Spec. 94-3040, "Jacket, Flying, Type A-2"

Discussion in 'Vintage' started by 33-1729, May 23, 2017.

  1. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    In a previous thread there was discussion about the use of a spun silk lining in the original maker contracts per the original spec though a single example has not been found; only cotton (re-linings or post WWII jackets excluded).

    Excellent idea someone posted was why not read the spec and maybe it would explain why a spun silk lining has not been found. Just got the first response back from the US government and they said they don't have a copy. So, need to keep searching. Does anyone have a copy they can post?
     
  2. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Good to have a new member here with such an interest in A-2s. Perhaps you would like to introduce yourself in the biography section and give your first name rather than simply the first Werber contract number!
     
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  3. Steve27752

    Steve27752 Well-Known Member

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  4. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    Perhaps that's because 95% of the population are unfamiliar with the properties of Spun Silk and assume because of the word "Silk" that such a material would look like knicker silk or rayon.
    Anyone looking at an A-2 expecting this type of silk would naturally assume the cloth to be cotton. Can't argue with that?
    Even the 5% who are aware that spun silk can be, and is usually, woven into a fabric that looks identical to cotton would not necesarily ID a Spun Silk lining if they saw one.
     
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  5. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Agreed. Only item I had that I knew was spun silk was a shirt many years back and it looked just like cotton, though it felt differently (don’t know if because of the difference of material or more about difference of finish, or both). It quickly disintegrated, relative to my cotton shirts, but that was more about the quality of construction than anything else (it was not, by any means, a high-end item).
     
  6. Bombing IP

    Bombing IP Active Member

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    Ken I 100% agree , I am in the camp of not being able to ID cotton from Silk in an A2 . Which would be the strongest lining with regards to longevity by the user .

    BIP
     
  7. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    The durability of top quality, long, reeled silk (what we typically consider as "silk") cannot be compared to weak, damaged or other poor quality silk waste that is carded and woven from a collection of smaller filaments (like wool or cotton). Yes, silk is silk and the material properties are consistent between "silk" and the silk waste used to make "spun silk", but as the spun silk is woven from a collection of broken fragments the method of processing, construction, and finish are the predominate factors for durability. This is the reason long reeled silk is made into parachutes and spun silk is not.
     
  8. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    You've totally nailed the answer to BIP's question, sir.

    Re costs, with so much silk production in USA in the late 20's/early 30's Silk Waste must have been fairly abundant so I'd hazzard a guess that Spun Silk and Cotton cloth were similarily priced.
    Our Spun Silk lining was roughly twice the price of the equivelant Cotton, not a big deal when we were setting out to make be best A-2 we could, we'd probably have paid more for silk if we had to.

    As regards wear of Spun Silk v. Cotton I can only refer to our A-2 linings, over the years we've see more/worse damage to the neck area of Spun Silk lined jackets than we see in the cotton lined jackets. The wear is very consistent to that found on the originals too, same areas, especially on collar stands. That said, while there are plenty 30+ year old Spun Silk lined Aero (Scotland) A-2s around, cotton lined (Aero Scotland) A-2s didn't really get into serious production until after the start of the 21st Century so it might not be fair to say that cotton outlasts spun silk................although between you and me, I think it probably does.
     
  9. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    Thought I'd check the old Acme Depot review on our 20th Century A-2, particularily the review of the lining........

    "Aero has chosen to line their A-2's with all silk material as per the original A-2 specification and for added durability over cotton. There is a standing debate today about the use of silk and cotton in the lining material of original A-2's, and I don't intend to open it here. For the purpose of this report I will simply describe the silk lining.

    The weight, feel, and weave of the silk lining is similar to originals on hand, notwithstanding the difference in age and in not specifically knowing the material used in the originals. Cotton and silk textiles can feel very similar, and testing for content is non-trivial.

    Specific to the feel of this lining, if I had not known beforehand that it was silk, I probably would not have had a reason to think it so. The mention of silk conjures thoughts of fine neckties, but this lining feels more like a fine cotton with just a bit of slickness to it. This underscores the difficulty in determining the content of the lining in an original A-2. I expect that the construction of the yarn and the weave of the material contribute substantially to the feel."

    This from Marc D. Weinshenker a highly respected authority on the suject of The A-2

    Full review http://www.acmedepot.com/a2jacket/eval_TAAero.shtml
     
  10. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Thought cost may have been why spun silk was used over cotton, but the pricing data from that time period doesn't support that hypothesis. Pricing data below is from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Note price is in "Cents per Pound" for cotton and "Dollars per Pound" for spun silk. Final prices vary on a large number of factors, but spun silk looks to be always more expensive than cotton. Availability usually dictates cost, so that may not have been a reason to use spun silk over cotton either.

    Cotton.JPG

    SpunSilk.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  11. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    Very interesting 33-1279

    Of course the cost of weaving would be the same regardless of the (cost of) thread content and the raw material constitutes a fairly low % of the final cost of a yard of cloth. also your chart shows that prices of Spun Silk were dropping like a stone through the 1920s, so I doubt that the difference in the cost of the spun silk cloth was more than double that of cotton (as it was in the 1980s/90s)

    With regard to documentation I found this ebay listing a while ago, saved the link as I'd never seen an ebay text like it

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/miltary-A2-flight-jacket-army-air-force-ww2-before-they-split-diffrent-braches-/181104708078?nma=true&si=s92OPS8f%2B5TPtsQ7BASp4SQ%2BNV0%3D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    You seem to have more knowledge of how to source US docs, mabe you can find this doc mentioned in this epic text ............

    "Early A-2's had linings made from silk, per the original specification. This was likely spun silk, a thin, breathable shirt-like fabric. The lining changed to cotton later on. A letter from the Materiel Division of Wright Field, dated 7 January 1939, states that the use of silk in flying jackets had been discontinued "as its procurement was found not to be feasible." The letter does not say when this happened, but it makes clear that the vast majority of original A-2 jackets have cotton linings."

    When I searched "Letter, Materiel Division of Wright Field, 7 January 1939" I was lead to Acme Depot, maybe you know how or where to locate this letter?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  12. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    The "epic text" is pulled from Wikipedia and it looks like that information may have been pulled from the Acme Depot. Asked Mr. Weinshenker if he would be able to send me a copy of the 1939 letter or point me in the direction to obtain it (I'll post when able).

    With spun silk consistently more expensive than cotton (please see post above), looked at the other theory that availability may have been the reason to use silk over cotton. No, that isn't true either. The US was buried in cotton production by 1930, with almost two years of supply held in storage by 1931 or around when the first A-2 contract was written [1]. Prices cratered with the oversupply hurting farmers [2], so much so that the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed in 1933 to pay farmers by reducing the crop size of cotton, along with many other items [3]. This also explains the cotton price spiking in 1933 as shown in the post above.

    [1] - https://archive.org/stream/somefactsaboutco139unit/somefactsaboutco139unit_djvu.txt
    [2] - http://archives.chicagotribune.com/...-break-in-cotton-is-sequel-to-u-s-crop-report
    [3] - http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/teachers/lesson_plans/pdfs/unit9_12.pdf

    So why was silk recommended? I have no idea. Not superior material properties or cost or availability. Beginning to wonder if using silk was a rule or more of a guideline. Quite possible given the long and successful history of military cotton clothing. Still looking for the spec...
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2017
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  13. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Active Member

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    Hopefully Marc can shed more light on the letter,

    "the use of silk in flying jackets had been discontinued"

    Here's a question for those with more expertise on "pre 1939 non leather USAC flight Jackets" than I have.............How many and which used Silk in their manufacture? I can't imagine any use other than for lining but I'm very willing to be corrected
     
  14. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Heard back from Mr. Weinshenker and expect more next week.

    Saw in the book A-2 and G-1 Flight Jackets: Hell-Bent for Leather, by Derek Nelson and Dave Parsons (2002), they carefully quote the A-2 Army Air Corps Type Designation Sheet as "Horse hide leather - spun silk lining; full leather collar and interlocking fasteners instead of buttons; knitted wool wristlets." Note the "-" designating the omission of additional text in the quote. They also noted in the same paragraph on pg. 28 "There were no synthetics available; silk, wool, alpaca and a tightly woven cotton gabardine were the only other alternatives." They go on at pg. 30 "The original A-2 had a lining of brown spun silk; one source says it was "light brown"." There is no reason to doubt this account and it is quite possible "the original A-2" was one used in the 1930-31 service tests, if not production. SO, even if the Spec. 94-3040 does call out other lining materials, it is still possible an original A-2 had a light brown spun silk lining and may not have survived.
     
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  15. Ole

    Ole New Member

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    Nice thread.
    I would like to offer this to the research

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Ole

    Ole New Member

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    this is from the book mentioned above
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting the original document from the summer of 1935. I notice it mentions cotton lining which was in the 1934 memo, which could indicate that spun silk was only used to line jackets from the first two A2 contracts. I suspect the 1935 document resulted in the award of the next A-2 contract to Werber on 13th September 1935. According to Gary Eastman it was for 550 jackets at a cost of $3,925, less than the estimated cost of $5000 for 500 jackets.
     
  18. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    The key to note is the hyphen in the quote "Horse hide leather -- spun silk lining; full leather ...", designating the omission of additional text in the quote. Yes, only three contracts may have been able to contain silk linings (32-485, 33-1729 and the elusive 34-518P), but if the option to use cotton was also available per the original specification the huge cost savings, overwhelming availability, and durability would make cotton the most preferred manufacturing option. "The original A-2" with a "light brown" spun silk lining may have been used in the 1930-31 service tests and never a standard production item.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  19. Roughwear

    Roughwear Well-Known Member

    This does make sense 33-1729 (BTW. What is your first name as it is strange to reply to a number?) Until a physical example of the 34-518-P contract turns up the jury is out on whether they were actually produced, although there is no evidence the contract was withdrawn. Perhaps due to the small number none have survived.
     
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  20. 33-1729

    33-1729 Member

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    Wayne works, but my friends call me 33. :)
     
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