Jacket Evaluation: Flight Suits Historical A-2

(Filed: 24 April 2000; updated 8 May 2005)

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Maker: Flight Suitsjacket

Model: Historical A-2 (three different samples)

Sizes: 40 regular, 42 regular, 44 regular

Date of manufacture: April 2000

Date of evaluation: April 2000

Photos posted below.

Introductory Note

Flight 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.
  • MvHH = mahogany vegetable tanned horsehide, size 40R
  • RcHH = russet chrome tanned horsehide, size 42R, with collar stand
  • RvGS = russet vegetable tanned goatskin, size 44R


Flight 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.

  • The shoulders tend to square up more naturally where the sleeves attach.
  • The body is fuller and more roomy, especially across the chest at the underarm level.
  • The sleeves are fuller and more roomy, especially in the upper arms, and are less tapered toward the cuff.
  • The collar has a greater circumference, that is to say that it is longer from one collar tip to the other.

For fit reference, I am 5'10", 180 lbs, wear a size 42 suit jacket off the rack, and take a 34" shirt sleeve.

  • Size 40 Regular

    Of the three jackets, the size 40 is the best fit for me. When wearing an average weight shirt underneath, the shoulder seams square up nicely at the edges without any tightness or restricted motion. There is ample room in the chest and torso for comfort, although not much room for layering underneath. The waistband knitting is strongly elastic so it holds snugly across my 36 inch waist. With the additional fullness in the cut, this leaves a bit of blousing of the leather at the waist but it is not objectionable. The sleeve length is just as I prefer, with the knit cuffs extending to just beyond the break in my wrist as I stand with my arms at my side. There is very little if any compression of the cuff knitting up into the sleeve. The overall appearance of the jacket as worn is very attractive, while the nature of the modern pattern is apparent.

  • Size 42 Regular

    The size 42 jacket is roomier and would be a better choice for me if I preferred a looser fit or if I anticipated a heavy layering underneath. With an average weight shirt under the jacket, the shoulders square up at the edges with just a little extra room felt compared to the 40. The chest and torso are quite a bit fuller as expected. At the waist, the elasticity of the knitting maintains a snug fit and there is a bit more blousing of the leather due to the roomier cut compared to the 40. The sleeves on the 42 are too long for my preference, with the leather coming down to just above the break in my wrist as I stand with my arms at my side. The knit cuffs are compressed about halfway up into the sleeve (many people refer to this as "tunneling"). The appearance of the size 42 as worn is still reasonable as a basic jacket, but it is too big for my preference and for achieving a more trim vintage A-2 look on me.

  • Size 44 Regular

    The size 44 jacket is much too big for me by any consideration. The body and sleeves are quite a bit fuller and longer. With the right size person filling out this jacket, it will look fine, but I can't pull it off.

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.


[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.]

  • Mahogany Veg Tanned Horsehide (MvHH)

    The color of this jacket is a dark brown which would be representative of some of the latter wartime production A-2's or re-issued jackets which had been re-dyed.

    The hide weight and thickness is typical of originals. It is moderately soft and pliable but will still accept some breaking in for comfort. The surface is very uniform, having a fine grain structure over the jacket with only a small amount of variation. Though the grain is apparent, the detail and clarity are somewhat softened by the finish. While sharper detail and clarity are characteristic of original A-2 leather, it is less common in modern day hides. There is only some subtle wrinkling present over the jacket, although it may well develop more with wear. Compared to original hides, which typically have more pronounced grain and wrinkling, this horsehide might be considered to be more refined. This difference could be perceived as one of quality or authenticity, or even a combination, depending upon one's preferences. Flight Suits stated that if a customer prefers a grainier hide, they can usually accommodate the request.

    While this horsehide has been vegetable tanned, I cannot sense a difference between it and the russet chrome tanned horsehide jacket. Flight Suits accounted for this observation in that they tumbled the hide to soften the finish, and that also softened the jacket. Otherwise, the veg tanned jacket as new will be a bit stiffer than a new chrome tanned jacket.

  • Russet Chrome Tanned Horsehide (RcHH)

    This shade of russet brown is reasonably characteristic of the lighter shade original jackets, although it really doesn't have the reddish tones often associated with WWII russet brown. Flight Suits said that they will also be offering the russet horsehide vegetable tanned.

    The weight, thickness, and overall character of the horsehide in this sample are very similar to the mahogany sample, though it may be just a bit thicker overall. The grain is very uniform over the jacket and has a fine structure similar to the mahogany sample. There is virtually no wrinkling apparent in this hide, possibly because it has not been tumbled like the mahogany jacket. As with the surface of the mahogany hide, the detail and clarity of the grain structure is also somewhat softened by the finish. Again, this hide might be seen as being more refined than the typical wartime A-2.

  • Russet Veg Tanned Goatskin (RvGS)

    While goatskin was not the primary hide used for original A-2's, that distinction going to horsehide, it wasn't rare either. This particular goatskin sample from Flight Suits is a very impressive and authentic modern day counterpart to the originals. Having recently acquired an original goatskin A-2 made by Doniger, I was able to make a convenient comparison.

    The russet brown color of this jacket is similar to that of the horsehide above but might be slightly darker, although it may only appear different due to the prominent graining.

    The hide weight, thickness, and overall handling is similar to the Doniger while perhaps being a bit thicker in places. Compared to the Flight Suits horsehide, this goatskin hide is somewhat stiffer and will take more breaking in. Another appealing aspect of this goatskin, which is also similar to that of the Doniger, is that it issues a pleasant leathery creaking sound as it is flexed and handled.

    The jacket has a very well-formed pebbled grain structure throughout, with a variation in depth and coarseness for some individual character. The sharpness of the detail and definition in the pebbling is very close to that of the original Doniger, achieving a level of goatskin authenticity rarely seen in reproductions. Eastman is the only other maker I know of which can say the same. When broken in, this jacket should look tremendous. (For a comparison of the fine and coarse grain areas with the original Doniger A-2, see the Grain photo below in the RvGS link.)


The cotton lining is medium brown in color with a weight and texture very similar to original linings.


The 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.


The zipper is a modern nickel Talon. Triangular reinforcement stitching is present at the bottom of each side of the zipper tape.


The 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 hook

The throat hook is nickel, with correct size and shape. The rivet base is the one-piece type.


The 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 seam

Top stitching is generally 3/16 inches from the seams.


The collar is reasonably authentic in size and shape, though it is a little larger than average.
  • The MvHH and RvGS each have a collar point which measures 3-5/8 inches from the forward attachment and forms an angle of about 65 degrees.
  • The RcHH collar point measures 3-1/2 inches from the forward attachment and forms an angle of about 65 degrees. The collar stand on the RcHH is about 3/4 inches in width.


The 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 MvHH and RvGS epaulets are 1-3/4 inches wide at the shoulder and 1-7/16 inches wide at collar.
  • The RcHH epaulets are 1-13/16 inches wide at the shoulder and 1-1/2 inches wide at collar.

The outside lengthwise stitch lines on the epaulets are 0.25 inches apart.

Wind flap

The 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.


The 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.


The 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 loop

The hanger loop is of the typical box-stitched type.

Spec label

        TYPE A-2
   DRAWING NO 30-1415
A.C. ORDER NO. 42-10008-P
Compared 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 label

Under 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 stamp

A 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/transfer

A 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 impression

With 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 information

See the Flight Suits Web site at www.flightsuits.com

Click on a photo for an enlarged view (RcHH).
Click on the links for the other two jackets.

neck 1
neck 2

Color compare
AAF stamp
AAF stamp

as worn
Size 40 as worn
as worn
Size 42 as worn

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.

Click on a photo for an enlarged view.
front back sleeve
pocket 8AF patch 571st patch

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Copyright © 2000, 2005 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.