Painting my A1 Admiral jacket - a walk through.

Discussion in 'Repros' started by Persimmon, May 10, 2018.

  1. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

    Nottingham England
    I contacted fellow forum member Ties last month about painting my A1 jacket.

    I know for some painting and patching their jackets is not to everyone’s taste but it’s something I have always fancied doing so I thought why not.

    In terms of imagery to go onto the rear of the jacket, I mentioned to Ties that I had always liked the idea of something similar to a A2 jacket I had seen in the Jon McGuire book - Art of the Flight Jacket


    The artwork jacket in question ( Archi Ball ) was based around one of the planes in the 511th Bomb Squadron - Ball Boys.

    Whilst researching though, I found online pictures showing that Buzz Rickson had done a painted version in their A2 range that was a fairly strong copy of the jacket in the McGuire book. Guess they liked it too !!

    Given that this was going to be a custom paint job by Ties for my jacket, I decided I would rather not do an exact copy of something that is available on the retail market place, albeit no doubt, in limited produced numbers.

    The jackets and planes, of the 511th bomb squadron with their nose art and jackets, featured lots of variants on the Ball name

    ( for info the pilots and crew put on images and texts based around and incorporating the surname of the first commander of the squadron, Clinton F Ball.)

    I had previously researched quite a lot of information on this group and especially the flying personnel of one plane in particular called the Devil’s Ball which saw major service completing 64 missions including major destination’s such as Schweinfurt, Berlin, Peenemunde, etc.

    My brief to Ties was therefore to have something similar to the McGuire book, “Archi Ball “ A2 jacket.

    1. This would say on it - Devil’s Ball.
    ( it was still to be in a similar “old English style font” )

    2. Instead of 35 bombs on the original jacket, it was to have just 25 bombs mission markers on the jacket.
    (these to be layed out as 3 x sets of five bombs on the top followed by 2 x sets of five bombs below).

    3. I wanted it to be finished in a more distressed “aged” look.

    4. The J triangle marking was to remain as per the original jacket picture.

    5. The Ball boys 511th banner and lettering was to remain as per the original jacket picture. ( I wanted the writing though to look hand drawn and not computer identically generated ).

    6 In terms of layout, with my A1 jacket having the normal horizontal seam running across the back, I suggested that the text, Devil’s Ball, would be best to be above the seam line.

    7 Below the seam line would be the J triangle and the 511 Ball Boys banner and below that ( all as per the original jacket picture ) the bombs mission markers but as said above just 25 mission marker bombs.

    To aid Ties in trying to understand what the goodness I was talking about, I attached a picture ( and added some measurements ).

    I tried with lots of paper cut out to create a mock up of the effect I was after in a ideal ish layout hopefully showing Ties more clearly than just a text description what I was after.


    Ties replied to my email positively and thankfully was keen to add some of his painting magic to my jacket. He asked me to give him a few days to come up with some drafts based on my design requirement.

    A few days later, Ties replied to my thoughts and although I had drawn the plane’s name ( Devil’s Ball ) straight across he wondered if a slight curve to the text would be possible and best as there was space available despite the seam.
  2. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

    Nottingham England
    Continued ......

    Ties further emailed and then told me about his methods re painting and if required distressing ( and he also attached pictures of jackets and patches he had painted - both before and after distressing - to aid me visually ) and we agreed the best options to get the look I was after.

    Rather than give his trade secrets away I will let him detail that and any technical questions etc should he wish to.

    Ties asked me to give him a further couple of days to come up with some drafts for the design.

    The font was becoming an issue in getting an exact copy but as this was not a cast in stone issue, I was happy that Ties had found something similar called ‘Canterbury’ that he was going to have to evolve it as various aspects were different to those found characteristic in the script used for the “Archi Ball” jacket.

    Ties started with that Canterbury font and corrected it by hand to get a look closer to the original and yet preserve the handwritten, imperfect look of the original.

    He sent me a picture of this text and it looked great.

    At this stage I sent the jacket over to Ties in Germany to allow him to actually start work !!

    Whilst the jacket was on its way, Ties mocked up a quick photoshop of the main part of the imagery onto a photo of a previous A1 jacket he had owned to allow me to see a sort of ‘finished look‘.


    With my jacket safely in Ties hand’s, he got to work and after a few days he sent me over his template drawings in picture form and asking me to confirm all was OK. ( Ties has been a pleasure to deal with from day 1 and he is always keen throughout the process to make sure the client - in this case, me - was fully satisfied and happy with the direction it was always headed ).

    The main question was whether to go curved or straight with the Devil’s Ball text and thankfully we both leaned towards the curved Devil’s Ball script approach


    nkang, dujardin, Boyo and 2 others like this.
  3. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

    Nottingham England
    Continued ....

    Once I emailed confirmation on my choice it was left to Ties to create that magic.

    Over the next week, Ties emailed me pictures stage by stage of the artwork going on both as part sections and also the complete jacket back.





    It is interesting to see how the jacket looked with it painted but not yet distressed and aged. For me far to bright and new looking.

    Additionally it is also worth noting that Ties had painted the " older" mission bombs slightly distressed, right from the start.

    dujardin, Boyo, bseal and 3 others like this.
  4. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

    Nottingham England
    Continued ....

    If the bombs were going on in batches by the painter after completing the bomber missions during the war they would certainly look different.

    These pictures show the jacket after Ties got further to work




    Our early May bank holiday in the U.K. was one of glorious sun and it appears Germany was no different. Ties highlighted that it was kind of tricky to take pictures as they also had full sunshine and he was hopeful in the photo’s he had emailed over that I would get a good impression.

    Ties feels that from his perspective the jacket is perfect as it is now. “Everything has that blended-in look, with no parts standing out or look kind of "out-of-context".

    As mentioned above he did feel that for him it was almost impossible to take an exact matching picture, though.

    As Ties said “ the contrast of the brown jacket and the painted parts (especially the white parts) irritates my camera so much that you have to take my word on this. The real jacket looks even better than the pictures.

    The leather and the overall condition of the jacket fit the design and the ageing process perfectly.

    One could see that you did not pamper the jacket too much, so ageing it felt quite natural. There is nothing more annoying than brand new jackets with brand new nose art..”

    With this last email, Ties sent over a couple of more pictures to keep me going as the jacket was now on it’s way back to England.


    Art, dujardin, Boyo and 4 others like this.
  5. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

    Nottingham England
    Continued ....

    Now that it’s arrived. I have to say it ticks every box. Hopefully Ties’ photograph’s and these few I have taken today give some idea of how good this jacket looks.

    Forgive the quality of my pictures today. As always with no one else around, it means setting the camera on a step ladder, putting the 10 second auto timer on and running in front of the camera and hoping I am in the rough correct area !

    Sadly without a professional lighting booth, etc - indoor and outdoor light means it’s hard to get to see exactly the colours visible.

    We are suffering with bright sunshine in England at the moment. Where is our normal rain and cold weather gone !!

    Ties might want to fill in any gaps, errors I have made unintentionally, technique info, etc etc should he wish.

    In terms of timescale the first email to Ties on this project was on the 11th April and the jacket was received back to me today on the 10th May. So a day under one month.

    Fast, speedy, great communication and a superb job. Would heartily recommend Ties for any jacket projects you may have in mind.



    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    nkang, Art, dujardin and 14 others like this.
  6. Falcon_52

    Falcon_52 Active Member

    Iowa, U.S.A.
    That turned out great, Alan. Ties did a fantastic job alright! Hopefully, you will still have some jacket weather before summer really kicks in.

  7. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Portland, OR
    That looks fantastic Alan! Thanks for putting up this step by step post. Great idea and wonderful execution by Ties.

  8. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

    outstanding. very smart looking, in every way.
  9. ausreenactor

    ausreenactor Well-Known Member

    Mildura, heart of the Mallee.
    Great work guys! And a what a great timeline.... Ties, sensational work as always!
  10. jeremiah

    jeremiah Well-Known Member

    Wow. Excellent.
  11. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Active Member

    It looks great, to me, Alan. I know it's the point, but it looks like a vintage paint job. I guess what I'm saying, in a round about way, is that it's very well executed! :)

    - Ian
  12. falcon_ib

    falcon_ib Well-Known Member

    Great work Ties and thanks for the step-by-step Alan! This style of artwork was common among the 351st Bomb Group (pics found online): 351stBG_Wildfire copy.jpg 351stBG_SlowBall_1 copy.jpg
    dujardin, bseal, ausreenactor and 5 others like this.
  13. Thomas Koehle

    Thomas Koehle Well-Known Member

    Mexico Aguascalientes
    Congrats to Ties for his outstanding skills!

    And congrats to Alan for such a unique jacket!
    ausreenactor likes this.
  14. Greg Gale

    Greg Gale Well-Known Member

    Fantastic work! Really bad@ss, not overdone, spot on! I love the attention to details, the fact that the older bombs are more weathered.
  15. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Superb, absolutely superb!
  16. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    (That’s it.....that’s everything I got)
  17. johnwayne

    johnwayne Well-Known Member

    Alan, that looks bloody nice I must say! Ties did both himself and you proud, lovely job. One question, why paint an A1, a jacket we all know wouldn't have had such artwork? Still looks good though!!
    stanier likes this.
  18. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Portland, OR
    Do we in fact know? It is documented that some A-1's were used in WWII by guys who already had them. Also Admiral Ballentine's jacket was painted back and front. Although it was a 37J1, it was from the same era. The Tophatters painted their 1920's 37J1 flight jackets so we know that putting on jacket art is at least that old.

    It could have happened in my opinion. It's possible.
    Persimmon and Dr H like this.
  19. MikeyB-17

    MikeyB-17 Well-Known Member

    Cornwall, UK
    Fantastic job. I’m curious as to the significance of the yellow flash next to the ‘J’ group insignia.
  20. Dr H

    Dr H Well-Known Member

    Somerset, UK

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