The History of the Bomber Jacket
April 24th, 2015
Our approach to clothing development is scientific. We research and target the pain points of traditional menswear garments, then use technical materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to re-engineer them for modern life.
What we don't do, though, is abandon tradition. Good design respects it; and our improvements are intended to complement the details that make these garments so iconic. Case in point? The Aviator Bomber, our take on the famous flight jacket.
Like so many menswear classics, the bomber jacket has a military pedigree, its sleek lines and function driven design reflecting an original need for efficiency in construction, durability and cost effectiveness.
The Type A-2 flying jacket was standardized by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1931 as the successor to the Type A-1 and remains the standard U.S. Air Force flight jacket design. Most pre-war and wartime A-2's were constructed of horsehide, although some original A-2's were made from goatskin, which is difficult to tell from horse if tanned identically. These were rugged, long lasting garments, and original A-2 jackets still exist and remain in good condition to this day.
In 1943, the A-2 was declared Limited Standard, meaning that only replacements for in-service units could be ordered. The new flight jackets, the B-10 and B-15, were made of synthetic material and reflected the advancements made in aeronautical technology. As planes could fly higher, synthetic fabric kept pilots warmer. Flight temperatures dropped as low as -50C at 25,000 feet and precipitation would often soak the pilot; wet leather froze but nylon kept wearers dry and ice-free. Planes were also built more aerodynamically, which meant smaller cockpits, and without the bulk of leather and wool garments, there was more room to move around.
While flight jackets gave way to flight suits in the years following WWll, the A-2 lives on, immortalized in film by Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, Sam Shepard's stoic cool in The Right Stuff, and the swagger of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.
Today, the flight jacket continues to reflect the essence of American independence, a testament to its heritage and enduring style.