The A-2 Leather Jacket is perhaps one of the most enduring icons of World War II. These jackets often featured large leather unit patches and leather embossed name tags on the front and custom artwork on the back. With so many variations of how patches were worn on the A-2, I started researching the applicable Army Air Force regulations governing the wear of organizational insignia.
After searching through the Authority Section in the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, I finally discovered the applicable regulation: Army Air Forces Regulation (AAFR) 65-23, Issue of AAF Equipment to Individuals. The earliest version of AAFR 65-23 I was able to locate was dated 11 December 1943. That regulation also makes reference to a previous version dated 2 July 1942.
In Section II of the document, the specific paragraphs applicable to the wear of organizational insignia can be found:
12. Clothing and Personal Insignia:
b. Approved AAF organization insignia uray be used on flying jackets and flying suits only by placing the insignia on a circular leather patch, five inches in diameter, sewn to the left breast of the garment. These patches, part number 32A5746, may be obtained by requisition on the depot under the nomenclature “patch, organization insignia, leather.”
Interestingly enough, the wear of the AAF or Numbered Air Force patches are not mentioned. The 29 August 1945 update to AAF 65-23, retitled “Issue of AAF Flying Clothing and Equipment” removed this paragraph from the regulation. While the reason for the removal is not stated, it can be surmised that this was removed to facilitate re-issue of equipment since “flying jackets and flying suits” were accountable items which had to be returned (but often were not).
After World War II, organizational patches continued to be displayed on flying jackets and flying suits well into the Korean War. I was unable to find subsequent Air Force regulations which governed the wear of organizational patches on flying jackets and suits after 1947. At some point, authority for what to wear on flying jackets and flying suits transferred to the Major Commands such as Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command. On 18 July 2011, the Air Force incorporated flight suits and flight jackets into Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2903, Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel.
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