"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
Navy C.B.I. Patches
Above:  In a familiar image to readers who frequent this site, we see the Sun Downers of Fighting Eleven, racing across the deck of U.S.S. Hornet to man their planes. The pilot second from right wears a C.B.I. patch on his M-426a suit.

Below:  Prior to a strike on Formosa in January of 1945, VF-11's ACI officer (second from right) points out targets on a chalkboard map to Charlie Stimpson, Jim Swope, Gene Fairfax (the CO, with his pipe) and Blake Moranville.
Above:  At left, the patch appears to have been trimmed around the shield, but with a flap of fabric left loose at the top, possibly for easy removal if forced down in territory not under Nationalist control. At right (from our second photo above) a conventional machine embroidered patch with green border and a "painted" patch, squared-off with the edges of the khaki cloth folded under.

Below: With a cake to celebrate their operations from Hornet free of wave-offs, LCDR Fairfax is joined by some of his pilots and the CAG, CDR Emmett Riera (with cap, behind Fairfax). John Ramsey (far right) has adorned his flight jacket with an over-sized, tooled leather C.B.I. patch. Oscar West (to Fairfax's left) appears to wear a printed cotton C.B.I. patch.
In Navy use, the C.B.I. patch served as an additional survival / evasion aid, rather than as a Shoulder Sleeve Insignia as typically found on Army uniforms. As the war progressed north toward Japan itself, and combat activities waned in the South West Pacific, the Pacific Ocean Area Section of the Military Intelligence Service, Evasion & Escape Section (MIS-X, POA) was authorized in September of 1944. Training of its officers by MIS-X in Washington, D.C. had begun earlier in July with a goal of having one qualified officer attached to each carrier task force to disseminate relevant E&E information to the ACI officer of each carrier. The POA covered a vast expanse of territory, including the Marianas, the Philippines, the Bonins, the Ryukyus, the Aleutians, French Indochina, the Korean peninsula, Formosa and the coast of China. The main items of equipment made available to Navy and Marine fliers in the POA by MIS-X were emergency kits (Mark I, E-3a, or E-17), the U.S. flag blood chit, the Chinese flag blood chit, the C.B.I. patch, a Chinese money purse, a waterproof compass, a Pointie-Talkie book and rayon survival charts.

The patch in question, standing 3" tall and 2 1/4" wide, was originally intended to serve as a universally accepted symbol of the American serviceman in the China-Burma-India theater of operations. Vintage photos show three main types of C.B.I. patch being used by Naval Aviators in the POA as a recognition aid, as illustrated below.
Left:  The mass-produced, machine-made, fully-embroidered, non-merrowed edge type.

Middle:  Still a bit of a mystery, and apparently made exclusively for Navy use, the silk-screened, painted-on-khaki-twill type. Its silver sun, star and outline make it easy to spot in vintage photos, however, the reason behind the incorporation of this fourth color, to an already establish design, remains unknown.

Right:  The mass-produced, printed-on-cotton, two-piece type. These are sometimes found with an added white backing. In the past, these were often described as being "British-made". We are not patch experts by any stretch of the imagination, but are of the opinion that this is actually an American made item due to the fact that it was distributed by an American run and staffed organization (MIS-X) operating under U.S. Naval authority. Examples are still readily available in today's collector market, and can usually be found at a reasonable price. This would indicate that very large quantities were originally produced.

Above:  Plotting boards are updated as the pilots await their call to action. Nattily attired (complete with Sun Downer patch), the squadron mascot, a Boston Terrier named "Gunner" sits front-and-center. VF-11 flew from Hornet as part of Task Force 38 during their second tour from early October, 1944, to January 22nd, 1945. Initial operations over the Philippines were followed by strikes on French Indochina, Formosa and Hong Kong, then Okinawa.

Below:  Three C.B.I. patches can be seen here. The pilot at front left wears his "painted" patch on his right shoulder. 
Below:  Additional examples of the Navy-unique "painted" C.B.I. patch. As shown in our background photo, the first example we discovered of this style patch (center) was uncut and badly off-register, but still in its original waterproof Vinylite pouch containing other MIS-X, POA evasion aids as well.

At left, a patch with trimmed boarder. At right, a patch with edges folded and stitched in a manor similar to the one seen in out second photo, above. Both are courtesy of the "Goz" collection.

Bottom:  The waterproof Vinylite pouch used to carry evasion aids was not a specific Navy item, rather it was a U.S.A.A.F. Class 13 item from their purchase orders, procured by MIS-X for distribution to airmen from all branches of service.
Below:  After their return from a strike, the Sun Downers discuss recent events as they start to shed their flight gear. A printed CBI patch is prominent in the foreground, located above a rigger-added sleeve pocket. This photo, found at the National Archives, is courtesy of Dustin.