It's been a while since I had a painted A2, and it's a pleasure to find such a beautiful example. Whilst the A2 is famous for its WW2 use, they also served in the early days of Korea, though these have a funny history. The Air Force recalled and stored many WW2 A2s (which had stopped being produced in 1943), and by the early Korean War, then being a new service, wanted to see them all standardised. They hastily re-dyed their stock to get a consistent dark leather, and if you look closely at the zipper rail you can see where this has been dyed with a darker brown, as well as having the tags removed.
This particular example has a rare and interesting history. At the outbreak of war, the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron were deployed to Kyushu Japan, and amongst their many duties, a small section known as 'Unit 4' were designated Special Operations or Psychological Warfare, abbreviated as Psywar. Classified for 25 years after the war ended, this shadowy unit flew B-26 and C-47 aircraft flying dangerous special missions. They were tasked with inserting saboteurs, dropping propaganda leaflets, flying slow over enemy positions with loud speakers telling enemy troops to surrender, and participating in 'Operation Firefly', the of dropping flares over enemy positions. This was an incredibly dangerous and secretive operation, done in cooperation with the Army, Air Force and the CIA. The patch on the front itself is incredibly rare - I've not managed to find another example. On the right is the 'Unit 4' patch, to the bottom is the 'Operation Firefly' patch, the left is a Psywar patch, and I haven't been able to identify the top. On the back is a classic UN blood chit, the flags of the USA, UK, South Korea and the UN, and beneath the message written in Korea asking locals to help the pilot in event he is shot down.
For an 80 year old A2 this is in remarkable condition. The leather is soft and subtle, with only one issue on the sleeve where is appears to have had a slight burn. The tag was removed when being dyed, and the female zipper rail is broken. The lining is in great shape, though has marks from use and dye. The artwork on the reverse is faded but still strong. Knits are solid with a few moth holes, notably on the reverse. Please note, whilst this is in excellent condition for a painted A2, it's sold as a displayable collectable and I would not recommend this as a piece to be worn.
- No tag, but would have been a size 40
- Fits a medium/large
- Pit to pit 21"
- Shoulder to shoulder 19"
- Shoulder to cuff 24"
- Collar to hem 23"