Legacy in Leather

During WWII, multiple variation of leather jackets – both for flight crews as well as ground crews – were produced. None are more famous than the A-2, the quintessential bomber jacket.  The 390th Memorial Museum is honored to own and care for 40 of these jackets.  We value them because they tell parts of the stories of the men who wore them.

Both during World War II and continuing into the 21st century, this so-called “bomber jacket” carried with it an air of mystique, transforming its wearer into someone who seemed effortlessly cool. Perhaps this is because these jackets were treasured symbols of achievement and identity for young men far from home. Whether a jacket was adorned with patches and paint or remained more functional, it carried complex meaning to the wearer.


Exhibit Highlights

The jackets themselves were simple: horsehide, cowhide or goat-hide fabric, silk or cotton lining, wool cuffs & waist band, pointed collar,  metal zipper with wind flap and double front pockets.  What they came to mean to the men who owned and wore them far surpasses their basic function.  They expressed membership in a  special brotherhood, a connection with fellow crew members that no one else could understand but also the successes of their many missions.

These jackets tell great stories of young men saving the world from true evil.  Learn about their adventures here!

NOT JUST COW HIDE! The A-2 flying jacket was worn with pride by the men who received them but also served the very practical purpose of keeping them warm in frigid winter temperatures. The need was great and the supply was small and so the jackets are made of not just leather from cows but also horses and goats.

ARTISTS & AIRMEN The jackets were painted by the men themselves with whatever material they had handy. While many of the airmen were very talented, the paint they used was not meant for fabric, especially fabric that would last over 80 years. One of the greatest challenges in preserving our jackets is protecting this paint from flaking off.

DONALD DUCK? One of the most popular images to appear on the jackets in the 390th was, surprisingly, Donald Duck.

Legacy in Leather

Thank you to the following people for supporting this exhibit:

Research & Development Staff

This exhibition would not have been possible without the support, actions,
research and generosity of 390th staff members and volunteers.
Thank you so much for your efforts!

Mae Casey
Lori McCoy-Forsythe

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