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Your A-Z Guide to Bomber Jackets

The Bomber jacket was first introduced in the early 1900s, making it over a century-old heritage piece still worn today. Before entering mainstream fashion, the jacket was a functional military piece utilized by air force pilots during the first world war; there was no enclosed cockpit; therefore, heavy outerwear like this was essential to help the pilot survive the cold temperature. The outerwear continued to be a necessary part of the military uniform for several years, including world war 1 and 2.

The bomber jacket later went through modifications, and different models were introduced to meet the requirements of the wearer.

Non-Military Usage of the Bomber Jacket

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After the world war, the airmen continued to wear jackets even after traveling back home. It was the beginning of the casual utility of the outerwear. The bomber jacket was one of the most significant pieces for new army recruits because of its functionality and because it represented prestige and honor.

In the 70s, the jacket style was adopted by different subcultures such as skinheads. But it wasn’t a go-to fashion piece until Tom Cruise nailed the look with his G-1 Jacket in Top Gun. The bomber jacket continued to feature in several other Hollywood movies giving it the official popular culture status.

During the ’80s, a different version of the bomber jacket was popularized, known as the varsity jacket, made of light fabric like cotton or fleece.

Bomber Jackets Models:

 

With the advancement of technology, the aircraft improved, so the jackets had to be modified and made better. Therefore, we have different models of the bomber jackets that are as follows.

A-1 Bomber Jackets:

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The A-1 jacket is the first jacket of its kind, produced in 1927 by the US military for pilots. The jacket laid the blueprint for what we call the bomber jacket today.

As you can see in the image above, the A1 bomber jacket had a stretchable knit hem and cuffs that worked as an insulator against the cold. Other attributes of the A1 jackets included two outer flap pockets, button closure, and a tight windbreaking collar. The details slightly varied from jacket to jacket, but the tight trims remained constant for the simple reason to keep the pilot’s toasty on high altitudes.

Insulation and windbreaking capabilities are not enough for a jacket with such high-performance expectations. Therefore, it came with a tough outer shell that consisted of real leather, it’s still unclear what kind of leather was used, but it’s most likely horsehide.

What makes the A-1 jacket so iconic is that it’s a hereditary piece, and wearing a jacket that’s first of its kind, it’s something to boast about. However, most of the A-1 jackets you’ll find today is the reproduction of the original, but the good part is that you get to enjoy the same style.

As technology got more advanced, planes improved, and so did the need for updated outerwear; hence the jacket was discontinued in 1931. 

A-2 Bomber Jacket

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The A-2 is one of the most popular jackets even today. It was introduced in the early 1930s as an upgrade to the A-1. Broadly speaking, it still carried the same features with some noticeable differences that are as follows.

Zippers replaced button closures for added protection. The stretchy collar was changed to a classic shirt-style leather collar; these minor adjustments made the A2 look more sophisticated and more functional of the two. Besides the collar and fastener, the A2 is relatively similar in all aspects. It has the same cut including, the knitted trims and patch pockets.

Talking about the material, the A2 was made of durable horsehide and goatskin, probably because these materials are relatively lightweight but have a very high tensile strength. The jacket's inner fabric depended on the quality; generally, most of them featured cotton lining.

A noteworthy use of the A2 bomber jacket was during the second world war by the American soldiers. These jackets were dyed in different tones but most often found in dark brown and russet.

You can easily find reproductions of this historic jacket by some of the biggest brands. The modern version comes with a slightly trim silhouette and narrow shoulders, better suited for men with a smaller frame.

Blouson

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A blouson is also known as a blouse jacket; it’s made of lighter fabric and comes with a tight waist, making the cloth hang over the abdomen, similar to a blouse. The blouson takes its inspiration from the bomber jacket. Unlike bombers, these jackets were utilized by the police department of several countries, including Austria, Germany, the United States, and New Zealand.

G-1 Military Flight Jacket

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The G1 bomber jacket was introduced in the 1930s as the US navy outerwear. It was later brought to use in the Airforce, replacing the most iconic A2 bomber jacket. ANJ-3 replaced the A-2 Jacket in 1943, which was understandably the continuation of the A-series and a non-shearing collared version of the G1 Jacket. The Air Force reinitiated the A-2 Jacket for all flight personals in 1988.

As for the design, the G1 jackets had the elements of the A2 Jacket with slight alterations. Firstly, it came with a shearling/fur collar that replaced the leather collar and double back panels for ease of movement around the shoulders and sleeves. The Jacket is also comprised of two outer flap pockets and rib-knit trims for functionality.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that G1 Jacket is one of the most popular bombers jackets we have today. It was popularized as a casual fashion piece after Tom Cruise wore it in the movie Top Gun. Several retail stores are currently selling variations of the classic G1, so you can most likely find the reproduced versions made of lambskin or cowhide. You can also find new productions with similar stamps from official military suppliers.

B3 Bomber Jacket

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B3 bomber jacket, also known as the aviator or flight jacket, is the real deal and was designed to keep pilots warm at altitudes of up to 30,000 Feet. It did not follow the conventional bomber jacket design of knit sleeves and hems. Instead, it featured heavy-duty sheepskin that worked perfectly as an insulator as well as a windbreaker.

The classic b3 bomber jacket featured heavy sheepskin material that was crafted with the fur intact. The Jacket came with a double strap that could be fastened and adjusted around the collar. Moreover, it also had side belt adjustments to keep tight around the waistline. The B3 Jacket was an ideal jacket for its purpose; hence, it won’t be wrong if you call it the real bomber jacket.

The b3 Jacket is still a popular statement piece, and no winter outfit is complete without one; right now, it’s taken as a sign of luxury and highly valued by people who know its history. There are many replica versions of this Jacket sold online at different prices by different leather jacket brands.

B-6 Bomber Jacket

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The b6 jacket was introduced in 1939 as the lightweight version of the b3 bomber jacket. It consisted of all the essential features such as the rigid sheepskin material, shearling lining, and belts; the only difference is that it was relatively lighter in weight and came with one collar strap instead of two.

The B6 bomber jacket also appeared slimmer and fitted closer to the body because of slightly lesser shearling. The pockets were also slanted and secured with zip closure, unlike the older bomber jacket with patch pockets. The b6 is readily available in stores online. You may find them to be more affordable as compare to the b3; moreover, it’s also a more practical choice for your daily life because you’re not going to fly an airplane with an open cockpit at 25,000 feet.

B-7 Artic Parka Jacket

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The B-7 shearling jacket takes the warmth factor to an all-new level with this ¾ length and heavy sheepskin material. This jacket was designed for pilots and well and in the bone-chilling temperatures of Alaska. It came fully lined with shealing and came with a fur-lined hood. Other attributes of the b7 jackets were button closure and deep external utility pockets.

The jacket was discontinued due to high manufacturing costs. Moreover, it didn't quite make the cut when it comes to fashion. It's not very popular as other types of bomber jackets such as the A2, b3, and MA1, which's evident because it was made merely to tackle the extreme cold. Secondly, it does not have a long run as a military garment; therefore, the hereditary factor does not contribute. But this does not mean you cannot find one right now. Multiple brands sell the B7 jacket, and it's perfect if functionality is your primary goal.

B-10 Bomber Jacket

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The B-10 bomber jacket with a fabric construction that replaced the good old sheepskin, as it was made of cloth, you’d find it significantly lighter than the other bomber jackets and less warm. This is most likely because of the advancement of technology and improvements of the place.

As far as the design is concerned, the B-10 came with similar features as the G-1 with the same patch pockets and fur collar but without the leather straps. The same material of the jacket is not confirmed but judging by the pictures. They were most probably nylon and came in olive green and dark blue colors. The style of the jacket feels modern and edgy even today. It feels as if it’s ahead of its time. Even today and is also easily accessible to everyone, several brands are selling their own version of the classic piece; you can get what suits you best.

B15 Bomber Jacket

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The B15 is a newer and more modernized version of the bomber jacket. It was introduced as the replacement of the already impressive B-10 jacket in 1944. Although it looks similar at a glance, there are some noticeable differences if your look closely.

Cloth fabric was used again to make the jackets, as lightweight bomber jackets were the new norm. The B15 came with slanted pockets instead of the patched style of the B10. It also had a bigger collar and offset zippers.

Now it’s debatable whether the b10 is a better choice of b15. The answer depends on personal preference. Some people prefer the good old patch pockets, while other like the hand-warming patch pockets. You can find both the b10 and b15 reproductions in several stores online.

MA-1 bomber jacket

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The MA-1 bomber jacket is the successor of the B15 jacket. It was most popularly used after the 1950s when lightweight yet warm jackets were more practical for new jet planes rather than thick bulky leather jackets. Therefore, the MA1 was designed on the same principles as the B10 and B15 and features a higher quality Nylon, a parachute type material that worked well to wick moisture.

The designers removed the fur color because it felt restrictive around the neck and replaced it with a stretchable rib-knit upright collar. The MA1 was issued minimal until 1963 until the contract was issued to a military apparel company, and supplies drastically increased.

MA-1 jacket is the most popular bomber jacket style even today, especially in the United States and Europe. It’s produced and sold by several official military clothing manufacturers and retail stores all over the world. You’ll find traditional colors such as olive-green and blue that are still the most preferred choice even today.

The best thing about the MA1 is that it’s lightweight and comfortable while you can count on it to keep you warm. It was bought into mainstream fashion by different subcultures such as skinheads, scooterboys, punks, and mods. After that, the jacket shot to fame and is still booming, with various celebrities rock it their way.

Why are the inside of bomber jackets orange?

The inside of the bomber jackets, especially the MA-1, was kept orange for survival purposes. In case of an unfortunate plane crash, the pilot could reverse the jacket and expose the bright orange side for the rescuers to spot him. Not every version of the bomber came with an orange lining. For example, the MA-2, an updated version of the MA-1, did not have this feature.

MA-2 bomber jacket

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The MA-2 is the advanced version of the MA1 and was a part of the US military's cold-weather uniform. It also gained popularity as street fashion but is not as recognizable as its predecessor. The MA2 had several changes, such as the patch pockets instead of slash pockets, shirt style collar rather than the knit one found on the MA1, and a slightly cropped frame. Overall, it looks like the nylon version of the A2 jacket mentioned above.

Why is it called a bomber jacket?

Military aircraft during the 1900s did not have insulation or enclosed cockpits. Therefore the pilots who operated these planes required something thick and warm to withstand freezing temperatures at high altitudes. This raised the need for a leather jacket with tight insulated cuffs and hems, which was later named the bomber jackets for apparent reasons.

The bomber jacket has been an essential part of a military uniform for decades, most prominently used by the air force division; therefore, it gets the name “bomber.” The first bomber jacket officially used as the military uniform was the A1. However, newer versions of the jackets were introduced as technology advanced and aircrafts got better.

Are bomber jackets from the 80s?

Bomber Jackets have existed since the 1920s as a military uniform. but, it was popularized as a fashionable garment in the 80s after different subcultures like punks, skinheads, and scooterboys adopted it as their everyday style.

Moving forward to the mid-’80s, a popular style bomber jacket called the “G1” was used in Top Gun. Tom Cruise wore it as Pete “Maverick”. His jacket featured some cool badges that made everyone go crazy after bomber-style jackets. In case you’re looking for a similar reproduction, you can buy it here

Who made the first bomber jacket?

The first bomber jacket, type A1, was developed by Dobbs industries, which officially designed and manufactured the United States Air Force pilots' jackets. New and improved models kept coming while the older ones silently co-existed.

Is a bomber jacket good for winter?

Bomber jackets were specially designed for winters, and as mention earlier, they were used as a part of military uniforms to keep pilots warm at freezing temperatures. Although the modern reproductions are more fashion-focused, they still feature sturdy materials like leather and nylon that work amazingly again cold wind. The tight hems and cuffs make sure you are insulated, and the cold is left out.

How bomber jacket should fit?

Unlike other jackets that are supposed to fit closer to the body, a bomber jacket should fit slightly loose around the body and arms. The stretchable hems should rest over your hip bone, while the cuffs should fit around your wrist. If you find extra fabric hanging over your cuff and waist, go for a smaller jacket. Here are some checkpoints.

  • The bomber jacket should rest slightly below your belt
  • The shoulder seams should sit over the edge of your shoulder
  • Aim for a relaxed silhouette; the jacket should fit loosely without looking too sluggish; a straight fit from top to bottom would look perfect
  • The collar should fit closer to your neck rather than hanging loosely
  • The knitted trims of your jacket should fit snugly – it’s meant to keep the wind out.

Which bomber jacket to buy?

Are you’re planning to buy a bomber jacket for yourself but having a hard time deciding which one to get? You’ve seen all the different models and type above, and now you’re even more confused, don’t get caught up in all the details; the best way to find a jacket that suits your vibe is to loosely classify the styles and choose the one that suits you best. Here are some cool bomber jacket styles.

Vintage Shearling Lined Flight Jacket-

Some of the bomber jacket types mention above fall under this category, the most popular one being the b3 bomber jacket; this style is perfect for frigid climates. The best part is you can keep warm while still looking luxurious.

Leather Bomber Jacket- 

Bomber jackets made of leather are available in huge varieties; you can stick to a classic type A-1 and A-2 or go for a modern trimmed-down look that can be found in different fashion stores. Leather jackets are perfect for chilly weather, especially for transitional seasons like spring, fall, and early winters. You also have the option to layer up with a sweater for a fashionable yet warm winter style.

Varsity Jacket-

A varsity jacket is similar to a bomber jacket because it has the elastic cuff and hems, but unlike bombers, it does not have links with the military uniform. However, it’s closely associated with university and sports, and that’s where it gets its name from. If you’re into athletic fashion and like youthful styles. This is the jacket you need to have in your wardrobe.

Lightweight Bomber Jackets-

Lightweight bomber jackets are perfect for a cool day when the temperature is warm enough to ditch your bulky layering but still cold enough to style up nice-looking outerwear. Jackets made of nylon, cotton, satin, and any other lightweight material fall under this category, including the timeless MA1, MA2, and L2B styles.

What fabric is used for bomber jackets?

The type A jackets were made of horsehide and goatskin, while the MA1 and similar models were made of water-resistant nylon. There weren’t many options in the past, considering the jacket was only a part of a uniform, but after switching from military uniform to commercial fashion, the bomber jacket started to come in different varieties, and that was to attract a larger audience. Here for some of the most common fabrics and materials used today.

Leather

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Horsehide and goatskin were the most popular materials in the 40s and 50s; it was probably because people relied on horses for agriculture and farming; therefore, there was an abundance of manufacturing material. Today jacket is made of lambskin, sheepskin, and cowhides because these are affordable have come with their own unique properties.

Nylon

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Nylon is another excellent choice for bomber jackets. It’s a synthetic fabric with unique properties that make it the perfect material to wear all year round.

Nylon is a durable material and comes with the right amount of flexibility and wind resistance to keep you protected against snow and wind. The MA1 and MA2 models were the first ones to feature nylon fabric, and since then, it remains one of the most popular materials for this garment.

Cotton

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Cotton is not the most popular bomber jacket material; it was most commonly used as a lining fabric for most vintage jackets. However, now you can find some cool summer bomber jackets with cotton shells and silk lining; these jackets are perfect for a slightly cool, windy evening. You can dress smartly can still stay comfortably warm.

Satin

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Satin bomber jackets are the trendiest of styles available right now; they come with more of a sporty edge; take the example of baseball jackets; most of them, if not all, are made of satin. Another excellent example of the satin bomber is the iconic Drive jacket worn by Ryan Gosling. It featured pearl white satin fabric with quilted detailing and a golden scorpion embroidered on the back.

Fleece

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Fleece bomber jackets are a more modern take on a bomber jacket. Generally, varsity jackets a made of this material. It feels soft fuzzy and is perfect for a cool day. This again has more of an athletic feel, and it the ideal for people who want an effortless look.

How to wash bomber jacket?

Just like any other clothing item, bomber jackets may catch stains or dirt over time, but before you wash your jacket, it’s important to identify the material used to make it, and that also implies the lining. If your jacket is made of leather, washing it is not an option; you need to clean it using a different method. Similarly, fur or shearling lining have different cleaning methods too. Here is how to clean your leather and shearling jackets

If your jacket other leather it can most probably be washed, check the care instruction below.

Read the label–

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Before you toss your jacket into the washing machine, it better to check the label for instructions; all the jackets have cleaning and washing instructions given on the label. In case if care instructions are not available, you can check it on the official website.

Machine wash tips for bomber jackets

Generally, jackets made of fabric such as cotton, satin, or polyester can be washed in a machine. However, it still depends on the care instructions given on the label. Here are some tips.

  • Make sure your jacket is fastened, including the main closure, pockets, and straps. Hardware such as zip and buckle can scratch the garment's surface, so it's best if you keep it fastened.
  • Avoid washing other clothes along with your jacket.
  • Use a mild liquid detergent that does not contain bleach.
  • Set the washer on a "Gentle" cycle and use cold water.
  • Lay the jacket flat on a dry towel, so all the water is soaked out, then leave to air dry on a hander.

Handwashing a bomber jacket

If you don't want to put your jacket in a washer and prefer to wash it by hand, here are the steps you should follow. Generally, a jacket made of polyester, nylon, and satin can be washed by hand.

  • Fill your sink with lukewarm water
  • Pour mild bleach-free detergent, and mix well
  • Put your jacket into the sink and let it soak the water completely
  • Use a fabric brush to scrub your jacket’s-stained surface and wring it with your hands to get rid of all the excess water.
  • Rinse your jacket with clean water in another bucket.
  • Hand place your jacket on a hanger and let it dry naturally.

Bomber Jacket for Women

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Even though a bomber jacket was historically associated with men, it’s also an absolute must have for women, you can combine it with any piece of clothing in your wardrobe to create new combinations of style every day. Opt for light weight jacket with classic hues like olive and black. You can also go for unconventional tone like maroon and white, find whatever suits your style the best. The bomber jacket is also called the jacket of a modern women and it does have the potential if dressed the right way.

Bottom Line

To wrap things up, a bomber jacket is one of the most well-rounded outerwear ever to exist. It has everything from rich military heritage to widespread celebrity endorsement and also a massive hit as a casual outfit. The garment's journey is so impressive that it gives the wearer a unique sense of style. It doesn't matter what your preferences are. There's something for everyone. People with love for military fashion can opt for classics styles, while people who are more of a pop-culture fan can don the legendary drive jacket. If you're looking for a stylish makeover, you can select trimmed down silhouettes with modern hues. Don't forget to pair it with the right outfit to get the most out of your jacket style.

Now that you know every detail about the bomber jacket, you're ready to pick one for yourself. You should decide the type, material, color, and fit; the only thing that's left is where to buy bomber jackets? The simple answer is it depends. If you're into flashy brands' names, you can opt for designer brands like Tom Ford. But if you're willing to get the best value for your money and better varieties to choose from, FJackets is where you should be looking at. The Jackets at FJackets are not only high quality; they also come in various designs and are available at an unbeatable price.