Officially making its debut in 1931, the leather flying jacket, or Bomber jacket was originally called the A-2; a successor to the A-1. Although the classic American designed jacket was most closely associated with World War II, it was actually on the market years before the war ever started.
It remains one of the most popular war-themed jackets due to its classic ruggedness and traditional appeal. The A-2 carries a hefty resale price as well, as its value in the collectible arena has yet to waver.
The U.S. Army Air Corps was responsible for making the jacket an official piece of the Army wardrobe. The Service Test for the Bomber jacket was set for September 20, 1930. The Standard date according to the Type Designation Sheet was May 9, 1931, and Limited Standard was April 27, 1943. By then, World War II was mired in battles. The jacket was described as having dark brown horsehide leather. It also featured knitted wristlets and a waistband.
The jacket gained popularity with everyone it was exposed to, except General H. H. “Hap” Arnold. In 1942 he cancelled all contracts for the jacket, made it obsolete, and changed to cloth shell jackets. The original design was resurrected in the late 1980’s as a standard issue U.S. Air Force item.
To add decoration and personality to the jacket, squad patches were often added.