The History of Leather Part 21 – The Type G-1

Posted on 30/07/14

Now Im feeling so fly like a G-1, like a G-1, like a G-1 (1947)

Sure, the Air Corps had their Type A-2 jacket, and that was all fine and well, but what did the good people in the US Navy have to fit their servicemen with? The Type G-1, that’s what. The jackets that the “Top Gun” fellers wore? You know, with the fur-trimmed collar? Maybe the header image will jog your memory?

The G-1 was, and still is the uniform-issue jacket in the US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard, for both administrative and aviation staff. Combining the fur collar of the Irvin jacket with the basic template of the Type A-2, the G-1 was overwhelmingly popular. It does differ slightly to the A-2, however – its body was more form-fitting, the front pockets used buttons instead of metal snaps, and the G-1 featured a Bi-Swing Back for easier arm movement. Riveting stuff, I know.

It wasn’t always known as the G-1 though. There were a number of bizarre codenames and acronyms that the G-1 was branded with before it became the G-1 after World War II – the M-442, the M-442A, the ANJ-3… It was a bit of a mess, frankly, but bear this in mind if you look for vintage versions of the jacket.

A lot like the A-2, there was a brief period where the jacket was discontinued for budgetary reasons, but unlike the A-2, the period that the jacket was discontinued for was only two years. Also unlike the A-2, those that missed out were given them retrospectively when the discontinuation was eventually reversed.

Thanks to the runaway success of “Top Gun”, official military suppliers, along with less official suppliers, produced and sold their own variants on and replications of the G-1 formula to capitalise on that success.

There are few leather jackets that can claim to have the same commercial popularity as the G-1, or the A-2 for that matter. Plus, there are not many jacket designs that continue to be made for and distributed by the military, even if there are designs whose legacies continue in the replica market, and in aspects of their designs being carried through to modern leather jackets.

(Header image: Official portrait of Captain Robert Baker, courtesy of Heritage Flightgear Displays)

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