Jacket Evaluation: Eastman Label M-422A(Filed: 28 February 2000)
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Maker: Eastman Leather Clothing
Model: Eastman Label M-422A, vegetable tanned goatskin
Date of manufacture: Recent but unknown
Date of evaluation: 17 February 2000
Introductory noteMy experience with original M-422A jackets is very limited and so this evaluation will be somewhat less detailed than an A-2 evaluation. I did, however, have at my disposal an original H&L Block M-422A for comparison during this evaluation. Photos in the book "Suit Up! The Flight Jacket" were also used for reference.
Fit/cut/proportionThis size 42 fit trimly across the shoulders and the shoulder seams squared up at the edges of my shoulders. The body felt a bit tight but I'm not the most trim specimen. A size up may have been better for me. As the Eastman A-2 in size 40 is a good fit for me, there is clearly some sizing or at least some labeling differences to note with the M-422A.
The sleeves were a bit long for my preference and there was a good deal of compression of the knit cuff, though the sleeves were new and still stiff. Nonetheless, I prefer a shorter sleeve overall and the bi-swing back helps to mitigate the effects of sleeve shortening when the arms are extended.
Hide[NOTE: More so than any other component of a leather jacket, the hide may vary from jacket to jacket and so not all of the observations from this one example will necessarily be consistent with other individual examples, nor will they be representative of the effects of time and wear.]
The goatskin of the Eastman M-422A is vegetable tanned and spray finished. The thickness and weight of the leather was very similar to the original M-422A. In its newly produced state the hide is a bit stiff and will require some breaking in. An older Eastman M-422A was at my disposal and it was notably more supple.
The color and grain detail of this reproduction are very similar to original jackets. The color is a medium dark brown with just a hint of russet, though not nearly as dark as the 55J14 G-1 jackets tend to be. The detail and sharp definition of the grain pebbling of the Eastman jacket is very authentic to wartime goatskin samples. Over the whole of the jacket there is some variation in the coarse and fine nature as well as the depth of the grain. I have attempted to demonstrate this in the photos, including a comparison to an original H&L Block M-422A.
In particular, the surface of wartime goatskin exhibits a distinct sharpness or crispness in the sculpting of each little pebble in the grain. And there is a clear sense of depth in the crevices that course among the pebbling and throughout the surface. I specifically look for these features in the goatskin of reproductions and Eastman has made a commendable effort with their latest products. By comparison, my Eastman 55J14 G-1 from 1992 is chrome tanned and is good but doesn't have the distinctive and authentic character I saw in the new M-422A.
LiningThe lining is rayon satin in a crimson or rust color very comparable to original jackets. As required, the lining is constructed much like the jacket shell with individual panels and underarm gussets.
KnitsThe knits are a dark brown of the correct weave for the cuffs and the waist. The waist knit is the correct bi-directional rib-rack weave and is a single layer of material unlike the A-2 waist knit which is folded over to create a double layer.
ZipperThe zip is a nickel Talon reproduction.
Buttons and snapsButtons for the outside pockets and the collar fastener are the correct brown plastic and were virtually indistinguishable from originals. There is a single large ring style snap to secure the inside map pocket as on originals.
StitchingThread is brown as original. Stitching appeared to be about eight stitches per inch.
Top stitching placement from seamThese Navy jackets characteristically have a quarter-inch spacing between the seams and the top-stitching, and this feature is properly accounted for.
CollarThe collar is a medium brown mouton backed by goatskin with a silver USN stenciled on the right rear side of the collar. A rectangular leather throat fastener is attached to the left rear side of the collar. All of these details are consistent with original M-422A jackets, although some variations did exist among those originals.
Wind flapThe wind flap extending from the right side of the zipper is proper and does not have a perforated USN as these did not appear until the 7823 specifications many years after WWII.
SleevesThe sleeves appeared properly constructed and had the appropriate taper toward the cuff attachment. These Navy flight jackets also have a circumferential top-stitching about a quarter inch from where the knits attach, unlike the A-2 jacket which has no such stitching, and this is present on the Eastman jacket as expected.
PocketsThe outside pockets are authentic to originals in shape including the scalloped pocket flaps and in stitching detail. The outer pockets are properly lined with brown cotton twill material. The inside map pocket is properly lined with white cotton twill material.
The outer pockets are done in the style of the original maker Gordon & Ferguson in that the left pocket is wider than the right to accommodate the pencil slot extension.
Hanger loopA rectangular leather hanger loop is attached by box-stitching.
JACKETS, INTERMEDIATE BUAERO - U.S. NAVY SPECIFICATION M-422A EASTMAN LEATHER CLOTHING CONTRACT NO. NXs 416Compared to original labels, this one appears to be modeled after the Gordon&Ferguson version and is very good with some minor variation existing in the font size and proportion. The lettering is correctly of golden threads woven into a black panel. The size tab is also authentically represented with red numerals within a circle woven into a white panel.
Pocket labelA tag with Lot (not specified) and Size (42) is attached under the flap of the left pocket.
Summary and overall impressionAs I previously implied, I am not an expert when it comes to M-422A jackets. But having the benefit of photographs and an original jacket made this evaluation more effective. The Eastman M-422A is a very strong reproduction in terms of authenticity and general quality, with especially high marks for the goatskin treatment.
For more informationSee the Eastman Leather Clothing Web site at www.eastmanleather.com. For U.S. and Canadian sales and information, see the History Preservation Associates Web site at www.historypreservation.com.
Copyright © 2000 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.