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Other Flight Suit Design Changes - 1940


Per LV 40, Nr.736 on 7 April, 1940, two Kombi construction features were modified (most likely in response to feedback from operational units).


Modified Position of Leather Loop for Oxygen Hose Clamp

Firstly, the leather loop for the oxygen mask hose A-clamp was moved 3cm up toward the collar, presumably to prevent the hose clamp from interfering with the front straps of either a kapok or inflatable life-vest. Modern "tests" performed with a 1938-39 period Kombi and both life-vests reveal that the top of the leather loop would indeed be cleared from interference by the straps were the loop moved 3cm higher.


Reorientation of Fly Zipper

Secondly, a more apparent change was the reorientation of the suit's horizontal fly to a vertical position, undoubtedly a concession to creature comfort.

LV 40 Nr.736 likewise directed the manufacturers of the Winterfliegerkombi for overland use to make that garment's construction conform to that of the overwater Kombi, i.e., to incorporate the front diagonal main zippered closure. With this order, production of the "Bavarian" Kombi came to an end.

With the two changes and the overland suit directive set in place, the Luftwaffe's Fliegerkombis took on their final appearance and configuration of the war.


Alternative Material for Overwater Winterfliegerkombi

At some juncture during 1940- most likely subsequent to April- the manufacturers of the overwater Winterfliegerkombi employed a new material in the garment's construction, transitioning from fleece-lined leather to white, off-white, or gray shearling. Nowhere are the specific reasons for the change enumerated, but it can be surmised that:

1. The leather fleece-lined Kombis were extremely heavy garments, weighing upwards of 20 pounds. Elimination of the outer leather shell represented a substantial weight reduction.

2. With the war entering its third year, numerous efforts were already underway to conserve war materiel. Elimination of the leather winter would address the pressing issue of conservation.

All examples of the shearling overwater Kombis having come to the author's attention conform to the Fliegerkombi's final design configuration. All incorporate the vertical fly zipper, supporting the supposition that the material change took effect during mid 1940.

It is unknown whether the shearling material completely replaced the leather shell in all production, or merely supplanted it. Leather specimens of the latest design configuration are known to exist.


Photo Gallery

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1941 Overland Winterfliegerkombi - Front
1941 Overland Winterfliegerkombi - Rear
1941 Overland Winterfliegerkombi - Hersteller Label


SOURCES:

Angolia & Schlicht, III, 236-238, 242.

Prodger, II, 88.

Author's collection and observations.


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