An icon of World War II, the hand-painted Bomber Jackets, known more formally as the Type A-2 Flying Jacket, are some of the most celebrated artifacts of the period. Designed at first as protective clothing for aircrews, the jackets became a status symbol, an opportunity to exercise creativity in a sea of green clothing, and a way to chronicle wartime feats of courage and bravery.
Photographer John Slemp has sought to catalog those that have survived, traveling the nation, and visiting museums and attics alike. Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of World War II represents the first time the pieces have been shown in an exhibition in a museum, and while there is more to be seen in his book, the exhibition format allows visitors to enjoy the jackets in a larger-than-life immersive space.
On November 18, 2023, The Military Aviation Museum will inaugurate a special exhibition exploring these wartime masterpieces. A member preview will be followed by general access (included with Museum Admission) to a ribbon cutting, along with remarks from the exhibition development team. The opening festivities will also include a live artist painting on a reproduction A-2 Jacket.
Exhibit Opening Activities
All Day – Live Jacket Painting with Chad Hill
Chad Hill, known for his work painting nose art on WWII Warbirds, will be recreating the process of painting on a jacket throughout the day. Check in regularly to see how this special piece of artwork commemorating the 100th Bomb Group progresses.
All Day – Children’s Art Tables
Want to design your own jacket? We have some blank jacket outlines on paper that will let the kids rough-out their own designs, and then color them in!
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Exclusive Member Preview
Light snacks, coffee, and juice are provided with exclusive early access to the exhibition space. John Slemp will be on hand to meet and greet while showcasing the pieces in the gallery. Members must register to attend and choose the Member Preview Ticket Add-On.
10:00 AM – 10:15 AM – Exhibit Introduction with the Exhibit Design Team
10:15 AM – Ribbon Cutting with the Prescott Family
10:20 AM – Exhibit Open, Book Signing
With the exhibit now open, we welcome all guests to tour the space. John Slemp will be available to sign copies of his book Bomber Boys: WWII Flight Jacket Art (available for purchase in the Museum Gift Shop)
1:30 PM – Photography Workshop – Photograph a Painted Jacket
Join John Slemp for a photography workshop showing how each of the jackets were captured in all their glory. Space is limited, so please select the Photography Workshop Ticket Add-On to reserve your space in this workshop.
2:00 PM – Bomber Boys: WWII Flight Jacket Art with John Slemp
A look behind the scenes at the effort to catalog the jackets, and to produce the magnificent book that shares the jackets and the stories of their wartime owners. The presentation includes tips on how to care for a jacket you might have found! Hear the story of how the journey began, of how the jackets were found, and what unique opportunities Slemp had to connect with veterans in the final years of their lives – more than 80 years on from World War II.