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A better horse A-2 than a Cockpit ?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Jim B., May 21, 2016.

  1. Jim B.

    Jim B. New in Town

    Does CockpitUSA make the most authentic accurate horsehide military/civilian A-2 available? I think they do.
    I do not think any original A-2 leather was tanned and finished in Italian, Japanese or French tanneries nor veg tanned or aniline dyed. They were not treated to create or bring out grain. They were not sewn in shops in the UK or Japan.

    Cockpit uses domestic hides that are chrome tanned, pigment finished in the USA. Sewn in the USA at a factory that also produces jackets for the USAF.

    Obviously the patterns are not copies of original makers but they are accurate if not somewhat modern. The WWII model is roomy in the body and arms but so was a 27753 or Cable. The pockets on it may be more forward but some Dubows were too and current issue A-2's are forward and larger. The collar has a semi stand like the current issue. The patched jackets they offer have a collar stand and a slightly trimmer pattern with pockets placed further aft.

    I am not a shill for Cockpit, I am just someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in activities that a leather jacket is the best choice. I have worn out more than a few. I have been disappointed to see the high end repro makers lose their way and now offer fashion jackets.(Except for Lost Worlds, I just do not know if his leather is domestic. It's a little heavy on the weight and topcoat for me but he hasn't gone the veg/aniline/ broken grain route).

    The Cockpit horse is a really nice color, accurate weight, is supple and the grain is natural and it breaks in easily to look really nice. But most importantly very tough and durable, water and dirt resistant and long wearing.

    So if I'm wrong I am willing to be enlightened or flamed, whichever.
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
    davyjones007 likes this.
  2. nick123

    nick123 I'll Lock Up

    I had one that was way too big so I sold it. I'd get another. Far from a bad jacket.
  3. AdeeC

    AdeeC Practically Family

    I have a lot of American made clothes. Unless made by artisan makers like GW and others the quality of industrial made clothes is now a notch or two below Chinese made at same price/quality levels. "American Made"is now a torch for flag wavers only to carry sadly. The good old days of proudly Union Made are long gone.
  4. US or Japan... they're all imports to me. ;)
    Monitor, Peacoat and Fanch like this.
  5. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

    The smaller makers use the best available hides to mimic the look and feel of vintage jackets. Very few American tanneries offer he same quality. as 60 years ago. And thank God they aren't polluting our rivers the same way either. Makers have had to go looking elsewhere for the most accurate feeling hides. That does NOT make them inferior but better and more dedicated IMHO.
    Edward, scottyrocks and Sloan1874 like this.
  6. My son has a vintage hh Avirex A-2 and it's a sweet jacket for sure. I agree that those jackets are likely more in line with the originals in that those were not the works of art that A GW, LW, elc etc are.
    That said, I'd rather own at least one of those brands for the craftsmanship, quality, etc.
    I in fact also acquired a civi A-2 from a member here and I love it. Not nearly the quality of a modern repop, but legitimate.
    I've always sort of agreed with what you're saying but value both sides.
    Edward likes this.
  7. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    I'd say Cockpit were very much a lesser label when it comes to A-2s. A. I'm not sure that given the amount of leather being hoovered up to make the jackets, I reckon the skins came from all corners of the world (probably non-Axis powers admittedly); B. I'm fairly certain A-2s were produced in Europe as well.
    The likes of Good Wear, Aero, ELC and Buzz Rickson have spent painstaking time and effort in recreating original A-2s using original jackets for patterns - especially John Chapman. How can Cockpit, which you yourself admit aren't faithful in fit or details, be considered the most accurate? Nothing against Cockpit, I'm sure they're perfectly fine, but you can't really compare them against the others.
    Edward, bn1966 and ButteMT61 like this.
  8. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

    Maybe I misunderstood. I've handled jackets from the 40's, and the boutique makers have nailed the weight and feel with the Italian and Japanese horsehides IMHO. If you're after that thick heavy 50's chrome-tanned American stuff, then I'd go to Lost Worlds or Aero. They both make jackets in the heavier weight.
    Looking at their site, I see that Cockpit do custom work. I would love to read your review if you decide to buy from them :)
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
    Edward and ButteMT61 like this.
  9. Yeah. I'm not saying that a modern cockpit is in any way an accurate re pop but made more inline with those old wartime jackets.
    Sloan is correct. The work that had/does go into what they make over at our fave makers is unrivaled.
    Bottom line. Would I rather wear A GW or a cockpit? GW all day, every day.
    Fanch, Peacoat, Smithy and 2 others like this.
  10. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    I'm not an A2 fan but I see where you might be going with this. Period A2's were often hastily and cheaply made on production lines by semi-skilled people using whatever materials they could source. So in a way, the painstakingly made artisan produced versions are an anomaly. I personally prefer my leathers to be cheap and cheerful so I can mistreat a jacket, accidentally tear it or cover it in paint or oil and it really won't matter that much. It's a working item of clothing and for me much of the fun went out of the hobby when jackets started to climb in value and become posh fetish-like objects. I can afford to pay top dollar but I can't bring myself to do it.

    But I always heard the Cockpit USA jackets (who were once Avirex) were pretty ordinary and baggy. Are you saying the WW2 version they make is trim and appropriate?
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  11. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

    Oddly enough, I see your point. With my 2 fabulous leather jackets. (GW and Thedi) I finds myself looking for a "beater." ;)
  12. willyto

    willyto Practically Family

    You can get a cheaper second hand jacket from brands like Aero or Eastman that could serve that purpose while still being high quality and having great style. Beaters because they have been cheaper to buy for you and not because they aren't top quality, of course.

    I find myself using my second hand Aero A-1 and my ELC Pearl Harbor A-2 as beaters because they have been previously used and I'm not worried about what can happen to them. Both of them were less than 400€ so they're not dirty cheap but not as expensive as GW, Himel, Buzz Rickson, The Real McCoy's or even the same jackets sold as new by Aero and Eastman.

    They're the only leather jackets I have right now and they are great because I don't need to worry about them that much. If I don't have a place to hang them I just throw them on the floor, I don't mind stepping over them while they're there and sometimes I've even slept wearing them. I know that if they were new and I had paid nearly ~1000$ or even more I wouldn't treat them like that at all and that's the reason I am hesitant to spend so much in a leather jacket. These jackets can take a beating, originals from 70 years ago are still going strong so...
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
    davyjones007 likes this.
  13. If anyone thinks that a modern cockpit is equal to a GW, RLC, Buzz as far as mimicking a WWII A-2, then it's just trolling.
    I've owned Avirex and cockpits and while they are decent and often super good jackets, there's nothing to compare with the above.
    I do agree that they are truer in build quality to originals, but that's it.
    If you want the best hides, patterns and other details, get a new or used "fashion" brand like GW, Buzz, ELC.
    End of story.
    If you like the look of an A-2 and don't care about contacts, hides, zips etc. Have a lesser brand or civilian model.
  14. I'd have to say the Goodwear, Real McCoys Japan, Buzz Rickson, and Eastman make the best A2s, depending on what you need.
  15. AdeeC

    AdeeC Practically Family

    The Aero Russet Jerky Horsehide looks pretty authentic as used on their A2's. Can't tell much difference between the leather of my Aero A2 Repro and original Dubow A2 except for 70 plus years of wear.
    davyjones007 and Fanch like this.
  16. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    I think I can hear Andrew S having an aneurysm as he reads this. I suppose, you could say any generic A-2 made from generic leather, thrown together with little regard other than to get it done and on to the next one, is the best because it's 'in the spirit' of the originals, but it's a very reductive approach to take to something.
    Also, the idea that the original contracts had no care or thought given to them is a misnomer to say the least: the Monarch A-2s were made using a complicated graduated seam that gave them a slim, fitted look. I recently tried on an original Bronco that fitted like a glove, not a loose, baggy torso in sight.
    Certainly, there are contracts that were sack-like and unflattering, but if you go through Good Wear's many contracts, not only can you see the various quirks and differences in patterns. but you can see that while the production process was industrial, the thought that went into the majority of individual runs was anything but - which is why I'd have a Dubow over a Cable any day of the week, though others may differ.
    Tbh, and I think a few of the real connoisseurs of A-2s would disagree, the closest you'll get in terms of leather, look, fit and construction methods (one skilled seamstress per jacket), is with Aero's jerky Real Deal contract.
    davyjones007, Monitor, Edward and 3 others like this.
  17. AdeeC

    AdeeC Practically Family


    Aero Jerky horsehide on a real deal jacket compared to original Dubow A2.
    Fanch likes this.
  18. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    Actually, that's a reductive summary of what I said. :) It's better put the other way around. My point is that war time A2's were not a carefully crafted, boutique artisan product. Also no one is saying that all the cheaper ones are made by cynics in a hurry. Many of the affordable A2's are extremely well made.

    I'd be interested to see an Aero RD, by the way. In 30 plus years I have only ever seen one A2 in Australia and that was a Cooper. :eek:
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  19. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Actually, I was referring to the OP, not your post.
    The difficulty with comparing leathers made now to those in the 30s/40s is that, inevitably, the march of time has seen variations in the tanning process producing different finishes/drapes etc. Also, arguably, diets and animal husbandry mean that the weight and condition of horse/steer leather is different.
    Bottom line is that the people like John Chapman, who know what the originals are really like, are attempting to reproduce the *flop* and feel of them, and use the likes of Shinki and Italian leathers to do that.
    Having gone off and looked at the Cockpit USA site, the '21st century A-2' with the hand warmers and longer body, while perfectly acceptable as a modern jacket, in terms of what we talk about here - originals or vintage repros of A-2s - don't do it for me: knits are too long, as is the body; the pleated back is an atrocity, and inside pockets just spoil the look of the jacket.
    The other 'vintage' on the page are either peppered with repro patches, added inside pockets and all seem to have problems with the backs - so many visible pleats! Have a look at all the other 'lesser' makers and all seem to manage to do the back panels without a single one!
  20. Phantomfixer

    Phantomfixer Practically Family

    The Cockpit makes a great A-2 go to jacket IMO.....having spent a lifetime collecting originals and repops..of the few A-2s still in my closet...my go to is a off the rack, from the store in NY A-2 from The Cockpit, seal brown goatskin, fits great and has been all over the world, in an aviation environment...beat up, balled up, soaking wet, etc...things I would never have done with the Eastman, LW, and Aeros.......Never had a GW, and never will.....The Cockpit A-2 is truly my favorite A-2....
    Are there better hides and patterns...yep, closer to originals, yep...but over the years they have come and gone, and the Cockpit A-2 still hangs on...
    Not a plug for the Cockpit,,,just an opinion as asked by the OP...
    Jim B. likes this.

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