The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot's Kitbag...

 

... from Frontline Books

 

Title: The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot's Kitbag

Author: Mark Hillier

Publisher: Frontline books

ISBN: 978-1-47384-995-2

The events of the Battle of Britain have been covered many times over. Equally, we know about the personalities who took part, on both sides. In addition to the pros and cons of the various aircraft types that were involved have also had plenty of coverage. The other element for the pilot though would be their personal equipment. Was it comfortable, was the safety equipment fit for purpose, while for the military there would also have been a consideration about 'was it smart', and of course, cost.

The main content is divided into 7 sections, tackling Flying Helmets, Oxygen Masks, Goggles, Flying Clothing, Lifesaving Equipment, Service Dress and finally Other Flying Equipment and Paperwork. The well informed and detailed text accompanies a lot of excellent colour images of surviving examples of all the various bits of kit, as well as some wartime archive photos Not just the main bits of uniforms and equipment, but both cloth and metal badges, survival equipment such as flare guns and even a tin of Shok-ka-Kola, a caffeine infused chocolate, a dye pack, a filed dressing pack and even a signal mirror.  With both flying clothing and service dress there are variations, with summer and winter options, as well as consideration of not just 'official' issue equipment, but how many pilots chose to buy privately purchased alternatives, often using better materials. Even with badges, there were different manufacturers which caused minor variations and examples of how to identify the different maker. Then there are items such as watches, maps, pass book and logbooks.

Add some memories from a few of the veterans who used all this gear we have a well detailed coverage of the German fighter pilot's personal equipment from the early period of the war. There are illustrations from Luftwaffe manuals showing how kit should be laid out in a wardrobe for inspection. The item that I had not expected or seen before, was a uniform carry bag.  The information and the colour pictures of surviving items are ideal for militaria collectors, re-enactors and modellers alike. As a modeller myself, this offers a fine reference, interesting for the historian in me as well.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for my copy.

Robin