Discussion in 'Vintage' started by Roughwear, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    I don't know so this is merely opinion but you'd imagine that it would be on a bell curve. Most things involving distribution and especially dealing with groups of people or populations use it.
  2. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

    Somewhere there is something in a book...I believe a wartime US Army Quartermaster publication, that discusses procurement, and sizes. That applies to more than flight jackets, and was a guide to help the QMD understand how to configure a contract. I recall a graph of the size ranges, that is bell shaped, with the roughly 38 to 42 size range being the majority of the hump in in the center. That corresponds to the average size and weight of a WW II American soldier...which could I could look up, but ball parking it from memory, hovers roughly in that 5' 7" to 5' 9" and 140 to 160 pound range.

    I know contracts for other articles of clothing can vary. As an extreme example was I once saw a boot contract for a large number of boots...don't recall the numbers, but think 5000 pieces...but the interesting point for this discussion was they were all one size.

    The size distribution for A2 jackets by contract is something that people have wanted to learn for years. The AAF Supply Catalog shows the size range, but I think it is pretty clear that some contracts did not have either the smallest or the largest sizes in them, because we never see surviving examples...especially size 34 and then 50 and above. I suspect if the information ever turns up, there will be some contracts that only had sizes in the 38 to 42 range...or plus or minus that...with the possibility...and I only say possibility...that a few contracts might have contained just one or two sizes.

    We just don't know the answers, but the Army was going to order what they needed, and not more of what they didn't. The Government also did some goofy things...made odd decisions...and made mistakes...and companies sometimes cheated too. I don't have anything specific examples regarding A2s to share, but do know with other clothing items and pieces of equipment from WW II, there are sometimes a lot of possibilities for all sorts of things to have happened...and it is clear they often did.
    Roughwear likes this.
  3. johnwayne

    johnwayne Well-Known Member

    Guess the bell shaped curve/graph seems logical! When you look at era pics of groups of pilots they do tend to be of similar stature, yes of varying height of course but can't imagine there were many 46-50" chested aircrew!!
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  4. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

    You are 100% correct, back then this really intrigued us especially when we were getiing such a wide range of sizes in US Civvy jackets from the same era, plenty big sizes. That ruled out bigger guys wrecking their jackets quicker than smaller folk
    I'm guessing at the actual figures, it's 40 odd years ago after all but I'd say we must have had at least a couple of thousand issued A-2s through our hands at The Thrift Shop, probably more, thats about 300 a year.
    I can only recall one size 34", one of the girls in the shop snapped it up after waiting ages for one to show up, plenty of 36"-40", a couple of hundred 42"s (now I'm guessing) but I doubt if we had more than 20 or 30 size 44"s, less 46"s maybe a couple of 48"s and nothing bigger
    We came up with this very un-scientific theory...........and I've yet to hear a better one.

    Twenty guys queue upto enlist, Ten are big guys straight off what Americans call The Football Field, the other ten look like "before" models in a Charles Atlas advert.
    Which ten loaded into the confines of a B-17 are going to make it easier to take off and which ten are going to be the most likely to frighten the sh*t out of Fritz as they stormed out of a trench?
    THAT, Mi-Lord concludes my case for the issue of so many small Type A-2s, :>)
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  5. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

    I think Ken's observations reflect what many of us have seen as well. What is too bad, is we were not thinking back then as we do now, because it would have been beneficial if we had all been making tallies that kept track of what we saw by size and contract.

    I have owned both a size 34 and a size 52, but don't really recall the maker names or contracts...did not give a hoot about that at all back then (sorry, Andrew). Do sort of recall the 52 being a Roughwear, but not well enough to really proclaim it.

    What I do remember with that size 52 that you guys will snicker at....it was a really nice original jacket, with a full color AAF sleeve decal, though nothing else...no name tag or patches...it's only slight defect was it had been flattened from being crammed tightly in a closet...was it did not fit me...big body & sort of short sleeves...and I wanted a G-1 to wear. Ended up trading that size 52 A2 strait across for an equally nice 1971 dated size 40 G-1...my biggest "victory" in that one was the guy had wanted me to throw $35 more in...
  6. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Ken is spot on here. Really small and very large jackets are very few and far between. It is frustrating that we do not know the number of each size of jacket per contract.

    It is thought that some contract were only for smaller size jackets, such as the last three contracts by Perry, Dubow and Bronco from 1943. I have yet to see a jacket larger than a size 40 from these contracts, but I have heard that a larger size Dubow does exist. The largest A-2 I have seen is a size 52 Dubow. I believe these really large jackets were worn by those who flew a desk!
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  7. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

    A quick comment about military vs civilian jackets...you also have to consider the age of these guys in WW II....most were in the 18 to 25 range, and many hovering around 22. Plus with the AAF & A2s, they were often selecting smaller or more average sized guys to fit in particular aircrew positions.

    Civilian jackets on the other hand, would have covered all body sizes and ages, and with that, allowed their past owners time to plump up. As a matter of fact, I think given donations to charities often fueled the rag and then thrift store food chain, you were seeing a fair amount of stuff from old dead guy's closets...guys that had years to fill out and spread.
  8. johnwayne

    johnwayne Well-Known Member

    Ken, think it's about time you told us your story and as has been suggested let's see any pics from those days in Battersea!
    I'm sure many particularly here in the UK would be interested to hear how and where you sourced your jackets back then?
    From memory you sold them for around the £100 average? As an apprentice on probably £20/week my parents would have castigated me had I paid that sort of money for an 'old leather jacket' - having said that whenever I saw similar A2's in shops like Chris Farlowe's Call to Arms in Islington they were similarly priced (he of course specialising and very knowledgeable in Nazi/ Third Riech gear) and back then an A2 and an Irvin was the only flights jackets I knew of!
  9. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

    I am planning to write a history but it's just finding the time, I'm just finishing off a kid's book, dotting the i's and crossing the t's, I'm half way through a novel about the post war years in Soho
    The Aero project won't be a book as such more of a magazine charting how I progressed from selling second hand 501s to mods to where Aero is today

    Jump forward 11 or 12 years to 1975. A year after giving up on making leather clothing from Glam Rock bands and moving back to Scotland, finances forced me back to London and The Thrift Shop started in the back of a Mini, we had a stall in Portobello Road and a "travelling shop" (or Pop Up Shop as they are known these days) in The Kings Road every Friday afternoon.
    The (Bricks & Mortar) Thrift Shop itself opened in 1976 by now I was well aware that US leather jackets of the mid 20th Century were way ahead of any thing else I'd come across.
    At first most of our jackets came from Grade 3 bales bought in USA, they were cheap to buy, the jackets rarely needed more than sewing and relining to turn into grade 1. We soon realised the demand for A-2s and had all our pickers looking out for them. By the late 70s we were buying every A-2 we could find. In the UK lots came from Islington, Chris Farlow, Regimentals, Camden Antique Market, Porobello Road occasionally. American Classics was another really good source, Billy was always short of cash on rent days, we were known as "pile em high, sell en cheap" so we'd always buy in blulk. It didn't matter if we couldn't make a profit on an A-2, we'd buy it anyway, we wanted to corner the market, if anyone wanted an A-2 there was only one place to go. Big stocks attracted loads of trade ins too.
    I think we started off at around £75, I know Regimentals charged £90, we bought every one he had, many by folk sent in on our behalf, hence the £100 that stood for a year or so until we moved into a higher league with all the CBI jackets we were getting. By this time we had several buyer in USA locating A-2s for us and one of the guys from Glasgow that worked in the shop was making regular trips to USA to get more.
    I do remember Gary Eastman as a regular window shopper who spent ages of time but very little cash in the shop.
    In 1984 we sold The Thrift Shop to Bill O'Niell who'd worked there nearly from the start, and moved back to Scotland again and by the end of that year I'd more or less started Aero in a spare bedroom in our house.

    There are some Thrift Shop photos in the factory, very few unfortunately but I'll get them scanned
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  10. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Your story is well worth documenting. It's an interesting journey through a period of history that some of us remember. I remember as a kid in the 195o's going into a particular Army and Navy store in Philadelphia and seeing racks and racks ( no exaggeration) of original A-2s, B-3s, D-1S , etc. for prices in the $15.0o to $25.00 price ranges. I always thought if I would have just purchased 5 or 10 of those what they would be worth today. However , you actually did all that. I would like to hear more about how you took over the Aero name from rejuvenated the original Aero WWII A-2 design . Thanks for posting.
  11. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Back on topic!
    Here is the most up to date A-2 contract/order list taking into account recent archival research.

    The contract/order sizes are in brackets.

    Pre-War Order numbers and the Fiscal Year
    31-1897 P. Goldsmith and Sons, 1931 (25)
    32-485 Security (Aviation Togs) 1932 (1666)
    32-6225 Werber Leather Coat Co 1932 (600)
    33-1729 Werber 1932/33 (probably less than 500)
    34-518-P Werber 5 Sept, 1933 (Est.170)
    36-1112 P Werber 13 Sept.1935 (550)
    37-1119-P Werber 11 Sept, 1936 (Est.620)
    37-3061 P Aero 1936/37 (probably less than 500)
    37-3891 P H.L.B. Corp. 3 March 1937 (375)
    38-1711-P Aero 26 Oct 1937 (1,500)
    39-2951 P Werber 9 Jan 1939 (1,250)
    40-3785-P Aero 18 Dec 1940 (3,500)

    Contract Numbers
    W535ac16159 Rough Wear 2 Nov 1940 9.700)
    W535ac16160 Aero 1 Nov 1940 (4,500)
    W535ac18091 Rough Wear 6 March 1941(17,628)
    W535ac20960 Dubow 8 August1941(13,000)
    W535ac21996 Aero 14 October 1941(25,000)
    W535ac23377 Perry 31 Dec 1941(20,000)
    W535ac23378 Monarch 26 Dec 1941(15,000)
    W535ac23379 Dubow 26 Dec 1941(10,000)
    W535ac 21035 Order 42-1671-P Rough Wear (Est. 300)
    W535ac23380 Rough Wear 26 Dec 1941 (12,000)
    W535ac23381 Cooper 5 Jan 1942 (5,000)
    W535ac23382 Cable 29 Dec 1941(10,000)
    W535ac23383 Fried Ostermann 22 Dec 1941(8,000)
    W535ac27752 Rough Wear 27 April 1942 (50,000)
    W535ac27753 Cable 29 April 1942 (50,000)
    W535ac27798 Dubow 25 April 1942 (50,000)
    W535ac28557 Star 18 May 1942 (30,000)
    W535ac28560 Poughkeepsie 18 May 1942 (50,000)
    W535ac29191 Bronco 18 May 1942 (59,000)
    W535ac29971 David D Doniger 9 June 1942 (same contract as 21539)

    Order Numbers
    42-1401-P Rough Wear 8 August 1941(30,000)
    42-1402-P Werber 8 August 1941(7,000)
    42-10008-P Cable 19 Jan 1942 (10,000)
    42-15142-P Aero 28 March 1942 (50,000)
    42-16175-P Perry 23 May 1942 (50,000)
    42-18245-P Star Spring 1942 (same contract as 28557)
    42-18246-P S.H. Knopf 18 May 1942 (10,000)
    42-18775-P Aero 25 May 1942 (50,000)
    42-18776-P Spiewak 18 May 1942 (25,0000)
    42-18777-P United Sheeplined 18 May 1942 (25,000)
    42-21539-P David D. Doniger & Co. 9 June 1942 (5,000)
    V505 Made in Australia 1943

    War “Limited Standard Issue”

    W33-038ac1755(11631) Dubow Dec. 1943 (35,000)
    1756 Perry Sportswear Dec. 1943 (25,000)
    W33-038ac1761 Bronco Dec. 1943 (25,000)
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  12. johnwayne

    johnwayne Well-Known Member

    Sorry Andrew, you are right of course as this should be elsewhere in the forum but still interesting!
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  13. 33-1729

    33-1729 Active Member

    This, I believe, is the most up-to-date A-2 contract list. The paperwork hasn't been found for three contracts, so it is not possible to make an accurate production estimate (the production numbers are listed as "unknown"). The three estimated production numbers are from Gary Eastman's excellent "Type A-2 Flight Jacket Identification Manual" reference book and knowing the value of the contract the production estimates ought to be reasonably close.

  14. Carl

    Carl Well-Known Member

    Imteresting .
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  15. Geeboo

    Geeboo Well-Known Member

    What is War “Limited Standard Issue” ?
  16. 33-1729

    33-1729 Active Member

    The A-2 was released as "Standard Issue" on May 9, 1931 and officially replaced by the newer AN-J-3 on Apr 23, 1943. A-2 jackets in stock were available as "Limited Standard Issue" beginning at that time as a newer replacement was available. Note the last three A-2 contracts were from Dec 1943 or after the switch to the newer AN-J-3.
    bseal likes this.
  17. Geeboo

    Geeboo Well-Known Member

  18. 33-1729

    33-1729 Active Member

    Correction: The July 6, 1929 Poughkeepsie Eagle-News has an article called "Werber Favors Local Factory" on the first page about the "Werber Leather Coat Company, Inc.", so it was incorporated by their first A-2 contract 32-6225 (the table in post #53 doesn't show that).
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  19. Brettafett

    Brettafett Well-Known Member

    So, the '42 Bronco 29191 contract was more than likely the largest WW2 A-2 contract with 59000 jackets.
    Cant see the 'unknowns' to have more than this, especially being pre-war and late war...

    Based on the numbers, would anyone like to comment about surviving A-2s, which contract 'appears' to have survived the most?
  20. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    It was was the largest according to Gary Eastman's book. I have seem more last contract Cable Raincoat A2s come up for sale over the years than jackets from other contracts.
    Brettafett likes this.

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