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WWII

  • 100 Years of The British Royal Air Force

    Today on this 100th anniversary of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force Cockpit USA commemorates the bravery and history our country’s strongest ally in Europe.  Our RAF sheepskin bomber jacket represents the epitome of English heroism during WWII. Worn over London skies in the summer of 1940 by English fighter pilots flying Spitfire and Hurricane fighters in air battles against Nazi air forces, this bomber jacket provided the warmth and freedom of movement needed during combat.

    Click here for 20% off on our RAF Fighter Weight Sheepskin Bomber Jacket. Offer valid from March 30-April 3rd 2018

    Pilots in the RAF tailored their jackets to shear down the wool to allow more freedom of movement. We at Cockpit USA have introduced a short sheared sheepskin version light enough to wear with a sweater or other layering pieces. We also commemorate the efforts of the RAF by showcasing a beautiful R.A.F belt buckle inspired by the British crown insignia.  On this anniversary Cockpit USA introduces our new "RAF Eagle Squadron Tee" which pays respect to the three fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force formed with volunteer pilots from the United States. We honor the achievements of one of the most important military units ever assembled and focus on the its development by looking back at its early years of service during WWI and WWII.

    jets-throughout-history-2

    The British Royal Air Force was formed on April 1, 1918 as an integration of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The development of British flight engineering began years later after the American brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright made the fist ever flight of self-propelled heavier than air aircraft flight in 1903. This gave birth to the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch, Kent on December 1911. The school was eventually integrated into the Royal Flying Corps forming a new airplane squadron. Soon after, the specifications of the navy introduced the RNAS.

    Montrose-Royal-Flying-Corps-officers-and-an-airmen-background-from-No-2-Squadron-pose-in-front-of-a-BE-2-biplane WWI Montrose-Royal-Flying-Corps-officers-and-an-airmen-background-from-No-2-Squadron-pose-in-front-of-a-BE-2-biplane WWI

    RAF Aircrew in front of a Hurricane Aircraft 1940 RAF Aircrew in front of a Hurricane Aircraft 1940

    RAF Pilots, 1940 somewhere in England RAF Pilots, 1940 somewhere in England

    On August 4th 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and entered WWI. The British RFC only had 84 aircraft while the RNAS had 71. Germany’s advance technologies gave it great advantage during air strikes, which crippled towns in England through damaging bombings. This disadvantage caused the British military to create a separate ministry, which could focus on the development of strategic air bombing against Germany.

    WRAF Servicewoman WWII WRAF Servicewoman WWI

    It was on April 1st, 1918 that the RAF was born incorporating a female group called the Women’s Royal Air Force. The WRAF came forth after the concern of the loss of specialized female workforce. The WRAF fell into two categories; one fell under “immobiles” as they stayed attached to their local station. The second category being “mobile” lived in quarters on or near the workplace and could be transferred elsewhere if needed. The WRAF held the reputation of becoming the most professional and disciplined of all women’s service due to the strict guidelines imposed by the RAF. The WRAF came to and end on August 1919 and became an individual asset to the RAF as a whole, their bravery and call to action to a country in need held these women as one of the most important service groups during WWI.

    By the end of the first World War on November 11,1918, the RAF had dropped 5,500 tons of bombs and claimed 2,953 enemy aircraft destroyed, gaining clear air superiority along the Western Front and contributing to the Allied victory over Germany and the other Central Powers. It had also become the largest air force in the world at the time, with some 300,000 officers and airmen—plus 25,000 members of the WRAF—and more than 22,000 aircraft.

    The RAF expanded quickly due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The men of the regular pre-war air force were joined by those from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, formed in 1924 to provide a reserve of manpower, and the RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), who were put on the active list when war was imminent and who were vital to the RAF's performance, particularly during the Battle of Britain. During the Second World War the RAF fought in every major theatre, the Battle of Britain being the most famous campaign where Britain fought the superior German Air Forces, blocked the Luftwaffe air supremacy over southern England and therefore preventing the German invasion of England.

    Photo of French Pilot flying with original RAF Jacket Photo of French Pilot flying with original RAF Jacket. Click here for Cockpit USA's RAF Sheepskin Bomber Jacket

    The rapid expansion of the RAF came to life after the absorption of the men and planes of the air forces of the British Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. This also included European countries in exile fighting against the Nazis such as Poland, Czech Republic, France, and Belgium as well as British Indian colonials and British West Indian recruits. During World War II the RAF reached a total power of 1.2 million men and women, of whom 185,000 were aircrew. Unfortunately about 70 thousand personnel were killed. The British Royal Air Force will forever be known as one of the most significant professional groups ever assembled and a true ally to the United States of America.

    British bomber crews during a mission in 1942, North Africa British bomber crews during a mission in 1942, North Africa

     

     

     

  • The Fishtail Parka

    Korea 1950, the U.S was at war defending South Korea from an invasion by North Korea and Communist China!

    Roads leaving to the Chosin Reservoir Roads leaving to the Chosin Reservoir

    On 14 November 1950, a cold front from Siberia descended over the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean peninsula, and the temperature plunged to as low as −35 °F. The cold weather was accompanied by frozen ground, creating considerable danger of frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions. Medical supplies froze; morphine syrettes had to be defrosted in a medic's mouth before they could be injected; frozen blood plasma was useless on the battlefield. Even cutting off clothing to deal with a wound risked gangrene and frostbite. Batteries used for the Jeeps and radios did not function properly in the temperature and quickly ran down. The lubrication in the guns gelled and rendered them useless in battle. Likewise, the springs on the firing pins would not strike hard enough to fire the round, or would jam. In fact, it was the brutal Korean weather that gave birth to the fishtail parka.

    Rigorous Winter over the Chosin Reservoir Rigorous Winter over the Chosin Reservoir

    The M-51 fishtail parka hails its history from the US Army in Korea during the tough wet winters of the early 1950’s during the Korean War.   Like many iconic pieces of outerwear, “the fishtail” has roots in the military. The old M-43 field jacket and liner of WWII as well as the wool great coat were the standard outerwear provided to the military, but the notoriously wet and cold climate of the Korean peninsula necessitated a warmer coat for American troops in the Korean War.

    Cockpit USA M51 DMZ Fishtail Shell Cockpit USA M51 DMZ Fishtail Shell

    The Army designers first developed the M-1949 (Military 1949) and then the M-51 Cold Weather Parka as a result. The main concern for the US military during the Korean War was to keep the soldiers warm and mobile without wearing a robust and clumsy piece of outwear. The fishtail parka accomplished these needs with a three-quarter length, so it could keep someone’s entire body warm without hindering their movement, and constructed the coat out of waterproof cotton and then a nylon cotton blend, so the material would shed snow and freezing rain.

    In the 1960’s, the army surplus fishtail parka became a fashion staple on the streets of London, protecting the suits of working men that needed shield from the city’s elements. While fashionistas would have you believe the tail is intended to hang down like the back end of a fish, it’s actually function is to be tied around the wearer’s legs, from the back to the front, in order to seal things off from any unexpected wind gusts.

    London 1960's The Fishtail Parka becomes a fashion staple in the streets of London during the 1960's

    Our made in the USA M51 DMZ Fishtail with liner has adopted the architecture of the G1 issue shell and liner, and has now been modified to fit a zip in/zip out soft merino shearling hoody, which acts as a fur liner that can also be used as a beautiful and comfortable stand-alone piece. With its authentic water repellent military specification tight weave canvas, the 100% Mil. Spec cotton gives the wearer perfect cold or wet weather protection. Cockpit USA also offers an M51 DMZ fishtail shell and a U.S Army Airborne Parachute Wing insignia fishtail version that heralds the bravery of the military parachutist. Authentic, historic, and unique; the M51 Fishtail Parka is designed for those who demand the best.

    On The Left: M51 DMZ Fishtail W. Liner On The Right: Airborne Embroidered Fishtail On The Left: M51 DMZ Fishtail W. Liner
    On The Right: Airborne Embroidered Fishtail

     

     

     

     

  • Our “Ageless Warrior” The U.S.S. Coral Sea

    40th Coral Sea Jacket 40th Coral Sea Jacket

    Cockpit USA is proud to introduce the U.S.S. Coral Sea Tribute Deck Jacket in remembrance of the battle that took place in 1942. The Japanese embroidered tour jackets of the 50’s and 60’s inspire our U.S.S. Coral Sea Wool Tour jacket. At the height of Japanese embroidery work, servicemen enjoyed being able to order patches or embroidery for only one jacket, which was not the case back at home in The United States. Beautifully cut, sewn, and embroidered in the USA with back panel that includes patches along sleeves denoting the ports of call for the ship, the U.S.S Coral Sea Tribute Deck Jacket honors the story of the many brave sailors that served proudly on the front lines of the U.S.S Coral Sea. Made in a very dark P-90 military navy wool, our Coral Sea jacket showcases the strength, leadership, and authenticity that is perfect for the everyman who honors legacy and independence.

    VC22 Over USS Coral Sea CVP-43 VC22 Over USS Coral Sea CVP-43

    May 8th, 1942 became a pivotal day in the Pacific Theater as it carried out the very first all-carrier battle. Blinded on both sides, the events that occurred during that dark day influenced the defeat of the Japanese empire in the up coming years. “The Battle of The Coral Sea” was the fist of its kind as both parties could not see the other during combat. The number of missed opportunities became evident to the airmen involved as they learned their trade through trial and deadly error. One of the sharpest learning curves in Naval history, the battle of the Corral Sea was a turning point in WWII.

    This four-day World War II conflict marked the first air-sea battle in history. The Japanese were seeking to control the Coral Sea by occupying Port Moresby in southeast New Guinea; this of course never came to fruition due to the interjection of the Allied forces. After landing, the Japanese came under attack from the carrier planes of the American task force commanded by Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher. Even though this fierce battle proved to be damaging on both sides; the Allied forces came out on top due to the Japanese’s airplane loss. The loss of airplanes left the Japanese without enough planes to cover the ground attack of Port Moresby, resulting in a strategic Allied victory.

    U.S.S Coral Sea CVA-43 U.S.S Coral Sea CVA-43

    The U.S.S. Coral Sea (CV-43) named in commemoration of the historic Battle of the Coral Sea, launched on the 2nd of April 1946, and commissioned on the 1st of October 1947; earned the affectionate nickname “Ageless Warrior” through her long career, in service with the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet and subsequently the Seventh Fleet. In the span of 44 years of service, she has participated in NATO exercises around the world, operations during the Vietnam War, Paris Peace Accords and the Iran Hostage Crisis, in addition to a number of World Cruises and deployments. This resume would explain the ships motto “ Older and Bolder”. On April 26th, 1990. the “Ageless Warrior” was laid to rest. The U.S.S. Coral Sea was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, eventually scrapped in the year 2000. Today and always, Cockpit USA honors the U.S.S Coral Sea.

     

     

     

  • A Brief History of The Black Cats

    PBY 5As Aircraft, part of The Black Cats Missions PBY 5As Aircraft, part of The Black Cats Missions

    Imagine flying closely over the dangerous waters of the South Pacific during WWII, hiding in the darkness of the night from enemy ships. These nighttime operations referred to as “Black Cat” or “Nightmare” missions will soon become your specialty, earning you the nickname “Black Cat”. These nocturnal missions gave the PBY airmen their fame in the early years of the 1940’s. Painted matte black, effective and creative in its late night stealth missions, the PBY aircraft became the first of its kind.

    The name “Black Cats”, adopted on October 30TH 1942, by the PBY aircraft stealth missions over the waters of the South Pacific, became one of the most important squadron names in U.S history. The PBY is considered to be the savior, hunter, aggressor, and supplier of the Pacific theatre during World War II. Though this heavy and slow flying aircraft was considered to be an easy target, the black matte paint turned this giant into an invisible nighttime predator. Equipped with torpedoes weighing more than two thousand pounds each, the PBY had to be precise to hit their targets during the dead of night. Extremely dangerous, but highly effective, these missions lead to shipboard Catalina crews receiving scores of commendations.

    PBY Aircraft PBY Aircraft

    The first official Black Cat squadron was VP-12, which operated PBY-5As, an amphibious version of the PBY that could land on water or on a runway with conventional landing gear. Formerly VP-24, VP-12 was re-designated on August 1st 1941 and stationed at NAS Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 most of the fleet were on a training exercise when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A majority of their fleet managed to escape undamaged, but the hangars of VP-21 and VP-22 were ruined. Fueled by patriotism to defend their country, VP-12 was transferred to NAS Kaneohe and patrolled the waters around Hawaii as well as sending detachments to Midway Island. Their attacks and rescue missions patrolling the South Pacific waters around Guadalcanal would lead to their legacy.

    Cockpit USA's New Black Eagle G-1 Bomber Jacket Cockpit USA's New Black Eagle G-1 Bomber Jacket

    Cockpit USA is proud to commemorate the history of the Black Cat squadron by introducing six iconic items that pay homage to the bravery of the aircrew men that served during WWII. We are offering three Black Cats t-shirts that shine light on the incredible aircrew of the VPB-24, VPB-71, and the VP-44 using the squadron logos, as well as our VP-44 baseball cap. Our VP12 Black Cats N4 Aircrew Deck Jacket commemorates the VP12 squadron, the first squadron that ventured into New Guinea and the Solomon Island airspace. Lastly, our hand treated goatskin Black Eagle leather G-1 bomber jacket honoring the missions of the VPB-71. Legendary, powerful, and one of a kind; the Black Cats were at the forefront of ingenuity and precision.

  • 75th Anniversary AVG Reunion

    Thom Richard P-40 Thom Richard P-40

    Atlanta GA, September 21-25, 2016, Cockpit USA, and the American Airpower museum had the honor of participating in the 75th Anniversary commemoration of the American Volunteer Group (AVG). Two of the three surviving members of the AVG were in attendance, and five P-40’s from around the country gathered to honor the group. With the help of Sponsors Cockpit USA, The American Airpower Museum was able to send their P-40 “Jacky C” from its base In Farmingdale N.Y. to Peachtree DeKalb airport in Georgia.

    Cockpit USA has made it part of it’s core mission to honor the Americans who volunteered to assist China during WWII. Their 23rd Fighter Group Jacket is a tribute to the group deigned to be as close to the original jackets used as possible. Additional Jacket designs have also been used as a way to continue to educate people on the groups fascinating history.

    American Airpower Museum's P-40 American Airpower Museum's P-40

    The American Airpower Museum, maintains their P-40 Warhawk in the original paint scheme of the 23rd AVG Fighter group. The aircraft is seen my school groups, museum visitors, and airshow fans across the Northeast United States.

    For more Cockpit USA styles honoring the American Volunteer Group please see our:

    Flying Tigers Souvenir Trucker JacketAVG Flying Tigers Souvenir Jacket23rd Fighter Group A-2 Flight Jacket

    Thom Richard wearing Cockpit USA's 23rd Fighter Squadron A-2 Thom Richard wearing Cockpit USA's 23rd Fighter Squadron A-2
  • Cockpit's ANJ-4 Jacket

    The ANJ-4/AN-6552 was a late WW2 development of a sheepskin jacket designed to be more accommodating in a cockpit in lieu of the bulkier B-3 sheepskin, which was used by all aircrew but was not as comfortable in a tight confine. Experimental test samples were developed of this same jacket in leather with various types of linings for warmth and flexibility to accommodate those crewmembers that needed a lighter less bulky material. So a leather version of the ANJ-4 was drawn up and sampled but never produced.

    ANJ-4 Jacket ANJ-4 Jacket

    Cockpit has taken this concept and created our own engineered version of this universally useful jacket, as it permits the wearer to use its two-way zip to sit in a cockpit or a vehicle and loosen the waist as well as side buckles to tighten it to keep the wind out, with added zip sleeves, similar to the British flight jackets, to allow gloves to fit under the sleeves; great for motorcycling as well. The leather is a supple but durable vintage lamb and carries the features of its sheepskin predecessor with USN style patch pockets and a large real shearling collar with throat latch to keep wind out and warmth in. The modern lining is our WW2 parachute pattern nylon quilted to trademark Primaloft for extra warmth, softness and flexibility and two added inside pockets for modern convenience. A truly unique, contemporary jacket with a vintage configuration that sits slightly lower than the sheepskin jackets of the same era for additional weather protection. Proudly made in the USA.

    Get the ANJ-4 Jacket here.

  • MCM: Tom Landry

    Before he became one of the most innovative and distinguished coaches in NFL history, Tom Landry was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII.

    Tom Landry circa 1944 Tom Landry circa 1944

    Starting off as a quarterback in high school, than continuing his game at the University of Texas, Landry put a hold on his education to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, both his brother, Robert had enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Unfortunately, during a flight over the North Atlantic Ocean, Robert’s plane went down and he was declared dead.

    Tom enlisted in the armed forces in honor of his brother, Robert. Though his first experience in a bomber did not go as planned, he was committed to flying. Training as a co-pilot for a B-17 in Sioux City Iowa, in wasn’t until 1944 that he received his first orders and sent off to England. Landry was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 493rd Squadron in Ipswich.

    Earning his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at RAF Debach, he was co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress in the 860th Bombardment Squadron. From November 1944 to April 1945 he completed a combat tour of 30 missions and even survived a crash landing after his plane ran out of fuel.

    Tom Landry coaching the Dallas Cowboys in 1971. Photo from Harold Valentine/AP. Tom Landry coaching the Dallas Cowboys in 1971. Photo from Harold Valentine/AP.

    After the war, he went back to playing football while at college. Then went on to become one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, creating the “4-3 defense” alignment and winning two Super Bowl Championships. His service to his country and the heart he put into all he did is just one of the many reasons we consider Tom Landry an American inspiration.

  • WCW: Lydia Litvak, The White Lily of Stanlingrad

    Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission. Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission.

    At age 14 she enrolled in a flying club, and by 15 performed her first solo flight. It’s no wonder we are so impressed with Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad. She was the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace.

    Ever since she was a child she became interested in flying. For three years she was a flight instructor, then after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit. She was only accepted after exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours. On her third mission flying in a Yak-1 on September 13, 1942, she scored her first two kills.

    Never giving up her femininity, she would dye her hair blonde and place flowers in the cockpit of the plane she flew while serving in the military. Moving up quickly in the military ranks, she and fellow female pilot, Katya Budanova became “free hunters” on February 23, 1943. By June 13, she was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.

    Her last mission was on August 1, 1943 when she did not return to her base. Her plane was shot down during a fight with a pair of German bombers. It was rumored that she survived the crash and taken as a prisoner of war, but she was never heard from again. She ended her career with 11-12 solo kills, at least 4 shared kills and a total of 66 combat missions. On May 6, 1990 she was award Litvak Hero of the Soviet Union.

    Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad
  • 70th Anniversary of D-Day

    Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy. Without the sacrifice these brave men made, the world would not be where it is today.  Cockpit USA takes a moment of silence to remember the courage and sacrifice these incredible men made for their country and for the world.

    Into the Jaws of Death, Photo by Robert F. Sargent Into the Jaws of Death, Photo by Robert F. Sargent
  • 23rd Fighter Group Patch by Cockpit USA

    Cockpit USA's handmade Flying Tiger Patches
    Cockpit USA's handmade Flying Tiger Patches

    The U.S. Army Air Force 23rd Fighter Group, the successor unit to the 1st American Volunteer Group – otherwise known as “The Flying Tigers”, was activated on July 4, 1942, when the AVG group was absorbed by the U.S. Army. Known for defending China against the Japanese during WWII in their P-40 fighter planes, these brave pilots gave hope to the American people in defeating the Japanese during these campaigns overseas. The insignia of the 23rd Fighter Group features a tiger with wings and a lightning bolt going down the center of a shield. These patches were worn proudly by pilots and aircrew alike, indicating their corresponding groups or squadrons.

    Cockpit USA’s dedication to making authentic items spares no expense in making sure every detail is correct. Our “23rd Fighter Group” Patch, as seen on our Flying Tigers 23rd Fighter Group Jacket, is handmade according to the traditional way it was crafted during the 1940s. The leather is hand-printed and die cut. Each patch is then inspected and finalized by an artist who hand paints any remaining details. Every detail is important in ensuring each jacket we design and produce, is authentic and as handsome as the original.

    Members of the Flying Tigers standing around one of their P-40 shark-faced fighter planes. Members of the Flying Tigers standing around one of their P-40 shark-faced fighter planes.

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