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Pre-war Irvin or AN-J-4, which one to choose??

MrProper

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Areo told me that the AM zipper is a #8 and the Waldes is a #5.
That may be. Since I preferred nickel, the question didn't arise. I just wanted to say that the #5 works fine on the Irvin and you don't have to worry about it. Probably because the shearling is much softer than a CXL after all ;)
 

f2002q

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That may be. Since I preferred nickel, the question didn't arise. I just wanted to say that the #5 works fine on the Irvin and you don't have to worry about it. Probably because the shearling is much softer than a CXL after all ;)

That is reassuring. I'm not used to the sheepskin, I'm used to the heavy cow and a #5 zipper would get eaten alive on those. I'm going to stop agonizing, and trust the WWII patterns, after all they survived bomber raids in harsh conditions.
 

f2002q

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I want to thank you all for your input, but I think I'm going to order the Aero ANJ4. While I think the Irvin looks amazing, the lack of pockets will drive me crazy. At a minimum, I need to put my gloves somewhere!

Now, since Aero has 2 different sheepskin colors: USAAF Redskin and USAAF Seal, and five trim leathers: Dark Seal Vicenza, Russet Vicenza, Seal Vicenza, Seal Jerky and Russet Jerky. That makes 10 different combinations! Carrie is sending me leather samples, but here are some images that I was able to hunt down online. What would we do without the Internet, eh!

For those who have actually handled this jacket, which trim leather is the thickest? If I'm gonna get a tank, I want to break this thing in.

From Aero's Facebook page, they have a Redskin with Oil pul-up HH. That is not mentioned in the order choices, but the dark color trim could be Dark Seal Vicenza. This one looks unique.
Aero ANJ4 Red 02.jpg

Again, from Aero's Facebook page, the Redskin and a Seal with what looks like Seal Jerky trim.
Aero ANJ4 two colors.jpg

From a previously sold Thurston Bros. example, this one is a Seal with Dark Seal Vicenza. This one looks mighty fine.
Aero ANJ4 Seal Dark Vicenza.jpg
 

Blackadder

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I want to thank you all for your input, but I think I'm going to order the Aero ANJ4. While I think the Irvin looks amazing, the lack of pockets will drive me crazy. At a minimum, I need to put my gloves somewhere!

Now, since Aero has 2 different sheepskin colors: USAAF Redskin and USAAF Seal, and five trim leathers: Dark Seal Vicenza, Russet Vicenza, Seal Vicenza, Seal Jerky and Russet Jerky. That makes 10 different combinations! Carrie is sending me leather samples, but here are some images that I was able to hunt down online. What would we do without the Internet, eh!

For those who have actually handled this jacket, which trim leather is the thickest? If I'm gonna get a tank, I want to break this thing in.

From Aero's Facebook page, they have a Redskin with Oil pul-up HH. That is not mentioned in the order choices, but the dark color trim could be Dark Seal Vicenza. This one looks unique.
View attachment 457916

Again, from Aero's Facebook page, the Redskin and a Seal with what looks like Seal Jerky trim.
View attachment 457917

From a previously sold Thurston Bros. example, this one is a Seal with Dark Seal Vicenza. This one looks mighty fine.
View attachment 457918
I am forever puzzled by how we are obsessed with thick leather. The shearling is already thick and restrictive enough. I have an Aero ANJ-4. We are not even talking about thickness of a leather jacket, we are talking about another added layer as only reinforcement. The ANJ-4 underarm panel design is to actually provide a thinner panel so it becomes less bulky and difficult to move. If all that fails to convince you, there is a reason why Aero is not using CXL for the trim.
I'd pick Seal Vincenza and Redskin.
 

f2002q

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152
I am forever puzzled by how we are obsessed with thick leather. The shearling is already thick and restrictive enough. I have an Aero ANJ-4. We are not even talking about thickness of a leather jacket, we are talking about another added layer as only reinforcement. The ANJ-4 underarm panel design is to actually provide a thinner panel so it becomes less bulky and difficult to move. If all that fails to convince you, there is a reason why Aero is not using CXL for the trim.
I'd pick Seal Vincenza and Redskin.

What can I say, I like the thick leather!!
I have two heavy Vansons that I enjoy wearing. I've tried a LW Suburban, not sure what heft of leather, but it made my Vansons feel like T-shirts! I thought about asking Aero to use CXL but they will probably refuse, so I'm left with the choices that they offer.
 

Salmosalar

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I would advise v strongly against CXL on an ANJ4 - it is totally the wrong type of leather for this jacket and works against its functionally. Aero's CXL is very heavy and it it is also thick and stiff due to the waxes it is stuffed with - this means you have a stiff leather overlain on a much softer one, which is not ideal as the latter will need ro flex much more at the seams, potentially leading to splits and tears longer term. This is compounded by the fact that CXL gets even stiffer in the cold - again due to the waxes - it is the exact opposite of what you need here. I have an Eastman ANJ4 and it is a very substantial jacket - the leather overlay is much thinner and more flexible than Aero CXL - much more akin to jerky or vicenza - it works well with the shearling and flexes with it even when v cold. Layering CXL onto an ANJ4 would make it both extremely uncomfortable but also that discomfort would get worse as temperatures drop. I am sure Aero have selected jerky and vicenza for a very good reason and CXL is notable by its absence. I have CXL jackets, which I like v much, but I would never pair it with a shearling outer shell for use in cold weather - in fact I steer well clear of this leather when it gets cold as it does not perform well under such conditions - I rely on those jackets in milder weather and/or if it is wet outside. You could end up with a jacket that feels like a restrictive cardboard straitjacket that is prone to splitting and tearing at the seams over time, with both attributes being amplified at low temperatures….. i.e., working against the design and function of the ANJ4. Hope this helps?
 

f2002q

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152
I would advise v strongly against CXL on an ANJ4 - it is totally the wrong type of leather for this jacket and works against int functionally. Aero's CXL is very heavy and it it is also thick and stiff due to the waxes it is stuffed with - this means you have a stiff leather overlain on a much softer one, which is not ideal as the latter will need ro flex much more at the seams, potentially leading to splits and tears longer term. This is compounded by the fact that CXL gets even stiffer in the cold - again due to the waxes - it is the exact opposite of what you need here. I have an Eastman ANJ4 and it is a very substantial jacket - the leather overlay is much thinner and more flexible than Aero CXL - much more akin to jerky or vicenza - it works well with the shearling and flexes with it even when v cold. Layering CXL onto an ANJ4 would make it both extremely uncomfortable but also that discomfort would get worse as temperatures drop. I am sure Aero have selected jerky and vicenza for a very good reason and CXL is notable by its absence. I have CXL jackets, which I like v much, but I would never pair it with a shearling outer shell for use in cold weather - in fact I steer well clear of this leather when it gets cold as it does bot perform well under such conditions - I rely on those jackets in milder weather and/or if it is wet outside. You could end up with a jacket that feels like a restrictive cardboard straitjacket that is prone to splitting and tearing at the seams over time, with both attributes being amplified at low temperatures….. i.e., working against the design and function of the ANJ4. Hope this helps?

Hey thanks for the explanation and advice. I'm sticking with the Aero options. I did read that a forum member got one with goatskin though.
 

Salmosalar

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Hey thanks for the explanation and advice. I'm sticking with the Aero options. I did read that a forum member got one with goatskin though.
Goatskin would be a MUCH better option than CXL - it is v flexible but tough as nails - it might not be as period accurate as the HH options, but in functional terms I would imagine it could be an even better match for this type of jacket and the underling shearling than the standard options due to its flexibility to toughness. Vicenza or jerky would both work v well though - the choice there is whether you want teacore (jerky) or dyed through (vicenza). Goat does take a very long time to age though - so this might be why it is not commonly seen on shearling flight jackets, as the sheep outer will patina and age much faster, with the goat looking like new for years (or even decades!). I have two non-shearling flight jackets in goat - an A1 and an M422a and they are extremely comfortable - but whilst they develop graining eventually the topcoat remains largely unchanged. I don't view that as a disadvantage as I don't want my jackets to wear out quickly and I really like how the goat ages eventually….but it might look a bit mismatched over time if overlain with shearling. It would be the toughest and most flexible option though, notwirhstanding aesthetics. There might be other reasons why it is not used commonly on the shearling flight jackets, especially as goat was widely used on their lighterweight counterparts during wartime etc..

My guess is that goat hide was less readily available in both the US and UK than HH or cowhide, especially during wartime (goats not being so widely farmed in both countries as they are elsewhere in the world) - so goat may have been reserved more for the subset of US fighter pilots who wore the M422a etc, with more readily available cowhide or HH being used on the Irvins, B6, D1, B3 and ANJ4 trim…but that is just speculation. Capeskin was also used for some of the lighter jackets. Others on the FL forum may know more about why goat seemingly was not standard trim on all the heavier jackets, especially as it seems to tick all the right functional boxes. I can certainly see why it was specified for the M422a, which is the most perfect functional flight jacket for (navy) fighter pilots in my view, with its snug fit but extreme ease of movement and incredibly tough, weather resistant outer layer.
 

Aloysius

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For those who have actually handled this jacket, which trim leather is the thickest? If I'm gonna get a tank, I want to break this thing in.

This is a genuinely terrible idea for many reasons. It's also completely period inaccurate. The overly-stiff belt hides that people on this forum and elsewhere online are enamored with are historically incorrect for vintage. Are they fun in their own right? Sure. But there's a place for them, and this is not it.

I would suggest that you go with seal jerky, which has some flexibility while being far more weather-resistant than Vicenza. It's essentially a more pliable CXL, complete with having a darker pigment finish over a lighter core.
 

f2002q

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I would suggest that you go with seal jerky, which has some flexibility while being far more weather-resistant than Vicenza. It's essentially a more pliable CXL, complete with having a darker pigment finish over a lighter core.

I’m not a big fan of the wear patina. I rather have leather be dyed through so as it wears it doesn’t look roughed up. Weather resistance is kind of important since this jacket will see snow, specially when I travel to Canada.
 

Aloysius

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I’m not a big fan of the wear patina. I rather have leather be dyed through so as it wears it doesn’t look roughed up. Weather resistance is kind of important since this jacket will see snow, specially when I travel to Canada.

I only mention that because that seems to be the motivation for many CXL obsessives.

For weather resistance I would look at the Jerky and the battered steer.
 

Canuck Panda

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CXL fanatic here... But I also have Vicenza jackets. They're sturdy enough, nothing to worry about, Vicenza that is. The Jerky HH have a reddish core so it will fade with the reddish core showing through. Most Vicenzas are dyed through so one color only no fading into another color, except blacken brown, that one is basically brown leather painted black on top so it will wear down to brown one day. CXL is also teacore, mostly, so it will fade into the teacore color.

There is also the new Kelpie horsehide which is dyed all the way through, and is thinner than CXL I believe. Let me check out my Kelpie racer and report back. I think it could be a good alternative to dyed through horsehide to Vicenza since Kelpie is combi tanned? and waxy finish? so in theory should be a little stronger but seriously at our level is not noticeable.
 

f2002q

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I got my test jacket from Carrie. Beautiful B6 in red sheepskin. Wow, so plushy and the red color is amazing!! It's more like a brick red color than actual red. A few things I noticed on the B6 that I didn't like, for example the collar strap seems too short and the buckle too fiddly to quickly fasten it. I imagine this would be done while fighting wind and snow, so the buckle better be easy to manipulate, which is not the case with the B6 buckle.

I liked the side zippers, makes it convenient to adjust the size, you can even do them up 1/2 way! The front zipper seemed a little anemic though.

The P2P for a B6 size 48 is a little small at 24 inches. This is more like a normal size 46. I would have to size up to get the "oversize" look.

Aero B6 Pic01.jpeg

Aero B6 Pic10.jpeg

Aero B6 P2P 01.jpeg

Here are the sample skins Carrie included. I measured the thickness with my loupe, which has a measuring screen, and the 25mm Seal came in at about 2mm thickness. The RAF and 15mm skin all came in at about 1.4mm thickness. This is the thickness of the actual skin, not the wool.

Aero Samples 01.jpeg

Aero Samples 02.jpeg
 
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elmi

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Hi. I am a complete newbie so, please forgive me if I fail on the ways of etiquette when posting. I live in Glasgow and I am an Aero fan. I have a hooch hauler and a premier half belt, both size 38, that fit me one big meal away from having to wear them unzipped. I am looking to get my first shearling, my current choice being between the pre-war Irwin and the ANJ4. I am more inclined to the latter, because I like the longer length, the pockets and the contrast between leathers. But I have so many questions: Is the leather going to cope with the perennial rain in my wonderful adoptive city? My ideal would be a ANJ4 seal on seal, but I am a bit weary of the white shearling collar. Do you think it would be ridiculous to ask for an ANJ4 with the RAF sheepskin instead? Do you know if Aero would accommodate that request? Lastly, do you think the 38 on the ANJ4 would be fine, it does not look like they are more restrictive than a premier HB or the HH to me. Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post and thank you for the education.
 

moktabe

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Hi. I am a complete newbie so, please forgive me if I fail on the ways of etiquette when posting. I live in Glasgow and I am an Aero fan. I have a hooch hauler and a premier half belt, both size 38, that fit me one big meal away from having to wear them unzipped. I am looking to get my first shearling, my current choice being between the pre-war Irwin and the ANJ4. I am more inclined to the latter, because I like the longer length, the pockets and the contrast between leathers. But I have so many questions: Is the leather going to cope with the perennial rain in my wonderful adoptive city? My ideal would be a ANJ4 seal on seal, but I am a bit weary of the white shearling collar. Do you think it would be ridiculous to ask for an ANJ4 with the RAF sheepskin instead? Do you know if Aero would accommodate that request? Lastly, do you think the 38 on the ANJ4 would be fine, it does not look like they are more restrictive than a premier HB or the HH to me. Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post and thank you for the education.

Hi, I'm afraid they won't.

I asked the same question and they keep their military patterns period correct which is fair enough although frustrating.
 

Peter Mackin

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Hi. I am a complete newbie so, please forgive me if I fail on the ways of etiquette when posting. I live in Glasgow and I am an Aero fan. I have a hooch hauler and a premier half belt, both size 38, that fit me one big meal away from having to wear them unzipped. I am looking to get my first shearling, my current choice being between the pre-war Irwin and the ANJ4. I am more inclined to the latter, because I like the longer length, the pockets and the contrast between leathers. But I have so many questions: Is the leather going to cope with the perennial rain in my wonderful adoptive city? My ideal would be a ANJ4 seal on seal, but I am a bit weary of the white shearling collar. Do you think it would be ridiculous to ask for an ANJ4 with the RAF sheepskin instead? Do you know if Aero would accommodate that request? Lastly, do you think the 38 on the ANJ4 would be fine, it does not look like they are more restrictive than a premier HB or the HH to me. Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post and thank you for the education.
Here's a wee tip from a Glasgow resident and ex anj4 owner. Don't get one. They are totally impractical for the climate here. I ended up buying and selling the jacket 3times before I realised how useless they are. They can't be worn in the near constant rain, can't be worn driving, walking any distance on the really cold days and quickly getting grubby looking due to the near white fleece. Stunning looking jacket though which is why I kept getting dragged back. It might work in Canada or Sweden but certainly not Glasgow, unfortunately.ended up an expensive ornament.
 
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elmi

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Hi, I'm afraid they won't.

I asked the same question and they keep their military patterns period correct which is fair enough although frustrating.
Thanks for letting me know. I was worried period authenticity would be an issue.
 

elmi

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Here's a wee tip from a Glasgow resident and ex anj4 owner. Don't get one. They are totally impractical for the climate here. I ended up buying and selling the jacket 3times before I realised how useless they are. They can't be worn in the near constant rain, can't be worn driving, walking any distance on the really cold days and quickly getting grubby looking due to the near white fleece. Stunning looking jacket though which is why I kept getting dragged back. It might work in Canada or Sweden but certainly not Glasgow, unfortunately.ended up an expensive ornament.
Hi, Peter. Good to know. Now, the question is what would be your favourite winter leather jacket for the dreich local weather. I was thinking about the Blizzard, but it is a completely different kettle of fish.
 

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