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Thread: ALL REPRO R.A.F. Irvin type jackets

  1. #31
    Bartender PADDY's Avatar
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    Thumbs up ALL REPRO Irvin type jackets - Can anyone get it right..?

    THIS is where we discuss just 'how good are they?' , all the many differentiations and prices and manufacturers...and just why would you bother to buy a repro instead of an original? ...etc.

    Once again, photos and discussions on 'JUST THE REPROS' here please. Over time, I will disseminate relevent info from the GREAT IRVIN THREAD into these types of sub categories (all easier for discussion and referencing by newbies and oldies alike ).
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  2. #32
    One Too Many H.Johnson's Avatar
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    Early reproduction RAF jackets

    I was chatting to some distinguished RAF clothing and flying equipment collectors over Christmas and (having worn out a discussion of originals) we began to discuss early reproductions of RAF sheepskin jackets. I'm becoming interested in the topic of early repros of WW2 jackets (there is a nice 'orphan A-2' thread on the subject elsewhere) as I feel it represents in some way the history of a hobby (and an industry) that has grown rapidly. Facts are forgotten equally rapidly, and perhaps if we don't catch some of this information now, it will be gone for ever - much like facts about originals.

    Many people believe that Moto-Lita (later Aviation Leathercraft) was the first reproduction RAF jacket in the late 70s. One of our number offered that it there were accurate reproductions made much earlier that this - certainly the 1950s and possibly even the 1940s. A surprising claim, but one that he said he could prove. Well, he has, thanks to an early 50s motorcycling magazine and a Pride and Clark advertisement. P&C were, of course leading vendors of motorcycle accessories and clothing. I don't know whether P&C ever manufactured their own clothing or 'labelled' but I have seen their coats advertised in early Belstaff adverts alongside the Stoke-on-Trent company's own products!

    Anyway, my friend is right. In an early 50s P&C advertisement is a jacket called a 'Flight II', with a line drawing illustration and a description to the effect that the jacket is 'just like those worn by RAF pilots' and is made of 'West Australian sheepskin'. The drawing (which can be seen quite clearly in the original under magnification) is very like an original - and probably a Links. Of course, we can't know the details like zips etc. but based on what I have seen in other early P&C jackets it is likely to have been either a Lightning or an Aero. I would say that the sleeves in the drawing are a bit more 'tubular' (i.e. parallel) than most originals I have seen, but apart from that the drawing definitely appears to show a reproduction RAF sheepskin jacket, in 1952.

    Someone else offered to the discussion an interesting possibility. Some clothing vendors of the period (e.g. D. Lewis) had a permanent inclusion in their adverts offering to buy used wartime RAF clothing and equipment. Why and what did they do with it? Suppose, surmised my colleague, that they had it reconditioned and resold it. Was this, then, what a 'Flight II' jacket was? Who knows, but the existence of this replica is interesting (to me, at least). I can remember (early 1960s) when you could buy what I thought were surplus RAF sheepsking flying jacket from High Street shops like the Famous Army Stores. I bought one in 1967 and have always assumed that it was an unlabelled original, but suppose it was a postwar reproduction? As the jacket is long gone, and I can't remember it in great detail, I will almost certainly never know.
    'If you trip over a stone, an Englishman put it there' - Iranian proverb.

  3. #33
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    Interesting conjecture Mr. J. With originals commonly available as cheap surplus though, would there have been much of a market for reproductions at this time? I suppose there might have been the wish for ownership of a factory fresh jacket though, people must have been desperately tired of post war austerity.

    I like the idea that D. Lewis were 'recycling' jackets in this way. It reminded me of an ad that was constantly in Flypast magazine some years ago, from a Japanese company who were always looking to buy original Irvins for 'best prices paid'. Would many people
    have responded to this kind of advertising?

    Incidentally, I wondered if ELC had originally touted their broken grain sheepskins in their early days, would they have been inundated with returns and complaints about quality and 'faults' in the materials? As always, more questions than answers..........

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  4. #34
    "A List" Customer Windsock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by H.Johnson
    ..... In an early 50s P&C advertisement is a jacket called a 'Flight II', with a line drawing illustration and a description to the effect that the jacket is 'just like those worn by RAF pilots' and is made of 'West Australian sheepskin'. The drawing (which can be seen quite clearly in the original under magnification) is very like an original - and probably a Links. Of course, we can't know the details like zips etc. but based on what I have seen in other early P&C jackets it is likely to have been either a Lightning or an Aero. I would say that the sleeves in the drawing are a bit more 'tubular' (i.e. parallel) than most originals I have seen, but apart from that the drawing definitely appears to show a reproduction RAF sheepskin jacket, in 1952.........
    These may well be the dodgy vinyl backed collar type with clunky clix zips you occasionally see on Ebay.

    They are obviously old and fool some as they have many of the features of an original but really are lacking- I think they may also have poorly shaped sleeves that appear quite wide at the base as well...
    Andrew

  5. #35
    One Too Many H.Johnson's Avatar
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    RAF reproductions

    Andrew,

    They could be as you describe (you can't tell from the advert) but I've seen a number of those (they have vynil joining strips as well as collar and belt) and I always associate them with a later period than those in the P&C advert, but we will probably never know.

    Off topic, but in the late 1960s P&C used to sell a jacket that was a sort of cross between a D-1 and a B-6 with two (vynil) B-3 style pockets. Mmmm. Nice...

    Back to topic - a good example of an 'orphan' repro RAF jacket (def. - a repro. jacket that was advanced for its time but has now been 'left behind') would be those made in the 1980s by The Cockpit Clothing Company of Canute Way, Southampton (not to be confused with the US Cockpit operation). Way before ELC and Aero they were doing an early war, large panel style called 'the Battle of Britain' jacket and (the only repro version I have seen) a hooded 'FAA' version. The BoB was a good jacket for its time (better IMO than contemporary ALC or Cirrus offerings) but let down as usual by its zips.

    Any other early 'orphan' RAF offerings?
    'If you trip over a stone, an Englishman put it there' - Iranian proverb.

  6. #36
    Call Me a Cab aswatland's Avatar
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    H.J has made a very interesting point about repro Irvins. When does an Irvin become a reproduction rather than an original Irvin? Were wartime style Irvins still being made in the period 1946-50 and issued to bomber crew? Were these the ones made from low grade sheepskin with vinyl seam tapes and Clix zips? Some had leather waistbelts and others had vinyl ones. Or did all these date from around 1950 until the 1960s? What about a jacket called a Mark IV flying jacket with patch pockets was made by various firms including Douglas? I have assumed this to be a product of the 1950s amd 1960s.
    Andrew

  7. #37
    I'll Lock Up Spitfire's Avatar
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    Let me be the first to post a pic of a repro Irvin.
    (It was posted in the now closed Irvinthread some time ago)
    But here is the WPG Irvin. And I like it

    "There I stood at the bar, wearing a Mae West, no jacket, and beginning to leak blood from my torn boot. None of the golfers took any notice of me - after all, I wasn't a member!'

  8. #38
    One Too Many KilroyCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spitfire
    Let me be the first to post a pic of a repro Irvin.
    (It was posted in the now closed Irvinthread some time ago)
    But here is the WPG Irvin. And I like it

    Soren, that Irvin looks like a nice jacket. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my WPG Irvin. Right now, it's being processed by Customs. I just hope that it doesn't take until April to clear Customs like that ALC Irvin I bought from you last winter!
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  9. #39
    I'll Lock Up Spitfire's Avatar
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    Hope you get it real soon, Kilroy.
    Let's hear what you think about it - and see some pics!!!
    "There I stood at the bar, wearing a Mae West, no jacket, and beginning to leak blood from my torn boot. None of the golfers took any notice of me - after all, I wasn't a member!'

  10. #40
    One Too Many H.Johnson's Avatar
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    Mmmm. Yes. An interesting point. I can remember my 1967 Sheepskin jacket quite well and it was definitely without vynil in any form and looked new (or at least unissued). It had hooks for the erection strap (I wondered for yeares whet they were for) but no strap. Frustratingly, I can't remember what the sleeve zips were, but Ithink the main zip was a nickel Lightning with a thumb-grip. This doesn't really give any indication as to whether it was a civilian or AM jacket. Personally, I don't think a manufacturer at the time would bother putting erection strap hooks on a 'civvy' jacket, but who knows? ELC does...

    I was wondering whether to mention the Mark VI - its really outside the cope of this thread, but deserves attention as a style in its own right and was, as you say, adopted by a number of manufacturers. Let's face it, they were probably in production for at least as long as the 'Irvin' and it's derivatives!



    Quote Originally Posted by aswatland
    H.J has made a very interesting point about repro Irvins. When does an Irvin become a reproduction rather than an original Irvin? Were wartime style Irvins still being made in the period 1946-50 and issued to bomber crew? Were these the ones made from low grade sheepskin with vinyl seam tapes and Clix zips? Some had leather waistbelts and others had vinyl ones. Or did all these date from around 1950 until the 1960s? What about a jacket called a Mark IV flying jacket with patch pockets was made by various firms including Douglas? I have assumed this to be a product of the 1950s amd 1960s.
    'If you trip over a stone, an Englishman put it there' - Iranian proverb.

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