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Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by RHODEO, Nov 20, 2007.


    RHODEO New in Town

    Hi all, and salutations to everyone.

    I’m a newbie to this forum, and if I may, would like to draw on your experience, opinions, views, to help me gain some additional insight and make up my mind as to which A-2 to purchase.

    It will be my 1st and only A-2 purchase for a very, very long time. (I’m sure that’s like, “ …Famous last words….” ) I’m 5’11” and 172 lbs. And take a 42L normal suit jacket.

    My criteria in order of importance are as follows:

    - Collar-stand construction
    - Great Horse Hide quality, and colour.
    - True Historical fit (Pattern / Cut), must also sit nicely on shoulders and not hang off too much, and epaullettes musnt "ride up"

    - Most Durable construction (incl knits and all other components), I intend to WEAR this jacket, and would like it to be a faithful companion for some time to come yet.

    - Correct stitching detail
    - Good/Fair Historical accuracy

    I like the following jackets:

    - RMNZ – Roughwear 1943 Pattern , Seal Brown HH)

    - Aero 38-1711-P Type A-2 Lost contract (Seal Brown HH) OR Aero 40-3785-P Type A-2

    - Lost worlds – Dubow Collar Stand (Seal Brown HH) (But not sure what to make of the owners attitude)

    - ELC - Roughwear (Seal Brown HH)

    Its really between the RMNZ and AERO. The fact that I heard so many complaints about the ELC’s knits put me off. (As well as their possible pattern discrepancies)

    I like the AERO 38--1711-P , but don’t know whether they offer this particular model with contrasting (rust coloured) knits ( I kinda like those, but don’t know how I’d will feel about them in a while) What is the difference between “dark berry” and “Rust” coloured knits?
    I also would like to know whether they offer this model with the red rust silk lining, and what the cost implications would be?
    Are the AERO’s slightly shorter cut then most other makes?

    I really just like the Roughwear looks, and since ELC seem to have issues with their knits , my only option is the RMNZ

    Does anyone perhaps have any nice detailed pics of the abovementioned jackets? Seeing true pics might just make up my mind.

    Any and All opinions/views welcome

    Thanks and kind regards
  2. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Looking forward to hearing from the experts here; I'm in the same boat and have been reading up on this for some time round these parts as I hope to buy an A2 for the Spring. I'm looking at the Aero myself - I just love the rust cuffs against the seal brown jackets! The Dark Berry ones are the regular deep browk colour, the rust are the reddy ones which I believe I'm correct in saying were a characteristic feature of some of the original USAAF Aero contract jackets, and a distinctive feature peculiar to the original Aero brand. As far as I can make out, Aero will do you the red silk lining (not sure if there's an extra charge, I'd assume so?) to order. I'm toying with the idea myself as I love the look of the red lining in the examples on their site, but I'm not sure.... I think I read somewhere that it wasn't as hard wearing as the standard lining?

    For what it's worth, I hear the RMNZ jackets are unbeatable - some of the expertsd round here rate them over the Aero and ELCs by a long way. They're also significantly more expensive though if price is a factor for you. I like the look of the Toys MaCoys range I see from Japan (made by Buzz Rickson? or am I wrong there?) but from what I see of those on OFAS, they're double the Aero price. :eek:
  3. Well actually

    The most accurate A-2 reproductions made today are being produced by John Chapman. He has the Good Wear leather company and his site can be found here. He is still cheaper than some of the other high end producers previously mentioned.http://www.goodwearleather.com/pages/index.html

    heres a link to another site showing his Aero repro in horsehide.


    Also just scroll down the page a few posts to this thread about the gentleman who purchased an original Doniger and who also has a repro made by John. He has side by side pics to compare, old with new. http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=25222

  4. jake431

    jake431 Practically Family

    I'll second Fedoralover's recommendation for Goodwear - not only are John's jackets freakishly faithful to one you'd have had thrown at you in 1943, John is also a very easy guy to deal with and will patiently work through all your concerns to make sure you're happy with your jacket in the end.


  5. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    I've seen pictures of John's jackets - they look beautiful. Working out at outside my budget for now, but yes, money no object they're superb.
  6. jamespibworth@n

    jamespibworth@n One of the Regulars

    If I were to have only one repro A2 (I have several at the moment) it would be an Aero.
    The fit is as original as they use original patterns. They are also great to deal with. I am sure if you get the size right (just call them) you will be more than happy. Both my Aeros are getting better and better with wear. I wear them for work (an active job too). They do a good A2 guide to and for a small price will send you it although I don’t think it includes the latest manufacture of A2s (Goodwear).

    I would suggest do all the homework you can before you purchase but am sure you will not stop at one!!!

    Just a thought, you could look out for sale items on their web site or try Ebay, this way you can buy and sell a few until you find one that is right for you?
  7. Juanito

    Juanito Familiar Face

    There are a lot of priorities there.

    If you want the most durable jacket, buy the Lost Worlds Dubow. Yes, Stuart is "difficult" to deal with at best, but the jacket wears like iron and is a fairly accurate reproduction. You have tradeoffs when you are asking for the durability: you trade a period cotton taped zipper for a nylon tapped zipper. Lost Worlds glues the seams (at least they used to) and sews them with a very duarable thread. The leather is a heavy 3.5 oz or so--But the jacket will never come apart. The shell is unbelievaby durable.

    The finish is entirely waterproof, too

    If you are looking for accuracy, go with the Chapman/Goodwear A-2. That will be what I buy next, and I will be buying at least 2.

    The Aero is a good solid jacket, but the inaccuracies or the components (cuff design, etc) are too much for me to swallow.

    I have had several Eastman jackets. IMHO, the quality of construction and the materials (excluding the leather) are first rate. I do not think I have had a repro jacket that was as consistent with originals in terms of components (hopefully the Goodwear will outclass the Eastman), by that being said, you get knit that wears out quickly, just like most original jackets.

    You are right, though--I was never happy with the cut of the jacket or the varied explanation for the cut or "resizing."

    The thing that I always said was that I would like to have Eastman assemble a jacket with their components, using Lost Worlds leather, using a dead on accurate issue pattern.

    I would narrow it down to the Dubow and the Goodwear, and choose based on leather finish.
  8. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Juanito, do the Eastman jackets come up large? I saw a B6 on the bay but didn't bid casue it was a 42 (which I take in a suit) - didn't want to end up with a colder weather jacket i couldn't fit a sweater under!
  9. Juanito

    Juanito Familiar Face

    My experience has been that yes, the jackets are large and they have a rather "blousey" cut. I do want to be clear that I have not bought one in the past 5 years or so, but the jackets I had were oversized for their size labels, and the cut was off compared to my originals.

    This was one of my major concerns about the jackets and I received several different answers from both Charles DiSipio of what used to be Nose Art Unlimited (now History Preservation Associates) and Gary Eastman. One of them would say that they have been redesigned to fit the proportions of the modern man, then one would say that the cut is the same as the original A-2 or B-3, but the labels are one size off (i.e. a 40 label in a jacket that is actually cut as a size 42) to accomodate the growing size of most wearers as opposed to the typical man in the 1940's.

    Charles was generous enough to send one of his personal jackets labeled "42" to me to try on, and it fit more like a 46. At the time I was a standard size 40 and could pull off a 41 or 42 because of my wider shoulders, but the jacket was a complete tent and fit like a bag on me! I ended up ordering one of their very first horshide jackets in a size 40 and it was roomy enough to wear a heavy sweater under it.

    In any case, in the best way that I can explain it, was that when laid out flat, the jackets had a cut that was very wide under the armpits when compared to the waist, then tapered back to the shoulder area, as opposed the the more "boxy" cut of an original jacket.
  10. BuzzTheTower

    BuzzTheTower New in Town


    I hope you're able to find just what you're looking for. I'm John Chapman of Good Wear Leather.

    I just completed a pattern from an original Rough Wear 18091 and I was able to take it apart and get the exact shape of each piece. The Rough Wear A-2s truly are beautiful jackets, and they're a bit more complex than most, even with collar stands - a great amount of thought was put into the design.

    Here's a test jacket I made from that pattern, and I'll soon have labels for it as well...



    I'm also making a copy of Aero's 16160 contract which was done before WWII started for the U.S. It's made with a collar stand, square pockets but rounded pocket flaps, and it's got s very smart look. I made this one a bit big for myself, but you see what the shape is like. I'll also have a Good Wear label for the jackets this week. This is a test jacket, made with cowhide, so production jackets will be done in horsehide...


    Another photo:


    This contract was worn by many of the Doolittle Raiders, as well as Claire Chennault.

    Good luck in the search, and hopefully you find just what you're looking for.

  11. aswatland

    aswatland My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I would highly recommend a Good Wear A2. I am delighted with my Doniger. John's RW 18091 is also superb. Here's a couple of pics of my original 18091 for comparison.


  12. Smithy

    Smithy I'll Lock Up

    That 16160 looks beautiful John :eusa_clap

    What's the postage cost to Norway for one of those babies? ;)
  13. SamReu

    SamReu One of the Regulars

    Spokes Man

    Best thing I can say about Good Wear is the level of attention and service Chapman brings to the task. Others have read this already, Rhodeo, but it bears repeating: I sent John a jacket that fit me just right, and he crafted an Aero Good Wear for me, based on its dimensions. Didn't cost any more than the Aeros made overseas, either.
  14. dadgad

    dadgad New in Town

    I only own one A-2 jacket and it is an Aero 1938 repro from Aeroleather Scotland, tailored upon my measurements, got it in 5 weeks from the day of the order and I can't really think of anything better, I've recently been in Japan and I've seen around in Tokyo's Ueno shops a lot of repros brands from The Few to
    Lost Worlds or Real McCoy and so on, none of them match my Aero 1938 contract.
    I never had the chance to see and touch personally a Goodwear jacket but considering what emerges from any of the comments that I read so far and also from the pictures (John did a great CD with a lot of pics both from repros and originals btw) I believe that also with Goodwear you wouldn't go wrong!
  15. Be prepared to run across some cagey behavior when you ask some high end dealers about how a size 40 will fit. (Present company most assuredly excepted!) The reasons lie somewhere between trade secrets and seat-of-the-pants marketing.
  16. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    I guess there's no substitute for trying one on, no matter what the maker! Eh, well, if it was so easy, weould it be half as much fun hunting down the right one? ;)

    Juanito, thanks for the feedback on that - useful to know when I'm looking at jacket on the bay. Sometimes I'm happy to take a risk online, but when you're looking at the kind of money these babies fetch used, despite the considerable saving on buying new, it'd still be all too easy to make an expensive mistake! :eek:
  17. Juanito

    Juanito Familiar Face

    I have been following the auctions on eBay for a long time (AHRMA17L for 9 years) and it seems that if an Eastman Jacket comes up for sale, there seems to be a sizing issue. Now, of course that is not a blanket statement on Eastman Jackets and there are plenty of others that are sold practically new due to sizing issues, but statistically speaking, one begins to notice a trend.

    You are right about the trying on--I bought both of my Lost Worlds Dubow A-2's at the Museum of Flight in Seattle (I am not sure if it is still the case, but there used to a HUGE discount on price of items in the gift shop if you were a member), and compared them against the Willis and Geiger jackets and the Coopers also for sale there and while all were 42s, the difference in fit and cut was remarkable to say the least.
  18. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Yes, them's the breaks.... sizing really can vary from company to company on any jacket. I guess different designers simply leave differing degrees of wiggle room in their jackets when designing them against the body.

    I'm still watching the bay for deals..... I was just outbid on a beautiful Buzz rickson B-10 this last week, but oh well - the one thing I've learned from eBay is that if you watch long enough, there's always another one.
  19. Jacob Dubow

    Jacob Dubow Familiar Face


    I am not sure I understand what you mean about all these "sizining issues" with Eastman A-2's. I own several of them and the newer ones fit just like clockwork. I wear a size 42 and every newer ELC size 42 I try on fits right.

    Now, some of their older jackets are a bit different and I go down one size in those jackets. So, in the older production ELC's I wear a 40......no big deal.

    I have found each manufacturer has their quirks, G&B's are big for the marked size, RMNZ are quite small for the marked size, Aero's can have variances in arm length for a certain size.

    I have bought a number of ELC's off ebay and for the most part have been quite satisfied with the fit when accurate measurements were taken. Other than the pattern adjustment that ELC made several years ago, they seem pretty predictable to me.

    J.A. Dubow
  20. Juanito

    Juanito Familiar Face

    I will try to explain...

    As mentioned I have not bought an Eastman Jacket within the last 5 years or so. In fact, the last one I bought was one of their Roughwear 1401 replicas--so as stated, I have no experience with the newer jackets.

    I think your observations are correct in that the older jackets are different and that was my point and my experience. The "resizing," pattern differences, and changes in production were perplexing given the explanations from Charles and Gary.

    As far as the eBay comment--my observation has been that when one sees and Eastman jacket for sale, no one questons the quality, and they shouldn't--it is first rate. The majority of the time the stated reason for selling the jacket is that didn't fit the seller "right." So, perhaps people are looking for a different type of fit, but I would imagine the typical buyer of an Eastman A-2 knows something about flying jackets and is going to know how an A-2 or B-3 fits. All that I am saying is that (at least in the past) the sizing was an issue. For all I know, perhaps Eastman makes the jacket too well for the intended user given that one has to provide tailored measurements.

    I have just thought it odd when owning several original A-2's from various manufacturers knowing how they fit, I could never simply call up and order a size 42 A-2 from Eastman and have it be similar to any other size 42 I have.

    That is not to say that I was unhappy with my Eastman jackets, all were size 40s and fit fine if not a little large.

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