- Buy from US Authentic Review by Robert Allen (August 2006)
I have done over 10 years of A-2 jacket research and I have seen many, many authentic models of A-2 over the years as well as reproductions ranging from accurate duplicates to very cheap imitations. Let me tell you why you should consider this version of the A-2 from U.S. Authentic, first the look and feel of the jacket speaks of quality in workmanship.
One characteristic which is often misrepresented by poorer replicas is the point of attachment of the back to the front pieces at the shoulder. Some replicas place this seam too far forward on top of the shoulder. Since the back edges of the epaulets are coincident with this seam, this construction often places the epaulets not on top of the shoulder, as with an authentic A-2, but falling forward off of the shoulder. This simply looks wrong. U.S. Authentic uses the Perry epaulet which has a rectangular box-stitch contained within the twin-stitch lines.
While the official specification called for horsehide, and while most jackets probably were so made, a fraction of A-2's were made of goatskin and perhaps other hides such as steer. Goatskin is a bit more resilient and tends to hold up better over the years. This is why I chose the goatskin version over the horsehide. I also found during my research that the jackets I have seen and touched varied from a light to almost a tan color to a dark chocolate shade. There appeared to be no single definitive color for an A-2 back in WW II. So I wouldn't worry so much about the color of the product. Keep in mind that your jacket from U.S. Authentic is new.
The collar was usually composed of one piece of leather for the top side while the under side was made from two halves sewn together in the center at the back of the neck. (U.S. Authentic is dead on accurate with this detail!)
Eight stitches per inch gives a very nice, clean, high-quality look, but it is clear that workmanship if not cost saving measures sometimes contributed to more sparse needlework. It is also worth noting that the thread material was all cotton with the original A-2's. U.S. Authentic uses eight stitches per inch with brown cotton thread.
Pockets reflected the differences per contractor, particularly with regard to the cut of the flaps. Some flaps were more rounded, others more pointed, some with a more scalloped shape and others a with a simpler angular shape. This is not to say that variations did not exist within a single contractor, in my research they did exist, even on the same jacket. It seemed that getting the same shape every time was not so simple a task because of the mass prodeuction of the A-2. One characteristic that A-2 pockets definitely did not have was the side-entry or "hand-warmer" secondary pockets. This was strictly a commercial embellishment. Another characteristic which is often ignored in replicas is the placement of the pockets relative to the zipper. Authentic A-2's have a sizable spacing between the zipper or center of the jacket and the edge of the pocket, essentially placing the pocket toward the wearer's side. Many replicas that I have seen place the pockets much too close to the center and they just look wrong. Also contrary to many of the much less authentic jacket copies is that the A-2 has only the two outside patch pockets and has no inside pockets of any kind. So keep this in mind when shopping for your A-2. Again U.S. Authentic was faithful in the pocket contruction and placement. The pockets on my A-2 are hybrids containing all the best characteristics taken from several original A-2 manufactors such as: The Rough Wear pocket with rounded corners and gently curved flap. The Werber pocket with box-shaped reinforcement stitching. The Bronco pocket snap reinforcement with a rounded tongue extension. All of these details make up the U.S. Authentic pocket constuction. The only thing lacking is a pocket lable with size and inspectors numbers and stamps, but I can overlook that detail and you should too. If you have to have such detail in your jacket then be prepared to pay Eastman over in England or Aero Leather Co. over in Scotland about $800.00. As for me, I would like my jacket made in the U.S.A.!
The early A-2's did have a silk lining up until about 1939-40, its procurement was found not to be feasible after 1941. I wonder why??? So the brown cotton lining you get with U.S. Authentic is the correct shade.
KNITING ON THE SLEEVES AND WAISTBAND:
Wool knitting was used for the sleeve wristlets as well as the waistband. These were brown like the jacket, but again I found there were variations in shade from dark to medium brown to an almost reddish hue as typical of many Aero Leather jackets. Wristlets had a double weave, looser on the top half (toward the sleeve attachment) and tighter toward the bottom (end). U.S. Authentic got this detail right as well.
A woven specification label that was sewn into each jacket generally followed a this format: The TYPE A-2 followed by the drawing number (30-1415), the contract or order number, the manufacturer, and the proclamation that the jacket was Property, Air Force, U.S. Army. The size appeared on a small and separate label sewn at the bottom edge of the main label.
U.S. Authenic's label is a good one and looks like one that would have been made back during WW II.
A strip of leather was sewn into the neck above the spec label to be used as a hanger. While the method of attachment to the jacket appeared most often to be box-stitching at each end, I also saw examples of bar-tacking. It is important to note that not all reproductions get this detail correct! I have seen some that have a weak cloth, nylon, or leather loop which was not sewn through the back of the jacket. Stay away from these types of A-2 reproductions!!! If they skimp on this very important detail, then they may have cut cost in manufacture of their A-2 version elsewhere.
As you look at the details like the ball-stud snaps on the collar and pockets and the TALON zipper on the A-2, know that you are getting the "correct" hardware with U.S. Authentic. The only details missing from the zipper are the lack of the "fan shaped" zipper puller and TALON marked on the center of the zipper itself and the MADE IN USA on the back of the zipper. U.S. Authentics zipper is a TALON zipper however, just a modern version. In my research I counted 7 different zipper types on various jackets. I'm not splitting hairs here.
The snaps you get are the ball-stud type that are very simular to the type that were used on the ROUGH WEAR A-2. The only differences being the ball stud snap from Rough Wear pockets showed a dimpled impression. This was typical of the these snaps used on pockets. The ball studs used on collar snaps did not have dimples and were also a little smaller.
Don't forget the underarm ventilation grommets! This detail is missed on cheaper jackets and is a very important detail which is included with U.S. Authentic's A-2.
STAMPS IN THE LINING:
This is another very big reason I purchased from U.S. Authentic! I noticed they included the stamps! A-2 jacket linings are stamped with an inspector's mark composed of the letters AN along with an inspector's number, all contained within a circle. This stamp was often, but not exclusively, placed near the spec label, but did not appear in all the jackets that I saw. The size of the AN stamp circle was about 5/8-inch, and a smaller version I saw was about 5/16-inch. U.S. Authentic could make a smaller version with a number yes, but I'm happy with their stamp. Next is the Army Air Corps wing and star insignia. I saw this in various forms. It was found to be a larger stamp on the lining, as a smaller stamp or decal on the inside face of the zipper wind flap, or as a full color transfer on the left shoulder. The application of this insignia on clothing and other flying equipment was specified in Technical Order No. 13-1-12, dated February 1, 1944. Insignia were then applied both to new items and to used items, such as many A-2 jackets, which were either reissued or refurbished. That is the correct history of the Army Air Stamp on the A-2.
I found that many different types and sizes of leather nameplates were used during WW II. I must have seen over a dozen different types during my research. The strips of leather that were used for nameplates were supplied, stamped, issued, and sewn on at the Base where the Airmen were stationed. They were, according to the Class 13 Catalog, 4 inches long and 5/8-inch in height. It is evident, however, that a great deal of A-2 nameplates were custom made and varied greatly in size and in how the name was applied. My fathers nameplate had 1/4" high embosed letters on his A-2 and was placed on the left side of the jacket about 1 1/2" to the right of the zipper stitch and about 8 inches above the pocket.
Well, there you have it. All of my research notes from years of trying to find the right A-2 for myself. It is up to you as to who you wish to buy from, but know that U.S. Authentic will give you a good and accurate A-2 for the money that you will be very proud to wear! I showed my A-2 to my father and he said that it looked just like the one he had in WW II.
(Posted on 7/23/2010)
- Absolutely satisfied Review by C Jackson (June 2006)
I received my jacket last Friday and I'm absolutley satisfied with the quality of the garment and the workmanship of your skilled craftspeople. I apologize for writing this so late but I've been working alot of overtime.
And thanks for the prompt turnaround time. You and your staff are just great.
Thanks again for such a great job. (Posted on 7/23/2010)
- The most extraordinary jacket I've ever owned Review by Craig Argus (June 2006)
I just received my horsehide A-2 today and it is fabulous. My initial jacket arrived the day after I ordered it! Thanks to your advise, I didn't have the patch and name tag applied right away. I spoke with customer service and explained the sizing problems I had with the jacket. I returned it and again, thanks to your advise and impeccable skill I received my new jacket with patch and name tag applied the following day and the fit is remarkable.
I've had other A-2's in the past but none of them even come close to comparing to the quality and attention to detail of your product. The grain, coloring, fit, stitching, epaulets, lining, everything is much better than I could have ever hoped for. Your customer service was truly an enjoyable experience. By far the most professional and helpful I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Other company's should take a page from your book. My hat's off to you.
I sincerely thank you for the most extraordinary jacket I've ever owned. More importantly, a jacket that I am proud to wear and display. I look forward to doing business with you in the future.
If you are an A-2 enthusiast and want an incredibly authentic WWII era A-2, of outstanding quality, please, as one enthusiast to another, try one of these jackets. You won't be disappointed.
(Posted on 7/23/2010)
- Very satisfied Review by Guy Bordeleau (May 2006)
I have received my A2 jacket yesterday evening and it's a very good stuff. I'm very satisfied and I will recommand your business to all my friends.
Best regards from Canada
Guy Bordeleau (Posted on 7/23/2010)
- Far exceeded my expectations Review by Carl Amoscato (April 2006)
- Thank you so much for the outstanding work you did on my jacket. The work you did far exceeded my expectations, and I truly appreciate it. (Posted on 7/23/2010)
- Excellent quality and craftsmanship Review by H.L. Wortham (April 2006)
I have had my A2 army/air force flight jacket horse hide, for over a month now and I am so pleased. It is of excellent quality and craftsmanship. The more I wear it the more comfortable it becomes. I live in San Diego Ca. so it is a all weather jacket for me. I had two other knock offs of the A2 which I have given away, no need for them now. I also have the Navy issue G1, so I swap between the two.
Thank you for the reasonable priced and high quality Flight jacket.
PS I wore the Navy issue G1 my whole 26 yr. career (Posted on 7/23/2010)
- You guys are the best Review by Rich Keys (April 2006)
Jacket is back "home". Thank you for the quick service, and the little touches (re-sewing the nametape without sewing it to the lining and color thread on unit patch). Throat latch is perfect. Easy to see why you guys are the best.
(Posted on 7/23/2010)
- Could not be happier Review by Tom Ames (February 2006)
Hello US Authentic!
Just a note to thank you for a great A2 Goatskin! It came in the mail today and I could not be happier with fit and finish. A special thanks to the person on the phone with whom I placed the order. I wear a 40 regular and after explaining my size the person said to go with a 42 regular. I was really concerned as I currently own a competitor's jacket, size large, and have never been happy with it. They only offer a medium or large type of sizing and the medium was too small and the large which I bought was a compromise at best. Well, after looking at all the various sites I decided to go with yours and the quality is great, the fit is great and I am so happy I bought from you and would reccommend you over any other coat. I cannot imagine the more expensive coats being any better. I am debating whether or not to have the sleeves shortened but I really do not want to be without it for the rest of the winter. Is there a time frame on returning for sleeve shortening?
A satisfied customer
(Posted on 7/22/2010)
- Great jacket Review by Eric Hooper
- Got the jacket a few minutes ago, I am wearing it as I write this. It looks great! Thanks for all your help and assistance. After my brother sees it I may be contacting you for another one. I will be wearing it to the 490th reunion in Oct. hopefully some of the guys will enjoy it. (Posted on 7/22/2010)
- Thank you for a great jacket! Review by Randy Workman
I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know I received my goatskin A2 yesterday. After numerous emails you were correct on the size. The sleeves are about a inch longer than I like but thatâ€™s something I can live with because the quality and authentic look of the jacket more than make up for it! I had a C***er horsehide and your A2 is a far superior reproduction it does even come close. I was also surprised to receive the jacket in 2 business days!
I just had a question about the thickness or weight of the goatskin, how does it compare to that of the horsehide?
Thank You for such a great jacket! Keep up the great work.
(Posted on 7/22/2010)