ITEM OF THE MONTH: 1951 RAF PARKA
These cold-weather parkas were originally intended for pilots rather than ground crew though are frequently referred to as the latter. The 22C prefix was referenced on all labelling used by the Air Ministry from the 1920s to 1960s under the general heading of ‘Clothing and Accoutrements’. Though some codes cross over, generally speaking, the 22C prefix referred specifically to RAF flight clothing.
Of course, the quality of the construction of this Cold War-era RAF Parka made it a much sought after piece of kit, especially for those on the ground exposed to the elements in vital maintenance roles. This resulted in them often ending up in the hands of the ground crew.
The lining on this example bears the handwriting legend 101 SQN BZN, which is consistent as the 101 Sqn during the Cold War were dedicated to Air to Air Refuelling from their base at RAF Brize Norton.
The thick ventile outer shell is lined with a lighter weight ventile lining. Between these layers is a dense sleeping bag-like stuffing that is unbelievably warm when wearing, but surprisingly lightweight. It is designed to be completely windproof and largely waterproof. Interestingly, the RAP sporting patch seems to be older than the parka itself, dating to the 1930s. It is a piece that would certainly have kept the wearer warm on the touchlines.
This item was featured in our second book ‘An Archive of Menswear’, and is now offered for sale for the first time. View it here!