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Navy Staff car

Discussion in 'Military Vehicle Restoration' started by ctanner, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. ctanner

    ctanner New Member

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    I understand from discussions that I have had with military museum docents that Navy staff cars were described as tier one and two. The second tier cars were for higher ranking officers and generally I'm told were Cadillacs and Packards. I have a Cadillac Fleetwood 60 special that was in the movie "the Americanizaiton of Emily" with James Garner and Julie Andrews. The studio painted it a navy blue color. But I am looking for information on how a WWII Navy flag officers car would look for in order to restore it correctly for the period. Does anybody know were tere are pictures, and since original probably would have been black and white, any information on correct colors. Thanks! ct
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    It seems as though you have a daunting task ahead. Most images I've seen have staff cars in olive drab paint. Check this website, although the car shown is a Buick, there is some mention of Cadillacs.

    Edit: http://www.robertsarmory.com/staff.htm
     
  3. ctanner

    ctanner New Member

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    Lou, thanks for the reply, but I don't see the link to the website that you refer to. Am I missing it? ct
     
  4. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    Nope. Forgot to put it in. My bad. Should be there now.
     
  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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    From what I've picked up over the years (I can't site any sources), it seems that the procurement procedure for US Navy staff cars was much less structured and standardized than that used by the Army. The Navy ones were often new (when availlable) or used civilian cars purchased locally and just given a new blue paint job and stenceling. They often retained their chrome bumpers
     
  6. ctanner

    ctanner New Member

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    Dave, form what I have heard so far you are right. The Navy staff cars were said to have kept their chrome trim. I also understand that the Navy stenciled the side of the car but not the bumpers as the Army did, which makes sense if they kept the chrome on the bumpers. The color of the car still puzzles me. A 40 Ford sedan for more junior officers at the Paso Robles Air and Vehicle museum was restored by that museum's crew in Navy grey. They were of the opinion that Navy grey or blue would be correct. But they also said that if a base commander wanted it black, it would have been black.

    Another issue is one of fender flags. I have been told that the Navy was more likely than other arms of the service to use a US flag on one side and the officers flag in signifying rank on the other. Do you have any opinion on that? And which side would have which flag?

    Thanks, ct
     
  7. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor Patron  

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  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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  9. ctanner

    ctanner New Member

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    Thanks Pz and Dave... the two tone Chevy seems to combine the two classic Navy colors, Navy grey and blue. Very nice. ct
     
  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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    Blue and gray two tone. Your Caddy would look sharp like that! :)
     
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Navy blue, but even more likely or probable, black, for a 1960's vintage staff car for an admiral would be correct. Might, or might not, have identifying stenciling, usually a light gray when present, on the doors . . . but normally for a flag officer, on a regularly assigned staff car, not a loaner or pool vehicle, there would be no stenciled markings on doors or other surfaces, just US Navy license plate on the back which could be either blue with white or gray stencilling or gray with black stencilling; "US Navy" on the top line and a vehicle ID number on the bottom.

    As a youngster, while my father was still a captain, one of the places we lived was the CinCLant/SACLant HQ snuggled behind the AFSC at Norfolk. Probably saw the CinCLant car go by at least a couple of times a week. Black, standard civilian chrome works, Navy license plate on the back, no stencilling on the vehicle itself. 4 star license plate on the front. Depending on purpose of the trip, it might, or might not, have flags flying from the front corners of the bumper, kind of a dress-up thing, usually only when going to an official function. (There were chrome mounts welded on the bumper, the flags, when use, staffs & all, were inserted into the mounts . . . nobody drove around with bare staffs sticking out of the bumper.) And the starred license plates and/or flags were only in evidence when the admiral was actually in the vehicle. It's just like an admiral's flag only is only in evidence on his flagship or shore HQ when he is physically present . . . if he's gone home for the night, his flag comes down . . . if he shows up in the middle of the night, his flag goes up.

    When my father was ComCarDiv 14 we had quarters at Chelsea Nav Hosp and the flagship, Wasp, when in port, was parked at South Boston Navy Yard across the Mystic River and on the other side of town, so a staff car, black, would come by every morning for the pick-up and then drop off in the evening.

    When going out in the morning, having already picked up the flag lieutenant who lived nearby in quarters on the hospital grounds, the staff car pulls up behind the house. The marine orderly, not the driver, jumps out of the front passenger seat, & open the rear door and waits. Flag lieutenant would get out of the back seat on the driver's side . . . driver, a petty officer from the staff, gets out on his side. Dad charges out the back kitchen door and down a full flight of steps (quarters had a walk-in basement on the backside) and when he hits the ground level everybody exchanges salutes and he gets in the back seat, passenger side. Flag lieutenant gets back in, driver gets back in, the orderly goes to the front of the vehicle and removes the cloth cover from the two star license plate, then he gets in, front passenger side. The morning dance. No stenciling on the doors.

    In the evening, process reverses but with less jumping about. Orderly hops out, opens the rear door, Dad get out, salutes are exchanged, and he heads up the back stairs while orderly closes the car door. As soon as the back door to the house closes, orderly retrieves the license plate cover from the front seat area and covers the license plate on the front, hops back in, and off they go to drop off the flag lieutenant. Then back across town to the ship. This car also had the flag mounts on the front bumper, but they were, not in my memory, used. Not an official function, just straightforward transportation.

    All circa 1965-66.

    Oh, and all the kids, from South Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown Navy Yard, and the hospital rode a gray navy shuttle bus to school. It made the circuit, South Boston, to Charlestown, to the hospital and then across Boston to Brookline where everyone went to either Pierce Elem (to 8th grade) or Brookline HS; process reversed in the afternoons.
     
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