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Home Events - VBHA Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of WWII

Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of WWII

Join us to mark the opening of the Museum’s newest Exhibit

Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of World War II

On Display in the Prescott Family Trust Gallery

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 which have survived, traveling the nation, visiting museums and attics alike. Bomber Jackets: The Painted Jacket Art of World War II represents the first time the pieces have been shown as an exhibition in a museum, and while there are more to be seen in his book, the exhibition format allows visitors to enjoy the jackets in a larger-than-life immersive space.

Join us on November 18, 2023 for the opening of this special exhibition exploring 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 art work 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!
  • 9:00AM – 10:00AM Exclusive Member Preview
    • Light snacks, coffee and juice 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.
  • 10:00AM – 10:15AM – Exhibit Introduction with the Exhibit Design Team
  • 10:15AM – Ribbon Cutting with the Prescott Family
  • 10:20AM – 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)
  • 1:30PM – 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.
  • 2:00PM – Bomber Boys: WWII Flight Jacket Art with John Slemp
    • Author Presentation
    • 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.


John Slemp has been an award-winning commercial photographer for over 25 years, creating images for editorial, corporate, and advertising clients worldwide. A life member of the American Society of Media Photographers, he has served in leadership positions at both the local and national levels. Born in Japan, he served in the US Army in the US and Germany as an armor officer in several command and staff roles. A currently exhibiting artist, he completed his first book on WWII “bomber jackets” in the fall of 2022, which is now on sale internationally.

Chad Hill of Django Studios is a Chicago-based graphic designer and artist with a unique specialization in historic aviation, working with 25 museums across the US and UK, designing everything from apparel, patches, event graphics, logos and exhibits, including this Bomber Jacket Exhibit. Also well-known for painting period correct WWII nose art and having just recently completed painting the B-25 “Executive Sweet,” Chad will be at the opening live-painting a special A-2 Bomber Jacket to commemorate the exhibit.


Nov 18 2023


9:00 am - 5:00 pm

More Info



Military Aviation Musuem
341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457
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