The Type A-2 flying jacket was officially standardized by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1927, as the successor to the Type A-1 flying jacket. The military specification number for Type A-2 is 94-3040, Drawing Number 31-1415, but spec. labels found in the jackets themselves show this to be 30-1415.
The A-2 was traditionally awarded to an Army Air Forces officer upon completion of basic flight training, and always before graduating to advanced training. The informal standard system of distribution was airmen lining up in front of boxes containing jackets of various sizes and handed out by the base Quartermaster.
The flight jacket became a treasured item to all airmen, and was worn with as much pride as their wings. During their service, crews often added and removed squadron patches, rank marks, mission markings and occasionally painted artwork depicting the type of aircraft they flew, or the Nose Art painted on their aircraft.
Many crew members ingeniously sewed a map of the mission area right into their jacket lining, which in the event of being shot down, the airmen could utilize their jacket for navigation out of enemy territory. Another wartime tradition surfaced where in certain ETO units and possibly elsewhere, a fighter pilot who has reached the raking of “Ace” had the prerogative replacing the cotton A-2 lining, with red satin lining which could be added on confirmation of their fifth aerial kill.
Bomber crews often added bomb markings to the right front of their jackets indicating the number of missions they had flown. Over time, many jackets ended up with numerous stitch marks and patches of various sizes when old units were removed and replaced with new ones that reflected their current assignment. This tradition differs from US Navy tradition where aviators often wore the patches of every squadron they had ever flown with, AAF personnel conversely, could only display the patch of their current assignment. The emblem of the Army Air Forces was often sewn, painted, or applied by decal on the left shoulder, while the shield of the specific Air Force was often displayed on the right.
Modern day Air Force pilots are not permitted to paint their A-2 jackets or disfigure them in any way. There may be numerous reasons for this, but the official explanation is that the paint is flammable and could pose a fire hazard. Standard USAF jacket configuration The crewmember's name tag is mounted on the left breast, with the Major Command, HQ USAF, or Combatant Command shield are on the right, attached with Velcro. No patches are permitted to be sewn directly onto the jacket as they were during World War II.