The USAF pilots that wore the Waltham A-17 and the planes they Flew

Watch Angels
Watch Angels
Published in
4 min readMar 27, 2023

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By Stan Czubernat

When the Waltham Type A-17 Pilot’s Watch, Mil Spec MIL-W-6433, was approved by the United States Air Force in March of 1951 it quickly found it’s way to the wrists of American pilots in the Korean War theater. Today we would like to highlight a few of the USAF Pilots that wore the Waltham Type A-17 Wrist Watch in combat missions and the equipment they flew. Note in the pictures below the original radium lume on these watch dials has not aged yet so the lume looks white in color.

We will begin with USAF Lieutenant Colonel James Jabara. Lt. Col. James Jabara was the very first American pilot who shot down an enemy aircraft flying a jet powered aircraft. On April 3, 1951 Lt. Col. Jabara was flying a F-86 Sabre when he shot down a Soviet MiG-15 in the area known as “MiG Alley” in Northwestern North Korea. He quickly racked up aerial combat victories due to his superior skills and eventually scored 15 victories giving him the title of “Triple Ace”. Lt. Col. Jabara was ranked the 2nd highest scoring USAF Ace of the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the British Distinguished Flying Cross for his incredible accomplishments in combat.

Lieutenant Colonel James Jabara is photographed below stepping out of the cockpit of his F-86 Sabre in 1953. You can clearly see the Waltham Type A-17 Wrist Watch just below the sleeve of his flight suit.

Next we have three USAF officers, two Lieutenants and one Major, standing in front of their Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-47 was a long range strategic bomber capable of delivering a nuclear package and other types of ordinance. It was also used for aerial reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Note that the B-47 had 6 jet engines. You can clearly see the Major standing in the middle of the picture below wearing the Waltham Type A-17 Wrist Watch as they read the file. These officers were part of the 428th Fighter-Bomber Squadron known as the Buccaneers who earned the Distinguished Unit Citation for their actions during the Korean War.

Last but certainly not least we have USAF Major Bud Anderson. Major Anderson, who would retire as a full Colonel in 1972, was a “Triple Ace” who flew P-51 Mustangs in the European theater. He is currently the highest scoring “Ace” that is currently alive today. After WWII, from 1948–1953 Major Anderson was a fighter jet test pilot and later became Chief of the Fighter Flight Test Section at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he flew many models of early jet aircraft. From 1957–1965 Major Anderson was assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California where he served as Chief of Flight Test Operations and later as Deputy Director of Flight Testing. During the Vietnam War he commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing flying the Republic Aviation F-105 Thunderchief. During his career he flew over 100 different types of USAF aircraft. Major Anderson was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal, just to name a few among many.

Major Bud Anderson is photographed below kneeling in front of a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Picture taken at Edwards Air Force Base, circa 1962. You can clearly see the Waltham Type A-17 Wrist Watch he is wearing with his flight suit sleeves rolled up.

The Waltham A17 re-issue will go in pre-sale on April 13th. Get on the priority list

Text by Stan Czubernat, Waltham historian and restorer. Visit his website

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