Thursday, August 13, 2009

M-422a - The Jacket that started it all for me

In the winter of 2001, a strange compulsion washed over me. Though I had always been interested in World War 2 aviation and planes in general, I had never sought out a flight jacket. Sure, I had owned "bomber" jackets; mostly hand-me-down leather jackets from my Dad which were too big on me, but nothing authentic by any means.

As this interest took shape, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about World War 2 fliers, and despite my own Grandfather's affiliation with the Army Air Force as a B-24 Co-Pilot, I became fascinated with the Flying Tigers, who it just so happened, mostly wore naval flight gear. The Naval Flight jacket, called the M-422 at first, then the M-422a and finally the G-1 is largely unchanged in design since it's inception at the beginning of Naval aviation in the 20th century. When I became convinced I needed a M-422a, I contacted Mark Weinshenker of the Acme Depot, a repository for all things A-2 flight jacket in those early years. As his main love was the A-2 flight jacket (the leather flight jacket that the Army Air Force wore during World War 2), he directed me to John Chapman, who is now the proprietor of the Goodwear Leather Coat Company (more on him in future posts). John was quite eager to nerd out on all details of flight jackets; my obsession had found a like minded friend.

After much discussion, I settled on a reproduction M-422a from the Real McCoy's New Zealand. Working with Real McCoy's on all the details regarding the sizing of the coat, my money was sent, and so began...the wait. It may have taken a month to arrive, newly constructed, from Christchurch, NZ, but in the years since, I don't think of that, I think of the years of service it's provided as jacket, pillow, iPod and cell phone holder and blanket. Over the course of the years I've sold it off, and bought it back - interestingly enough to John Chapman - but the effect owning it has had on me is immense. I probably wouldn't have gotten denim obsessed without this jacket (the two worlds have a great deal of overlap in terms of fans).

The photos below show the jacket in it's current state, note the quality of the leather and the well-worn knit cuffs.

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