Museum of Flight & The Dawn Patrol with Errol Flynn!

10 Nov

Eric Tillerson sends us this via the Mail Bag:

Down at the Museum of Flight in Renton, Wa., in the WWI section, they have the coat that Errol wore in The Dawn Patrol on what I believe is permanent display, shown next to the Academy Award that the earlier Fairbanks version of the film won. Sadly they spell his name “Erroll”, but coming across this was still a nice surprise. Some photos attached.
Thanks, Eric!

— David DeWitt


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  1. timerider

    November 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I remember the full length garment that was worn even in WWII. My Dad had one and the short type. The meticulous work that went into the r\fabrication of these leather garments was something we may never see again.My Dad’s hung in the attic long ago and went mildew. Today we have some leather but mostly synthetics and much lighter weight.

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  2. twinarchers

    November 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Sorry guys, but this is not the coat he wore in that film. All the photos I see from it is one that has large button holes. Similar but no zipper. Someone goofed unless you can show me a photo.

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    • David DeWitt

      November 12, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Does this jacket look like it has a zipper? And does this look like Errol?


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      • Maria

        November 13, 2017 at 3:05 am

        This image is from a poster- would there have been more than one jacket?The-Dawn-Patrol.jpg

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        • David DeWitt

          November 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm

          Seems to me that their might be a difference between jackets when Flynn takes command but will have to watch the film again. Only a possibility. Clearly, the museum jacket has no button hole … But wonder if for his death scene he wore a different jacket? Yet, clearly the fur lining is dark!

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      • twinarchers

        November 13, 2017 at 12:34 pm

        It does look like a zipper and it is Errol. How about the fur? His is dark and the other is light. I will have to do further research.

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      • Karl

        November 15, 2017 at 1:22 pm

        This is NOT a criticism of ANYONE; just some more facts.

        It is hard, indeed, to refute certain seemingly indisputable facts… except with MORE facts and perhaps even further muddle things up even more.

        Without knowing the provenance of the garment in question- was it something “rescued” and possibly refurbished by the late Debbie Reynolds or, by a flying enthusiast, or even a jacket Flynn walked away with HIMSELF… we are just spinning our propellers, or if you prefer, going through the motions with our wing flaps… ha!

        We’re talking about the RAF in WW1… and yes, zippers were in use and “beige” colors were also.

        Currently, on ebay is “WW1 RAF Fly Jacket Pilot Aviation Shearling”.

        Further, to butress this color point, here’s an Admiral (“Byrd in Beige”) in the 1920s.

        And finally, a shot that appears to show a zipper .

        Some background:

        “During World War I, military and navy designers acquired zippers for flying suits and money belts, ultimately helping the reputation of the device’s durability.”

        “In World War I, most airplanes did not have an enclosed cockpit, so pilots had to wear something that would keep them sufficiently warm. The U.S. Army officially established the Aviation Clothing Board in September 1917 and began distributing heavy-duty leather flight jackets; with high wraparound collars, zipper closures with wind flaps, snug cuffs and waists, and some fringed and lined with fur.”

        May I further add, finally, the element of style as regards “poetic” license (see Past Imperfect- History According To The Movies)… remember Baz and his headgear “fashion show” in the WB Bloopers of 1938… in the end, it is what looks good AND…photographs well!


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  3. Ada Klock

    November 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I am in agreement with Twinarchers that the flight jacket on exhibit is not the one that was worn by Flynn in Dawn Patrol.


    This photo, though small, clearly shows that it is a button-down style jacket, without a zipper.


    The fur collar shown in the exhibit is beige. The original jacket is definitely black.

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  4. Gentleman Tim

    November 17, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    As they would say in Stockholm, Sir Holmberg:

    Bra forskning, Karl.

    “People have long searched for ways in keeping the cold out – hooks, clasps, eyes and a combination of all have been tried throughout the centuries in search of convenient ways to fasten clothes together.

    However, one Swedish-born US emigrant named Gideon Sundback who put an end to all these “searching ways” with his invention – the zipper.

    When Sundback became the head designer at the Universal Fastener Company, he concocted the Hookless Fastener, the first ever zipper with its slider that locked two sets of teeth together. When WWI broke out, the US army, particularly the Navy, used them for the soldiers’ uniforms, and boots. After the war, the practice of putting the said invention into anything that needed them followed suit.”


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    • twinarchers

      November 18, 2017 at 1:39 am

      Great work GT. I always love your research. Having said that, show me a photo from the film with a zipper etc. Some of the photos show a light edge on the end seam of the leather which could be mistaken for a zipper in the above shown photo. This is fun and it really makes no difference to most but here we bath in minutiae like the Trekkies do. I am a Trekker myself but it is loads of fun.

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      • Gentleman Tim

        November 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        You are absolutely correct, TA. There appears to be no visible zippers on Captain Courtenay. Zip.

        Trekking forward, there also appears to be no sippers on Captain Kirk or the crew of Enterprise either, even though they were light years ahead of Dawn Patrol.

        Boldly going where many men have gone before, however, I very closely examined Uhuru. After assiduous research, I learned that Uhuru’s uniform did conceal a 22-inch zipper. Perhaps, therefore, Errol also had a secret zipper in Dawn Patrol, though, especially in those days, his may well have been often unzipped.


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        • twinarchers

          November 19, 2017 at 10:18 pm

          LOL. Very nice Trek pic. Never saw that before. You are right about the Trek zippers. The first 2 seasons they used valure material and switched in the third season due to shrinking problems. I hate shrinkage. :-(

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  5. shangheinz

    November 23, 2017 at 2:33 pm


    As for the fur, the jacket on display seems to me refurbished with a (new) beige collar. Errol wore another (dark) leather coat while in Germany.

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