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'Experimental Test Sample' AN-J-3 Jacket Project

Technonut

Practically Family
Messages
842
Location
West "By Gawd" Virginia
It's been quite awhile since I've made a thread here.. Hopefully this one will be interesting for fellow Loungers, and leather jacket aficionado's. :)

I recently ran across a thread here showing a VERY nicely done reproduction of the classic M422-A Navy flight jacket. http://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/new-w-g-m-422a-repro.84710/ The member was more than pleased with his purchasing experience, and the quality looked to be top-shelf. I thought I was familiar with most of the talented 'jacketmeisters' around, but have not heard about Steve Sellers (Greatest Generation Clothing Co), whose jacket creations can be seen at Headwind MFG Co.... *Edit: I thought that Headwind was Steve's company when originally posted.. corrected*

http://www.headwindmfg.com/jackets.html

Being drawn deeper into the 'rabbit-hole' after seeing the M422-A, and practically drooling over it, I decided to search out more info regarding Steve's work. While browsing threads at VLJ for the first time in years, I spotted a couple of threads from last spring discussing the total disassembly / reassembly of an original Willis & Geiger AN-J-3 flight jacket. For those not familiar with the 'A-2 replacement jacket that almost was' here is a brief description taken from Steve's jacket listing:

The AN-J-3 was designed in 1943 by the US Army Air Forces. The jacket was intended to be a replacement for the Army Air Forces A-2 & USN M-422 jackets. The Jacket borrowed design elements from each type of jacket and was planned to be issued to both services. The "AN" meant it was for both Army and the Navy use, the "J" specifies it as a jacket, and "3" designates it as the third jacket developed under the joint services equipment program.

The design was an interesting combination of the A-2 and the M-422 jackets. It had the Gusseted back found on the USN jackets which allowed more freedom of movement. The rib-rack waistband, cuffs, and the dark seal goatskin hide were also carried over from the USN jackets. The leather collar, storm flap, and epaulets were taken from the USAAF A-2 design, minus the throat hook & latch and collar snaps. There were slight variations in the design as well, with some having no epaulets and an inside storm flap similar to the USN M-422.

Approximately 2,000 AN-J-3's were contracted and manufactured mostly by Willis & Geiger, but the design was short lived and both services dropped the jacket in favor of different designs shortly after delivery. The jacket did not see widespread combat use, but some photographic evidence suggests that a few were worn in combat. Willis & Gieger went on to sell some additional jackets to the commercial retail market under the label Abercrombie & Fitch.

I have always admired the functionality / looks of the AN-J-3. In fact, years ago, I had Gibson & Barnes modify one of their historic M422-A's for me by substituting a leather collar for the mouton, and adding epaulets.. ;) While looking pretty sweet, it didn't quite do it for me. I still have it... just not quite what I wanted. I read a follow-up thread at VLJ showing a full prototype of the AN-J-3 constructed by Steve, using patterns made from the original W&G he deconstructed. In my eyes, a dead-ringer for it.. :cool:

I contacted Steve to discuss a possible purchase, and next thing I knew, I was sending over my measurements.. :p A deposit followed shortly to get some goat cut! I read in the previously linked M422-A thread that Steve was good about keeping one updated throughout the jacket making process. I placed my deposit only a couple of days ago, and have been VERY pleased to find daily updates so far to my e-mail addy, including pics. Seems I caught Steve at a good time, and he was able to get right on it..:)

For leather selection, seal or russet brown 3oz goatskin was offered. I decided upon the not so common russet. I was given a choice of linings.. either wine color rayon like the M422-A, or the 'correct' brown. I chose brown. The knits are original type 'rib racks', and again, I went with the classic brown. It should give a nice contrast against the russet goat. ;)

I've read before that many of the original AN-J-3 jackets surfacing are missing their labels. This is more than likely because the military contract jackets were never officially issued, and may have had labels from the Aero Medical Laboratory Clothing Branch, as 'Experimental Test Samples' while evaluated. When the jackets were disposed of, the ones from the lab had labels removed, and other contract jackets which the manufacturer still had, sold-on to various stores, such as Abercrombie & Fitch..

I was impressed to find that the 'Experimental Test Sample' label is being reproduced by Steve to be used in his AN-J-3:

label2.jpg



Instead of keeping updates to myself, I thought I would start this thread to share the ongoing process with fellow Loungers.. :) For reference, here is Steve's original W&G AN-J-3 (Rust-color knits were found to be original with the jacket):

IMG_3737.jpg IMG_3738.jpg

As posted, I decided to go with a russet-brown goatskin. I almost fell out of my chair when looking at pics of the hide.. Outstanding! :cool: Looks very much like some that I've seen John Chapman use on a couple of A-2 contracts. Steve said it is French goatskin, and AFAHKs from the description, vegetable tanned. (There was a language barrier when he ordered from France, and to him, the hide is soft like chrome-tanned).. Nonetheless, an excellent looking hide with much character IMO.. Here are a few pics of the work done in the past couple of days....

IMG_2706.JPG IMG_3961.JPG IMG_3962.JPG IMG_3964.JPG IMG_3965.JPG

If there's interest in my project, I'll continue posting progress pics up until the jacket ships.. :) Then of course, the fit pics... :D
 
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Fanch

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,490
Location
Texas
Interesting thread. I have always been enamored with the ANJ-3 that has the best features of the A-2 and G-1. In fact I was set to P/U a G&B ANJ-3 at their factory store in 42T a couple of years ago while I was in San Diego but found it was way too big for me due to their unusual sizing and bought something else instead. Someone at G&B told me not too long ago that they discontinued their ANJ-3 due to lack of interest. Nice design though nevertheless.
 

Technonut

Practically Family
Messages
842
Location
West "By Gawd" Virginia
Great idea for a thread. Steve is a real gentleman to work with and the jacket he did for me was a home run! I think you'll be very happy with his work.

Thanks! After seeing your M422-A thread, I just had to check more into Steve's work. You have an outstanding representation of the M422-A, and I'm sure to be just as happy with the AN-J-3. :)

To more clearly illustrate what we're seeing come together, here are some pics of the prototype AN-J-3 that Steve made from patterns of the original:

IMG_3713.jpg IMG_3716.jpg IMG_3718.jpg IMG_3721.jpg IMG_3717.jpg

I was also happy to find more progress pics on mine... It is VERY soothing to the nerves to see my measurements being followed to the 'T' for this jacket. I have had quite a few negative experiences following sizing charts, and even after supplying measurements to the manufacturer regarding fit over the years. It's refreshing to actually see them followed as the jacket progresses. ;)

IMG_2714.JPG IMG_2715.JPG IMG_2717.JPG IMG_2724.JPG

Wow! The French russet goat is out-of-the-park IMO.. Thanks for the interest all! More to come...
 

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Stand By

One Too Many
Messages
1,741
Location
Canada
What a great thread! And the photos really capture the quality going on. Fantastic.
Looking forward to seeing it all done and the fit pics.
Thanks for posting!
 

Technonut

Practically Family
Messages
842
Location
West "By Gawd" Virginia
Here are some progress pics .. The jacket is really coming together nicely IMO.. :)

IMG_2736.JPG IMG_2737.JPG

It's interesting to see a roll of French goatskin turn into a completed jacket. This particular AN-J-3 did not have an inside pocket like the G-1, but Steve is working on that for me. ;) I'm trying to keep as authentic to the vintage original as possible, but with a couple of 'convenience' extras added.

Here are more pics: (The OD green pocket-lining is the same as found in the original)

IMG_2734.JPG IMG_2735.JPG
 
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