Original A-2 Spun Silk Lining

Discussion in 'Vintage' started by 33-1729, May 8, 2017.

  1. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Understand the original A-2 specifications called for a spun silk lining, but I have never seen or heard of an original with one. Do they actually exist or were they all made with cotton lining?
     
  2. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    I have handled hundreds of original A2s and seen many more. I have seen pictures of A-2s where the lining has been replaced in red silk perhaps to denote ace status. However I have never seen a contract jacket with a factory installed silk lining. I understand this aspect of the original 1932 spec was quickly changed to cotton as it was a more suitable lining material.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
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  3. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

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    Andrew, do you have any pics of one with an original wartime replaced red silk lining? It's one of those things that I've heard about but have never seen. Be great to see one if you have some photos!
     
  4. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    I'll have a look Tim. They are really rare beasts.
     
  5. johnwayne

    johnwayne Active Member

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    I'm sure I've heard/read that claim elsewhere and only today searched ELC's jacket manual to find only one ref to lining on the very first page stating ''100% cotton plain weave' with no reference to colour or weight ( does cotton come in weights?) so was surprised it's not referenced elsewhere, not even a paragraph! Is that a glaring omission on Gary's part given the length he went to in listing every other component? I've checked several times but do fin it odd! Could some of those early civi versions had silk to differentiate/make it more appealing or luxurious to the man on the street? Interestingly in Hell Bent for Leather the author claims the original spec was for 'brown spun silk' but that it was changed due to the likelihood of spotting!! They also say that some 'ace' pilots changed their lining to red silk?
     
  6. Bombing IP

    Bombing IP Active Member

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    I personally think its all made up Bravo Sierra. May be one or 2 jackets were lined in silk to making them easier to get on by someone who had access to a tailor . The Book Hell Bent for leather is the worst book on the subject of jackets ,I would take any facts stated in that book with a pinch of salt . This story of Aces getting red linings is simply not true .Never in all my years of studying have I seen an example or heard of a vet talking about it ,nor is it documented in any of the books I own .



    BIP
     
  7. johnwayne

    johnwayne Active Member

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    BIP, I'm sure you're right re aces and perhaps some confusion/crossover with red satin in early M422's but also agree that He'll Bent is not a good ref book, I thought it was at the time though!! Still interested to find out why Gary Eastman seems to have not covered it, even minimally.
     
  8. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Linings are not covered in the Gary's book at all.
     
  9. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    This debate has been going on for decades and has never been resolved as far as I'm aware
    The problem is identifying Spun Silk lining material from Cotton lining material which, if the weave is the same, is just about as hard to identify as to tell Horse from Steer.
    From the late 1980s to around 2000 maybe 80% of Aero A-2 linings cut from a cloth woven in "Spun Silk", this neither looked nor felt anything like "Knicker Silk" (for want of a better word) which is the most common type of cloth made from silk or rayon.
    We only stopped using it when the only weaver we knew who could make the fabric went out of business.
    As I recall the best way to tell the spun silk from cotton woven in the same way was a slightly warmer and fractionally harder hand to the silk comapred to the cotton.
    We only used it in a rust colour which let to some describing the lining as "Aces Red Silk" although I could never see the colour as anything but "Rust", anyone with a mid 90s Aero A-2 with a rust lining has a spun silk lining.
    As to how long the Air Corps A-2s were lined in Spun Silk, I don't know but I suspect for a few years at least although DNA will be the only definitive answer, looking at the lining will not supply the answer.
    I'm suprised Gary didn't research this in his book as he was well aware of the years of debate that went on in the 1990s.
     
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  10. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Thank you for the info about 1980's to 2000 Aero A-2 jackets.

    There are a number of ways to identify silk from cotton, with a burn test probably the most common (one of my degrees is as an ACS certified chemist). It's odd that it is not common knowledge if any early factory A-2 linings were originally made from silk as the clothiers of the day would have been quite capable of the identification.

    Have not seen an Aero from the 1980's to 2000, but interesting to note no significant difference compared to cotton explaining its possible use (of course, material qualities would be strongly dependent on comparative weave, weight, finish, etc.).
     
  11. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    Our lining was woven to match and old lining, maybe Roughwear judging on the colour, at that time we were trying to make the best A-2 we could, rather than the best copy of another A-2, hence the use of Spun (waste) Silk, and as 33-1729 says "material qualities would be strongly dependent on comparative weave, weight, finish, etc." and with "no significant difference compared to cotton"
    The cloth was a really good match to the original sample although I couldn't say if that original was cotton or silk. That's the only pic I can find

    Old A-2 Lining.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  12. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, per square yard.
     
  13. Bombing IP

    Bombing IP Active Member

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    That is ozs per square yard .

    BIP
     
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  14. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I personally think the whole idea that USAAF fighter pilots replaced the linings on their A-2s to red silk on obtaining their 5th kill is absolutely bunkum and we all know that.

    But I certainly wouldn't argue against the fact that there's the possibility that some may have replaced the lining with red silk for other more personal or flamboyant reasons. The reason why is that there are other examples of this. For example 601 Sqn (albeit an Auxiliary unit in the RAF), made up at the start of the war of very wealthy types, had their SD tunics lined in red silk as a flamboyant mark of individuality.

    I think that it's in the realms of possibility that an A-2 may have been relined in red silk, more likely as a showy alternative when a jacket's lining needed replacing.
     
  15. johnwayne

    johnwayne Active Member

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    I've always believed silk to be quite different in both look and feel to cotton ie the sheen of silk compared to cotton so surprised by Ken's comment but totally respect his experience on this subject, however, isn't silk supposedly a better insulate than cotton? Didn't RAF aircrew wear silk gloves under leather ones for that reason? Crikey, how much I've spent on all those 'cotton' neckties over the years in the belief they were silk!! The fire test is also something they go to great pains to show you if you ever go to a carpet makers in Turkey!!!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  16. Garylafortuna

    Garylafortuna Active Member

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    For the paltry sum of an extra one hundred euros per jacket, Bill Kelso offers the silk lining option in their A-2s, in three color choices no less. Gibson & Barnes also uses a silk liner in one of their A-2s. Authentic in WWII A-2s or not, the concept of silk for linings in these jackets must have germinated somewhere. The very thought of silk conjures up visions of opulence, decadence, devil may care, and class. Like ancient Rome itself, silk is an idea, a passion, a bee in your bonnet. Just cannot wait until the linings in my A-2 jackets need to be replaced. Point of interest: LLBean sells silk underwear for men.
     
  17. Bombing IP

    Bombing IP Active Member

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    It War time materials are short ,England and America are having drives to collect aluminum ,rubber , brass , big piles were collected for the war effort to make aircraft , bullets tires ,ships and tanks . You could not import his stuff anymore because the U Boats were sinking every thing .So material were donated by the citizens any available silk was used by the Airborne boys !.

    Quote " the concept of silk for linings in these jackets must have germinated somewhere." end of Quote

    Well it did not germinate in WWII because materials were short , it germinated as you put it with the made in Korea A-2 jackets with Map of Europe rayon lining so you could escape if you got caught . These were for sale in shopping malls all around the USA circa 1980s that where it bloody germinated ,also side entry pockets and wallet pocket were kindly added .

    Does Bill Kelso offer maps printed on his silk linings ?

    BIP
     
  18. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_waste

    Spun Silk is woven from silk waste, I imagine there would be quite a bit of "waste" with all those silk parachutes being made at the time?
    That's also one of the main reasons that it resembles cotton so closely
     
  19. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Availability, if not cost, is certainly a good reason for original A-2 makers to use spun silk lining over cotton, but it just doesn't fit that so many A-2's were available after the war and silk was not the commonly known original replacement. Even if some, or even most, clothiers or owners were unable to tell silk from cotton they could easily have contacted the original manufacturer for replacement lining material (there was probably lots and lots of that after the war at a good price). More plausably, cotton was the lining material of choice for the original A-2 manufacturer and if silk was ever used by the factory, it was probably in very small numbers given the lack of any known original examples with it.

    No doubt later versions, such as Aero's 1980's to 2000 A-2 used a "spun silk" lining material, and some re-linings used silk, maybe even plaid, but neither of those examples are from the original A-2 contracts used during WWII.

    Reasonable conclusion?
     
  20. Bombing IP

    Bombing IP Active Member

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    441
    Raw silk was imported from Japan to fill the void.[6] Asian countries, formerly exporters of raw materials (cocoons and raw silk), progressively began to export more and more finished garments.

    During the Second World War, silk supplies from Japan were cut off, so western countries were forced to find substitutes. Synthetic fibres such as nylon were used in products such as parachutes and stockings, replacing silk. Even after the war, silk was not able to regain many of the markets lost, though it remained an expensive luxury product.[6] Postwar Japan, through improvements in technology and a protectionist market policy, became the world's foremost exporter of raw silk, a position it held until the 1970s.[6] The continued rise in importance of synthetic fibres and loosening of the protectionist economy contributed to the decline of Japan's silk industry, and by 1975 it was no longer a net exporter of silk.[45]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_silk

    BIP
     

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