Reissue A-2's are jackets that went back into inventory after active service use and after having gone through a refurbishment process to give them further serviceable life. This refurbishment could include such things as replacement of the lining, knit cuffs or waistband, zipper, and almost always included a re-coating of the leather shell with a very dark brown lacquer dye to give the garment a new uniform appearance; the lacquer dye was applied with a brush or cloth.
The re-dye process was performed with greater attention to speed and haste than art and neatness, thus select hard-to-reach areas such as inside the pockets, back of the wind flap, under shoulder straps, etc., were not dyed or just partly dyed, leaving a telltale line of demarcation between the original dye and the new dye or a mottled shading and varied texture. Once the garments went back into service, the painted coating proved to be far less permanent than was originally envisioned. The finish would wear off in irregular patterns bearing the lighter shade of worn leather beneath, giving a distinct contrast between those areas and where the new coating remained. All of this, however, is what has given these garments their latter-day vintage appeal. Indeed, nowhere was this look more immortalized than on the jacket worn by Steve McQueen as Capt. Virgil Hilts in the movie "The Great Escape." McQueen’s jacket was an original re-issue A-2.
After careful analysis of many original stills from the movie, we have been able to confidently identify the jacket he wore as one made by the Rough Wear Clothing Company, most likely under contract number 16159, thus our re-issue A-2 is made as this model. As part of the reissue process that his jacket underwent, it can be seen that the original zip, which would have almost certainly been a Talon with rectangular puller, has been replaced with a Talon with bell-shaped puller - a detail replicated on our product.
We have recreated this model in the most discerning method possible: actually repeating the steps of production right through to the hand-dyed reissue finish, bringing you a garment of stunning vintage authenticity. First, we produce the garment as a factory fresh original maker Rough Wear 16159, which is made in an aniline-dyed, Havana Brown, veg-tanned horsehide. We then re-coat the garment with the correct shade of dark brown lacquer (just as they did at the the Air Service Depots - by hand, with a brush), after which the garment is put through an extensive, specialized TimeWorn® process to re-create the high-contrast, distressed-wear look of a classic vintage original. This all requires a tremendous amount of hand-done work, but it is the only way this standard of authenticity can be achieved.
In accordance with AAF regulations of that time, re-issue A-2's had a mandatory Army Air Forces decal applied to the shoulder, as well as a stamp to the lining. These stamps were generally randomly positioned somewhere on the back panel, no doubt due to haste, and not centered and perfect, so our recreation is done exactly the same way.
This garment is presented, first and foremost, as a plain re-issue A-2, so it comes in standard form without any insignia other than the mandatory shoulder decal; however, one can order the jacket with the "V. HILTS spec." as worn by Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape."
Beyond the special details that make this A-2 Jacket a true, re-issue configuration, please take note of these authentic features:
• Exact copy of the original maker’s label produced on a vintage shuttle loom
• Contrasting mid-brown, all-cotton thread construction as found on many vintage flying jackets originally produced by Rough Wear Clothing Co.
• Collar assembly featuring a leather collar ring, exactly as found on all vintage A-2's originally produced by Rough Wear Clothing Co.
• Correct USAAF spec. 3-ounce weight, pure aniline-dyed, vegetable-tanned Vintage War Horse® leather outer shell
• Custom manufacturing of the correct weight and weave all-cotton, inner-lining fabric to precisely match 1940's USAAF specs. and dyed in the rust-brown shade found on original vintage Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2's
• Metal collar clip custom manufactured to the original USAAF spec. and finished in correct semi-matte nickel plating, including backing washers on the rivets as found on original jackets of this contract
• Custom manufacture of correct ball-and-socket-style press studs located on pockets and collar ends, exactly duplicating the smaller (collar-size) and larger (pocket-size) found on original vintage Rough Wear A-2's
• Shoulder straps exactly matching the shape, size and stitch style found on original vintage Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2's
• Two snap-down exterior pockets with stitching and pocket flap configuration exactly matching the style found on original vintage Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2's of the 16159 contract
• Snap-down collar exactly matching the shape, size and stitch style found on original Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2s of the 16159 contract
• AAF inspector’s ink stamping on cotton lining, exactly matching the individual number associated with original Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2's of the 16159 contract
• Custom manufacturing of the correct two-ply all-wool knit cuffs and waist skirt in medium brown, with cuffs correctly graduating from a wider weave into a more narrow weave, exactly matching those found on original vintage Rough Wear Clothing Co. A-2s
• Heavy leather hanging loop correctly sewn directly through the jacket lining and outer leather shell using a box stitch
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
USAAF Reissue “Escape” A-2 Flying Jacket
About this Style: This A-2 style is one of the slimmer designs, but most body types can be accommodated in this style without major issues, though it may take some work to establish the correct size for a select number of customers.
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 3"-4”of room in excess of your chest measure if you prefer a trim fit throughout, thus if you have a 40” chest circumference measure, order size 40. 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 or even the same 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 minimize your chances in having to deal with the hassle and cost of exchanges.
Please ask us for fitting advice if in doubt.
Tip 3: 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 jump up one - two sizes 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.
USAAF Reissue “Escape” A-2 Flying Jacket
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 22.5”, doubling this measure yields a 45” 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 22.5” chest width has a 45” external chest circumference and would provide 5” of external room in this scenario (chest measures 40”, external chest measure of jacket is 45”, thus 5” 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 17.5” and the arm length is 24.5”, adding 8.75” (half the shoulder width) to 24.5” (the arm length) will yield an overall sleeve length of 33.25” 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.