Originally designed in 1931 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 changes throughout its production life before being withdrawn from production in 1944.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 military, 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. Today, all of the original RAF flight jackets are highly collectible, though a premium is typically paid for the very early garments made with the fewest sheepskin panels.
The RAF flight jacket depicted here is the type worn by the RAF Fighter Command pilots who saved England during the greatest air battle of all time – “The Battle of Britain.” The RAF pre-1941 pattern Aircrew Jacket, although very similar to the post-1941 jacket we offer, still bears some noteworthy differences. As already mentioned, the pre-1941 pattern flight jacket differs mostly from the later ’42 pattern in its larger-panel, fewer-seam construction. As you can see from the images there are no chest seams to the front or back, nor are there any cross seams in the sleeves. This, as Britain's Air Ministry found out during the war, is a much more costly way to make the flight jacket - the larger panels making conservative use of the sheepskin pelts very difficult. The pre-1941 pattern uses around 30% more material than the '42 pattern, hence the cost difference, even today. Other differences include: a lighter-shade sheepskin color, high-quality aniline-dyed leather for the seam trimming and one-piece pull-through zip thongs. The following original details are also incorporated in this pre-1941 pattern flight jacket: specially selected hides tanned & dyed to match the luxurious jackets made in the early years; no-pocket construction (hand-warmer pockets never appeared on the original RAF flight jackets); leather pull tabs on genuine brass zips; authentic zippers on all-cotton tape, custom made to wartime design including the slider box cup (a feature found only on ours and original examples); ventilated arm pit gussets; all-cotton elasticized strap behind collar for quickly fastening this up; hand-sewn linen spec. label and more...
Never before reproduced to this degree of quality and authenticity, our pre-1941 pattern “Battle of Britain” flight jacket will now, undoubtedly, satisfy all those who have been looking for the quintessential RAF flight jacket forever associated with those gallant "Few" of RAF Fighter Command who sacrificed themselves to save England in the summer of 1940. Tally-ho!
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.
Imported from England
Eastman RAF Aircrew Jacket “Battle of Britain” 1940 Pattern
About this Style: The RAF jacket style is bulky, though the absence of horsehide sleeve reinforcements as found on the USAAF B-3 jackets and the presence of gusseted armpits tend to make this a very comfortable style that can be readily enjoyed by a wide variety of individuals representing many different body types.
Tip 1: Follow the instructions entitled “How to Use Product Measures to Obtain a Good Fit” listed under the PRODUCT MEASUREMENTS tab for this product. After finding no substantive conflicts with your body measures obtained from the tab entitled BODY MEASURING, order this garment with no less than 6”of room in excess of your chest measure if you prefer a trim fit in the chest and shoulders, thus if you have a 42” chest circumference measure, order size 42. Ordering a jacket size that has a label size equivalent to one’s chest measure has proven to work well for about 80% of our customers. If a roomier or longer fit is desired, then order the next available size after reviewing all relative measures that pertain to that size. Those whose chest measure falls on an odd number, such as 41” or 43”, will have to determine if they want less room or more room when selecting a jacket size.
Tip 2:Please note that your chest circumference measure is not necessarily the labeled size you wear in another jacket you may own from a different maker, so please take the time to obtain your true chest circumference measure so as to compare to our chart of jacket measures. This will enable us to perform a better job getting you the right size and sparing you the hassle and cost of exchanges.
Tip 3: Please keep in mind that this jacket style is made of sheepskin with sheep wool measuring 20 mm in depth in the body and sleeves, thus the external chest measures listed here are just that – EXTERNAL measures – and don’t account for the lesser amount of room on the inside of the jacket and the room the seams consume. Likewise, if you plan to wear heavy layers under this jacket style, such an application will further subtract from the room inside the jacket, though heavy layers shouldn’t be required for most cold climates.
Please ask us for fitting advice if in doubt.
Tip 4: Individuals who prefer looser fits and/or those with a waist measure that is nearly equal to or greater than their chest circumference measure may have to jump up one full size in this jacket for comfort and desired fit (when we refer to waist measure we do not mean your trouser size; we mean the actual circumference measure of your waistline at its widest point). If you are unsure of the size to order we will assist you; please contact us with the following information: Height, waist circumference measure, chest circumference measure, body weight, and type of clothing to be worn beneath the jacket most of the time, as well as the type of fit you prefer: Trim, roomy or oversized.
Eastman RAF Aircrew Jacket “Battle of Britain” 1940 Pattern
The following table provides actual product measures. These measures are provided as an aid because, in conjunction with the information found under the SIZING TIPS tab for each product, they can sometimes be very useful when comparing the measurements from this garment to the measures of your body; however, acting as an armchair tailor should be done with caution, as well as with knowledge of other important areas of fit that are not displayed here. Armchair tailors frequently fail to take into account other significant elements that impact fit; following the information found under the SIZING TIPS tab for each garment on this web site is strongly suggested, which can be very useful in supplanting or supplementing the listed measures below.
Our measures were derived from averaging measurements taken from many garments of the same size from each specific size in the range of any given product, thus the measures provided are representative for each size but they may not be exactly what you will receive. Some fluctuation in size is normal and to be expected, especially in these garments that have been manufactured on the bench by hand. Size fluctuations are rarely encountered in the width measures and more typically encountered in length measures, and particularly with respect to leather jackets and jackets with knit cuffs and waistbands. Fluctuations in width measures are very rare, and when they are encountered they are typically insignificant: 1/8” – ¼”. Normal fluctuations in sleeve and/or body length + /- a ½” are more common but still rare, and such fluctuations in that increment range are within spec. for jackets of the same size and style.
Long and Extra Long fittings are available upon custom order and aren’t returnable unless faulty. A Long fitting adds 1” to both the arm and body lengths listed in the measures provided, while an Extra-Long fitting adds 1 ½” to both of these areas of measure. Delivery times are greatly extended for custom orders. Please contact us to place an order for a Long or Extra-Long fitting.
How to Use the Product Measures to Obtain a Good Fit:
1) Using the measurements listed for this product and information found under the tab entitled MEASURING GARMENTS to understand our measuring technique, please double the chest measure to obtain the total external chest circumference of this garment. For example: If the chest measure listed for size 40 is 23”, doubling this measure yields a 46” external chest circumference.
2) Measure your chest circumference as per the tab on this web site specifically addressing BODY MEASURING, then compare your chest measure to the chest measure of this product.
3) Many jackets are cut in such a way that the wearer requires no less than 3” of room in the jacket for a sleek fit that is also comfortable, while other jacket styles require the wearer to have more than 6” of room. If your chest circumference is 40”, a product with a 23” chest width has a 46” external chest circumference and would provide 6” of external room in this scenario (chest measures 40”, external chest measure of jacket is 46”, thus 6” of external room would be realized).
4) Again, using the measurements listed for this product and information under the MEASURING GARMENTS tab to understand our measuring technique, add half of the shoulder width to the arm length. For example: If the shoulder width is 19” and the arm length is 24.5”, adding 9.5” (half the shoulder width) to 24.5” (the arm length) will yield an overall sleeve length of 34” in this product.
5) Measure your overall sleeve length following the instructions on this web site under the tab specifically addressing BODY MEASURING, then compare your overall sleeve length to this product.
6) If desired, repeat the measuring comparisons for back length.
7) Compare your body measures to the listed garment measures and follow the advice found under the SIZING TIPS tab to obtain a good fit.
IMPORTANT: Because you need room in a garment for comfort, garments with a 44” chest circumference are NOT a size 44, nor are they intended for anyone with a 44” chest circumference. Tee shirts and thermal shirts tend to have the most body-hugging fits of our product offerings because these were originally intended to be undergarments, thus these can be ordered to stretch to fit if that is how you wish to wear such garments. Other shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, jackets, etc. will all have some amount of room incorporated in their designs, thus these will all measure larger than your actual chest measure by varying degrees.
Sometimes-Problematic Way to Determine a Good Fit:
Due to differences in how even near-identical garments are cut by different manufacturers, it is not necessarily a good idea to compare the listed measures of this product to the measures of an existing, similar product in your wardrobe to determine the correct size to order in this product. Though such comparisons can indeed work some of the time, and maybe even most of the time, vast experience with and knowledge of the products we market has proven such practices will sometimes fail. This inaccurate measuring methodology doesn't factor in other key variables of fit relative to you and the garment that includes: Armhole opening, shoulder slope, high-point shoulder, high chest, width of sleeves at all points including the all-important elbow, waist measure, and the thickness, plumpness, and rigidity of the material the garment is made from, naming just some variables influencing fit that do not appear on any list of measurements for a garment or that a customer is likely to account for.
It is best to compare your actual body measures to the listed measures of this product AND follow our advice listed under the SIZING TIPS tab specific to this product to obtain a good fit in this style.
A Good Fit:
This is highly subjective - what one person may think is too big, another may think fits perfectly. Some garments are cut quite generously and others are cut quite trimly. If comparing measurements of one of our products to another you may own, some individuals will surely find that none or maybe only one area of measure is commonly shared or remotely close to being the same. Ultimately, chest measure is the most important area to properly fit, then all other areas of measure will have to fall into place. And some individuals who are extremely tall may find that body and/or sleeve length are more important to accommodate than even chest measure.
Please understand that no jacket can be two jackets in one (you may have to make a compromise in fit somewhere). The best look is achieved wearing a shirt and undershirt, or a medium-weight sweater with undershirt; the goal being a trim, sleek look. If the application of our jackets is with multiple layers of clothing, then the original look will be compromised; when purchased oversized, please keep in mind that the jacket will fit NOT trimly but LOOSELY when fewer clothes are worn.
As a rule here, if the jacket squares up nicely on the shoulders when worn with the sort of clothing you will wear most of the time, falls about 1 1/2" below the top of your trousers (if a waist-length jacket), allows you to reach into trouser pockets and recover keys, wallet and change without discomfort or pain, as well as allow normal strides while walking, then this is very likely a good fit and how the jacket would have been worn when originally issued.
Using the good-fit test where one draws their arms across their chest as a barometer for snugness will almost certainly produce some binding in an A-2 jacket of the correct size, and thus push you further up the sizing scale into a very large A-2 jacket. A true 1940s A-2 jacket has no bi-swing action back (as found on the USN M-422A or G-1 jackets, USAAF B-6, Tanker jacket, etc.) and is not cut for such a great range of movement as experienced when doing the arm-crossing act. If you can get that sort of movement range without binding in one of our A-2s, then it will surely be rather loose and sloppy when you aren't drawing your arms across your chest in front of you.
What makes more sense, having a jacket that looks great and feels fine during 90% of your activities, or only when you cross your arms in front of you? Do you walk around with your arms crossed in front of you? The choice is yours and we will gladly oblige all tastes, but do try to get the look originally intended.