(This section may get a bit more editorial in nature, but I take that as my
prerogative. The opinions voiced are opinions only, they belong solely to
me, and you may take them or leave them as you like.)
A good rule of thumb in seeking a true-to-the-original A-2 replica is
a familiar one: you get what you pay for. Expect to pay in the vicinity
of US$500 to $1200 for a good one, and even in that range expect to find varying
levels of authenticity in the smaller details as previously described.
In seeking a new jacket one must decide upon the degree of authenticity
which will satisfy them. One thing is for certain and that is that there
will be a broad range from which to choose.
Many sources will make grand claims about authenticity but they may not
hold up when judged against real A-2 jackets. Some transgressions of
authenticity such as handwarmer pockets, are clear and obvious, while
others such as materials, construction, or fit can be more subjective
and subtle. Studying original jackets, or photos of jackets, or period
photos of jackets being worn can help with making this distinction. Then,
try on a jacket, look in the mirror, and decide if it looks like 1942.
Where does one look for an really good A-2 copy? Not in a department
store. Mail order is about the only way. Does that mean that you are
taking your chances with fit and satisfaction? Yes, it does. Is it
worth it when you find just what you are looking for? Yes, it is.
A good place to start looking for a jacket source is in some aviation
and warbird magazines such as Aviation History, Flight Journal,
Smithsonian Air&Space, Air Classics, etc. (Also see the
jackets links page on this site).
Write to the vendors for catalogs or call them up. Some of them will even
send you leather and material samples to check out. Also, if you attend
militaria shows or gun shows or if you are just cruising the mall and you
see someone wearing a jacket that looks good, ask them where they got it
and what they think of it.
Eastman Leather Clothing
Eastman Leather Clothing in Devon, England, makes their own label A-2
as well as high authenticity copies of original maker jackets such as Rough
Wear, Star Sportswear, and Cable Raincoat. U.S. and Canadian sales of Eastman
products are handled solely by History
Preservation Associates (HPA).
Eastman publishes a large (9.5" x 13.5") full color
catalog that is nothing short of a must-have. Sure, it's a sales
piece, but it's 110 pages with dozens of period photos, examples of
original jackets and other gear, and detail close-ups similar to
those I have provided on this site. There is also a historical
section devoted to Rough Wear Clothing with some precious tidbits.
It costs a few dollars, but to me it is easily worth many times that
for the reference photos and lots of information you won't find elsewhere.
[HPA is also a source for high quality original artifacts (based on
availability), that is, rare and desirable items such as jackets,
gear, and real crush caps. They don't deal in your basic items
like uniform pieces or insignia, though.]
Real McCoy's is a Japanese owned firm based in New Zealand.
McCoy's makes high authenticity A-2 copies of original makers including
Rough Wear, Dubow Monarch, and Werber contracts. The spec labels they make
are also quite accurate, including the integrated size on the
Dubow 27798 contract label.
The Real McCoy's Japan unit is operational
again after a brief absence from the scene. Their catalog is traditionally much more
extensive compared to the New Zealand unit, but their goods are harder to acquire.
Flight Suits produces several
A-2 configurations and they are also a government contractor. One of
their A-2's is called a
Historical A-2. Flight Suits offers this model in a number
of combinations of hide (horsehide, goatskin), color (russet
brown, mahogany), and collar (with or without collar stand).
The jacket is cut to a more modern pattern but otherwise
retains many of the characteristics of original A-2's, and the
quality of materials and construction is very high. While not
competing at the extreme level of authenticity offered by the
aforementioned makers, the Flight Suits Historical A-2 is a strong
product at a more moderate price level.
U.S. Authentic is a low cost
alternative to the premium reproductions.
I have learned that Colonel Bradley has passed away, and his business has
been closed. (10 October 2004)
Aero Leather Company
The Aero Leather Company ,a
trade name for the Transatlantic Clothing Company in Scotland, has taken on
the name of the original Aero Leather Clothing Company and
manufactures Aero A-2 reproductions and many other military and recreational
Goodwear Leather Coat Company
The Goodwear Leather Coat Company,
established in 2007, is a newcomer to the premium A-2 reproduction scene. This made-to-order
U.S. maker applies an emphasis on detailed research toward highly accurate reproductions
of many orginal makers. Some of their models are adorned with copies of original maker
labels while others have house labels to match their unmistakable original maker jacket
Bill Kelso Mfg. Co.
Bill Kelso Mfg. Co.,
another recent entry among authentic A-2 reproductions. After entering the market with a generic A-2, they are now
producing very nice detailed original maker copies of the A-2, M-422, M-422A, and more.
- There is one other relatively well-known maker of ostensibly
high quality A-2 reproductions which at one time was accounted
for on this page. I have chosen to no longer list them, however,
due to the nature of my personal experiences with them.
There are many other makers of A-2 style jackets out there as well and the
best advice for making a serious purchase is to learn all you can, know
what you want, and don't settle for less.
An interesting source of information and photographs of reproductions
of A-2's and other flight jackets is the Japanese published "Flight
Jacket Brand Catalog." This annual catalog is a combination of
advertising, photo layouts of repro jackets, and historical coverage.
A large number of manufacturers and their products are represented
in one volume for convenient comparison. While the catalog is
published in Japanese for the market in Japan, the maker names do
appear in English and the photos speak for themselves.
A source in the U.S. for purchasing the "Flight Jacket Brand
Catalog" is the Sasuga Japanese Bookstore in Cambridge, Mass.
They are on the Web at www.sasugabooks.com.
Several readers have written with an interest in acquiring a modern
style A-2 jacket as is issued today. Here are some online sources
Fading into the background. 26 June 2006.
The following links are to pages which have detailed evaluations of reproduction jackets and a page of jacket
measurements submitted by readers.
Many people over the years have found these evaluations and measurements to be very useful and helpful in selecting
a jacket that would best suit their interests. But over these same years I have had experienced a diminishing passion
for pursuing jackets to evaluate and for keeping up with new or evolving repros. I have not done a new evaluation in
over three years. The reality is, I'm done. But rather than delete these pages entirely from the site, I am leaving them
here in the background solely as historical reference.
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Copyright © 1995-2012 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.