Silk Stitched USN M-422A Jackets

Maverickson

Well-Known Member
Hi All,

Thought I might share a discovery I recently made and believe it remarkable enough to do a thread on one of my personal restoration projects. In this case with regards to the use of silk thread having been used to stitch together USN flight jackets.

Up and until earlier this week I was of the opinion that the Switlik Parachute & Equipment Co. M-422 was the only USN issue flight jacket that was factory stitched using silk thread. A discovery I made upon initiating my M-422 Switlik jacket's restoration process.

The jacket in question was in poor over all condition as sourced. In addition my jacket's original label had gone missing. However, I am keenly aware of it's true original make & model.

Come to find out that I have discovered another USN jacket that was factory stitched using silk thread in it's entirety. This time on what I believe to be a 1941 (according to Grant) issue model 85956 W&G M-422A

Previous repairs, time and untold adverse alterations now require my W&G to be completely refurbished. In the end to make this jacket wearable again it will require total disassembly to rectify it's current shortcomings. See a few pix below.

W&G Size 44 .jpg
Silk Thread.jpg
Silk Bobbin Thread.jpg


. Cheers, Dave
 
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MikeyB-17

Well-Known Member
Yeah it’s a beaut. I assume the waist knit is the original and the cuffs replacements? Love the colour of the waist. I bet that silk thread takes some breaking.
 

Maverickson

Well-Known Member
Hi Mikey,

Yes, the waist knits appear to be original to the jacket and the cuffs are in fact replacements. As you can imagine the majority of jacket's factory stitched silk thread, where not abraded, remained robust. Unfortunately, I still have to break down that jacket into it's individual panels to facilitate it's restoration

The reason being & most unfortunately the original sleeves were adversely altered along the way. Finding a decent match for those sleeves without dying all the leather to match is otherwise nearly impossible.

While at it I will reattached a correct brass M-39 Talon zipper originally used by W&G on the 85956 model jackets. That same model zipper was in fact carried over from the just earlier M-422 model jackets. Renew the knits, lining and mouton collar. Even go so far as to have that currently missing W&G label reproduced.

Size 44 W&G Opened Up.jpg


In addition, I also found that even the original lining was stitched together using silk thread from the factory.

What I find most ironic and as far as I know, I am the individual to have made this discovery. Not just once but twice with both my M-422 Switlik and now the 85956 W&G. So far the only two USN model flight jackets known to have been silk stitched. Up and until my findings this fact was completely unheard of in the industry.

You can also count on me renewing my W&G jacket's original silk thread during it's restoration throughout.

Cheers, Dave
 
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bazelot

Well-Known Member

Maverickson

Well-Known Member
Hi All,

I'm going to make a bold statement here & believe that it is well founded. That more than likely most all pre WW-2 USN leather flight jacket specifications may have indeed called for those jackets to have been stitched using silk thread. A theory I have often read about here within this forum regarding the A-2 jacket. Much unlike my findings with my pre War USN M-422 and M-422A jackets. So far as I know that A-2 theory remains unfounded.

However I also believe that because of silk's inherent constraints that it's specification was dropped or waved by the USN for cost savings & the need to have stepped up production for those flight jackets built following the on set of WW-2.

Since it is so difficult to obtain most all original M-422 jackets or for me to get another opportunity to open another up any per War USN flight jacket any time soon, I intend to do my best to prove this point when the National Archives open back up following the end of this pandemic.

Cheers, Dave
 
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Maverickson

Well-Known Member
Hi All,

In an effort to further back up my theory that the USN specified that their M-422 jacket were to have been stitched using silk thread I recently found even more evidence of it's use. A remarkable upgrade conceived for it's time when the industry standard was 100% cotton. Until now, a previously undiscovered innovation and notable construction upgrade over all others for it's time from within that industry. In this case more defining evidence through descriptive photographs provided to me by Bazelot of his near pristine M-422 Monarch jacket.

If you know what to look for silk thread has characteristics that make it fairly recognizable. To begin silk is naturally much more shiny than cotton. In addition it is configured differently and is in fact braided verses simply twisted. The advantage of silk over cotton being that it is much more strong than cotton for a given size. In addition and as indicated by my silk stitched Switlik M-422 silk much more longevity.

Silk thread generally consists of individual bundles each made up from fine filament that are braided verses simply twisted like cotton. Likewise, silk thread more resembles braided nylon rope. Much like nylon braided rope those ends have a tendency to fray on it's cut ends. Unlike cotton those frayed ends on silk thread are both more wear resistant & highly resilient by comparison. With nylon rope those frayed ends are generally burned to seal. However, it is impossible to seal silk by burning. In the end, those loose tell tale frayed cut ends are a perfect indicator short of being able to dissect most fine original jackets.

The descriptive images of the M-422 Monarch jacket that allowed me to glean the information I needed was provided for by Bazelot. Seen here https://www.vintageleatherjackets.org/threads/monarch-m-422-in-nearly-mint-condition.15670/ . Fortunately, Bazelot was gracious enough to have taken some additional detailed pix for me. To include a great close up situated on the interior of the jacket along the off set map pocket.

Monrach M-422 Silk Thread.jpg


In the detailed close up image of Bazelot's original Monarch M-422 seen above please note the presence of the shiny, braided and frayed end on that thread. Basically leading me to believe that Monarch also used silk thread to stitch their M-422 jackets.

Between my Switlik and pre war 85956 W&G along with Tom's Monarch leaves the remaining W&G contracted M-422 jackets to completely prove my point. That all pre war USN jacket jackets were specified to have been stitched in silk.

From all available sources known to me W&G manufactured no less than three individual M-422 contracts. I'm aware that Grant owns a jackets from one of those three pre war M-422 W&G contracts. When he is able to check out his jacket should pretty much seal my theory.

Cheers, Dave
 
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MikeyB-17

Well-Known Member
I guess it goes with the idea that the Navy, with less personnel and thus smaller contracts, were able to afford a higher specced jacket with more expensive materials-ie. bi-swing back, rayon lining, goatskin, inner pocket, mouton collar, rather than the more basic, no-frills A-2. Silk thread as opposed to cotton fits in with that, I suppose-initially at least.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Just went back up the thread and realized this isn’t the jacket you were referring to .. Apologies.
 

Maverickson

Well-Known Member
Burt,


Even though not an M-422, it was all well & good that you did add those pix of your jacket to this thread. After all. your W&G 85956 jacket represents a fine example from the one pre war M-422A contract that was silk stitched. The last of it's kind.

Cheers, Dave
 
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B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Thanks Dave
Your expertise with naval aviation jackets is unsurpassed .
As a retired Naval Aviator, your dad must have been extremely proud of you. :)
 
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