The biggest contract Aero Leather of Beacon NY ever received

Discussion in 'Foreign Flight Jackets' started by Ken at Aero Leather, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    About 20 years ago we bought what we believed to be an immediate post war Civilian jacket made by Aero Leather Clothing of Beacon, New York. What was intriguing was the design, knitted cuffs on a Half Belt is unique to this jacket, the style of the wind flap is very rare for a US made jacket of this era, the unusual bi-swing and the unnecessarily complex lining. If memory serves me well it was a trade in from a German customer.

    Soviet - Aero.jpg Soviet - Aero Back.jpg

    The odd one has shown up on ebay over the years, oddly enough usually from Eastern Europe which I recall thinking at the time was odd but now I see why.

    It’s very recently come to light that this jacket was one of a huge US Lend Lease order for flight jackets for The USSR, 111,566 jackets to be exact, by far the largest contract ever received by Aero Leather Clothing, Beacon NY who made these jackets on behalf of the Lease Lend deal with The USSR completed in 1944.
    We’d been aware for some time of a similar looking jacket issued to Soviet Aircrew during WW2, we’ve even made a few dozen replicas of it for our Russia stockist and we have an original of this WW2 jacket in our archives.
    It wasn’t until recently when we were asked to identify one of these Aero jackets, bought from a Soviet veteran with military provenance, that we realised it was identical to the jacket we’d had on display in our showroom for a couple of decades and noticed the similarities to the Soviet made jacket.

    Getting a copy of the Lease Lend document was the final proof we needed.

    Lease Lend Ru Doc.jpg

    Had we previously looked through period photos we’d probably have missed many examples, due to the fact that the original cuffs on the Aero made jacket were not of the best quality and often stretched or snagged causing many pilots cut them off, while others wore their jacket with the cuffs turned inside. This sent us back through archive photos where we found extensive evidence of these Aero “Lease Lend” jackets being used by Soviet aircrew all the through Korea and into the 1970s , even Vasily Stalin wore one with the addition of "tack-on" Scrambled Egg. We've got loads of pics, some are quite small and we are currently gathering more which I'll post a few at a time untilyou are all fed up with the subject

    My feelings are that the leather could possibly have been supplied by the Russians, hence the term “Russian Leather” above Goatskin on the Lease Lend doc? The fact that we are having trouble agreeing from which type of animal the leather in our archive sample derives might support that theory. On the other hand these came in Seal and Russet, the leather could be whatever Aero had left over from their A-2 production. The colour photo shows an actor wearing an original in russet while playing Vasily Stalin in the 1980 film, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears.

    Aero Soviet Colour.png

    Soviet Pilot Aero Korea.jpg

    These were once fairly common in The Soviet Union but today they are very rare and highly sought after so, yes, we are replicating the jacket, this one will be available Worldwide, our other Soviet replicas are exclusive to our Russian agent as he's the only one who can get hold of the correct zippers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  2. Nickb123

    Nickb123 Active Member

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    Fascinating Ken!
     
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  3. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if the 600 Short Goatskin Jackets were Type A-2s?
     
  4. silvio76

    silvio76 Active Member

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    Nice jacket.
     
  5. Dr H

    Dr H Well-Known Member

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    Odd looking design - neither fish nor fowl.
     
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  6. Flightengineer

    Flightengineer Well-Known Member

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    This is a mistake, Vasily Stalin was not portrayed in the Moscow Does Not Believe in Thears film.
    This is a photo from some other movie I don't know from.
    With the rest I agree, these jackets are very difficult to find here.
    I want to say also that they seem to me not so popular as you think. Although of course Igor has done a great job of researching and studying the history of originals jackets and original zippers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  7. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    I'll check on the Vasily pic, I'm sure it came from Google images but I can't find the source right now
    You know Igor, then?
     
  8. Flightengineer

    Flightengineer Well-Known Member

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    Yes I several times talked with him and I know his history and company, he helped me in due time to pick up one A2 jacket. He is a real enthusiast, but personally we did not meet.
     
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  9. Eastwood

    Eastwood Member

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    On a color photo character Vasily Stalin from the film 2013 - "Son of the Father of Peoples"
    In film 1980 - "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" same jacket is worn by a character Aleksey Batalov – Gosha, it is interesting that Batalov in many films was in soviet vintage leather flying jackets.
    Also, same jacket can often be seen in the soviet films of the times of the WW2 , for example 1945 - "Heavenly Slug" character Nikolai Kryuchkov - major Vasily Bulochkin, the same jacket but without knitted cuffs, with leather straps.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  10. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but the Soviets were not know for style like the Germans! This is actually pretty neat, and great info @Ken at Aero Leather!
    Any plans on making such a jacket?
     
  11. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    Thank's for info and for the correction, unfortunately it must be too late to edit my first post, no edit button?
     
  12. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    Can't say I'm fond of the knitted cuff / half belt combo personally.
    For many years we thought that the one we have was Aero's attempt at a post WW2 civvy jacket and that the design might have been the reason for their demise :>)
    Yes we will be making these but I expect most if not all will end up in Russia
     
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  13. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    I think you should offer a few of these to the US and EU markets . I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
     
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  14. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61 Well-Known Member

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    Believe it or not, there's a huge contention of Soviet re-enactors in the US and otherwise. I'm going to post on our board because I know they'll think it's cool. Cool enough to buy? Dunno. Yet.
     
  15. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    Great story for the re-enactors, as far as I know this is a very recent discovery and happened very much by accident, I very much doubt if any are aware of the project
    Who'd have thought Aero would have ever made jackets for The Soviets, never mind over 100,000
     
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  16. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    They will be going on our site, too good a story to miss with the Aero connection but it'll be a wee while yet, I've just heard that I'm going to have to spend a week down in the factory teaching new machinists the A-2.
    Apparently we are so stacked up with A-2 orders there's no time for anyone to learn a new jacket and these Soviet jackets are pretty complicated
     
  17. Lebowski

    Lebowski Well-Known Member

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    Interesting story, but the whole jacket looks quite strange all-in-all. Its too different features don't fit together.
    Half-belt + knitted cuffs? No, thanks.
     
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  18. geoff.adams.96

    geoff.adams.96 Member

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    I do strange/unusual if the design is authentic and historically significant. For me this one actually looks very cool and pleasing on the eye... I believe I would be in the market for one of these...

    Sent from my SM-G531H using Tapatalk
     
  19. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to agree, when we do get round to replicating these the plan is to offer,with cuffs (as issued) for the historic collector or without cuffs ......as most pilots cut them off due tothe poor quality of the knit and having looked at the original in our archives only this week, I can confirm the knit quality, or lack of it
     
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