• Welcome to The Fedora Lounge!

MA-1 Flight jacket

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Jwag, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. bn1966

    bn1966 Call Me a Cab

    Not much luck here with originals, I'm a 46 chest but a 48 Shoulders. Anything under 21" across the shoulders just doesn't work. I've purchased of recent times an XL 70's Alpha and a 90's 'Ground Pounder', neither fitted in the shoulders & importing them was an expensive exercise. Over here in the UK issue MA-1's are rarely available.

    On the N-2B & N2-A front I've had more luck due to shoulder width and own three originals in XL that fit a treat.
    Flightengineer and Edward like this.
  2. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage Call Me a Cab

    It comes down to the standards insisted on (or not insisted on) by the brand, as others have stated. From what I have seen Alpha is insisting on good standards from its Chinese suppliers. I agree other companies apparently impose no standards!
    I have a mid-50s N3B and the thickness/weight/whatever of the nylon shell on that coat, which is as original and authentic as it gets, is only marginally (I chose that word carefully) thicker than the nylon shell on my Alpha USA made civilian polyfill "skinhead" jacket from the 1990s. The difference is negligible. I realize that's heretical around here, but I stand by it. I don't currently have one of Alpha's current jackets, so can't compare except in my memory, although my memory is telling that the new ones might be a bit thinner; of course, as I've said before, the new ones are better constructed than the USA ones.
    Edward likes this.
  3. Yes, this makes perfect sense. After I posted last night, I did a quick eBay search for issued MA-1s. There were two decent ones...certainly not mint...but decent. Neither was size XL. One had a BIN price of 279 USD. The other was 400 USD. I understand BIN pricing doesn’t necessarily reflect true market price...but I was still taken aback by how rare and pricy vintage nylon now appears to be.

    Years ago, 1960’s MA-1s were fairly common on eBay...and reproduction MA-1s were rare. Rare, I guess, because hardly anyone made them. I remember buying a mint 1961 Skyline MA-1 sometime around 2003 or 2004. It was unpatched, had original knits, was size XL and had a Coats and Clark main zipper. I really wanted it because it was from the very first orange-lined MA-1 contract, so I bid the sun and moon for it. I ended up paying about $100, which was far north of any price I’d ever paid for a vintage jacket up until then. It’s a beautiful jacket and I still have it. But I never told Jackie how much I’d paid for a used eBay jacket that was older than her.

    Big J, Edward and bn1966 like this.
  4. bn1966

    bn1966 Call Me a Cab

    None over here (UK) currently in my size that I can find, tried USA eBay & found one vintage issue in XL but the shoulders were only 20".
  5. Interesting. The ones I've seen as new online have correct style inner pockets, though I think a little too close to the zip for full accuracy. I wouldn't object to heavier nylon if it looks right, but overall construction.... What I do often find with the cheaper brands is that some jackets are as good as pricier stuff, but you might have to sift through a few to pick them out.

    I've looked at a lot of xls over the last couple of years; none of them below a couple of hundred, and all US based. I think the days when issued/surplus milspec in the local A&N for fifty quid are now gone, alas.
  6. MeachamLake

    MeachamLake One of the Regulars

    I never have any luck finding vintage ones over here either, particularly in larger sizes. Everyone says originals are really cheap...but I never have any luck!

    I'm not too fussed about these nylon jackets, and as such would be more than happy to settle for a more generic version from the high street. I actually tried on a surprisingly decent olive green one in Abercrombie & Fitch (shock horror) when I was in London. It was honestly pretty decent for the money - had the oxygen tab and proper pencil holders on the arms.
  7. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    @Edward, my 60's issue MA-1s have a nylon shell that's heavier, thicker, and stiffer that any MA-1 style fashion jacket I have ever felt. Modern Alpha's shells are nothing like the originals. Thick and stiff is good! Oh, err..

    The thing with nylon jackets is that whilst a worn, creased, scuffed, patinared leather jacket has 'character', a scuffed, scratched, ripped nylon jacket just looks like trash. There's not much scope for character, and I baby my nylon way more than my leather.
    Seb Lucas, Edward and Gamma68 like this.
  8. bn1966

    bn1966 Call Me a Cab

    I party in my 70's L-2B (original) during the Summer...it always seems covered in Beer stains & costs me a fortune in specialist dry cleaning :)
    Flightengineer and Doctor Damage like this.
  9. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    So I think it's you, me, Thor, Atticus Finch and Butte that all wear a size 48, but I think that you're maybe 12 months ahead of the curve than me in your search for the perfect G-1 and MA-1.
    I feel like we'd be bidding against each other on ebay if I'd got into this just a year earlier than I did!
    bn1966 likes this.
  10. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    That's exactly right - well said. This has put me off developing much of an interest in them.
    Big J likes this.
  11. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    @Seb, Anyone who has handled a vintage issue MA-1 or BR repro will surely appreciate the qualitative superiority over current Alphas and such, but these are relatively not as robust as leather.
    My originals were a couple of hundred bucks, and I'd feel kind of guilty if I ruined them, and my BR repro was frankly expensive for a jacket that I can only wear around non-smokers (I smoke myself) or in places that have no sharp edges. I couldn't justify the cost when I was rational, but in a fit of euphoria at overcoming my intestinal parasites I literally couldn't have cared less about the cost at the time, I thought I was gonna die! LOLZ! I know, I'm pathetic.
    HPA Rep and bn1966 like this.
  12. bn1966

    bn1966 Call Me a Cab

    For me, the N-2B is an under-rated jacket, I've got an early 70's version that has 'patina' :)
    It's the sort of nylon that I can wear out and not fuss about, needs a new zipper and a dry clean which I'll get around to soon. The nylon is lovely and thick and unlikely to get damaged easily.

    I've given up on the MA-1 hunt for now, but will have a go again in the near future. I'm thinking Buzz or Cockpit USA. Currently I have no MA-1, but my Alpha Vintage Series B-15 sees a bit of wear.

    The G-1! Well I still haven't got Buttes off Him so given the shoulder issue I'm thinking an ELC version in a 48. I've tried a few originals and all came up snug in the shoulders. Might move on a couple of 46 ELC jackets soon (due to snugness) & that puts me in the market for a new jacket...I do need a new A-2...or a G-1! The ELC 'Pop Up' last month had some great G-1's and A-2's.

    About time to get the N-2A out :) that cost a bit so I take care when wearing it.
  13. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    I got another MA-1 today. Buzz Rickson's size XXXL.
    I'm pretty certain it was NEVER issued in this size. I'd never seen a BR MA-1 this big before, so I bought it. It was about half price on a Japanese auction site, used, but looks brand new.
    Last winter I bought the size XXL which fits me perfectly (measured chest 48 inches), giving me a correct fit (not loose and baggy, covers my belt), but when I saw the XXXL I felt slightly chagrined that I'd been missing out all those years before I got sick and lost weight, so I bought it.
    Measuring the XXL and XXXL back to back, body and sleeve lengths are the same. The XXXL has about an extra 4 inches width throughout the body, and (bizarrely) is about an inch narrower across the shoulders than the XXL.
    Worn back to back, my wife couldn't tell which was which.
    I don't know how BR recommends sizing (I'm sure that Charles at HPA would know) but when I bought my XXL the shop staff tried to not let me buy it because they said it was equivalent to a size 44 chest (making XXXL about a 46 by their reckoning), but I insisted that the fit was perfect, and I was buying it!
    I think that this may be because so many customers are used to seeing this type of jacket worn oversized and baggy.
    If I can get my kids to teach me how to upload photos, I'll post some.
    bn1966 and HPA Rep like this.
  14. HPA Rep

    HPA Rep Sponsoring Affiliate

    Greetings, Big J!

    if the XXXL was a BR Lion Uniform MA-1, we had those made in 2007, and I recall there were a few stores outside of the USA that wanted a couple, so that could be how you got one in Japan.

    BR does indeed consider XXL to be a 44 in all of their jackets, but this does not account for sizing/fit differences between various styles, so that explains the reaction from the store of purchase. I would honestly and humbly say that infinitely few stores AND manufacturers know the true fit of their goods and test and think them through as thoroughly as I insist we do at HPA.

    You must have a great tolerance for snugness to be wearing the XXL, or it runs big, which is not is not fully uncommon for some production runs (we've had XXL L-2B's that would very comfortably fit a 48" chest measure, being 4" larger than the on-spec measures listed on our website).We ordered the XXXL MA-1's as a jacket to fit 46-48, and for the vast majority, thats's how they were accepted.

    Unfortunately, we found too few buyers for sizes that regularly would fit 48, thus it was a one-time production. While I hear "big" guys asking for bigger sizes periodically, really only styles such as the khaki N-1 or BRWG MA-1 truly warrant the special production and justify the outlay in bucks for us to have special orders produced because it takes quite a long time too sell through the minimum production numbers. For reasons unknown to me, the "big" guys consistently fail to belly up to the bar with cash when the big sizes have been made available, thus for most BR jackets, being able to fit up to a 44" - 46" chest is all that is needed for us.

    You got very, very lucky in finding the XXXL. Good luck and good hunting with more of such great scores!
    Big J and bn1966 like this.
  15. bn1966

    bn1966 Call Me a Cab

    Tried on an XXL BR MA-1 @ the ELC 'Pop Up' two weeks ago...came up a bit snug on me...shame but my bank account thanks me :)
  16. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Greetings to you Charles! I hope you are well.

    I knew you'd be the man with answers on this matter! Thank you.

    The XXXL is indeed a BR Lion Uniform! It certainly doesn't look 10 years old at all! I wonder what it's been doing all this time?
    And yes, it is indeed rare over here. I regularly see Japanese boutiques online selling XXXL BR N-1 jackets, but I'd never seen another one of these before anywhere! It's kind of my 'unicorn'.

    As I'm sure you've gathered, I'm a stickler for period correct fit (not baggy, not one size to small tight) and my XXL fits exactly like all those issue jackets on Jet Pilot Overseas website. Length is perfect, and interestingly, wider than the XXXL through the shoulders. It's a mystery.
    Funny that you should mention the L-2b, because I bought an XXL BR one last winter when I bought my MA-1, and the fit is also great.
    It's a mystery, because all my Aero jackets are size 50 (a little big since I lost weight) and all my issue G-1s are size 48 (fairly trim), but these BR size 44 and 46 jackets fit great!
    I guess I'm just an odd shape (@_@)

    I'm kind of surprised to hear that bigger guys don't want to get their wallets out. I understand the concepts of economy of scale when it comes to production runs, but I've always been happy to pay, or even pay over the odds, for my size.

    @bn1966, maybe you should give them another go, and try on a couple. The original contracts didn't include actual patterns, but they did include a tabulation of measurements for each size along with +/- 2 inches or +/- 1.5 inches tolerance for sleeve and back lengths, and pit-to-pit. This is to allow for the fact that all of these jackets were being made by hand and sewn by eye (no computer controlled automated production line uniformity), and BR still makes them this way, so this could explain the variation in fit for same tag size that Charles and I are noticing.
    Although it could just be you and your Aquaman Olympic swimmers shoulders ;)
    bn1966 and HPA Rep like this.
  17. HPA Rep

    HPA Rep Sponsoring Affiliate

    Well, Big J, it's possible a collective of JP stores did have a run of XXXL's made since 2007, but we've just had that one run made and there's been no impetus since then to do so again.

    Yes, I'm aware of your desire for authenticity, which I applaud because I can also relate to this on a personal level - I fly my freak flag proudly! ;-)

    The L-2B with its lightweight lining vs. the MA-1 almost always provides latitude in upsizing unless we run into someone who has a waist measure equal to or greater than their chest measure, which is turmoil for just about any style.

    But you mentioned the N-1 in XXXL being available in Japan, and in recent years we've only been able to get the heavyweight version made in 46 without the stencil (per my request), but the standard version in XXXL has been elusive because, I am told, it's made by a different factory with prohibitive minimums. If you can point me to any JP stores with the standard N-1 in XXXL made from productions in the last year or two, I'd be curious to know who they are; it would seem we could share orders with them.

    I don't know why your sentiments toward the bigger sizes aren't more commonly shared, but each year I ponder the subject the result remains the same - production minimums just don't commensurate with buyer demand within the community of "big" guys.

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    bn1966 likes this.
  18. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Well Charles, I bought it second hand but it looks unworn. I've never seen another like it here. Maybe some BR 'otaku' collector got it from the US and never wore it? I'm very pleased.

    Authenticity is really important. It's the difference between history and playing dress-up. And because that's how I feel, I don't have a problem spending my disposable income on high quality things.
    I think many people have been spoilt by cheap clothes made overseas, sold at bargain basement prices. If I need a new suit, made from silk or decent wool, tailor made (because of my size in Japan), then of course it's going to cost. Or I could just get a cheap polyester suit delivered by Amazon, but then I have to accept that fit and quality will be poor. Too many people don't understand this, I think. My wife moans that I 'wear the same suit' every time (not quite true, I have four), but they are good suits!

    Here are some links to BR N-1 deck jackets in size XXXL/4L. I'm not sure if this is the version you meant, but I see plenty of these for sale.


    bn1966 and HPA Rep like this.
  19. HPA Rep

    HPA Rep Sponsoring Affiliate

    Thank you, Big J! It becomes more and more evident that we share many of the same views on everything from fine clothing to flying jackets. Sadly, I am all too aware that cheap is indeed what drives the market, and if I really had any sense, I'd have directed my business endeavors to the lowest common denominator wayyyyy back when I started this deal in the 1980's, but that isn't who I am, so I simply earn a decent living and enjoy the satisfaction of dealing with items of quality and those who can appreciate the same.

    I really appreciate the links to the XXXL standard N-1's. I will be speaking with Toyo on this matter because we really could use this version in XXXL; it's been quite a few years since we had XXXL in this exact style. I do know Hinoya is their largest retailer, and it's certainly possible that the size specs. for the Japanese XXXL differed from HPA's, which would mean there would be two identical items of the same size but different in fit if both were produced by the same factory; that would indeed lead Toyo to not make an XXXL for HPA due to confusion, but there are also creative ways for us to get around that issue. I'll see what can be done for 2018 production!

    Thank you and stay well!
    Big J and bn1966 like this.
  20. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Don't mention it Charles, it's my pleasure.

    You know, quality never goes out of style. People who know, know quality when they see it. That's enough for me. Why shouldn't we enjoy the nice things in life when we can? Life can be real hard sometimes!
    HPA Rep and bn1966 like this.

Share This Page