As early as World War I when airplanes had open cockpits, pilots began seeking clothing to provide warmth and comfort in the cold temperatures of the open skies. Thus the birth of the legendary “Bomber Jacket” or “Flight Jacket” was born.
Over the years, there have been many variations from the unofficial and popular early leather flight jacket of 1915 through 1917 to later official military issue bomber jackets such as the 1931 “A2 Bomber Jacket.”
Originally, pilots and crews wore whatever they could find because no formal or official clothing was issued to handle the extreme cold and weather conditions the pilots faced in world war I. Heavy long leather jackets quickly became popular with tight snug cuffs around the writs, tight fit around the waists, and high collars to help protect from the cold. These are the design principles that are at the core of what today we commonly think of as a flight jacket or bomber jacket.
At the end of world war I, the US army created the Aviation Clothing Board and started distributing these heavy leather jackets.
By the time World War II broke out, the US Air Corp was distributing the A-2 Bomber Jacket. The Navy and Marine Corp were issued a similar jacket that became known as the G-1.
As aircraft technology developed throughout the war, airplanes were now flying at much higher altitudes and much higher speeds. Temperatures inside these planes – often flying with open doors – plummeted! And the stylish bomber jackets started to give way to a much warmer jacket with a lining of wool or fur. These new jackets were popularized by the B3 Bomber Flight Jacket, a large wool and fur lined jacket with large cargo pockets.
Ground personnel and flight crews quickly adopted the pilot’s B3 Bomber Jacket and the new B7 Flight Jacket became the instant rage.
A decade later introduced the new age of the jet with its enclosed compartments and more attention needed to be paid to the warmth, comfort, and safety of the pilots. The B-15 Flight Jacket was designed out of nylon and other synthetic materials to keep the pilot both warm and dry. The lighter weight and more flexible comfort was also appreciated. As jet technology continued to develop, the MA-1 jacket removed the fur collars because they interfered with the harness of the pilot’s parachute. Today, you can often find both the B-15 and the Leather MA-1 Flight Jackets with and without the fur collars.
A classic flight jacket or bomber jacket is consider a both a stylish and practical piece of clothing. Suitable for a night out on the town or a practical outdoor excursion – and should be in every man’s closet.
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