How did flight jackets (A-2,A1,B6, etc.) get their letter/numbers?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Grayland, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. Grayland

    Grayland One Too Many

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    My youngest daughter is in Florence, Italy getting her Masters in Fashion Marketing/Merchandising. She complains that Italy is locked down so she's stuck in Florence. First world problem, huh? She was my designated photographer and I miss her!

    She was assigned a semester long project on US flight jackets. She actually had to go to a thrift store and get an old flight jacket (she picked up an MA-1) and had to take it apart and check out the construction.

    She knows I'm a leather jacket fan so she asked me a question I couldn't answer - and I can't seem to find the answer. Thought I may get some help here.

    How did the various jackets get their names? I assume A-2 is the next generation of the A-1, but why is it called the A-1. Why B-3, B-6, MA-1?
     
  2. Carlos840

    Carlos840 I'll Lock Up

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    I think the militarry just decided letters and numbers was the best way to deal with things and avoid confusion.

    As you say, there is an A-1 and A-2, a B1, B2 and B3, a C1, a D1, a G1.
    Basically different letters are different models, different numbers are different versions of a jacket serving the same purpouse.
    I don't think the letters themselves have any real meaning, it's not like the army is super imaginative in naming things.
    Everything is just designed by a model number and and alteration number:
    M16 rifle, evolved into M16A1, M4 carbine into M4A1, M4 Sherman into M4A1, then M4A2 etc.
    I don't see why they would change to a super meaningful system just for clothing...

    Maybe @Peacoat will know more.

    Edit: actually the B7 doesn't fit in the B "familly", it's not even a flight jacket... I guess i should have just said nothing, i don't know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  3. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    The M16 bolt carrier was chromed to avoid carbon buildup, which altered the designation to A1 status:M16A1.
    ...and this should have been done earlier prior to issue.
     
  4. Boyo

    Boyo One Too Many

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    Im sure there are those that know the answer..

    I do know that a later war jacket known as the ANJ-3 & ANJ-4 the letters mean "Army and Navy Jacket" as there was a plan to issue the same jacket to both branches of service

    [​IMG]
     
    Bahabp100 and jonbuilder like this.
  5. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    As military vets will no doubt attest, the military loves EVERYTHING, not just jackets!
     
  6. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

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    Sorry, but I don't know either.
     
  7. Blackadder

    Blackadder Call Me a Cab

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    A-1, A-2 are the summer flight jackets which I think turned into L series light weight nylon jackets L-2, L-2A then L-2B for "light zone jackets".
    B-2..... B-10, B-15(A-D) are the cold weather jackets. There is a B-1 jacket but it is probably scrapped after a short production. MA-1 is the replacement of B-15 and designated as "intermediate zone jackets".
    Then there are C series items that are not flight jackets like the C-3 vest.
    My guess is in the early days, those numbers are meaningless other than being in alphanumeric order then they decided to add meaning to them and to avoid confusion with like bomber planes etc.
    Navy uses different designations for their flight jackets. I think at the beginning they use M. M-421a, M422a, M-444 then came the AN-6552 and the joint ANJ series of ANJ-3 and ANJ-4.
     
  8. Grayland

    Grayland One Too Many

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    I really appreciate all the replies.
     
  9. Deacon211

    Deacon211 One Too Many

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    It might be worth asking over at the VLJ. Some of the guys over there have really dug into the source documents and might have some insight into naming conventions.

    It’s an interesting subject and you can see the evolution of the American military logistical system reflected in it.
     
    handymike likes this.
  10. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    These numbering systems get weird esp in the US Army where different gear/clothing items had the same or similar numbers, like (I'm making this up) the D5 pants or D5 backpack, haha
     

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