In 1935 the US Army Air Force established the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Base. The purpose of the laboratory was to conduct research into the effects on the human body of flight, and to develop, standardise and test items of military aeronautical equipment as may be necessary in improving the efficiency, health, and safety of flying personnel. One of the 6 branches of the lab was the Clothing Branch, itself responsible for researching, developing, prototyping, testing, approving and procuring all clothing items for the Air Force.
Broadly there are two specific areas of 'Experimental Test Sample' that are sought after by collectors today. The first is the prototype jackets, experimental pieces created to test designs before they went into production. These sample pieces are extremely rare and a unique subject of collecting all by themselves! The second type of jacket are the Officer Flight Jackets. It seems that around the late 50s, the Clothing Branch were also made responsible for hand making flight wear for General Officers. Each piece is unique, with a broad variety of configurations, different zips, pockets styles (buttoned/unbuttoned), epaulettes, sleeve pocket varieties, even the material itself. The label inside clearly shows the 'Experimental Test Sample Clothing Branch' origins, and when first made they would have had a paper tag stitched beneath this label with the officer's name, size, item type and manufacturing date.
This one is rather special, and incredibly rare. The vast majority of these I've come across are dark Air Force blue, but very rarely they are also made in baby blue. I've only ever seen one other of these. This one is also made of a much lighter linen mix shell with a lighter silk/satin lining. Given the lighter weight design I think was likely made for an officer serving in Vietnam, Thailand or Laos. These are extremely well made, far better than their issued cousins.
This is in amazing condition, there is evidence of a large circular patch having been removed from the chest, but otherwise perfect.
- No tag but fits large
- Pit to pit 23"
- Shoulder to shoulder 20"
- Shoulder to cuff 24"
- Collar to hem 24"