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Need Ideas for Research


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I have contacted the Museum of Flight in Seattle about doing research on flight jackets, so I need some ideas of what the members would like to see. So far my idea is to see what rare contracts the may have, but would like more input.

They have replied to me and they say they have over 100 jackets in the collection, but they want to know what the research is for. They did say that some of their jackets are in not so good shape and that they wouldn't allow anyone to see those and/or handle them.

Please reply with your ideas and I'll put together a reply to the museum and see what they think.



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Funny thing, I tried to do that same thing in 1995-96 when I lived in Seattle. I was fairly decent friends with the gift store manager there, even bought two LW Dubow jackets (he'll of a discount if you were a member), but in the end it never came to fruition. Best of luck and if you ever get an appointment to see them, I would be thrilled to be part of it.

As far as questions, unless the Goldsmith jacket is in there, I think most details are known about the individual contracts. You might find some variation in hardware or thread color.

One thing that might tip the scales is that you might water to let them know you are interested in the ones in poor condition to see how they are constructed. I find that under the lining you get unfaded stiching and leather finishes that have not seen the light of day.

My biggest question would be an accurate accounting of what ones are pigment finished and are aniline finished, given the multitude of contradictory claims. I think that is a more important question than the horsehide/steerhide debate.


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I worked there for eight years and I know the store manager you speak of extremely well.

Good input by the way.

Keep the ideas coming.


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You know, I was thinking about this on the way home. When I was heavily into collecting vintage motorcycles, some of the groups had registries or databases regarding motorcycles, mainly just for the interest in them. They were just a central database where enthusiasts coulddocument serial numbers, histories, modifications, production variations, etc. Completely voluntary, but more for the depth of knowledge collectors and enthusiast desired. As we all know it is simply the quest of knowledge and discovery that drives thes things sometimes--just look at out little forum's interest in the Goldsmith. You also see this with vintage aircraft on static displays--location, condition, characteristics, etc.

I realize we are talking about jackets here and it may be too much minutia due to the number of jackets that are really out there in the corners, but a registry of jackets would be a great idea and help with further research into things like production quantities of individual sizes, variations, if any during production runs, etc. Just think if you could document each of the jackets at the Museum of flight, then have contribution of others who personally own jackets or have access to others at other museums. I may be going off the deep end here, but think of the possibilities of information for information's sake!

So, for example one could take this jacket I offered for sale a few years ago:

You could take all the nomenclature, the size, any markings or evidence or removed insignia, and any other characteristics unique to the jacket, like owner's stenciling Over time a nice database for reference could be developed.
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Per my original post, they won’t allow the ones in poor shape to be viewed.

Also, the 100 or so flight jackets they said they have would be from all wars and branches, so is everyone interested in everything or just A-2s and G-1 types.

Once the ball gets rolling, I ‘ll have to feel them out and see what they’ll allow.


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Two things:

- I'd love to see the variation in construction of jackets from the same makers/contract - pocket flap shapes seem to be a point of contention often on how accurate a repro is, but this seems to have more to do with the specific original jacket that it was based on. If you were to put a sample of, let's say, 10 original Rough Wear jackets together, it would be intriguing to see just how different they all actually were.

- Secondly - a high quality photographic record of everything there. Getting the visuals of these jackets out of a museum storeroom and onto the internet is a nice way of 'preserving' these jackets for us all to see, particularly if they're in such poor condition.


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I would love to see the following, for each jacket:
Pic, front and back, preferable on a mannequin... with close up pics of unique contract details; label, zipper, pocket, etc.
Close up pics of any patches, decals.
Then some written details, such as:
Jacket contract, unit, details of squadron etc.
Pilot and history of service for example.
This would put it all in context, A pilot, who served where, flying wheat, doing what, wore this jacket....
This would be cool.


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I would love to see photos and measurements of the 37J1 leather flight jacket. We don't have many close ups of them and not many photos in color. No measurements either that I have seen.

Of course, do they have a Goldsmith? We would need full photos of all details and measurements.

These two items would be what I would be looking for.



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I ‘ll have to feel them out and see what they’ll allow.
I have done work with museums, and I think the approach is from the wrong direction. The question to be asking them, is which jackets in their collection do they need help properly identifying?

They have 100+ jackets, so I bet there are five or ten they don't know much about. Each jacket probably has some kind of inventory description associated with it that likely contains photographs. That is what to ask for before you start asking them to dig anything out....the item descriptions.

The idea is to help them first with the jackets they have the most questions about. In the process of doing that, you might end up adding some pieces of information to the inventory descriptions for those jackets that they are not including in the others. If they see value in that, they will likely want more of their jackets evaluated...maybe all of them.

The broader point here, is to frame the project to be about using your expertise and the group's to improve their collection. Make it all about helping them...not them doing a bunch of work for you.


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Grumpy has a valid point. Addressing the needs of the “Consumer” is one of the basic premises of marketing anything , including ones self.
Once they understand that you dont want anything from them and you are offering them a service from which they will likely benefit, it becomes a fairly simple process.


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Once they understand that you don't want anything from them and you are offering them a service from which they will likely benefit, it becomes a fairly simple process.
With big museums, sometimes what should be "a fairly simple process" gets complicated, because the people you are working with are sweet young things (both male and female) with fancy University degrees in Museum Studies...that already know everything. In my experience, many of them know a lot about museums and curation, but very little about military history or the artifacts associated with it...but like to act like they do. Hopefully, this is not the case here...


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I agree with the approach of helping is a great idea. When I worked at the museum, I corrected a couple of mistakes where they had grossly mis-identified a couple of flight jackets that most of the VLJ membership would know immediately upon viewing them. You also have to realize that just because they work at the museum doesn't necessarily mean they know very much about military history let alone the ins and outs of flight jackets, and from my experience, don't really want that much information as pretty much anything that goes on display doesn't have a lot of in.

I also think that going at them full bore with putting jackets on mannequins and photographing every little nuance is not a good idea as would be extremely time consuming. Someone at the museum would be have to bring out all these jackets, open the acid free boxes and set them out to be photographed. From my experience they have a lot of other projects going on and don't have a lot of free time for projects of this sort. I think maybe at best I'll get to photograph the front and back (if nose art is involved) of a jacket and the label and that might be it. If you spent 5 minutes per jacket at 100 jackets, that would be 8-9 hours of logging maker information and photographs. If they did allow that much time, it would probably take several visits and covers several months.

Again, I'll have to feel them out.


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I guess the most intriguing at the moment are the early A2's, the prototype XA2, Goldsmith and 1st Werber contract.
There are 3 other contracts with no known survivors.

Documentation and photo's might also be of interest.


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I have received a list of flight jackets from the museum with pictures and notes, so once I go through those, I will post the list and "we" can decide what is worth pursuing any further.

At first glance, there are some civilian made jackets and at least one Schott, so I'll be passing those up unless they look promising from a vintage collectable point of view.

There are also a few that have no labels, but look to be fairly easy to identify. There is also a wide variety of models and contracts, but nothing rare that I can see. Lots of patched and/or painted jackets too.

It will take a while, but I have to pay to see them in person and they will only have time for me to view 3 or 4 at a time, so it looks like it will take several weeks or months depending on their staff availability.


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After viewing the pictures I was sent, I do see that they have an L-2, which is pretty rare. Here are the specs from what they took off of the label.

Jacket, Flying, LightType
L-2 Specification Mil-J-
5391USAF Part No. 50 B
3503-4Size 40Stock No.
8300-470865Contract No.
AF 13716Reed Products,Inc.

It also has a leather name plate on it with a set of wings and R.W. Breneman on it.

More to come!


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Lots of Navy jackets, a few B-3s, D-1, lots of A-2s (some of which are patched and/or painted). B-15D, L-2A, B-15C, B-15, B-15A. A nice L.W. Foster Amend#2 G-1 which is kind of hard to find. A few AN-J-3a, AN-6552, M-422a and lot's of G-1s. A couple of B-7s, L-2B, MA-1, Navy nylon, M-421a and 9-10 civilian made jackets.