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Leather Jackets of the AAF

No other item of flight clothing is more recognizable than the famous leather jackets of WWII aviators. Flight jackets were introduced during the early years of WW1, when many planes were not pressurized and so protection from the elements was required. The most famous was the jacket designed for the Army Air Force - the A2, otherwise known as the "bomber jacket."

Flight jackets were generally made from horsehide, with a silk or cotton lining. Jacket art, similar to aircraft nose art, quickly became popular. Designed ranged from aircraft, to pinups and cartoons, to patriotic scenes. The AAF patch was often worn on the left shoulder, and squadron patches could be worn on the chest. Officers sometimes wore rank on the shoulder epaulets. Cloth wings and leather name badges could also be worn if desired. In some instances, survival "chits," such as the one pictured below from the Flying Tigers, were sewn into the inside lining of the jackets, in case of a forced landing in enemy territory. The chit was a pledge in a foreign language that usually read something along the lines of: "This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue, protect, and provide him medical care."


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