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.