Leather jackets are more like a status symbol for our generation. It is a foolproof fashionable outerwear, the hype of which has never stooped at any point in time. However, considering the popularity it surrounds, it is common for the fashionistas to question if we are well-aware that leather jackets were never aimed to a sartorial fashion item at the outset?
Yes, leather jackets were initially issued to the fighter pilots during World War II. These garments were relaxing and highly durable while featured the unit logos and names of the aviators. Interestingly, some of the pilots chose to keep their masterpiece after being relocated or the end of war. However, little did they know that the value of their possession will reach the heights in the upcoming time!
THE ORIGINAL WORLD WAR II JACKETS:
As of today, we get to grab the imitated version of World War II jackets. However, the design and look are purely inspired from the ones of the past. Known as the Type A-2 Summer Flying jacket, the craftsmen focused the need of durability and comfort as the pilots fly those open cockpit aircrafts in high altitude locations. Hence, picked seal-brown horsehide was picked to tailor the outer. For maximum ease and protection, these hides were stitched with spun silk.
The left side of these jackets featured the Army Air Forces patch and the respective rank insignias on the shoulders. The very side included leather name tags stitched right on top of the pocket. But since some pilots preferred their numbered patch and not the Forces label, these individuals were permitted their desired change. Few also insisted for an American flag on the right side, which we believe, genuinely ignited a cool, casual twist. As much as the front, special attention was given to the back with some painted artwork.
Essentially, the jacket was used to honor an AAF official for achieving the basic fighting training. It was further ensured that the officer receives the jacket prior to completing the advanced level of the training. Quartermaster was assigned for the distribution based on the size of the receivers, who would randomly form a line in front of the boxes packed with different sizes of the jackets. Interestingly, the jackets were reserved to the commissioned officers earlier. However, the distribution began to the enlisted aircrews as World War II onset.
THE INCEPTION OF A-2 FLYING JACKETS:
A-2 flying jacket is full of history for the jacket lovers to learn about the roots of their favorite outerwear. It basically started with the drawing and Air corps requirements delivered in the year, 1930. In addition to the horsehide leather stitched with spun silk inner, these requirements were specific for the opening and collar. For example, it encompasses detailing like complete leather collar, zippers for conclusion in place of buttons, and rib-knitted cuffs. Interestingly, a sample was made that was subjected to wear-testing in the very same year. Subsequently, the manufacturing of the jacket received a formal permission in 1931.
As stated earlier, the requirements specify the use of horsehide due to its easy accessibility back then. However, countries like Afghanistan and Iran were approached to supply goatskin for manufacturing these jackets as well. Likewise, the initial use of inner was of spun silk. But, it was also replaced with cotton, rayon, or silk as a symbol of being elite by the aces. For practicality, the designers incorporated two patch pockets, though; these pockets were not spacious enough to stick hands.
THE INCEPTION OF B-10 JACKET:
The original masterpiece, A2 jackets were produced in an abundant quantity during the initial stages of World War II. However, this production was called off by General H. Arnold in 1942 for an indefinite reason. Yet people assume the need for an upgrade in A2s for the pilots undergoing training. It was then; the inception of B-10 came into sight.
B-10 was a completely different jacket from the A2. First and foremost, it was designed in an olive-drab color on a cotton twill material. It was moisture-repellent whereas the lining of the jacket was a fusion of alpaca and wool pile. There were two flap pockets on the midriff while the jacket has a fur collar, and rib-knit cuffs and waist.
From the practical viewpoint, B-10 jacket was comparatively better from A2. It was warm, more comfortable and user-friendly for the pilots. However, the jacket failed to make an impression when it comes to outrival A2 in beauty and charm.
Essentially, by the time the crafting of A2 was intervened, there were enough ready in the production house. Hence, some of these were last allocated during the Korean War while some were sold as the leftovers. Despite of all, A2 enjoys being the icon of United States Army Air Forces’ war years by the ones who fought. Yes, it is treasured by the airman, who still recalls wearing it with utmost honor just like his wings.
Today, we do come across a plethora of purported ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ imitations of World War II jackets. Especially if we talk about the A2 jacket, the imitated versions are exceedingly high. However, the ones that can give us that real look and feel are seldom found.
Despite that, the admiration of A2 jacket has never faced a decline and does not seem to level off, anytime. People at large, including children and older adults love to don World War II jackets, which according to them, give them a sense of pride and confidence like a soldier! All custom jackets are available at ExpressJackets.