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What are your thoughts on painted/embroidered jackets, nose arts on the types like A2, B3, B6, etc.

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Shin, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

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    84
    Hi

    Just wanted to know what your opinions on nose arts are. Like jackets that are reproduced to have all sorts of WW II embellishments on 'em. You know, squadron patches, bomb group patches, pin up ladies on the back, half naked ladies, painted B-17s, US AF bullions,... those kinds of things. Do you think they're too costume-y for every day wear? What do you think about wearing such jackets on a daily basis? Awesome, unique, bold? Or too kitsch, garrish, try hard?

    Here are some pics:

    https://imgur.com/a/JnGp4dV

    Let me know what you think about wearing jackets full of nose arts and insignias in public.
     
  2. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    1,693
    Location:
    Canada
    Hi Shin and welcome to this area of the bar...
    Well, it’s a tricky question you pose as everyone here is a little different, and everyone has a different opinion on jackets and manufacturers and hides and colours. It’s all subjective and some will approve and as many wont, I suspect. You might really like to do nose art on a jacket and ask everyone here what they think and if 99/100 say no to what you really like as an idea, are they necessarily right? It’s what YOU think that matters.
    But you’re asking ... so for me, I like nose art and patches and am well known here for that (see the How To Paint On A Leather Jacket guide here on TFL) - but ONLY if it is well done and faithful to the vintage of the jacket and not a tacky design. Tasteful and quality of the art is key.
    But that said, I’ve seen guys here proudly showing their A2 and, for whatever intangible reason, when I see it, I have often told them that it’s perfect just as it is - it doesn’t need any adorning with jacket art! Can’t explain that, but it’s how some jackets look to me. The guy just rocks the jacket “vanilla”.
    But get some good books on jacket art and peruse the heck out of them for ideas and inspiration. And maybe you want to personalize your jacket so as to make it truly your own in a world where the ubiquitous A2 abounds? I get that. And it was why I did the art on my first A2 - and also with something that was meaningful to me (like “Lucky Dog” was with me and my dog’s brush with potential disaster). No regrets.
    But if you do it, keep it quality and keep it tasteful. A good A2 or ANJ-3 is an expensive canvas and not one to ruin on a whim ...
     
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  3. Lebowski

    Lebowski A-List Customer

    Messages:
    363
    Well, it's subjective question.
    To my taste originally painted/patched original WWII jackets look very cool, but when they're in good condition they'are usually too expensive even to buy, neither to wear them Lol))
    Painted repros - well, it depends. Sometimes they look cool too (if only painted/patched historically correct and with high quality).
    The main point - quality and correctness.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  4. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    PS. And I like jacket art on A2’s and my Aero ANJ-3 and my ELC C3’s - but I wouldn’t put anything on my B6 or B3. I think they simply look better plain. Just to add to the confusion of my reply. But you may not agree. Subjective, you see!
     
    Lebowski likes this.
  5. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    Hi Stand By. Thanks for your detailed reply. Indeed I am thinking about either making my personal B3 jacket based on either historical squadrons that I admire for their heroic feats, or based on real life heroes. I will have to think about it first.

    If I may, I'd like to ask you a few questions regarding the faithfulness of the WW 2 jackets.

    -Did Fighter pilots ever wear the B3 jackets or were the B3s restricted to Bomber pilots only? (Trying to be historically accurate, you see.)
    -Which side should squadron patch go? Left chest or right chest or doesn't matter? Also, on which sleeve should the bullions be put? I see some people have their US 8th air force, for example, on the right sleeve, and the US AF bullion on the left. While some pictures depict the complete opposite. Are there any rules?

    Anyway, best regards and thanks in advance.
     
  6. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    1,693
    Location:
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    Hello Shin,
    There are indeed rules regarding patch placement; bomb group and bomb squadrons on the chest are left-right specific.
    As are the sleeve insignia - but if you get some books like Art of the Flight Jacket or American Flight Jackets, you’ll see original jackets that had anomalies - and if you really research and get into the patches, you’ll find anomalies there in the materials and stitching and some had rare flaws amongst production and were used too!
    But I must say that the anomalies of the patch placement draw my eye as being incorrect, despite being that way on an original jacket.
    But if it was me, I’d adhere to the correct protocol of bomb squadron on the left front panel (as you wear it) and bomb group on the front right. Name tag on the left side. AAF patch on left sleeve and numbered AF patch on the right.

    And I believe that most fighter pilots used the A2 and if they needed some warmth (like the Lockheed Lightning pilots as those cockpits were notoriously cold) got a B6 for themselves.
    The B3’s were for bomber crews and would be too bulky for a fighter’s cockpit I would think ... could be wrong but I associate the B3 exclusively with bomber crews.

    And as for looking too “costumey” - it depends how you pair the jacket with the rest of what you’re wearing. Keep it real and not too vintage and you’ll be okay. Go too far and you’ll draw comments like so many of us have around here... and heck, sometimes you don’t have to go far! Just wear an Irvin to the pub and some jackwagon will have something smart to say as you sip on your pint minding your own business (like “Lost yer Spitfire mate? Hur hur! I saw it in the car park around back. Must be yours! Yuk Yuk!”) . It’s unoriginal stuff and it happens. That’s people for you. But try to limit the uninvited intrusion of idiots by not drawing their idiot comments and mix the jacket with something that gives a nod to the vintage without being vintage and that has some style of its own and you should be okay.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
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  7. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    Yes the left-right protocol is exactly what I need! I suspect that there must have been certain rules because it's the military. But as you said, there were anomalies, making the matter even more confusing as the left-right wasn't kept on all jackets and historical pictures. Good to know, indeed.

    I wanted to know whether or not fighters wore the B3 because I am getting one myself, and I wouldn't want to put, for example, the 77th Fighter Squadron patch, and then later find out that such a combination would never have existed as fighter pilots never wore the B3! But this is a hard question to research and I hope someone with an understanding can help me here.

    For example, in the movie Dunkirk, we can see Tom Hardy's character rocking a shearling Irvin despite the character was a fighter pilot himself. Do you think this choice of costume is historically correct?
     
  8. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    1,693
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    RAF Fighter Command and Bomber Command and Coastal Command and the Royal Navy pilots and crew all wore the Irvin so there’s no distinction there to be made - but the USAAF were all somewhat more specific ...
    if it was me, I’d put bomber patches on your B3.
     
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  9. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    1,693
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    PS ... and one would not patch or paint on an Irvin. Full stop.
     
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  10. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    Is this your personal preference or did those British chaps never really paint or patch anything on their precious Irvins? Hehe
     
  11. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
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    There's a lot of ambiguity surrounding The Irvin Flying Jacket, it's come about because an American aviator, Leslie Leroy Irvin, designed the legendary Irvin RAF Sheepskin Flying Jacket, but manufactured it in the UK.

    Irvin was also the inventor of the parachute “rip-cord” system and, in 1919, was the first man to make a premeditated free-fall jump from an aeroplane. The Irvin parachute was quickly recognised as an important piece of aviation equipment and in June 1919 Irvin set up Irvin Air Chute to manufacture parachutes for the U.S. government. In 1926 he opened a factory in the UK, at Letchworth and by the end of the 1930s Irvin parachutes were in use worldwide.

    As aviation advanced so did the altitudes to which pilots could fly. Suddenly aircrew were flying to thousands of feet where temperatures would easily be sub-zero, not a good thing when aircraft construction still provided basic, un-insulated cockpits. This situation drove Irvin to create The Irvin Flying Jacket.

    Irvin’s jacket was superb. Made from heavyweight sheepskin, its thick natural wool provided incredible insulation. And, while the sheepskin was considered heavyweight the jacket itself was comparatively light and remarkably comfortable. Irvin insisted on the most supple sheepskin: in a cramped cockpit movement was already restricted and no pilot or crew would want to be constrained further still. The Irvin jacket was a masterpiece of design, maximum warmth and comfort combined with maximum mobility. The jackets had long sleeves zipped to enable gauntlets to be worn. The wide collar could be raised to provide excellent insulation around the neck and lower part of the head and face while a belt was fitted at the waist to ensure draughts couldn’t drop the pilot’s body temperature and reduce his level of alertness. The original jackets didn’t have pockets as these were not needed.

    Irvin was producing his jackets at Letchworth, in The UK, and supplied the RAF during the Battle of Britain and through most of WWII. The jacket was so popular Irvin had to enlist the services of subcontractors in order to meet demand. The subcontractors are often held responsible for variations in the pattern of jackets made during the war. Many examples from the WWII production show variations on that, for example, an additional, small angled panel above each hip. But the point is “there was a war on”, almost everything was scarce, including supplies of high-quality sheepskin, so large panels would be made by patching together smaller off-cuts. The variation in the original jackets is, we believe, not a result of poor subcontractors, but solid thinking by resourceful, committed seamstresses determined to keep their boys warm and safe as they defended the skies.

    RAF aircrews faced a disciplinary if they deliberately daubed graffiti on their uniforms.
    Did you know that the third picture on the link that you gave, the one titled: "Round Trip," is a very young Marilyn Monroe?
     
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  12. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    Both. As GHT says, it just wasn’t a done thing. And it wasn’t. So that’s how they all looked - vanilla. And that’s classic.
     
  13. Peacoat

    Peacoat I'll Lock Up

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    And vanilla is classic. No paintings or patches for me at this late date, some 70 years later. Just the way it came from the manufacturer back then.
     
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  14. rocketeer

    rocketeer Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,498
    Location:
    England
    I always loved patched and painted A2s, but even in the early 1980s they cost a few £££. About £300-400 could get you a decent sized WWII era jacket with some great nose art or bomb art etc on the back, sometimes with all the provenance collectors would kill for today.
    I got one eventually a perfectly wearable 15th AAF jacket I still have today, size 44 with some great patches but no back nose art or bombs.
    During the 1980s Rockabilly and Hep Cat music was becoming very popular in a lot of clubs with many clubbers wearing original American clothing. Usually 1950s sports jackets and slacks etc, no repro clothing was produced until a few years later no most of it was the genuine thing and even better if it had a Made in'California' label in it.
    Alas I diverse
    Not many men, we were mostly in out teens or early 20s, wore leather jackets in these clubs, girls were only interested in you if you wore original USA gear and leather was not in great attendance apart from a few Marlon Brando bikers, flight jackets were never seen even around the London clubs.
    Im not really boasting but maybe a little ;) , I was one of the first to wear flight jackets to these clubs, the odd one out maybe wearing my A2s. Very soon and I really mean that the jackets were everywhere, popularised by the Indianna Jones, Yanks and Top Gun films, plus a few other 40s themed films featuring the look,Hanover Street and a series We'll Meet Again were two TV series.
    Still hungering for a pin up painted jacket I bought a rather poor condition original with a rather pin up of the Vaga era missing a lot of details including the head. Not a cool look missing a swimsuited lovely with no smile.
    I had a local girl who was a bit of an artiste armed with a copy of the print re-paint over it SACRILEGE I can hear everyone shout, but this jacket had been re-patched a couple of times and I had no idea of any of its history.
    As time passed into the 1990s repro jackets were everywhere, from Aero leather and also Eastman, may of their jackets ended up with painted ladies on the rear. Of course most were drawn and painted by superb artists putting great detail into their images. But looking at original jackets from the multitude of books available, not all were glamour girls and many were not that well painted but interesting as examples of what young men were interested in at the time.
    The jacket I had painted/repaired was not the Gainsborough quality you see on a lot of jackets today, rather something a local lad may have painted in his spare time and I have to say I had some pleasing comments made about it at that time.
    I don't know if it is still around as it was wearable but had a rather cold damp feeling about it. I eventually sold it to pay for some car insurance I had on an old 1960 Cadillac.
    One word of warning though, new custom painted jackets are like custom painted cars. No matter how you love it and no matter how well it is painted etc, they can be hard to sell on if you wish to get rid, especially name tagged and personal themed stuff. But it's ok for originals if you can prove the provenance.
    I have never had another painted jacket but sure wish I did. I'd wear the hell out of it :)

    Johnny Tee.
     
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  15. Downunder G Man

    Downunder G Man One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    191
    Location:
    Australia
    My recently purchased Avirex A2 has the following "badge" on it. It was advertised as

    "reproduction A2’ Leather Jacket ‘ with hand painted on leather 392nd bomb group patch"

    With an obvious Crusader/Knight riding a falling bomb it may be a "careful" wear in these politically correct times !

    Certainly looks the goods to me and previously I was never an A2 guy !
    Avirex A2 badge.jpg
     
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  16. Justhandguns

    Justhandguns Practically Family

    Messages:
    682
    Location:
    London
    I think there were several old threads about patches and nose arts on flight jackets back then. As many have mentioned, if they are originals from the 40s', they are certainly collectable items and should be preserved IMHO.

    As for the repros, there is always a split between patched/painted vs plain jackets. I own both patches/painted jackets as well as many plain ones, and I do wear them all. Many here at the forum prefer their jackets 'free from' simply want a subtle, clean looking jacket, some say re-sell value is better, some simply do not want them to be patched because they feel that the patches are meant to be earned by merits of their services. As for patched/painted jackets, they seem to be prized in Japan (and Asia) simply by looking at those jackets being sold like hot cakes from RMC/TMC/Buzz etc..

    I can also see naked pin-up girls and offensive slogans are certainly NO NO these days for very obvious reasons. But I guess everybody would like to see a nicely painted jacket in the public. Maybe one or two seasons ago embroidered trophy jackets were in fashion for the ladies in Europe after the MA-1 surge. I have no problem wearing my embroidered original Vietnam B-15D in the public.
     
    Stand By likes this.
  17. Brettafett

    Brettafett One Too Many

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    1,095
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    I guess its all down to personal preference.
    As far as A-2s, I plan to paint/ patch one of my jackets.... But I may not use original WW2 images, have not decided yet.
    As far as patches go, a part of me feels I did not earn the right to wear them. I was not there. I had this conversation wth Gary Eastman. He made the point that it could be seen as a testament of sorts... Yes. If done properly, I think a patched jacket is cool.
    I think Eastman's patches/ painted jackets are great. They are faithfully done right!
    I do love the look of Averix's 487th BS jacket. Based on an original. Looks awesome. I'd wear it.
    I had a leather blood chit sewn onto my Cockpit A-2 as a throw-back to Tales of the Golden Monkey TV series. I love this jacket, and just this weekend was stopped by someone in the street, who asked me about it, what it meant, where I got it. Felt good about that.
    As far as embroidered jackets... I have a Schott Suka 'souvenir' jacket. I love it! Its a comfy, cool-looking go to jacket.
    Just do your homework, and if you do it, do it right.... And know your reasons for doing so...
    That said, someone really wise once told me, "In the end, its only a jacket". Too true.
     
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  18. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    I love that crusader riding a bomb image! Do you have also a squadron patch sewn into the jacket or just the group patch?

    Bartender Edit: You are, of course, welcome to your opinion on "these politically correct times", however here in the Lounge we expect a certain level of decorum, and would ask you please to keep the language clean!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2018
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  19. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    I might have to wear my B3 for a long long time before finally decide to let someone else paint something on the backside. A b3 is a significant investment and once you decide to paint on it, there probably isn't going back... so I gotta think through carefully. Feels like I am getting a tattoo myself, lol... I guess in many ways, a paint job on a jacket is exactly like tattoos on a human body.

    I agree with Gary's opinion. It CAN be a testament or a tribute. There are plenty of WW II flying aces, bomber heroes, and heroic squadrons who did great feats which should be remembered. We can be the ones who remember their daring feats. So from this perspective, we don't really have to serve in WW II to earn the rights to wear those patches. After all, we are paying our respects to their memories. I am sure those pilots of old wouldn't scorn us for that.
     
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  20. Shin

    Shin Familiar Face

    Messages:
    84
    I don't see any reasons why pin-up girls should definitely go into the NO NO category. I see them more or less like a nude painting one often found in respected galleries. They are a part of history and they illustrate how pilots dealt with stresses and the uncertainty of deaths in war time.

    My question isn't whether or not people would get offended by seeing a painted WW II jacket. But more like what loungers feel while wearing them. Or what would y'all feel when you see a proper repro with all the paint jobs on it, with the proper patches, slogans and a naked body on the back. Would you admire it... or would you say to yourself you'd never wear something like that in public.
     

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