The Irvin/Wareing Flight Jacket 80 years later

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Hey guys
There’s been an increased interest in Fleece lined jackets lately, which comes as no surprise this time of year with the temperatures dipping below freezing in many places . Now I’ve been considering doing this thread for a while, but to be very honest with all of you, original Irvin jackets are somewhat limited in numbers here in the US and many of them that find their way here are by way of previous ownership by WWII vets of the Royal Canadian Air Force, coming in from Canada . Because of this, there just aren’t a lot of original Irvin’s around and information on them is limited as well. I point all of this out simply as a disclaimer which is, when it comes to writing about or knowing about Irvin’s/ Wareings flight jackets, I’m really not well versed on the details or contracts of these jackets . I’ve searched around for a good book similar to Gary Eastman’s A2 Manual about Irvin’s but I just can’t seem to find one . If any of you have one or know of one, please let me know . It would be very much appreciated . So with all of that out of the way, let me once again explain that this article is in no way meant to demean or disparage the ELC repro jacket that’s being compared to an original 1936-1940’s Wareings jacket. This post is simply about showing how closely a repro made 80 some years later matches the original item .
Here are the two jackets we are going to compare /review today .
The first is an Original 1936-1940 Wareings Flight jacket . It was originally made as a flight jacket to a Wareings Flight Suit . It has an early Warings Label which has the Air Ministry stamp on it, but you’ll notice that the label differs from the later RAF labels without the Broad Arrow Mark and the normal height, and chest measurements.
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The repro Is an Eastman Leather Company late model Irvin . Considered by many to be the most accurate repro available today .
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One of the very first differences you will notice is the distinct differences in the color and density of the fleece on the two jackets . Not withstanding the eighty year time difference between the two fleeces, the ELC fleece is a light tan color and a good bit denser that the original jackets fleece, which is more of a light mustard cream color . The labels differ quite a bit as the 1940 BOB ELC repro label is supposed to represent an RAF issued Air Ministry Label , while the original Wareings label looks to be more of a commercially produced label that had the Air Ministry logo imbedded in it .

COLLARS
AS I mentioned the density of the repro collar is greater in the ELC repro than the original , however, the shape of the ELC collar is a pretty close approximation of the original collar, and the collar strap that is fairly close to the original as well.
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Moving down the jackets to the Main zip, we have a major difference in that the original zips are all DOT zips , However ELC has used a proprietary zip that they have either had manufactured by another company or have developed and placed their name on .
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THE HIDES
Here we have the most distinctive differences in the Original vs the ELC repro .
The original was made with tanned sheepskin hides and the leather is durable and maintains flexibility . Unlike US B-3 jackets that had an acrylic finish that cracked and destroyed the sheepskin , Irvin’s do not have an acrylic finish. However , due to marketing or just the desire to try to pre maturely age or look like a prematurely aged jacket, ELC has employed some type of finish to their hide that really doesn’t look like the hides of the WWII jackets. I don’t know if they use an acrylic finish or not but there is no similarity between the hides of the original and the repro jackets.
 

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B-Man2

Well-Known Member
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BELTS
The belts of both the original and the repro are pretty closely matched in the manufacture and points of attachment however the ELC belt is thinner in depth and not as robust as the original belt
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THE DREADED PLASTIC ZIP
Definitely an ELC addition and not part of the original configuration
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There’s so much more we can get into but for the sake of brevity here are the rest of the photos . There’s a lot of room for out there for a really spot on repro . The ELC will just have to do until one comes along however, it’s up to the buyer to decide if the price is worth it .
Cheers
 
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Chris 55

Well-Known Member
Great subject.
I do have at the moment a mid war 4 panel Irvin 42 pattern ELC and Ace's High.
Oddly enough I've been replacing the cuffs on the Irvin some of the old cuff has not seen daylight in 80 year's.
I've got to say the colour is almost identical to the ELC but on saying that it's a good few years old.
I phoned Eastman and as about the contract number and was told it was from a original jacket.
The mid war I have has a much looser fleece.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
nicely done, Burt. the etc jacket is certainly close, but, that original is off of the charts. watta knockout......and, it looks entirely wearable.
Thanks for the kind words Vic
It’s fits me nicely at a size 46 equivalent. I do wear it occasionally .
 

MikeyB-17

Well-Known Member
Well played that man! Great thread. These pics illustrate very well the differences between ELC’s repro and originals-the surface treatment, and in particular the zip, as discussed in the recent Irvin thread. That plastic tape reinforcement is not bloody good enough IMHO-I have an early nineties A-2 with a brass Talon that has that stuff on the tape. They don’t use it on A-2’s any more, and haven’t for years, so why is it still being used on Irvins? And I’ve already ranted about ‘antique brass’, again a horrible modern half measure which for the money they charge, doesn’t belong on what’s supposed to be the most accurate Irvin repro available. Can do better.
 

Bombing IP

Well-Known Member
Why cant we get a repro zipper to finish off the Irvin jacket .If it is to expensive ,do what the japanese do all the makers club together and split the cost . Its time for us to have DOT or Lightening its not that we are asking to go to the moon ?.

BIP
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Well played that man! Great thread. These pics illustrate very well the differences between ELC’s repro and originals-the surface treatment, and in particular the zip, as discussed in the recent Irvin thread. That
Why cant we get a repro zipper to finish off the Irvin jacket .If it is to expensive ,do what the japanese do all the makers club together and split the cost . Its time for us to have DOT or Lightening its not that we are asking to go to the moon ?.

BIP

plastic tape reinforcement is not bloody good enough IMHO-I have an early nineties A-2 with a brass Talon that has that stuff on the tape. They don’t use it on A-2’s any more, and haven’t for years, so why is it still being used on Irvins? And I’ve already ranted about ‘antique brass’, again a horrible modern half measure which for the money they charge, doesn’t belong on what’s supposed to be the most accurate Irvin repro available. Can do better.
For the sales price charged , you would think that these issues would have been corrected .
 

Bombing IP

Well-Known Member
Then whats the sewn in strap with the D rings for .I am sure that would hold it up better !.But there were hardly any open cockpit planes flying in WW2 why go to the trouble and use up precious material that were in short supply at the time . Not trying to be argumentative Bert .

BIP
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Then whats the sewn in strap with the D rings for .I am sure that would hold it up better !.But there were hardly any open cockpit planes flying in WW2 why go to the trouble and use up precious material that were in short supply at the time . Not trying to be argumentative Bert .

BIP
Jeff
No problem this is a learning experience for both of us .
From what I’ve read the jacket was designed in the 1930s for use prior to enclosed cockpits .Let me see if I can find a photo with the strap in use . I’ll get back with you .
 
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B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Then whats the sewn in strap with the D rings for .I am sure that would hold it up better !.But there were hardly any open cockpit planes flying in WW2 why go to the trouble and use up precious material that were in short supply at the time . Not trying to be argumentative Bert .

BIP
Jeff
Here’s a link to History Presevation where it’s described as being used to keep the collar up . I’ll continue to look for photos of it in use .

 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Then whats the sewn in strap with the D rings for .I am sure that would hold it up better !.But there were hardly any open cockpit planes flying in WW2 why go to the trouble and use up precious material that were in short supply at the time . Not trying to be argumentative Bert .

BIP
Jeff
Believe or not this question was addressed here on VLJ back in 2009 .
See below

 
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