Acme Depot Showcase #3

(Filed: 23 October 1999)

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Type A-6 Flying Shoes

Probably the most widely used and recognized flying shoe of the Army Air Forces in WWII is the Type A-6. This shoe was made of a sheep shearling upper similar to the Type B-3 jacket, and apparently designed to be paired with it and the accompanying A-3 sheepskin trousers. The sole, which wrapped up around the lower portion of the shoe, was rubber. Available sizes were Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large.

The A-6 could be worn alone but was probably meant to be worn with an insert which could include regular shoes or boots, matching A-7 shearling slipper inserts, or electrically heated inserts.

While Service Tests began on the A-6 in 1930, they were not declared Standard until 27 March 1937. They were declared Limited Standard 7 August 1945.

Beginning in November 1944, the A-6 was modified with the addition of buckled leather straps to help keep the shoes more secure on the foot. This modification was later declared as the Type A-6A Standard on 7 August 1945. The strap modification as such appeared rather late in the war and so the collectibility of them is not as great as the original A-6 configuration. The A-6A shoes also have soles with deeper tread for improved grip.

Shown below are a pair of A-6 shoes which appear to be early WWII issue judging from the contract number and the Talon zipper which is the same size as that used on jackets. Many A-6 shoes have zippers with much larger teeth and puller which may indicate that the jacket-sized zips could not stand up to the stress imposed upon them.

Note also the unusual inset sole which appears to be the classic Sperry Topsider sole. Most A-6 soles were entirely black and had a sparse and shallow herringbone pattern.

At the top of each shoe, the original owner had placed stamped leather nameplates, the same type of which are often seen on flight jackets.

A-6 Flying Shoes

A-6 Label


  • Maguire, Jon. A., Gear Up!, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Atglen, PA 1995. ISBN: 0-88740-744-7.
  • Sweeting, C.G., Combat Flying Clothing, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. 1984. ISBN: 0-87474-898-4.
  • U.S. Army Air Forces Illustrated Catalog, Class 13, September 30, 1943 (available in reprint).

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Copyright © 1999 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.