Ever since 2008 we have concentrated on repairing and altering garments and with a very few exceptions for ourselves we have stuck with this rule BUT Gwen has decided to try and produce a flying jacket which with luck incorporates the best features from the examples we have seen. It is NOT a reproduction of a vintage jacket - it is what we would have offered in 1939 had we been tendering for a contract - but bearing in mind how these jackets are worn today in a modern sports car (or even on a motorcycle although we would definitely NOT recommend this) or on the street.
This is just a prototype project at the moment and we have no plans to go into production BUT if it turns out well and can be produced at a reasonable price we may well offer it as a custom made garment and give the customer some say in how his or her jacket looks.
|The jacket will have under arm filets for flexibility as the Irvin jackets did but we propose to use leather rather than sheerling for this to reduce bulk.
We also take a cue from the classic RAF jacket with the waist adjustment. We are not over-keen on the side straps used on the B3 jacket and similar garments - the original ones are too heavy for the weight of the available sheerling but a lighter version gets tatty quite quickly whilst the Irvin style half belt has several advantages structurally and works nicely. The eyelets on the belt are solid brass plated steel can rust and lacquered ones wear unevenly if the lacquer fails. These are treated in-house and the surface should polish naturally with wear.
And Gwen likes making them.
The under collar is also constructed in much the same way as the RAF classic but we have added a keeper loop to stop the neck strap flapping in the breeze. We don't expect to be doing much open cockpit flying (although it could be altered to facilitate this) so no elastic collar strap is fitted nor are there eyelets for one.
|Some ventilation will be provided by the use of solid brass grommets (eyelets) let into leather triangles under the arm. We decided not to use lacquered ones like the Irvin or the US A2 jackets for aesthetic reasons as above. The cuffs will be zipped (see the zip guards above) rather than the gathered style of the B3 - it makes the sleeve easier to wear either over or under gloves.
|The body and sleeve of the jacket are made from "aviator" sheepskin with a 24mm clipped "honey" fleece. The back is constructed from two panels with an overlay in high quality chestnut aniline dyed leather used for the other leather parts of the jacket
|Pockets or rather pocket will be a leather patch type similar to the B3. We avoided hand warmer pockets because they are more complicated to make but also because we get to repair too many jackets where the owner has fallen over whilst hands were in such pockets and we HATE having to repair our own work. The map type pocket is big enough for your keys but not so big that it dominates the front of the jacket. The first iteration (left) didn't work out so it was modified (right). There MAY be a third version as this pocket might be a little small for some hands.
|The body of the jacket is together. Note that there is only overbanding on one side of the zip - it looked a bit fussy with one each side and the pocket was not going to sit nicely
|The under-arm triangle with it's vent eyelets. We acquired a new and horribly expensive setting tool for this job - and it works perfectly every time - you get what you pay for.
|And the front zip with it's pull suitable "embysoned".