Buttoned Pocket Flaps A-2 Jackets

Discussion in 'Vintage' started by 33-1729, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    1,487
    Never seen that double windflap used again until the 1980s

    In view of the fact that all known A-2 contracts up to 1938 at least, used the jetted strip LH side zipper system, I'd have thought it's fair to assume the the Goldsmith jacket did too.
     
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  2. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    If there is a correct term for the double edge of leather that encloses the LH side of the early A-2 zipper, then it's one that I'm not aware of.
    For identification in the Aero factory we call it double strip, or 1938 style zipper, double jetted and/or double welted has been used on VLJ
     
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  3. zoomer

    zoomer Well-Known Member

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    Much terrain has passed under our fixed gear since that last posting...Aero and Headwind are now taking advance orders for Goldsmith repops. And a Security A-2 is in the offing from Headwind after that!

    So, for the record, the great AAC test pilot and engineer, Ben Kelsey, who as a mere 2nd looie was responsible for evaluating ALL new fighter aircraft. The pic is said to date to 1931, when he was with the 77th PS at Mather Field, Sacramento, but he's just landed his P-12 at March Field as the shutter snaps.

    kelsey-p12-77ps-march-field-1931.png

    Even at this early date he wears an A-2. To me the long waist, and the bright dot at the zipper footing, suggest a Security. If true, and if 1931, it's the earliest known photo of one. (Kelsey soon returned to MIT for his MS in aeronautical engineering, graduating in '32, so it's possible. The 20th PG, including 77th PS, were ordered to Barksdale Field, Bossier City, LA, that fall, making a flight to March a much bigger undertaking.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  4. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    If the pic is from 1931 surely that rules out SAT?
    It's got collar studs so it can't be a Goldsmith
    Looks like either the date is wrong or there's yet another unknown (pre 32) contract lurking in the undergrowth.

    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)
     
  5. 2BM2K

    2BM2K Well-Known Member

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    At that time the fiscal year was from July to June.

    Thus the contract 32-485 would have been made between July 1931 t0 June 1932.

    Possibly one of the earliest photo's of a SAT.
     
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  6. asiamiles

    asiamiles Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm...looking at his right wrist this doesn't appear to have knit cuffs?
     
  7. zoomer

    zoomer Well-Known Member

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    Looks knit to me - a bit darker and less reflective than the sleeve it's on. And in other respects it's A-2 all the way.

    And let fairly early in that fiscal year, with the supply of 1666 units presumably delivered as funds were released (always, always an issue in that era!).
     
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  8. asiamiles

    asiamiles Well-Known Member

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    The original photo does reveal a knit cuff on the left sleeve...I was fooled by the cropped version! And it helps reading a thread from the beginning rather than from the end! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  9. zoomer

    zoomer Well-Known Member

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    webp-net-resizeimage-10.jpg Nothing too new here, but decent views of Werbers (see any square corners???) and Securitys on the HQ staff of the 2d Wing, Langley Field, late 1934. Maj. Byron Q. Jones, center, commanding. (Note his cuffed pinks, not unheard of in the '30s.)
     
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  10. 2BM2K

    2BM2K Well-Known Member

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    Thinking the Unthinkable......

    At the present time the maker of the prototype A2 jacket is unknown.

    Giving this some consideration there is one company that it could be; Willis & Geiger. :eek:

    In the past Willis & Geiger have made claims to making an early A2 jacket. This claim is usually meet with ridicule and scorn,
    being written off as marketing hype. But that was before the button contracts and prototype were known about.

    Turning to "Flight Jackets: Hell bent-for Leather" for information; :)
    In this there is an interview with Burt Avedon, then president of W&G, who says that the A2 design evolved with a few different makers
    before the final version with W&G being one of them. This seems to match what is know known, protoype A2 then Goldsmith/SAT/Werber.

    As the prototype is the only one where the maker is not known could it be that this jacket was made by Willis & Geiger?
    Harry A. Johnson.jpeg
     
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  11. Falcon_52

    Falcon_52 Active Member

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    Like most, I always laughed at those claims particularly given the source. But it's an good thought that this may be a Willis and Geiger prototype; it would be interesting to compare other garments that they were producing around that time period to see if there are any similarities.

    Noel
     
  12. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

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    One things for sure, there are no rivets on the zip. In 1931 there was not many options for zippers and I believe they all had rivets until sometime in 1933. The only company I have seen to install Hookless Zippers without setting the rivets is A&G Spalding. They were a well known US Army Air Corps (US Air Service) supplier and made prototype jackets for the A-1 test program. They also had a very similar jacket in their product line in the early 30's. For me the evidence points to Spalding having made this jacket.

    The Spalding model 722 from the early 1930's. An A-2 without epaulets or collar snaps or a wind flap. Very similar to the A-2 test jacket.
    Front.jpg

    Spalding Hookless installation. No rivets.
    AG-original4.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
  13. zoomer

    zoomer Well-Known Member

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    Does ANY W&G literature or product survive from that era? Never seen a damned thing!
     
  14. SuinBruin

    SuinBruin Well-Known Member

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    It's possible W&G made the first A-2 prototype, of course, but I would take anything Burt Avedon said on the subject with a very healthy dose of salt. He was not a first party witness (born in 1924 and so a child when the jacket was developed), and his later stories are not entirely credible.

    Click here for why.

    Or here.

    Or here.

    P.S. I just saw that he passed away earlier this year. RIP Burt, and from one Bruin to another thank you for your service. I don't think you had to embellish it as you seem to have done.
     
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  15. SuinBruin

    SuinBruin Well-Known Member

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    I like this account too as it would seem to suggest another reason why the Air Corps had (apparently functionless) epaulets on the A-2 -- as a way of making it look more military and distinguishing it from civvie jackets then available. I can readily see them taking the Spalding model and asking for epaulets to go with the more functional but less apparent mods (wind flap, collar snaps, throat latch).
     
  16. 2BM2K

    2BM2K Well-Known Member

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    The epaulettes do have a function, they provide padding to support the parachute harness.
     
  17. 2BM2K

    2BM2K Well-Known Member

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    From what I can find online about the history of the zipper the first separable zippers were produced in 1930.

    In the Eastman manual there is a chapter on zippers which details each of A2 zipper makers. According to this
    Kwik had more advanced designs of zips at that time and produced their first separable zip in about March 1930.

    In April 1930 Herbert Dargue was photographed wearing an A2 jacket.

    From this I would think that the prototype A2 jacket was produced in March-April 1930 and was probably
    fitted with a Kwik zip.

    Given that the separable zipper was new technology the missing rivets may simply have been an oversight.

    What is required is some documentary evidence to further these ideas.

    For the record the Hookless brand name went out of fashion in the 1920's, being replaced the Talon name, and
    probably never made a separable zipper.
     
  18. SuinBruin

    SuinBruin Well-Known Member

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    The "functionality" of the A-2 epaulets has been much discussed, without any plausible explanation. If padding were the answer, you'd expect to see it on all kinds of flight jackets (the M422a & G-1, for instance); plus, I doubt leather the thickness of an epaulet provides much in the way of actual padding.

    Here's an old thread on the subject.
     
  19. zoomer

    zoomer Well-Known Member

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    Not "padding" as such, but a welcome bit of protection for the shoulder - and the jacket itself. It also is a better, and more traditional way, to display officer rank.
     
  20. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

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    2,695
    i have used epaulets to stow my unlined gloves. folded length wise the pair fit snug as a bug under an epaulet.
     
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