Arriving beginning in March 2022. Reservations are being accepted and encouraged now ...
Originally designed in the early 1930's by parachute pioneer Leslie Leroy Irvin, this RAF sheepskin flight jacket was the only type issued to RAF aircrews, evolving through numerous spec. changes throughout its production life before being withdrawn from production in 1944. Though contracted to many firms to produce, including the Irvin Parachute Co., the original designer's last name has always identified this flight jacket. After 1941, the critical material shortages and expenses placed on England compelled its army, air and naval ministries to modify many items of gear and clothing in an effort to stay in the war as cheaply and efficiently as possible. The RAF Aircrew Jacket faced such modifications, causing the flight jacket to increasingly be manufactured from more and more separate panels of sheepskin (yielding more visible seams) to get more use from leftover pelts that would otherwise be thrown out if the pre-1941 design were adhered to. Over the course of the war years, the jacket continued to gain more panel splices and saw ever-increasing use of lower-grade sheepskin, making the earlier flight jackets quite desirable, even back at that time. Other notable differences among these jackets is the sheepskin used in construction.
There are dozens of different breeds of sheep, and the difference between the characteristics and nature of them is wide: they can range from soft and silky to tough and coarse, and from long and hair-like to short and nubbly. Additionally, the coloring of the wool found on the original jackets can vary from tan, champagne, ginger, brown, and even black. It can also be observed from original examples of RAF jackets, that some were made from a noticeably softer outer skin with slightly lower-depth wool. These were largely made from a Merino-type breed of sheepskin, and this skin is well known for its softness and high-quality texture, which is the version recreated here called The Fly Weight.
There were several manufacturers who produced RAF sheepskin flying jackets for the Air Ministry, and during the pre-war years they would often reveal their name and location on the garment label; it was only in later years into the war that the names and places were absent, as they learned this could lead to the producer becoming a target of the enemy due to it being a producer of war materiel.
This Fly-Weight model emulates the early style of RAF jacket commonly produced in the late 1930's, being made from a Merino skin that has been custom made to Eastman's exacting specifications to accurately recreate the appearance, feel, and texture of the originals, along with a classic commercial-style neck label that was typical of the 1930's. Additionally, this outer skin has been specially produced to have a ‘crazed’ appearance, and a fleece that has that typical nubbly texture that can been seen on original examples of this type. Other authentic details include:
- Lighter-shade sheep-wool color
- Aniline-dyed, vegetable-tanned leather for the seam trimming and one-piece pull-through zip thongs
- Specially selected hides tanned & dyed to match the jackets made in the early years, including a "crazed" finish and soft pliability
- Leather pull tabs on zips
- Authentic zippers custom made to early Air Ministry design specs. including the slider box cup (a feature found only on these and original examples)
- All-cotton elasticized strap behind collar for quickly fastening this up
- Hand-sewn linen spec. label in typical 1930's "commercial" layout
One of the most impressive aspects of this product is not just it’s uncanny authenticity, but that it’s the most easy-wearing, soft, comfortable sheepskin flying jacket we offer - you will not want to take off - it's as if you're on Cloud 9 in The Fly Weight!
Sizes available: 36-48 regular. Long and extra-long fittings available at no additional cost on custom order only. Please see our SIZING TIPS for advice on how to get the correct fit.
Made in England