With excellent warmth retention and wind resistance, leather jackets were favored by the military and used as a functional heavy-duty garment. Leather jackets were firstly used as flight jackets, also be called bomber jackets and so on. As early as 1915, the French and Belgian Royal Flying Corps started to put on thick leather flight jackets for the first time. As we all know, during WWI and WWII, it was still in the early stages of the aviation industry, the cockpit of the aircraft was not completely enclosed, when the pilot flew to a high altitude, he would be exposed to the cold air which accompanied by the high wind. Leather jacket has become the most reliable material to deal with such harsh flight conditions.
In order to cope with different conditions, military jackets have been continuously improved, and these continuous evolutions have resulted in various types of leather jackets. This article will select several most classic types to help you get started quickly to find out the history, characteristics and differences of them.
The real photos of all aviators of the "Memphis Belle" in WWII, which show the difference in flight jackets on them.
A-2 Leather Flight Jacket
The type A-2 leather flight jacket is definitely a classic of American military uniform design. You can see A-2 flight jackets in the American Army Air Force in the European battlefield, or in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) base in the tropical jungles of the Far East in Asia where they fought with the Japanese. You can not only see the A-2 jacket in many classic WWII movies, but you can also find it in your daily life.
The A-2 flight jacket appeared in the 1930s and was the main air uniform of the United States during WWII. Its design standards are customized by the U.S. Army Air Force and are specifically designed for soldiers who can work freely in the flight. A-2 flight jacket is an upgraded version of A1 flight jacket - the first-generation flight jacket which are button closure. Based on it, A-2 jacket turned to zipper closure which makes the A-2 more convenient to put on and take off, and also keep warmer. The US Army Air Force's 13th level catalog refers to A-2 as "Jacket, Flying, Type A-2," (spec number 94-3040). As for the material, it is described as: Dark brown horsehide, knitted fabric cuffs and waist hem.
A-2 leather flight jacket for movie Pearl Harbor
It won the pilots' favor with its simple and durable appearance and practical effects. At that time, pilots often added some patches to their A-2 jackets, or painted some pictures on the back. Today these jackets are regarded as exquisite works of art. The modern Air Force A-2 does not allow patches to be sewn directly on the jacket as during WWII.
Type A-2 not only won the hearts of pilots, but also caused a fashion frenzy. In the later period of the war, the supply of A-2 became difficult. In 1943, General H.H."Hap"Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, ordered that the supply of A-2 leather jackets be stopped, and cotton B-10 jackets should be used instead. But the pilot still wear the type A-2 in private or even buy it by themselves. The call for the restoration of the A-2 flight jacket has never stopped. Finally, in 1988, it returned and was reclassified as a U.S. military equipment, and it is still in use today.
The early A-2 jacket was made of horsehide, while the modern version of the A-2 jacket was made of goatskin, the tailoring became looser and the pocket was redesigned. With its simple design and timeless style, the A-2 jacket is still many people’s favorite today.
B-3 Bomber Jacket
Speaking of flight jackets, we generally think of type A-2, G-1 and other flight jackets specially designed for pilots, and many people usually call them bomber jackets. But in fact, the type B-3, which was born later than them, is a jacket specially designed for bombers which work on the high altitude with cold air.
Every piece of military jacket is born because of functional requirements, and so is the type B-3. B means Bomber, it was originally designed for machine gunners on bombers, because the cabin of the early aircraft was not closed, and the M2 machine gun loaded on the aircraft required a large shooting range, the window on the gun position must be opened large enough to meet the shooting needs. As a result, the temperature in this cabin is much lower than that of an ordinary flight cabin. Therefore, in 1934, the U.S. military designed a thicker and warmer B-3 leather jacket in consideration of the need for wind protection and warmth. The applicable temperature can span from -30°C to 0°C, which shows that the cold resistance is extremely strong.
From the movie Memphis Belle, these shearling leather jackets are the B-3 bomber jackets
B-3 is made of high-quality sheepskin with wool, the outer layer is leather, and the inner layer is shearling wool. By processing the sheepskin and wool together, this type leather jacket retains its softness, density, breathability and warmth to the utmost extent. In addition, the wool and leather are also very firm, durable and feel very good.
Sometimes, a shearling leather military jacket, in addition to B-3, may also be labeled RAF leather jacket. RAF, the British Royal Air Force Sheepskin Flying Jacket, is based on the Irvin Airchute Co. model of 1938. Pilots of the British Royal Air Force wore it during the Battle of Britain.
MA-1 Bomber Jacket
The MA-1 bomber jacket appeared on the U.S. Air Force in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and there were also a few The style was issued to the Navy and the Army. The MA-1 bomber jacket appeared in Europe for the first time in the mid to late 50s. The predecessor of MA-1 was B-15. By this period, the popularity of jets required more durable, safer and more comfortable flight clothes, and MA-1 came into being. Although the U.S. military used the new military uniform to replace the MA-1 as early as the 1980s, it is still a jacket style that is vying for reproduction and extension in the clothing industry.
The classic MA-1 has a high degree of recognition: knitted threaded collar, cuffs and hem; bright orange lining, double-sided wearable; red ribbon; nylon waterproof fabric.
The MA-1 jacket has become a global fashion. The current MA-1 is not only available in a variety of colors, it is no longer limited to nylon materials, but also leather materials. The MA-1 jacket keeps the wearer warm, and also is comfortable and stylish, no wonder people love it all around the world.
G-1 Military Flight Jacket
The G-1 military flight jacket is as famous as the classic A-2 flight jackets and B-3 bomber jackets. Compared with type A-2, G-1 has a much longer lifespan and has many names, from the earliest M422a to ANJ-3, and finally its most famous name G-1. Same as A-2 flight jacket, it is derived from type A-1. The U.S. Navy modified the A-1 based on the actual situation of the Navy to meet the actual requirements of naval aviator.
The marked difference between G-1 and A-2 is the large fur collar, which is modified according to the characteristics of high wind and waves when sailing on the sea. The style and tailoring of type G-1 are also tighter. In addition, G-1 jacket modified the simpler design of rotator cuff and back of type A-1, and correspondingly added the folding design and nipped waist structure to better meet the needs of activities.
The A-2 flight jacket and B-3 bomber jacket were mostly used by the U.S. Army Aviation (and later the U.S. Air Force) at the time, while the G-1 flight jacket was mainly distributed to the Naval Aviation.
Tom Cruise’s famous look with the classic G-1 flight jacket in Top Gun.
In the Hollywood movie Top Gun, the cool G-1 flight jacket worn by Tom Cruise attracted the attention of many military fans, movie fans, flight fans, fashion fans, and retro fans. The G-1 flight jacket was promoted to the world, it becomes a one of the most ideal leather flight jackets.