Flight Suit Development - 1933
Combination Suit - Overland Use, Model KW 1/33
Flieger-Schutzanzug - Land - Baumuster KW 1/33Winter Flight Protective
It is no surprise that, given the weather over northern Europe and the open cockpit aircraft of the early 1930s, that the first suit of the future Luftwaffe was of a winter, fleeced-lined pattern. Developed in 1933, this Fliegerkombi was composed of a heavy, finely woven, melton wool, "Veleton" shell, with a full sheepskin lining. The distinguishing feature of this suit from the later designs was its vertical button-up closure in front. Buttons likewise closed the wrist cuffs, diagonal pocket apertures at the waist, and cargo pockets mounted on the front on the thighs.
Zippers closed the ankle cuffs to facilitate pulling the suit over shoes or boots. Zippered side "pockets" at the waist- actually apertures only- provided ready access to inner clothing. In addition, the incorporation of a zippered pocket on the left breast provided handy storage for maps and charts. By way of variation, period photography documents the employment of a second map pocket on the right abdomen. It is unknown which variation predates the other, or whether they were indeed concurrent.
A dual snap-strap/ring closure device installed on the underside of the fleece collar enabled the wearer to secure the collar in a stand up position, providing additional protection for the neck against the wind.
Though the "Bavarian" suit (as it came to be called) was a favorite with personnel in open cockpit positions and in the drafty multi-engine aircraft of the period, it was quickly supplanted by a subsequent design in 1934. Nonetheless, manufacture of this garment continued in modified form through 1940. Most likely, the coming of war forced progressive standardization on the subsequent Fliegerkombi designs. Throughout its production life, the overland Kombi was produced in various shades of light to medium brown, and blue-gray.
The earliest known photo of this suit being worn in its initial configuration dates from January, 1935- prior to the institution of the Luftwaffe. See Carlsen and Meyer, 60.
No specimens of the "Bavarian" have come to the attention of the author dating later than the 1939 period.
Angolia, John R. & Adolf Schlicht, Uniforms & Traditions of the Luftwaffe, (San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Publishing, 1998), I, 20-22.
Angolia & Schlicht, III, 241-245.
Carlsen, Sven & Meyer Michael, Die Flugzeugführer-Ausbildung der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1939-1945, (Zweibrücken, Germany: Heinz Nickel Verlag/Antiquariat, 1998), I, 60. Note: the Forum is in contact with this publisher to secure the right to reproduce this photograph here.
Author's collection and observations.
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