Jacket Evaluation: Flight Suits Historical A-2(Filed: 24 April 2000; updated 8 May 2005)
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Maker: Flight Suits
Model: Historical A-2 (three different samples)
Sizes: 40 regular, 42 regular, 44 regular
Date of manufacture: April 2000
Date of evaluation: April 2000
Introductory NoteFlight Suits provided three different samples of their Historical A-2 jacket for evaluation. Because of their basic similarity, all three jackets will be presented in one report and will be referred to by the following abbreviations.
Fit/cut/proportionFlight Suits was very helpful in accepting a suggestion to send three consecutive sizes of jackets (40, 42, and 44). With sizing being a prime concern for customers, having the measurements and fit characteristics over a typical range will be of great value. Measurements can be found on the measurements page.
The Flight Suits Historical A-2 is cut to modern jacket patterns and
proportions. This translates into the following observable differences
compared to a vintage A-2 cut.
For fit reference, I am 5'10", 180 lbs, wear a size 42 suit jacket off the rack, and take a 34" shirt sleeve.
In summary, having the range of sizes to try was very instructive. While Flight Suits says that you should order your actual size, my best or preferred fit turned out to be one size down. If you get a jacket size that fits more closely, it should remind you enough of originals in appearance, while a jacket which fits more loosely will start to express its more modern cut.
Hide[NOTE: More so than any other component of an A-2, the hide may vary from jacket to jacket and so not all of the observations from these samples will necessarily be consistent with other individual examples, nor will they be representative of the effects of time and wear.]
LiningThe cotton lining is medium brown in color with a weight and texture very similar to original linings.
KnitsThe wool knits are a medium brown shade, similar to what can be found on originals, with proper patterns in the knitting. The weight and thickness, though, are a bit greater than on originals, but Flight Suits says that the knits will thin out some with wear.
ZipperThe zipper is a modern nickel Talon. Triangular reinforcement stitching is present at the bottom of each side of the zipper tape.
SnapsThe snaps are modern style, black colored, ball stud fasteners. The same size stud is used for both the collar and the pockets. On original A-2's, the pocket stud is usually bigger than the collar stud. The back of the stud side of the collar snaps is through the lining and covered with lining material, as is typical of many originals.
Throat hookThe throat hook is nickel, with correct size and shape. The rivet base is the one-piece type.
StitchingThe thread is medium brown, eight stitches per inch.
The one construction error found on each of these jackets is on the body side seams, where the top-stitching should be on the edge of the seam toward the back of the jacket, but instead it is found on the edge toward the front. I notified Flight Suits of this error and they immediately incorporated the change.
Top stitching placement from seamTop stitching is generally 3/16 inches from the seams.
CollarThe collar is reasonably authentic in size and shape, though it is a little larger than average.
EpauletsThe epaulets are box stitched at both ends with a modest rectangular shape to the box areas on the two russet jackets, but a wider rectangular shape on the mahogany jacket.
The outside lengthwise stitch lines on the epaulets are 0.25 inches apart.
Wind flapThe wind flaps are wide, though still authentic, at 1-1/2 inches for the MvHH, 1-3/8 inches for the RcHH, and 1-7/16 inches for the RvGS.
SleevesThe sleeves are in the common configuration with the top stitched seam aligned with the back of the arm and running across the elbow, while the bare seam is aligned with the jacket side seam.
As mentioned above in the discussion of fit and proportion, the sleeve lengths are in proportion to the jacket size. But consistent with the modern cut of these jackets, the sleeves are roomy, especially in the upper arm, and the sleeves taper less to the cuff compared to original A-2 jackets.
PocketsThe pocket flap shape is of a gentle curve with a slight sharpness to the center point. The bottom corners of the pockets themselves are of a typical radius of curvature. The size, position, and stitching of the pockets are also consistent with originals.
Hanger loopThe hanger loop is of the typical box-stitched type.
TYPE A-2 DRAWING NO 30-1415 A.C. ORDER NO. 42-10008-P GIBSON & BARNES --------------- PROPERTY AIR FORCE, U.S. ARMYCompared to original labels, this one is a good rendition but should not cause any confusion with originals. The lettering is of the often used yellow threads woven into a black panel. The order number seen in this label was the wartime order number for a Cable Raincoat Co. A-2 contract. Gibson & Barnes is the new name for the leather division of Flight Suits.
A border exists around all outer edges of the label, and the size tab is a size and numeral style typical of originals.
Pocket labelUnder the right pocket flaps of each jacket are two woven size tabs just like those used under the main jacket label. One tab has the size and the other has an R for regular. These size tabs are not found in this manner on original A-2 jackets, but Flight Suits will be transitioning to the linen lot/size label typical of originals.
Inspector stampA correct style ink stamp with AN and A402 within circle is placed on the lining next to the jacket label, as is often seen in originals. The outside diameter of circle is a typical 5/8 inches.
Insignia stamp/transferA black ink AAF wing&star insignia stamp is placed on the lining just below the jacket label. The stamp is of the correct size and style. This was a late war addition on original A-2's, but it creates no inconsistencies or inaccuracies in this reproduction.
Summary and overall impressionWith their expanding selection of configurations in their Historical A-2 product line, Flight Suits is demonstrating a commitment to appeal to the range of product preferences and interests in the market. At their combined levels of quality, authenticity, and pricing, Flight Suits is establishing themselves as a solid contender if not the sole occupant in the near-premium market segment.
The three jacket samples evaluated here exhibit high quality in construction and materials. Authenticity to original A-2 jackets is very good and, even with the updating in the pattern and some other details, the jackets should appeal to educated buyers. Those looking for an original maker reproduction with a pattern cut to original proportions will necessarily have to look elsewhere and prepare to spend more money for that, but the Flight Suits products bear consideration for that extra jacket on the rack.
Going forward, Flight Suits expresses an intent of continuous refinement. And if that refinement is consistent with the goatskin seen here, then there should be plenty of good things to look forward to from the folks in San Diego.
For more informationSee the Flight Suits Web site at www.flightsuits.com
A time-worn example (8 May 2005)This Flight Suits Historical A-2 in russet goatskin is a few years old now. Its first owner treated it to some mild aging which softened the surface shine and brought out some of the natural wrinkles and grain. Subsequent wear time by the first owner and then the second owner (me) has further brought out a nice and very authentic patina in many areas where abrasion is common (see the sleeve and pocket flap photos below). The 8AF shoulder sleeve patch was made and applied by Flight Suits. The 571st Bombardment Squadron patch was made by J.M. Charbin.
Copyright © 2000, 2005 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.