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Bomber Jackets - Classic vs Modern
01.30.2024 | Balmonts | NEWS

The history of flight and bomber jackets is a long and fascinating one. You could argue that it dates back to 1917, when the US founded the Aviation Clothing Board. This organization was tasked with finding the best materials for military pilots to wear on missions.

It was 10 years before they created the first flight jacket: a leather jacket and a leather cap. While this look soon became iconic in its own right, it didn't last long. It was replaced in 1931, and that design was then replaced in 1943.As you may have guessed, there have been a lot of flight and leather bomber jackets over the years, and a few of them are still in use. We'll discuss some of these flight and bomber jackets and how they differ in this article.

Classic (Mil Spec) vs. Modern Fit.

The original military jackets (re; classic) were made as uniform and functionality was a leading thought in the design process.

As many other uniform articles, the shoulder lines are right on the shoulder, while in many modern fit replicas of the jackets the shoulders are drop shoulder and the width of the sleeve is either oversize in a drapey look, or a tight and very fitted look like in “skinny” design. In a Classic design such as in a military uniform will have a functioning purpose for the use of the pockets, for example keeping a map handy, or having navigation tools in short reach. A modern replica of the design will use the pockets for comfort and looks, for example the design of side entry pockets (also known as hand warmer pockets) which was added to many civilians’ versions of the jacket. After all, the last thing a soldier would want is for his sergeant to see that he is standing with his hands in his pockets.

The construction of the military jacket is also differed from the civilian’s version. Strength for the most challenging conditions was of the utmost priority. So strong, thick, and dense hides are critical. Therefore, the military spec jacket is made from Horsehide or Goatskin, while the modern civilian’s version will be made from lambskin and other inferior (from the strength point of view).

The design used for cutting the panels of leather for the jacket is a balance of strength, cost and labor. While cutting more panels will reduce, in a meaningful way, the leather consumption used for the jacket, it will also reduce the strength of the jacket and will take away from the “clean” military look. Therefore, the Mil spec. jacket uses one piece of leather for the back and only 2-pieces for the sleeves.

Some current jacket designs and reproductions aim to reduce the cost of the jacket and try to preserve the look while reaching to a larger audience. By doing this, they compromise on the quality of the components. They will use the knit for cuffs and waistband made from synthetic materials, so “pimple” and loss of elasticity is apparent after a short time. The true Mil spec jacket is made of 100% wool, and the linings are made of 100% cotton (not the cheap nylon replacement) or high-quality rayon (like the Bemberg brand).“You always get what you paid for”.