Current USAF Issue A-2s

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by HackerF15E, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    @Edward, good post and I agree with all points you raise.
    I'm certainly not trying to browbeat anyone at all. I'm just kind of face-palming myself for having overlooked this fact, basically, forever. And consoling myself that no one else noticed either. Just one lady posting in the outerwear section might have noticed this years ago and brought it to my attention.
    Thousands of women must have been issued this jacket after all, but you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail, kind of problem. I'm kicking myself because I just never saw it before.
     
    Edward likes this.
  2. Flightengineer

    Flightengineer Practically Family

    Messages:
    580
    Location:
    RF
    I agree with every word
     
    HanauMan likes this.
  3. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    22,691
    Location:
    London, UK
    No imputations of browbeating intended - it's certainly a very fair point you raise.
     
  4. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,126
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    I own an old Aero horsehide A2, a souvenir from 101st Airborne days when a few war bootleg leather mavericks competed with Vietnam nylon issue jackets.
    While on leave in Germany, I stopped at the American Rhine-Main PX and noticed a uniformed Marine aviator wearing the naval version, I guess it was the G3,
    very sharp jacket, tight and bereft of any blouse. My A2 is a close fit, heavily wrinkled down the left front, adding somewhat to the jacket's character
    and distinctive look, division Screaming Eagle sewn upper left sleeve, name tape across the Rendezvous with Destiny chest patch. A bit worn, it wears well;
    goes with a simple shirt/khaki pants, too light for any warmth, now just a wardrobe accessory.
     
    davyjones007 likes this.
  5. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    @HanauMan,
    I agree that WWII jackets were utilitarian flight equipment, and ladies in transport roles were issued men's jackets. However, 2 points;
    1) In WWII women were filling in these very limited flying roles due to the need for all capable men to fly in a combat role. Women were barred from that in WWII, so naturally jackets were not designed for them. It was not envisaged that these ladies would be maintained in their flying roles upon the conclusion of the war. It was a temporary measure.
    2) WWII jackets were phased out and replaced in turn by cotton, nylon and now nomex jackets. These are utilitarian flight equipment. I would argue that current issue nomex jackets are intentionally unisex too since no ladies versions are made, but that's another conversation.
    The modern A-2 is not utilitarian flying equipment- that is the role of the nomex jacket now. The modern A-2 is an act of institutional tradition building. It's totally impractical and unnecessary. It's worn as a piece of uniform, not flying equipment. And it has been intentionally issued to thousands of ladies for decades, so it's not a case of giving a few gals men's jackets because there's a war on and it's temporary, but rather permanent A.F. policy to issue the same jacket to men and women. Isn't that the definition of unisex?
     
    davyjones007 likes this.
  6. HanauMan

    HanauMan Practically Family

    Messages:
    809
    Location:
    Inverness, Scotland
    Sorry, but I don't really buy that. I agree that modern A2 jackets are not exclusively utilitarian jackets these days. But it is still a general purpose jacket, worn by whoever needs it.

    So yes, it is unisex by definition, maybe, but not by design.

    Taking your argument further you could state that the current ACU field jackets, or the older M65 field jackets, are unisex because both male and female soldiers wear / wore them. When my father served in the military all soldiers, whether male or female. were issued their M65s and it was a common sight to see female soldiers walking around in their too large jackets. These jackets, like the A2, weren't designed for fashion reasons but as protection against the environment. But I'd hazard a guess that they all were designed with men in mind; considering the ratio of men / women in the military (I believe less than 20% of the army is female) it makes more sense in having a 'male' design rather than a unisex design for the basic jackets.
     
    Flightengineer likes this.
  7. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,662
    Location:
    Ontario
    I agree with this interpretation. I doubt even a single second was spent considering how to accommodate female service personnel.

    I suspect the "new, baggy" version came into being because when the USAF decided to re-introduce the A-2 in the late 1980s(?) they sourced the jackets from civilian suppliers who had been making roomy, comfy versions of the jackets for middle-aged men. They just bought jackets from those suppliers, which is why the Cooper military and Cooper civilian A-2s fitted the same. Later, the armholes were raised on USAF versions to give them more movement. I don't think the bagginess thing will ever change because the jackets need to fit aging senior officers and general officers too, plus virtually all military uniforms (dress uniforms excepted) are baggy/roomy these days.
     
  8. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    @HanauMan, well, we're certainly getting closer to an agreement on the matter.
    I still disagree that the current issue A-2 is general purpose jacket worn by whoever needs it. Someone posted somewhere here once a copy of the USAF rules and regulations for wearing the modern A-2 and it was highly prescriptive about who could wear the jacket and when.

    I remember that when the USAF put out the contract for the new A-2, one company submitted a pattern that was much closer to the WWII pattern, and the USAF rejected it asking for a baggier pattern (I think it was Cockpit?). Why would they do that if the weren't giving any consideration to the jacket being worn by ladies? I reject the idea that the USAF was giving undue consideration to desk bound fat senior officers removed from flying status, when so many younger fitter men were issued the jacket.

    As for your father's experience of 20% of US Army personnel being women, I can't comment without knowing when that was. But I would predict that demographics between the US Army and the USAF differ due to the highly technical specification of the majority of USAF careers compared with the Army.

    I'm also not sure if we can rely on the M65 Field Jacket to assist us in our quest. By definition it was introduced in 1965. And it is a field jacket. I think there were no women at all in combat roles in 1965, so I wouldn't expect it to have been designed with women in mind at all.

    In fact, the USAF doesn't even use the same Battle Dress Uniform as the army anymore. Service rivalries have led all branches to waste money on developing unique (and sometimes useless) camouflage patterns (the USN has that aweful 'wave' camp of blue digital stuff, and the USAF is now using 'digital tiger stripe' because....jungles?). The point being that the era has changed, and the USAF has money to burn on vanity uniforms in order to market itself.

    There are different dress uniforms for men and women, so there is at least some consideration given to the understanding that gender needs are different. It would be cost reductive to limit gender specific uniforms where possible by procuring unisex uniforms. Given the high visibility and PR value of women in these roles as a recruitment tool, I'm pretty sure that the attitude isn't just to stuff these ladies into men's uniforms with a 'this is a man's world lady' kind of thing going on. But I could be wrong.
     
  9. Sloan1874

    Sloan1874 I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,366
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Would strike me that by blousoning the pattern, they make their lives easier in terms fitting as many people as possible within each size band.
     
  10. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,662
    Location:
    Ontario
    I posted that and it says nothing about male/female.
    I think that's a good common sense point.
     
  11. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    @DoctorDamage, hi!
    That's great! I remembered that someone posted that.
    I didn't mean that it mentioned make/female, but rather that to wear one you had to have had flight status and could wear it on the flight line, but not in jets, and not off the flight line (or some such convoluted rules that basically made wearing the modern A-2 air show photo op material or some such).

    But surely the fact that it doesn't mention male/female indeed prove that it's a unisex design?

    It doesn't really matter, it's just a jacket after all, and not even a very nice one.
     
  12. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,662
    Location:
    Ontario
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Peter 1956 likes this.
  13. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Vendor

    Messages:
    353
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I doubt women were considered at all with the redesign of the A-2. I believe it was the result of an attempt at a modern fit. A mistake in my opinion. If you look at the G-1, it hasn't really changed much since the 1940's. Generally the WWII M422 jackets I have owned fit just like the same size of the 1980's E series G-1's I have had. They could have done the same with the A-2, but chose to mess up the jacket design to make it fit like a gunny sack.

    Maybe they will eventually make a womens version of the A-2. After all, they do have a womens CWU-27/P Flight suit these days. This one was made in 2000.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-USAF-C...316614?hash=item33e2e9f946:g:wZ8AAOSwWjpZq1II
     
    Flightengineer likes this.
  14. Deacon211

    Deacon211 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    This is an interesting turn of topic.

    I’m inclined to agree with the idea that the A-2 redesign was more a culturally influenced phenomenon than a specific attempt to make a unisex garment, though I think Big J’s suggestion is interesting and has some merit. I would be surprised if the demographics of the USAF pilot pool was not considered in redesigning the A-2 though I think the ‘80s was perhaps a decade too soon for the AF to be specifically designing the jacket to be “unisex”.

    Even if you exclude women pilots, who were still in relatively short supply in the ‘80s, the shape of American men and specifically American fighter pilots was changing. A modern (recently modern) fighter pilot is likely to be beefier than his older counterparts by design. The value of strength training to G tolerance was beginning to be recognized even in the ‘80s and it was changing pilot’s shapes as much as any general fattening of the population. As such, I do think that the fact that some AF pilots were shorter or broader etc than was ideal for the WWII pattern A-2 was certainly taken into account...the fact that some of these pilots were women, less so IMO.

    Also purely my opinion is the notion that intentionally including women pilots in aeronautical design was far more a brain child of the ‘90s and so probably more a design consideration for the unpopular redesign of the flight suit.

    But I don’t believe that the AF had ever intended to make a true modern implementation of the WWII A-2 sized to fit the ‘80s “state of the art” pilot. I think Doctor Damage had the right of it by saying that the AF was looking for a “contemporary” A-2, which in the ‘80s meant “relaxed” and to support this, I’ll point to an altogether different garment, the BDU.

    Though the Marines generally called them by a different name, the BDU was a standard issue item across the services through the end of the century. The ones we were issued in ‘89 had what I would consider “normal” collars. However it was still possible to open purchase and it was still common to be temporarily issued older lots of BDUs, especially in desert camo on occasion. These older BDUs overwhelmingly had what we referred to as “Elvis Collars” which were at a guess 50-100% larger than those of the later lot coats. This was just a reflection of the time when the BDU contracts were created. It is my guess that this attribute was not specifically spelled out in the contract. Rather, the contractors making the coats just created the patterns to look contemporary.

    By the same token, I just think that, while the original reissue of the A-2 was designed to fit a different body type than the earlier patterns, the blousiness and slump shoulderness of the redesign is more a consequence of the era in which it was made than an intentional decision to make a jacket that fit both men and women well.

    If that redesign were to occur today however, I absolutely think that there would either be two versions of the jacket as there are for so many uniform items or that the jacket would more intentionally be made with women pilots in mind.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    bn1966 and Flightengineer like this.
  15. Peter 1956

    Peter 1956 One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    UK
    Trying to figure out the make. Possibly the current issue Excelled as it has good quality leather rather then the naff Cockipt pretend leather.
     
  16. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    @Deacon211, I have got to get me some BDUs with Elvis collars! How cool is that!?!
     
    Deacon211 likes this.
  17. Deacon211

    Deacon211 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I’ll see if I can find a pic of them from my float when I get home.

    They look good with a cruise moustache!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Big J likes this.
  18. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,966
    Location:
    Japan
    Thanks very much Deacon!
     
  19. Monsoon

    Monsoon A-List Customer

    Messages:
    350
    Location:
    Harrisburg, PA
    Geez, Elvis collar BDUs. I don't think anyone I knew liked those. They were just too.......Elvis. A real 1970s flashback.

    I know that most of the women I flew with didn't like the A-2 because it made them look "dumpy". They were all athletic, but short in stature. Since they seemed to be sized more for average dudes, it didn't look good on them.

    Then again, flight suits didn't either. Tho, if I remember correctly when I retired in 2012, the AF was looking into woman sized flight suits.
     
    bn1966 likes this.
  20. Drewdog2323

    Drewdog2323 Familiar Face

    Messages:
    66
    I know some people knock the Cockpit current USAF A-2 Jacket with being roomier and not true to the WWII design, 3 piece sleeve, with handwarmer and inside pockets. However I was lucky to come across one in a size 40 last week on Amazon for about 40% off retail and one on eBay in size 42 for 60% off. I got both to try on.

    My chest measures 42" but am broad shouldered. The size 42 jacket more than fits in the shoulders but is pretty baggy around the waist. However, the size 40 fits pretty darn good! The shoulders and chest still fit well and the waist is neither trim nor overly baggy. I actually think it is quite a handsome jacket. I have an Eastman Monarch in horsehide which I love, but it is nice to have a solid dark brown goatskin A-2.

    Is it perfect? No, but it is nothing to sneer at as Cockpit makes great offerings. I think the size 40 is the better of the two and would assume that's what most of you will think. So I recommend going down one size if you are looking to make this A-2 work.

    The G-1's from Cockpit run much slimmer. I would recommend going up one size from your chest size in the G-1's if you are athletic/broad, unless you are lanky and don't mind a truly trim fit.

    Pics and measurements of each:

    Size 40:

    Armpit: 24"
    Back Length: 26.5"
    Shoulder Width: 20.5"
    Sleeve Length: 26.5"

    Picture 81_edited_edited.jpg Picture 82_edited_edited.jpg Picture 83_edited_edited.jpg Picture 84_edited_edited.jpg

    Size 42:

    Armpit: 25"
    Back Length: 27"
    Shoulder Width: 21-21.5"
    Sleeve Length: 26.5"

    Picture 79_edited_edited.jpg Picture 75_edited_edited.jpg

    Picture 77_edited_edited.jpg Picture 78_edited_edited.jpg
     
    davyjones007 and HanauMan like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.