Jacket Evaluation: Real McCoy's Monarch Mfg. Co. A-2(Filed: 19 April 2003)
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Maker: Real McCoy's (New Zealand)
Model: Reproduction Monarch Mfg. Co. W535 AC-23378, horsehide, dark russet brown
Size: 44 base with sleeve and body length modifications
Date of manufacture: March 2002
Date of evaluation: 28 March 2003
IntroductionThe Monarch A-2 is distinguished by its long rounded collar points and by it being the jacket make worn by Chuck Yeager when he became the first to fly past the speed of sound. This McCoy's reproduction of the Monarch began with their now closed Japan division, but it is now being offered out of New Zealand.
Fit/cut/proportionWhile the lengths of the sleeves (shortened) and body (lengthened) have been modified by its owner, this jacket is still reasonably consistent with the cut and fit of original wartime A-2 examples.
Because of the modifications, however, it is not possible to offer an relevant sense of how this jacket fits. My expectation is that it would be similar to the two other McCoy's size 44 jackets which have been evaluated here.
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 this one example will necessarily be consistent with other individual examples, nor will they be representative of the effects of time and wear.]
This horsehide is the heaviest and stiffest I have yet seen from McCoy's. I suspect that it may not be representative. The jacket has also had little wear by its owner, so it is not yet broken in.
The color was described as a dark russet brown, which seems accurate, but it is darker than most vintage Monarchs I have seen. The photo of Chuck Yeager's jacket on page 214 of "Suit Up! The Flight Jacket" by Imai is printed much too dark (I've seen the jacket in person).
The surface finish appears to be sprayed but, unlike many earlier produced jackets by McCoy's, the follicle and grain detail is readily visible through the finish. Grain and wrinkling, though, is shallow and only faintly seen, so at this time before much wear and breaking in the jacket surface is rather smooth and uniform in appearance.
LiningThe cotton lining is a typical reddish brown color of weight and weave consistent with vintage A-2's. The surface feels a little more fuzzy than smooth, though, compared to originals.
KnitsAll wool, medium brown in color and, as is typical for McCoy's, a bit too thick and heavy compared to originals. They are also just a little longer than average originals.
ZipperThe zipper is a nickel Talon reproduction with the later unmarked bar on the puller but with the early Talon marked stopper box. I have never seen this combination on a vintage A-2, but this is what McCoy's has been producing for a while. A true triple-marked Talon would have been correct for this contract.
There is no triangular reinforcement stitching at the bottom of each side of the zipper, as is correct for Monarch.
SnapsThe snaps applied are the usually excellent McCoy's ball stud snaps as are proper for Monarch. The backs of the collar snaps are riveted through the lining and covered with lining material. Original Monarchs, though, left the snap backs under the lining.
Throat hookThe throat hook is the standard McCoy's version with the bump in the loop on the right, the same type found on vintage Monarch.
StitchingMedium brown cotton thread at eight stitches per inch.
Top stitching placement from seamTop stitch spacing from seams or edges varies from 1/8" to 3/16".
CollarThe distinctive Monarch collar is well-produced here, though the points may be just a bit narrow.
The collar has a simple attachment with no collar stand.
EpauletsThe epaulets seem a bit wide compared to vintage Monarchs but the stitch pattern with rectangular boxes is generally correct.
The outside lengthwise stitch lines are 0.25 inches apart.
Shoulder seamMonarch was one of a few original makers which set the shoulder seam on top of the shoulder and centered under the epaulet rather than down the back of the shoulder and behind the epaulet. McCoy's has properly captured this construction feature.
Wind flapThe wind flap measures 1-7/16 inches.
SleevesThe sleeves are configured with the less common set-in construction where the lower, unfinished seam is rotated forward from the body side seam with which it is usually continuous. Again, this is true for Monarch and McCoy's has properly captured this feature.
The sleeve length, as mentioned above, has been altered from the stock pattern but it tapers and fits in a way which is consistent with original patterns.
PocketsThe pocket flap shape is softly curved and is very authentic to vintage Monarch. In fact, the shape overlaid very closely the tracings made from a vintage Monarch.
A couple of pocket details which were found to differ from the original Monarch are the stitching of the top of the patch and the inner reinforcement for the snap back. On the original Monarch the two parallel stitch lines across the top of the patch were much closer than the McCoy's, and the triangular reinforcements in the upper corners were narrower than the McCoy's. The inside snap back reinforcement on the vintage jacket was a separate tab of leather, but McCoy's used the more typical rounded tongue folded over from the top of the pocket patch.
Hanger loopBox stitched.
TYPE - A 2 OWG. No. 30-126.96.36.199 A.C. Order W535-A.C-23378 PROPERTY Air Force U.S. Army Monarch Mfg. Co.Compared to original labels, this one is excellent with only one deviation. The abbreviation for Drawing, DWG, shows up as OWG.
Otherwise, there are several oddities present on the original Monarch label which have been duplicated with precision. Note in the top line how there is no hyphen in A-2 but there is one between TYPE and A 2. In the drawing number there are extraneous periods within the 1415, and there is a missing period after the C in A.C. These exist on the originals and McCoy's has copied them accurately. The typeface variations in the Monarch label make it distinctive and McCoy's has done an excellent job of reproducing them.
Pocket labelThere are no labels inside the pockets by special request of the jacket's owner.
Inspector stampCorrect style stamp with AN and M0622 within a circle placed on the lining near the label. The diameter of the circle a correct 5/8 inch.
Insignia stamp/transferA smaller sized AAF wing & star stamp has been applied by the jacket's owner and is not one offered by McCoy's.
ConclusionDespite some minor details being missed by McCoy's in copying the Monarch A-2, this reproduction is substantially true to the originals and captures the essential and distinctive styling and construction features of Monarch. The combination of the collar, shoulder seam, rotated set-in sleeve, and the elegant label make for a desirable A-2 repro offering.
For more informationSee the Real McCoy's New Zealand Web site at www.realmccoys.co.nz
Copyright © 2003 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.