Identifying a Civilian B-15

917_k

Active Member
Evening All,

I’m on the hunt for a B-15, which is of course going to entail dropping quite a bit more than I’ve previously spent on flight jackets, so I want to make sure I don’t end up with a stinker. My understanding on Civilian B-15s is that they had a central zipper, no stubs on the hand warmer pockets and epaulettes. Were civilian versions produced with Air Force markings on the sleeve?

I’ve found one for sale, which doesn’t particularly look right, but I’m totally new to these so really don’t have a clue. It’s got faded USAF markings on the sleeve and studded hand warmer pockets and no epaulettes, however the liner looks like wool and the zipper seems to be central. There’s a semi-legit looking label inside, but the words ‘original type’ above ‘US Army Air Forces’ don’t look right??
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Many thanks,
Rob
 
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Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
Hi,

Fitzwell Sportswear did have a B-15 contract, but this jacket was for the civilian market. Original Type on the label is always a post war jacket.
One of the many example that made in the 50's and 60's. I personally think that some may have been made right just after the war with original stocks of cotton, alpaca and hardware, yours look more like a 50's, I may be wrong.

Look here how close this B-15 is to an original;


Hope this help.

Dany
 

917_k

Active Member
Thank you very much Danny, much appreciated. This one is up on EBay for £200, so wanted to check before dropping any money. It looks like a nice enough jacket, but will save the pennies for a legit one.
 
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Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
Hi,

Yes I would pass on that jacket too and keep looking for a B-15 WW2 contract and they are out there at a good price if you are patient.

Dany
 

asiamiles

Well-Known Member
It's interesting to ponder just why any manufacturer would go to the trouble of putting Air Force insignia on the sleeve of post-war civi jackets. Military clothing back then would be considered strictly workwear, with even flight jackets considered purely functional; as such one can understand companies (especially those who made them for the services) making civi versions, but it's not like they were trying to make accurate repros and the presence of say an Air Force roundel on the sleeve would surely not be something the average man buying such a jacket would want. Any thoughts?
 

Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
Hi,

I too wonder a lot why the apparent popularity of civi B-9-10-11-15 and even tanker. It was practical and tested hence we can observe B-10 and B-15 among others, being worn in the post war hot-rod & motorcycle custom/racing culture. Military workwear was cheap and available to the working class guy/war-vet struggling economically before the 1950's boom.

I also wonder if the youth of that time had a nostalgic inspired desire to wear the garment symbolizing the war experience of their peers?

As I write this I realised that these subcultures have their roots ramified deep in popular culture and is still fueling todays fascination for vintage especially military inspired of facsimile.

Just an idea... Sorry if I went overboard...

Dany
 

917_k

Active Member
It’s an interesting topic and I guess possibly the same thing feeding the desire to have a jacket back then with the USAF markings is the same thing motivating people to get painted jackets and those with markings today. Although the war was still very recent in the 50s there must have been that same level of respect and admiration for the ‘flyboys’ that we have today, and so for a kid to go out with a USAF adorned jacket at the time was perhaps both an acknowledgment of that admiration, but also possibly a little bit of an opportunity to tag on to that glory, so to speak.

Or it could be as simple as: “Let’s make an exact replica, those markings look cool”.
 

Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
The use of an Air force roundel after the war, so practically unnecessary, was a trademark for the manufacturer identifying them as one of the original maker.

It may have served as a "plus value" compared to another jacket maker?

Dany
 

asiamiles

Well-Known Member
Military workwear was cheap and available to the working class guy/war-vet struggling economically before the 1950's boom.
Exactly, so why make clothing that imitated what was already considered 'cheap' ? Surely a company would want to avoid such associations rather than reinforce them?

The use of an Air force roundel after the war, so practically unnecessary, was a trademark for the manufacturer identifying them as one of the original maker.
Hmmm, it's an interesting supposition; so, were only those who actually made jackets for the military allowed or supposed to put such markings on their jackets?
 

Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
Exactly, so why make clothing that imitated what was already considered 'cheap' ? Surely a company would want to avoid such associations rather than reinforce them?
I used cheap as in economical, not as in poorly made or low quality. Also, then why would you imitate B-15, 9 and 11 as much as they did? I can find a post war B-15 on ebay in 5 min. So they were produced in great numbers, there was a demand for sure.


Hmmm, it's an interesting supposition; so, were only those who actually made jackets for the military allowed or supposed to put such markings on their jackets?

I know that Fitzwell had a contract and I remember other WW2 contractors did produced some original type, I think Excel Garment also did it but not sure as I did not keep images. And did the government really kept tab on the usage of the insignia, it is a good question, like you said it may have been only the original contractors?



Hey they are just ideas...

Dany
 
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