It is impossible to think of historic and iconic clothing without mentioning the Type A-2 jacket. This flight jacket first issued to the Army Air Corps in the spring of 1931 has been loved by military personnel and civilians alike ever since. While it was only official Army Air Corps issue until 1942 it remained a favorite throughout time.
While there have been many versions of the A-2, army specifications demanded russet or seal brown horsehide leather, a light brown cotton lining and knit wool cuffs and waistband.
The jacket was zipped up with an interlocking fastening device.
The pockets and collar were attached and made secure with black oxide nipple snaps while the neck was secured with a nickel based hook and eye connection
The Army Air Force had more than 20 separate companies contracted to make their A-2 jackets and so there were several variations of the jacket made.
While each company used it’s own contracted materials and changed some patterns or designs, each had to follow the basic regulations set out in the contract. There were differences in the materials they would use or small pattern pieces but the basic design remained true to the contract.
The guidelines by the forces insisted on the winged Army Air Corps patch or a numbered Air Force patch to be on the left shoulder. A leather nametag and Squadron patches were the norm just above the left chest pocket.
Officers who wore the jacket often wore the insignia for their rank on the shoulder straps.
Aircrew and others who wore the jacket often personalized their jackets with artwork that was painted onto the leather. Many recreated the artwork that was found on the nose of the aircraft in which they rode.
These jackets were the most popular issued clothing during World War II and though they were no longer standard issue remained the most wanted piece of uniform through the Korean War. The A-2 jacket was part of standard issue from May 9 1931 until General Hap Arnold had it replaced in 1942. While it was still used by many it did not become part of the U.S. Air Force issued items list again until the 1980’s. These A-2 jackets while similar to the original paled in comparison because of the different materials and designs used. The fit was bulkier and less flattering and included cheaper materials when made.
When looking for a genuine original A-2 be sure that it is not a knock off by checking things like the back of the jacket. The ones issued to Army Air Corps did not have a seam across the back. Many reproductions have a seam that runs across the shoulders of the jacket. This was not the case with the originals as any sewn materials were uncomfortable in this area when attempting to perform manoeuvres while flying. Also ensure that the materials used are not substandard but are the same quality as those described above.
Type A-2 jackets are a piece of history and are still popular with war buffs and the fashion conscious today. They will forever bring thoughts of the brave men who fought for our freedom so many years ago and are considered a tribute to those who gave their lives defending ours.
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