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Cooper A2 mfg date?


Well-Known Member
I know it’s been discussed here before, but I can’t seem to find the thread, how do you tell when an orange label Cooper was made? Going from the nomenclature tag what digit is the production year? I picked this jacket up at a surplus store in 2003.


Active Member
The CSN numbers on the Cooper jackets are not indicative of year of manufacture — ie “01” in the CSN is not the same as NSN

I bought my Cooper orange tag new in 1985. It predates the USAF reintroduction of the A-2 by several years. It’s CSN is also “01”

There are a few threads comparing Cooper orange tags to their Saddlery counterparts.

In short, the early Coopers had orange tags which didn’t mention USAF in the lower half of the tag. The latter verbage was added after USAF reissued the Saddlery A-2s

Early Cooper orange tags had purplish knits, chrome ideal pullers, and chrome throat hooks. These traits were common to the Saddlery contract jackets

As mentioned, the orange tag evilved over time. The knits changed over to brown and were not as robust as the purplish knits. The Ideal puller changed to brass

I can check to see if i kept any of my photos of the label progression on the Coopers


Active Member
Here’s something I posted years ago at another site:

Most here are probably familiar with the fact that, in 1988, USAF began to reissue the A-2 to mission-qualified aircrew. Saddlery (a division of Cooper Sportswear) was awarded the initial contract. What most folks don't realize is that the orange-tag Cooper A-2 predated the 1988 reissue by several years.

Pre-1988 Cooper A-2.
I don't know exactly when Cooper started producing the A-2 but I purchased my jacket ~1984 at the BX at Castle AFB in CA. My recollection is that the jacket could be purchased with a removable velcro nametag or without (Mine had the velcro attached and I still have the original, blank tag somewhere at my house).

These early orange tag jackets were a russet-colored goatskin and had brownish-purple knits (cuffs and waistband). The zipper was brass with a chrome Ideal-brand puller. Interior was lined with a tannish cloth with an olive hue.

The label was an orange rectangle with "Cooper" in a blue arc sitting atop a silver embroidered USAF pilot wing. Just above the wing was "Type A-2". Immediately below the orange tag was a white spec tag reading:
Type A-2
Size (size shown here: 42R, 42L, etc)
Cooper Sportswear Mfg Co, Inc
CSN 8719-01-8243400

Enter the USAF-issue Saddlery jacket:
As mentioned, Saddlery (a division of Cooper Sportswear) was the awarded the initial contract for reissue of the USAF A-2. My 1990-issued jacket is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the pre-1988 orange tag with the following exceptions:
- velcro for a command patch present, in addition to the nametag velcro
- supposedly a flame retardent coating on the leather (I have two 1988 contract jackets. The one I received in 1990 has near-identical leather to my 1985 orange tag. My second jacket (also a 1988 contract) has a wetter/shinier finish -- more on this later
- Saddlery label which was a white tag with stylized "Saddlery" text with "Made in USA" and size underneath. It had a similar white spec tag to the above but it is a true
mil-spec tag:
Type A-2
Size (size shown here: 42R, 42L, etc)
DLA 100 88 C0420
Cooper Sportswear Mfg Co, Inc
NSN 8415-01-258-6401 (last digits will vary by jacket size)

The post-1988 orange tag Cooper.
After the USAF reissue, the orange tag on the jackets received the following addition below the embroidered wing on the label: "under exclusive manufacturing by the Cooper Defense Contract Division USAF".

Some of the early post-1988 jackets appear to retain the same knits and zipper as the early jackets but soon had the robust purplish knits replaced with less-robust brown knits. The zipper lost it's chrome puller -- replaced with a brass version. The lining material also became thinner.

The CSN number on the white label also changes slightly -- becoming 8718-01-824-3400 (sometimes the last series is combined as 8243400). I've never determined what these numbers mean.

None of the orange-tag Cooper A-2 jackets were ever USAF-issue items.

Saddlery USAF contracts:
In addition to the original 1988 contract, Saddlery also had three additional contracts for USAF A-2 jackets (1992, 1995, and 1996):
1988 DLA 100 88 C0420
1992 DLA 100 92-M-0061
1995 SPO 100-95-C-4030
1996 SPO 100-96-D-4020

Saddlery finish:
I've seen some variation with the USAF-issue jackets. On my two issue jackets, one was received pretty early after these were approved, the finish is nearly identical to the Cooper jacket -- ie it has a mostly matte finish to it although just a hint shinier. My second jacket, received a few years later, but still a 1988-contract, is both darker and shinier. So, either production variation or the result of the oft-quoted flame retardent finish.

The flame retardent finish somewhat baffles me. The A-2 was not approved for flight use until many years later.
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