September 6, 2012

Bomber, aviator, flight jacket - what's the difference...

This fall there will be much talk about the bomber jacket. The term, bomber, will be applied to a lot of short jackets with ribbed waistbands whether they are in fact based on aviator or motorcycle or infantry blouson jacket styles.

Above is a picture of Tuskegee airmen during the Second World War. They were some of the first black fighter pilot's in US history. You can find more about them here.

Of course, I just want to talk about their clothes. They are wearing the classic aviator jacket, the A2, as designated by the US Air Force. It is COLLARED. On the shoulders do sit epaulettes or straps. Notice the pockets. They are flapped PATCH pockets. They are not slash pockets (they often sit at an angle). The ribbing is low enough to cover the belt line. There was also a G-1 jacket. It has a fur-lined collar and it was used by the Navy and Marines. Most people who see this jacket will often call them "bombers."

But when I hear bomber jacket, I think of the gunners who sat exposed to the cold air while flying over Europe in B-17 bomber aircraft (see below).

The real bomber's jacket is the B-3 jacket. Full shearling and makes its wearer as puffy and toasty warm as the Pilsbury Doughboy after a good 20-minutes in the oven. I doubt anyone will be wearing anything like the real bomber jacket this fall or winter. Though I must say the Jil Sander fetish for leather and Thom Browne's masked men with Munster-like proportions this fall have some kinship to the look of the men on the .50 cal machine guns.

So, this fall, when you hear bomber, think aviator. Thin, trim, dashing. With useful pockets. The jacket should inspire fancies of flight, not skiing, not snowboarding, not motorcycling, not General Eisenhower (he wore a short infantry blouson). FLYING. If it gives off that romance, that vibe, despite its non-authentic, non-aviation details, call it an aviator or a flight jacket and wear it like an ace.

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