In 1931, the United States Air Corps issued an order to update and modify the Type A-1 flight jacket. The significant design changes of the jacket included replacing the buttons down front with a zipper and the knit collar with a leather drop fall collar. The new jacket was designated -- Type A-2. This jacket became associated with American pilots serving on every front during World War II and is still issued by the U.S. Air Force today. Many pilots and aircrews modified their jackets with custom artwork that depicted the name of their aircraft. These jackets are nick named "Painted Ladies" for the common practice of using the pinup girls for the aircraft's name and nose art.
This jacket was worn by Dr. Thomas N. Weems. He served as a navigator on a Martin B-26 Marauder “Winsockie” of 69th Bombardment Squadron. The “Winsockie” was one of the two B-26s of the 69th Bombardment Squadron assigned to Midway Island in June 1942. Equipped with an improvised torpedo bracket, the “Winsockie” along with 4 other B-26s from the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron were the first American aircraft to attack the Japanese carrier fleet on the morning June 4, 1942. Only two of these aircraft returned from the mission. Although the attack was unsuccessful, it was crucial in convincing Adm. Nugumo, to re-arm the Japanese aircraft with torpedoes and armor piercing bombs to contact bombs for a second strike on Midway Island. This decision provided the United States Navy the pivotal time that allowed its carrier aircraft to strike and sink the Japanese aircraft carriers later on morning of June 4, 1942.
There is a medical Dental caduceus insignia attached to the jacket as well. Weems received his dental degree following the war and served as a military dentist for several years.