Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of World War II

Immersive Exhibit Based on John Slemp’s Book Bomber Boys

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A new immersive exhibition based on John Slemp’s book, Bomber Boys – WWII Flight Jacket Art is opening on November 18. The Military Aviation Museum is honored to host this exhibit, and to celebrate these artistic masterpieces from the war years. Slemp’s photography of both airmen and jackets will be larger than life at over six feet tall. With every brush stroke visible, viewers will have the opportunity to stand back and take in the whole jacket before zeroing in to admire the details of these wartime masterpieces.

The Legendary Type A-2 Flying Jacket has become an icon of World War II. Widely personalized by aircrews, and known colloquially as The Bomber Jacket, each and every A-2 that survives has a story to tell us about WWII. Photographer John Slemp has done more to catalog these stories than perhaps anyone else. He has sought to catalog those which have survived, traveling the nation, visiting museums and attics alike. Several of his remarkable images are being assembled for the first time ever, as a Museum exhibit.

Joining a selection of images from Slemp’s book will be a few real, customized jackets from the museum’s own collection including a jacket worn by Staff Sergeant Laffetti “Pete” Trace (1922-1990), a B-17 Gunner with the 748th Bomb Squadron, 457th Bomb Group – part of the Mighty Eighth Air Force that brought the war to the German doorstep with their strategic bombing campaign. His jacket bears markings for 34 of the 36 missions he is known to have flown – the last of which hit the U-Boat pens in Bremen on March 11th, 1945.

Tickets are available now for opening festivities which will include a live painting of a reproduction jacket by noted artist Chad Hill, presentation by Slemp, and a possible appearance by WWII P51 Pilot Paul Crawford, who is honored in the exhibit.  

On display in the Prescott Family Trust Gallery through 2024, the exhibition was curated by Zack Baughman and Richard Mallory Allnutt.  Design by Chad Hill and photography by John Slemp. Bomber Boys – WWII Flight Jacket Art is a 12″ x 12″, 398-page coffee table book showcasing over 100 A-2 jackets from all theaters of WWII.  A winner of several prestigious design awards and over 50 five-star reviews, the book is a must have for any WWII devotee.

SOURCE John Slemp Photography

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