EASTMAN RAF 1940 British WW2 SPITFIRE PILOT IRVIN HORSEHIDE FLIGHT JACKET
Please do not hesitate to email or call with any questions.
Originally designed in 1931 by parachute pioneer Leslie Leroy Irvin, this RAF sheepskin flight jacket was the only type issued to RAF aircrews, evolving through numerous spec. changes throughout its production life before being withdrawn from production in 1944. Though contracted to many firms to produce, including the Irvin Parachute Co., the original designer's last name has always identified this flight jacket. After 1941, the critical material shortages and expenses placed on England compelled its military, air and naval ministries to modify many items of gear and clothing in an effort to stay in the war as cheaply and efficiently as possible. The RAF Aircrew Jacket faced such modifications, causing the flight jacket to increasingly be manufactured from more and more separate panels of sheepskin (yielding more visible seams) to get more use from leftover pelts that would otherwise be thrown out if the pre-1941 design were adhered to. Over the course of the war years the jacket continued to gain more panel splices and saw ever-increasing use of lower-grade sheepskin, making the earlier flight jackets quite desirable even back at that time. Today, all of the original RAF flight jackets are highly collectible, though a premium is typically paid for the very early garments made with the fewest sheepskin panels.
The RAF flight jacket depicted here is the type worn by the RAF Fighter Command pilots who saved England during the greatest air battle of all time – “The Battle of Britain.” The RAF pre-1941 pattern Aircrew Jacket, although very similar to the post-1941 jacket we offer, still bears some noteworthy differences. As already mentioned, the pre-1941 pattern flight jacket differs mostly from the later ’42 pattern in its larger-panel, fewer-seam construction. As you can see from the images there are no chest seams to the front or back, nor are there any cross seams in the sleeves. This, as Britain's Air Ministry found out during the war, is a much more costly way to make the flight jacket - the larger panels making conservative use of the sheepskin pelts very difficult. The pre-1941 pattern uses around 30% more material than the '42 pattern, hence the cost difference, even today. Other differences include: a lighter-shade sheepskin color, high-quality aniline-dyed leather for the seam trimming and one-piece pull-through zip thongs. The following original details are also incorporated in this pre-1941 pattern flight jacket: specially selected hides tanned & dyed to match the luxurious jackets made in the early years; no-pocket construction (hand-warmer pockets never appeared on the original RAF flight jackets); leather pull tabs on genuine brass zips; authentic zippers on all-cotton tape, custom made to wartime design including the slider box cup (a feature found only on ours and original examples); ventilated arm pit gussets; all-cotton elasticized strap behind collar for quickly fastening this up; hand-sewn linen spec. label and more...
Never before reproduced to this degree of quality and authenticity, our pre-1941 pattern “Battle of Britain” flight jacket will now, undoubtedly, satisfy all those who have been looking for the quintessential RAF flight jacket forever associated with those gallant "Few" of RAF Fighter Command who sacrificed themselves to save England in the summer of 1940. Tally-ho!