Discussion in 'Cloth' started by johnwayne, Jan 17, 2018.
I'm on it!
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I think Smithy is likely on it - replacement rather than manufacture variant. Contracts were issued after prototypes were submitted(remember, to spec.) and no manufacturer would risk losing a contract unless given the go-ahead. I would think that would mean either documentation or many more pics and examples out there. I imagine if a manufacture, especially early in a contract, delivered an item so far different from the specs to have non-matching knits they would be rejected. Desperation for war goods has been overused as a reason for civi things, variations, etc. being used by the military(usually to encourage a sale). IMO NOS WWII jackets would likely have been issued in Korea in favor of random variations of a new design.
The later adoption of sage green would agree with this. Also, don't forget the slight possibility of the knits being changed in theater or in Japan. AF guys were always known for this and apparently given more room under regs. Japan was a source for a lot of custom stuff.
As I said on TFL, if Charles handled one with rust knits, I am somewhat convinced that he'd be able to make the difference between factory installed or refurbished one. That still doesn't make it anything more than an odd exception, nowhere near BR's explanaition that it was a whole batch.
I just went over to TFL to have a look at the thread in question and my word what a lot of knickers in knots!
With all due respect to Charles he has a vested interest in all this because, stop the press, he sells BR jackets. As my dear old Dad used to say, "never trust everything a salesman says". I work for an aviation museum as an artefact researcher, my job is to research objects, photographs, films, etc and the one thing I will say from experience is that I never trust hearsay or memory. I want evidence, be it photographic, film, documentation, or better yet regarding actual objects, an example of the object in question. I certainly do not trust marketing blurbs on websites selling things.
In terms of B-10s with red/berry knits, show me a photograph or film or official documentation stating they were made that way. And if it is as BR says and that a whole batch of these were made this way then I expect, at least half a dozen different examples showing this, once again either in photos, film or actual examples.
In terms of the blue L-2A and B-15c Mod jackets with green/olive knits, if this was actually performed upon manufacture, show me evidence of this. So far all I have been able to ascertain is that this related to small numbers of jackets and there's every reason to presume that logically this was performed in theatre on airbases and due to the fact that due to the short window that the blue jackets were issued, that green replacement knits were far more likely to be common and hence used in repairs.
TBH, visiting TFL and that thread just reaffirmed one of the reasons why I just can't be bothered visiting anymore (OK Cocker's post made me curious and so I went over to have a squizz) too much subjective reasoning and opinions and too much fanboy bullshit.
I always take it with a grain of salt. Be it on TFL, VLJ, or whatever forum where there are passionate people, those kind of discussion will always happen. I find a lot of valuable threads on TFL, of course not only about jackets, but about everything "vintage".
As far as evidences are concerned, that was my point exactly!
Sounds like HPA should henceforth stand for "History Propagation Association". With due respect isn't this the HPA guy that criticized DD's L-2/B-15 as inferior because ELC researched and developed their own "correct" nylon, etc.? There are always those guys who claim to vulcanize their own rubber, milk individual silkworms by hand, or use only WWII wrenches to restore WWII vehicles. They act as if, first, it makes them experts, second, that we believe them, and third, that we even care.
See, I'm getting old, I actually managed to stay calm with him. Which surprises me a lot !
Now, I consider some points raised toward DD's B-15 and L-2 valid, and I can understand how that would bother some people who are aiming for 100% accuracy. Still, in my opinion, I'd go for a 90% correct repro that would fit over any 100% repro that would be either too baggy or too short in the sleeves. I would never be able to tell if the shell is in the correct wave, if the interlining is the wrong material and so on without having an original besides it anyway.
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Thanks all for the info on the green L2 knits, I had never seen those photos before. So much great knowledge here and posters willing to engage in thoughtful discussion rather than starting pissing matches. The hat place just sux, and I wouldn't trust a word from the HPA guy. I strongly suspect he has posted here before under a different handle and took some shots at other jacket makers.
With respect to the green knits on the blue L2s, I agree that they almost certainly have to be in-theater mods/replacements. I have a hard time believing that government inspectors would accept out-of-spec jackets, particularly if they're that obvious and/or simply mismatched. But it's almost cooler that they were modded post-manufacture, as it adds a stamp of the pilots' individuality and actual in-cockpit use.
Guys, without wishing to recreate any of the emotion of TFL, there's strong vein of thought developing here that the L2-A green knits were a post production change at some point, but reading all the posts that is still an opinion at this point, we haven't moved forward with any conclusive evidence one way or the other
I still struggle that at the time of the Korean war when the oldest L-2A would have been 3 or so years old that anyone would have been worried about messing around with swapping out knits on jackets in such numbers unless there was a manufacturing flaw on the originals. A decent job of it is not a 5 minute job I think. I could be wrong, of course but it doesn't feel like something that people would be on anyone's list of things to do. And we haven't even discussed the one's that are at least suggested to have had an olive lining. The volume of pics we have also is interesting. There's the ones we've had hear, then on this thread
Mulling it, I suggest that in the context of the time, with switch over from USAAF to USAF then a mix of Olive Drab / sheds of green and the new blue might not have seemed so unusual as it might to us looking back. It seems reasonable to at least wonder if inspectors were given some slack?
In Gary Eastman's A-2 book he says that A-2 knits were all required to be a colour called Chelsea Brown yet we know what a range of interpretations that colour had.
In my search for the earlier pics I'd seen I found this quote in a thread about someone's new BR B-15C from 2013 where he references three more photos with green knits, so we have the pic here and three more. Sadly I couldn't now find the pics on the jetpilotoverseas site but I'm sure I saw them back in 2013.
BTW I assume you're associated with the website http://jetpilotoverseas.wordpress.com/category/l-2a/ I have found some really amazing pictures on there. In particular was three pictures of L-2A jackets with Green knit parts. Very interesting![/QUOTE]
So in addition to the pics here there's potentially at least another three out there.
I also found some pics of a what I believe is an original on a Japanese site. The stitching of the knits juts looks too nice to be done on base or in theatre. Weren't the base guys the same types that were slopping around brown coloured stuff on A-2 re-dyes a few years previously? Sorry, I have no particular preference for an outcome, just would like to know definitive facts one way or the other as opposed to our different opinions. And the same for red knits on B-10's!
That’s an original, I would agree. Stanier has a point here-why would they be messing about replacing knits on base? For a start (others may know better than me), what would a pilot be doing to shred the knits that quickly? I’ve seen pics of WWII ground crew wearing A-2’s (presumably traded, or acquired by other means than being issued) with trashed knits, but why would fliers be knackering them so quickly? I suspect this may be more of a case of ‘Hell, there’s a war on, we got a contract to fill, who cares what colour the knits are?’at the factory rather than on-base repairs, which I doubt they’d have had the time for. I still think the rust knit B-10’s are a Japanese fabrication, let’s face it, they have plenty of previous for such things.
It's a fallacy that if something was done on an airbase it was a sloppy or crude job. That might be so on an advanced airfield such as in Europe in 1944 or 45 where conditions were very spartan but you have to remember that by the time the front stabilised in Korea the USAF began turning the airbases into very permanent sites, massive installations with all conceivable support infrastructure for the effective operation and support of the aircraft and their crews. In terms of sewing, it wasn't just flight jackets and uniforms but parachutes, harnesses, webbing, etc. All of these things had to be repaired on base effectively.
There's a surprising array of metal edges and things to catch a piece of clothing on in cockpits and airframes. With a fighter jock, it wouldn't be that difficult for him to unintentionally catch a wrist knit on any number of things and especially if he's chucking the aircraft violently around trying to avoid a bunch of 23mm and 37mm shells being chucked at him from behind. There's also things to catch the knits on in terms of just flying kit with all the lugs and clasps on the parachute harness, etc.
Flying clothing takes quite a beating and experiences a lot more hard wear than you or I put it through driving to the shops to pick up something for dinner!
Hi Smithy, I don’t doubt that flying clothing comes in for some very heavy wear and tear. I assume that would have been the case all through WWII and all through The Korean War. If we were seeing lots of examples of jackets of all types with mismatched or varying coloured knits (and there is the matter of lining lurking in the background) then your point would have a lot more probability to me. But it is almost entirely the L-2a (I personally haven’t seen a period pic with another jacket type) that has this oddity of the olive knits (or lining).
And on the L-2a in question, of the pics I’ve seen the knits are either all green or at least the collar and waistband (cuffs are blue) which seems to me to reinforce the peculiarity as I would have thought the cuffs would be the first to go, and the collar least likely.
I really am open minded on this but none of the speculation that it was a field mod in some way fully add up to me currently.
It has to be documented somewhere. If it was a base or other modification I’m sure some sort of authority would have to be given as the contrast is so stark and rocking up to parade or whatever would be bound to attract some senior attention Im sure!
From what I’ve read the Korean campaign was extremely fast moving, Seoul changed hands four times, and it wasn’t until very late in the day that any sort of front stability was achieved. I’m no expert on the conflict so could be wrong again, but it’s what I’ve picked up googling this morning.
I just can’t believe that with the South Koreans and US pushed to a very small area of land initially, then a rapid counter advance, then a million Chinese with Russian air support heading their way that anyone would think, Oh that reminds me, I must get my knits in my L-2a changed to Olive green. And even if they did, that anyone would allocate resource to it.
None of my observations are meant to upset anyone, they’re just curiosity, so please don’t take my words as any sort of confrontation, it’s just what the forum consensus seems to be is based on a shared opinion rather than a fact, and that view raises questions of its own that I’m asking.
I remember for years that there was a strong and emotive view that cow wasn’t used for A-2’s. We now know it was used considerably.
The pics of the L-2a I’ve posted looks to me like those knits have been there since the get go. If they did change, then even more fascinating, but how and why?
The issue I have is that the assumption should be the other way around. We should be asking for proof of this variant rather than assuming it must have been until someone proves otherwise. I'm not saying it is impossible but the spec is there as that standing proof otherwise and logic says to me that must be the basis. Since "we know it happened" elsewhere remains but isn't something I'm comfortable putting up front. Shoot. This jacket could be a well-worn repro. Despite our feelings.
I think the "on base repair" and "field-made" assumptions are taking on a wive's tale proportion that is being accepted with no proof other than lack of counter-proof. It's become a stop-gap for everything we can't prove. The standard still remains and there should be proof otherwise other than a few examples that people "feel" are original. Depots were not shanty huts in the back of just any front line base and were not manned by unskilled privates held to zero standards. Contracts are not won with the attitude, "Who cares, there's a war on..." It's a really big deal to politicians, Generals, and contractors. Bulova lost their AF watch contract in '62 after having had them since WWII through several spec changes. From what I understand they missed a re-submission date by a day though remaining in constant communication. They could obviously hold to standards but the Govt is finicky and not "whatever...". I don't think they ever got one back.
Other things I think about: In my opinion the better the stitching - the more likely a repro or custom mod/repair. Replacing cuffs, cleaning watches, etc. were not as unusual as they are today. To replace everything knit to match would be the right way to do it. How many A-2s have non-original knits? I dare say a majority. Remember many crews flew out of Japan as well. Squadron caps are in photos everywhere but were all privately sourced or custom made(mostly in Japan). Another point is that all the "left over" cuffs were still govt property and not likely just left on pallets at Togs. That was taken very seriously. Wouldn't Tog or RW or whoever have had tons of civi jackets post war with govt zippers, labels, snaps, and cuffs? Why no WWII leftover zippers on nylon jackets? It's just cuffs? Wouldn't a contractor be the most likely to have the latest and proper cuffs? The further from the factory the more likely a mismatched part. On and on.
In John Sherwood's "Officers in Flight Suits" he devotes a whole chapter to bases in the Korean War, a description of them, life on them and also how the USAF developed these into more permanent installations with the stabilisation of the front. Kimpo (K-14) for example was retaken and held by UN forces from February 1951 so fairly early in the war and it was mid 1951 that the construction of Kimpo as a permanent base was ramped up.
I agree with you and speaking with my researcher's hat on again, if these jackets left the factory that way then I want evidence to show or prove it especially as such a deviation from governmental specification would under all normal circumstances mean that such a jacket would not pass an inspector. Because they exist (and let's me honest not in great numbers) doesn't automatically mean that they left the factory that way. I still believe these were on base repairs and that this is logically and logistically speaking by far the most likely reason.
And a whole batch of B-10s leaving the factory with red knits? Hogwash unless someone can prove otherwise!
Dave brings up a great point. I had a GW Perry for a short time. It was too small on me and I had a hard time getting rid of it as I loved it.
I saw this guy at a local flea market who knows a ton about WWII gear - esp jackets. I was messing with him when he asked bout my Perry. I told him it was real and he freaked out. I let him look it over, try it on, etc. I finally had to let him down with the truth. He was pretty blown away to say the least. I think as the quality of the repops grows over the years, this will become more of an issue for 99.99% of potential buyers.
One or two pics is a hard thing to base a conclusion on with no doc's. What does it mean? We've tossed out a dozen ideas but there is NO proof one way or the other.
Lambasting DD for a jacket that adds 3" length to accommodate 21st century males is hardly blasphemy. But to some in the hat place, it's reason enough to try to troll daily. Like I said, not a full deck that one...
The red MA-1 ditto. So far, I've only seen one pic from way back of something that may have been red MA-1's.
The same pic used ten years ago is now being used again to promote it.
I don't mind them making all thos variants, in fact they can come up with some realistcic looking ones, it's just that I would wish to have some more evidence than one stale picture.
The Red MA-1 look legit as a test pilot jacket for Northrop. It is the color of the group by the looks of it, but yes, one pic...
And admittedly, I fell in love with it.
Guys, apologies, but in the search for the facts that we don't have, I think we risk losing sight of, or sadly ignoring or forgetting the facts that we do have.
Namely that however it happened, there are undisputedly at least a few period photos of L2-a jackets with olive knits from multiple sources. The wearers do not look like they believe they might be doing something unacceptable or have a problem in any way related to their uniform including their jacket. It happened and the jackets existed, but how did it happen?
Thank goodness these period pics are in colour, as we may well be pinging posts about light, shade and other factors that black and white images might give rise to. No, these colour images show that show olive knits were on blue L2-a's and to one extent or another were accepted variants however they acquired their olive knits. For this alone, IMHO, BR are entitled to produce the jackets as original. They may know more and they tell their suppliers, I just don't know, I'd love someone who has the right connections and can speak Japanese to pick up with them and get the full story. Presumably someone at least at BR is a real jacket enthusiast and is doing their work with a level of decent knowledge, even if albeit someone else is also pursuing commercial opportunities, and thank goodness they are to keep the brand going.
And I'm assuming that during the Korean War not everyone was running round with a Camera and certainly not focusing on jacket pics, so if we have 2, 3, 4 or 5 period pics in different settings then how many were there not on camera?
It seems whatever pics are posted they get interpreted to prove our own points; perfect stitching - its likely a repro. If it had been poor stitching it would have reinforced depot or local work I have no doubt.
Whether or not the pic of the jacket I posted above is original or not (and I think it is), the above facts are facts. To that jacket I posted, it does not have the Crown zip that I believe all Buzz L2-a's have, and other than Real McCoy (who I think repro their own brand or LW Foster? and I think use Crown zips?) I'm not aware of another repro maker of this contract. So whoever made this, if it is a repro, did a mighty fine job, IMHO, of not only repro'ing it, but also ageing it.
I understand and agree with Dave's underlying premise, and thanks Dave for the wives tale bit, that's a good way of putting it. In addition, and from Dave's post I don't believe for one moment that depot repair depts. were shanty huts manned by the unskilled, but I'm purely suggesting that those depts. would have had bigger priorities than to do knit replacements on 3 year old jackets and certainly where not all the knits were worn. I'm suggesting that there would have been other primary skills way up the priority list than any sort of jacket repair, that had an easy solution - more spare jackets. The fact that an awful lot f A-2's today have had their knits replaced is academic to my point; how many "made in 1941 A-2's" had their knits replaced by 1945 would be a better take I think, and given the number with shot but original knits for at least their contract we've all seen begging for replacement since say 1980, I suspect that those that were replaced by 1945 would not be a massive number. But, and I stress this, I don't know, its just an opinion based on my general understanding of the situation at the time and the bigger picture.
The bit about DD and his jacket is very perplexing. I've dealt with DD (and GW) and found them to be extremely ( on all counts) friendly, knowledgeable and humble gentlemen with exemplary customer service. Whatever the circumstances, the outright rude and ridiculous take some on other forums have had is without excuse. To the extra 3", I'm not sure how it got so out of control. Of course I've seen all the posts here and elsewhere asking about extra length on jackets generally and there seem to be a lot of them and maybe us shorter or more vintage generally guys should have spoken up, as I think the volume on length might make it seem like everyone wants a longer length jacket and DD thought there's actually a downside juts going with the original fit. I admit, I've seen some pics of with folk proudly displaying their latest purchase and I've thought it looks a bit big and too long, but its their jacket and not my place to comment, even if they're asking. I think DD might have played it better (but again no excuse in any way for the rubbish he's endured) if he'd played it the other way round and said, the original and his standard fit is cut short, and a longer fit with 3" extra length is available to suit a 21st century males / bigger guy if required. If in any doubt drop him an email or call for help. I think if it had been put like this then all this other stuff might have never surfaced. Just my tuppence worth anyway.
Smithy, I'll look out for John Sherwood's book!
One of the things with operational aircrew in WWII and the Korean War was a certain leniency when it came to flying clothing and what could be done on an operational airbase fighting an air war. It is far more likely for a jacket to be given mismatched knits on an airbase ("because Sir that's all we have and Lt Suchandsuch will be flying tomorrow") than for it to come off the production line and not meeting the specification for the item, remember too it has to be approved by an inspector. Actually a colonel on an airbase wouldn't give a flying you-know-what what knits are on a flight jacket because he has a war to fight and a station to manage and far bigger fish to fry, plus flying kit is just that flying kit, it's not for the parade ground.
In terms of photos of these contrasting jackets in the field, there really aren't that many. As I mentioned yesterday I went through the whole of Thompson and McLaren's "MiG Alley" which is the definitive work on the 4th and 51st FIW in Korea and L-2As tended be mostly worn by fighter pilots due to the heating in a Sabre cockpit - bit different in a B-29 or an Invader! This book is filled with colour photos of aircrew and there was not one picture in the whole book of a contrasting L-2A or otherwise.
I'm trying to approach this from the same angle and with the same methodology I use for work and the first thing to start with is we have the specifications for what a L-2A had to be and look like at the end of manufacture for it to be approved for government use. Now it so happens that we have L-2As (and I'm sure I've seen a B-15C Mod with green knits but I can't confirm that with an image, see there's that memory and hearsay again!) that have contrasting knits, now is it initially more likely that this happened in Korea (or Japan) where there was more leniency on what could be done and worn on an operational airbase during wartime or is it more likely that it was done during manufacture, thus directly and very obviously going against the specifications which were needed to be passed under inspection before distribution? There's no official documentation (to my knowledge) telling manufacturers that they can deviate from the specifications and there's no photographic or film evidence showing these jackets being manufactured this way. You and others may very well disagree but I tend to believe (until other evidence shows otherwise) that there's more probability that these jackets were altered after manufacture.
If you're interested in the Korean air war then do pick up "Officers in Flight Suits", it's the best social commentary on what it was like to be a knuck in Korea, the life they led both on and off duty (it's very candid and even covers the sex life of pilots and prostitution), and what psychologically they were like and the mental affect on combat pilots during this time. A really superb book.
Allow me to elaborate on the red MA-1. Let's say it is topic related inasmuch that I prefer to have artistic liberty supported by facts if certain claims are made.
This pic can be found at one of our esteemed members, hardly ever here anymore I believe. I feel ashamed that I can't momentarily recall his name.
4564050200_99f6a5e21a_b by R. Bezoen, on Flickr
br13860-ra2 by R. Bezoen, on Flickr
The first picture shows the very same Northrop Scorpion at, I claim, the very same spot of the colour picture, pictures being taken at the same day, likely within hours. Please notice that in both pictures, the nose wheel is turned slightly into a left turn. There are more clues though.
It seems to me that in both pictures, no pencil pocket is present on the sleeve.
Furthermore, it appears to me that the cloth type doesn't have the look from nylon. Nylon jackets on b&w photos usually have a slight sheen over them, especially on folds and creases. In the b&w picture, it has a matte cloth type appearance, rather hinting at being not nylon as used for the MA-1.
My claim is that these pictures do not prove the existence of red nylon MA-1 's.
But I'm not on a crusade here, so I'd happily see concrete evidence of the red MA-1.
Taking things back on topic, I think that Stanier is right about being the L2A legitimately being reproduced by BR with OD knits.