A-2’s with red silk lining

Discussion in 'General Flight Jacket Discussion' started by stanier, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Following on from that thread in buy / sell that meandered, I thought I’d create this one.

    Has anyone had an A-2 repro with red silk?

    I found these two pics of red lined A-2’s that look rather cool I think.

    I think it would be cool if ELC did a copy of a red silk A-2, for example Hub’s jacket as part of their Elite series.

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  2. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

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    They certainly look snazzy. I might be wrong but I think that Aero may have offered a red silk lining back in the day as well.
     
  3. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    I agree , it looks cool, but the only time you see it is when the jackets on a hanger or if you wear it unzipped.
    Well to each his own.
    I guess that's why they make vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.:p
     
  4. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking that as well, but can't recall the contract...though believe the lining was a bit more of a darker blood red.

    Stanier starting this thread gives me an opportunity to meander (again), and post a picture I had wanted to show in the other thread of a C-47 (442nd T C Group) "Ace" cutdown regulation AAF four pocket tunic I have...nicely tailored to two pockets somewhere in England with a very bright red lining...it is more vivid in person...more so than the photo shows. I don't think there was one shade of red that was used, but most examples I have seen in original cutdown and British made service dress have been bright...the regulation shade of red used in prewar British Army dress uniforms.

    As far as considering a red lined current model A2, I say why not?

    I'd like this Buzz one better if they skipped the big white AAF interior stamp, the shoulder decal, and the big label, and instead copied Zemke's jacket...keeping it to basically just the red lining...less is sometimes better.

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  5. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Love that cut down tunic Uncle G! I’d love one like that for when I go to re-enacting events. I know it largely will be unseen, but I’d know it’s there! And when the jacket is unbuttoned or hanging in the back of a chair it’d look very very cool I think. I’d have it representing an officer in the 4th fighter group with the mini RAF wings. Finding a decent officer elastique jacket before getting the lining done is tough enough!

    The two pics I posted are of two different jackets, the top one is Toys McCoy and the bottom (clearly) BR.

    I suppose if an airman had his jacket retrimmed it seems reasonable for the tailor to put their business label in the jacket? And possibly refit the original makers label along with the hanger? Especially as the maker label has that official “property of” tone to it. I agree the inspector stamp feels unlikely but it looks kinda cool to me and aren’t they more used in repros than they were originally anyway? I think I read that somewhere. Whatever, labelled up or plain they are very nice.
     
  6. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Some more pics I found on the web of various jackets. For those that like the red silk lining, enjoy! There’s more than I thought, though these are all Japanese. Real McCoy, Toys McCoy and BR. Love the dark russet jacket pic. I normally prefer seal but that looks very cool to me!

    Somehow I’m going to have to get myself a silk lined A-2 with a Crown zip.
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  7. CBI

    CBI Well-Known Member

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    Looks cool!

    I wear fleece all winter long. I thought about how neat it would be to have an A-2 with fleece lining that could work as a warm(er) leather jacket that would not be bulky. Of course, as it stands now, I can wear a fleece 1/4 zip under an A-2 with similar results.
     
  8. Grant

    Grant Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know the only red silk lined original was Hub's Rough Wear. Anyone else seen an original with one?
     
  9. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    I think we've probably discussed this question several times over the years. However Grant is correct the only known red silk lined A2 still in existence is Hub Z's . I've personally seen that one which is located in the Wright Paterson US Air Force Museuam in Dayton Ohio. But that's the only one known in existence. Has anyone ever seen another? Is there any official legitimate documentation on the subject?( I'm just asking because it seems to be mostly speculation and please correct me if there's something more).I can't help wondering if this wasn't a custom of a particular unit as opposed to a service wide tradition. Similar to the way the 352nd fighter group used to have their parachute riggers sew large canvas interior pockets on the inside of their A2 jackets.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  10. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    Stanier, thanks for posting the additional pictures and commentary!

    The cutdown jacket I posted does not have any British tailor's labels in it, but the workmanship and detail is such that it is surprising is does not. It is really beautifully done.

    Your new pictures with a better shot of big interior tailor's label jarred my memory. That is the same label that is in a visor hat I also have (label pictured below). It is a really high quality British made hat, made to very closely to the official US Army regulation pattern. Actually just as closely as the finest American made hats, where the differences are more about the significantly higher quality of the materials used and the better skills of the craftsmen that put it together. I am pretty sure I have also seen this label in other things...thinking a jacket...but for sure other visor hats like this one.

    Not to get too deep in the weeds here, and keeping this to officers (they had to buy their uniforms) versus other ranks (they were issued theirs)....but also acknowledging that officers often bought or got articles of clothing that were right from the Army Quartermaster Supply, and the enlisted guys often went to town and bought something nicer, that most of the British made US Army officer uniform parts...jackets, shirts, pants, and so on, though usually very well made and of a high quality, generally do not have fancy labels. Their labels typically look more like the plain printed labels you would see in a British battledress or the coat pocket of something US made. There is some variation to these labels, but the point in this discussion is they are plainer, simpler, and while they might mention who made it, the maker is not highlighted or proudly called out.

    Now working back up to the the fancy labels...that is what would have been reserved for the more expensive and highest quality items in the uniform shop. I have seen uniform jackets with other London tailor's labels in them, and they have been clearly custom tailored to the owner, and were no doubt the highest quality and probably the most expensive available.

    So back to the red lined A2...that fancy label might look nice, but it is fantasy nonsense. There is just no way a super snooty London tailor would put their's in. My cutdown is interesting because it has no label. While the workmanship is top notch, I don't think that necessarily means it was done in the most exclusive shop, though the insignia on it is also British made and nicer than normal, so it could have been....though my guess is it was done by someone very skilled in a shop that was in the next tier down from the best.

    Continuing to work through the logic of a red lined A2....so if you are a pilot that has a worn leather jacket that you have flown a number of missions in...a jacket that has been wet, filled with sweat, and beat from hard use...are you going to walk into one of the finest, most expensive uniform shops in London and ask them to repair it? More likely, you would ask the guy who owned the cutdown jacket I have where he went. And from there, that shop owner might take pity on you and do it, or even more likely, know the place even farther away that does that sort of thing.

    Now as far as the other labels...I'd say keeping the A2 maker and size label is a coin flip. They were saved or replaced in most depot done jackets, though it is not uncommon for the maker labels to be switched around...meaning they just stuck any old used maker label back in. If you were paying for the relining yourself, regardless of the material, I think the tailor might ask if you wanted to keep them or not.

    Zemke's jacket does not have any labels, and that seems logical to me. His label was likely worn or soiled, so why would you want that put back in to detract from that beautiful new red silk? Plus, why would he really care about a label? Nobody would bother him or these other veteran pilots...whether they were an ace or not...about having or not having a label in their jacket.

    Conclusion...the historical forensics are really not that important...it is not like we are reproducing a part for a Spitfire's fuel system that has to be perfect or the plane goes into the ground. Personally, I like the red lining, and think it is something to consider. I still don't like the jacket with all the extra fantasy stuff, but the one with the maker and size tag does not bother me. What I think would be far neater, would be a red lined "Zemke". That would essentially be the Steve McQueen "Great Escape" Buzz jacket...same depot re dye...but a red lining...and no labels at all. It would not need to be a stitch for stitch copy of Zemke's A2, just something that captures the spirt of it.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  11. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I have seen other red lined A2s....at least one unattributed...and another other than Zemke's that was named, but I don't recall who it was named to.
     
  12. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    If it's a stitch for stitch repro it would have to include olive drab replacement knits as well.
     

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  13. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Are those pics of Hubs jacket B-man2?

    If yes, then he did have the Roughwear label moved over?

    It must have been quite a job to relign particularly with a collar stand and I’d love to see if it was done around the throat latches and snaps or new ones fitted. Sorry I don’t know how these things are done so my observation may be all wrong, but it just feels not a 5 minute job!

    Cheers gents and thanks for all the input and knowledge and feeding my curiosity.
     
  14. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes that's Zemkes' A2. I think I have one or two additional photos of it, but the original label was put back on after the lining was replaced. as can be seen in the photo. Also at some point ( it could have been when the lining was replaced or after the war), the knits were replaced with olive drab knits. I have a black and white picture of him wearing the jacket posted below but I'm not sure of the color of the knits in that photo. If you read the caption of the photo it's states that the 56th fighter group had a tradition of replacing the lining with a red silk lining upon acquiring ace status. It does not say that it was a service wide tradition. Just another piece to puzzle.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  15. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for reposting the pictures of Zemke's A2. I would have sworn one of the previous photos of a red relined A2 showed no maker's label....but I must be thinking of another jacket I saw pictured elsewhere...now to figure out the "where". Seeing these photos makes the reproduction with just the makers label look better.

    The interesting question looking at these new pictures brings up, is if the red lining is silk or cotton. It looks more like cotton to me, but it is really hard to tell. The material in the cutdown uniform is a very fancy silk lining material....like would go in a British officer's dress uniform....or a fancy suit.

    A question that might require asking Andrew (our Roughwear), is if we might be on the wrong track all together. What if the assumption that this jacket was relined is wrong? Could it just originally had a redder cotton lining from the start? It is too bad we can't get a closer look at this A2...sometimes you have to go back to square one to get the answer.
     
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  16. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

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    I'm fortunate in that I get up to the Wright Patterson Museum about once a year. I will definitely find out if Zemkes' jacket is lined in silk or some other material. They usually have museum aides walking around answering questions and I think they might have some info on this. In the meantime if someone makes it to the museum maybe they can follow up for us.
     
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  17. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Very interesting stuff, and thanks again guys.

    Looking at the pics, it's starting to look like cotton to me too now, but then again I've probably befuddled my eyes looking at these things today! And I wonder how silk ages, and can a different weave make it look more cotton like? If red linings like that were going in jackets from the get go, does that throw the cat amongst the pigeons on what we've thought about A-2 linings generally? Could it be possible that the AAF or even units were ordering small batches of red lined jackets to be issued to Aces? Seems unlikely?
     
  18. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61 Well-Known Member

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    One thing to remember from Ken @ Aero's post about "silk" being something most would not be able to differentiate from the normal cotton linings. So it might not look "silky" as compared to anything we normally see, according to Ken, and I'll take his word on that!
     
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  19. stanier

    stanier Active Member

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    Actually looking at some of the repro example pics I posted they are looking cotton to me now, and clearly they’re silk. I think I need to rest my eyes!
     
  20. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Well-Known Member

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    For the AAF as a policy No. But as longstanding theory in the collecting world, that both the red lined A2s and red lined cut down service dress jackets were for aces...Yes.

    I think it is clear that this was not a wide spread organized practice. Maybe done sometimes, but not others, and not specific to aces....so the "theory" is just largely that...theory.

    As far as the silk versus cotton question, with a little experience it is pretty easy to tell the difference in person. I agree looking at pictures can get very difficult...sometimes impossible. There is also often not much of a difference as far as the feel on. I am not sure of the Ken post you are referring to, but the difference between a good quality high thread count cotton and a silk lining as far as wearing may be negligible. For example, the silk lining in my cutdown jacket is not like some piece of thin floaty "silky" smooth ladies underwear...it has some heft to it, and compared to the standard cotton, a slight grain...but otherwise it is very similar.

    I think what Ken is likely saying, is while he can tell, most people would not know the difference...which is my point as well...and, if you were ordering a jacket with a red lining from him, be happy with whatever he puts in, because be it silk or good quality cotton it will likely be indistinguishable to you.

    Back to Zemke's jacket...it could have a red cotton lining put in by a British tailor too...I might get to that museum again this year too...will have to remember to look.
     

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