ten thousand young Canadians paid the ultimate price in what has been described as the most continuous and gruelling operation of war ever carried out. Prince flew a Bristol Blenheim Mk IV into action on the second day of the war and attacked the German pocket battleship, Admiral Scheer.  Flight Sergeant Prince's aircraft was hit by flak and Prince ditched the aircraft into the sea. All three crew members were rescued by the enemy but Prince later died of his injuries. Albert Stanley Prince was born in Montreal, Quebec on November 22, 1911, the son of Eliza and Harold Braithwaite Prince. For more on Prince visit the Bomber Command Museum website. The V for Victory Shirt pays tribute to all Canadians who served or were killed in Bomber Command. At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The Sugar's Blues Pin-Up Shirt. This eye-catchin and testosterone-fed shirt features the classic pin-up nose art of Avro Lancaster Mark X, KB-864 of No. 428 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force. The figure is based on a popular "Vargas" pin-up girl of who was featured in the January 1945 edition of Esquire magazine. The aircraft's squadron code markings were NA-S and the aircraft would have been referred to by its aircraft code letter “‘S’ for Sugar." Sugar's Blues was also a popular wartime big band dance tune. In 1945, the artwork on KB-864 was painted by Wireless/Air-gunner Sgt. Tommy Walton. 428 Bomber Squadron was known as “Ghost Squadron” and the nose art shirt represents a wearable tribute to the ghosts of the more than 10,000 Canadians killed on operations or in training with Bomber Command.  At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The McKnight Grim Reaper Shirt. Flight Lieutenant William Lidstone “Willie” McKnight of 242 “Canadian”
Squadron was the first Canadian ace and Canada's fifth-highest scoring ace of the Second World War. McKnight joined the RAF in early 1939 and served with 242 during the final phase of the Battle of France, covering the Allied retreat from Brittany, and later the Battle of Britain. McKnight, having been a medical student in Edmonton, Alberta, had his Hawker Hurricane aircraft painted with an eye-catching skeleton image representing the Grim Reaper holding a sickle in its hand and pointing forward to the German aircraft he was about to shoot down. Although macabre, the dramatic avenger image captured the imaginations of British citizenry who were facing the onslaught of the Nazi war machine. Gear-Up has added explanatory typography to complete the design. McKnight scored 17 victories, as well as two shared and three unconfirmed kills. McKnight was shot down and killed on January 12, 1941 during a fighter sweep over Calais.
At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The Home Front Collection
Second World War Propaganda and Culture

The Second World War spawned many iconic images - St Paul's Cathedral standing firm amidst a burning London during the Blitz, the American flag raised over Iwo Jima, RAF pilots scrambling to get airborne during the Battle of Britain. Many were photographic images, and many were propaganda posters designed and written to inform, inspire, thank and warn a tense and trepid population faced with the notion that soon, Nazi hooligans would run amok in the streets of London. Other images such as the ubiquitous “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti were the viral fads of the the day. These images and social minutia, taken as a whole, create the cultural and social backdrop to the stresses of war and deprivation felt by Canadians and their Allies. The Vintage Wings of Canada Home Front Collection is designed to bring to life some of those iconic visual and spoken messages for a generation 70 years removed from the conflict.

The Keep Calm and Carry On Shirt. “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. Seeing only limited distribution, it was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private sector companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products. There were only two known surviving examples of the poster outside government archives until a collection of about 20 originals was brought in to the Antiques Roadshow in 2012 by the daughter of an ex-Royal Observer Corps member. The poster has found new relevance in today's world of economic meltdown, worldwide terrorism, social breakdown and instantaneous communication.  At this point, we don't know whether the shirt it will be long or short-sleeved, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The poster was third in a series of three. The previous two posters from the series, "Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might" (400,000 printed) and "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" (800,000 printed) and were issued and used across the country for motivational purposes, as the Ministry of Information assumed that the events of the first weeks of the war would demoralize the population. Planning for the posters started in April 1939; by June designs were prepared, and by August 1939, they were on their way to the printers, to be placed up within 24 hours of the outbreak of war. The posters were designed to have a uniform device, be a design associated with the Ministry of Information, and have a unique and recognisable lettering, with a message from the King to his people. An icon of a crown was chosen to head the poster, rather than a photograph. The slogans were created by civil servants, with a career civil servant, Waterfield, coming up with "Your Courage" as "a rallying war-cry that will bring out the best in everyone of us and put us in an offensive mood at once". These particular posters were designed as "a statement of the duty of the individual citizen", un-pictorial, to be accompanied by more colloquial designs. The "Your Courage" poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up, very large, and was the first of the Ministry of Information's posters. Wikipedia 

The Achtung! Spitfire! Shirt. Nothing could spike the heart rate of Luftwaffe bomber pilots during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz than the words Achtung! Spitfire!. Made famous in the feature film, The Battle of Britain, the phrase speaks volumes about the skills of the fighter pilots of the RAF and of the incredible performance of the early marks of Spitfires. The Achtung! Spitfire! Shirt pays tribute to the tenacity of Canadian and Allied fighter pilots and the courage of their German adversaries who carried out their missions in the face of the avenging angel known as the Spitfire. At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

The Kilroy Was Here Shirt. During the Second World War a fad swept the North American home front and the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific - the “viral” copying of the Kilroy Was Here! snozz over the fence character. “Kilroy was here!” was an American popular culture expression, often seen in graffiti. Its origins are debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle—a bald-headed man (possibly with a few hairs) with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall—is widely known among U.S. residents who lived during World War II. At this point, we don't know exactly the colour the shirt it will be printed on, but you want us to inform you when it is available for sale, sign up here for a preview sale.

In Britain, the graffiti is known as "
Mr Chad" or just "Chad", and the Australian equivalent to the phrase is "Foo was here". "Foo was here" might date from World War I, and the character of Chad may have derived from a British cartoonist in 1938, possibly pre-dating "Kilroy was here". A Quincy, Massachusetts shipyard inspector named J.J. Kilroy may have been the origin of the phrase "Kilroy was here" in World War II. Etymologist Dave Wilton wrote that "Some time during the war, Chad and Kilroy met, and in the spirit of Allied unity merged, with the British drawing appearing over the American phrase. "Foo was here" became popular amongst Australian schoolchildren of post-war generations. Other names for the character include Smoe, Clem, Flywheel, Private Snoops, Overby, The Jeep, and Sapo.
Author Charles Panati says that in the US "the mischievous face and the phrase became a national joke... The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up.” The major Kilroy graffiti fad ended in the 1950s, but today people all over the world still scribble the character and "Kilroy was here" in schools, trains, and other similar public areas.

The complete Warbird U Calendar for 2012
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