by Albert Muzquiz Heddels
The A-2 Flight Jacket arrived on the scene in the early 1930s and became standard issue for the Air Corps. First made from a “seal brown” horsehide leather with a silk lining, quality of the jackets fell somewhat with wartime rationing and the transition to a goatskin leather with cotton lining.
Despite the technological advances made in the previous years of aviation, the A-2 was still optimized for an open-air cockpit and so featured heavy duty fasteners and again had the knit waist and cuffs. The zipper and the collar are the biggest differences from the A-1 and despite the fact that the cut is relatively similar, there is something more debonair about the A-2.
While some of the above jackets are mistakenly referred to as “bomber jackets” by laymen, the B-3 was a jacket designed specifically for the high-altitude needs of bombers. This was a bulky sheepskin jacket with a heavy-duty sheep-fur lining meant to keep folks warm 25,000 feet in the air.
For extra protection, the wide sheepskin collar could be closed with two leather straps. Far bulkier than the flight jackets, the B-3 does not have the knit waistband and trim fit that made the other jackets famous. Rather its warmth and durability made it a hit, even with Army General George S. Patton.