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The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilots' Kitbag (ePub)

Uniforms & Equipment from the Summer of 1940 and the Human Stories Behind Them

Aviation British History Frontline eBooks Battle of Britain Luftwaffe Frontline: Aviation

By Mark Hillier
Frontline Books
File Size: 13.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 137
ISBN: 9781473849969
eBook Released: 21st June 2019

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Reichsmarschall Göring told Hitler that it would take less than a month for his much-vaunted Luftwaffe to conquer the RAF and pave the way for the German invasion of Great Britain. His prediction was to prove disastrously wrong, but for four long months his pilots and aircrew fought for their lives in the skies above the UK.

From their bases in continental Europe, the Luftwaffe’s fighter pilots escorted the great bomber fleets that sought to destroy the RAF’s airfields and installations, and tackled the Spitfires and Hurricanes deployed to defend Britain’s towns and cities. Whilst much has been written on the titanic struggle for supremacy fought throughout the summer of 1940 and of the men and machines of both sides, little attention has been paid to what the pilots wore and carried with them in the air.

All the objects that a Luftwaffe fighter pilot was issued with during the Battle of Britain are explored in this book in high-definition colour photographs, showing everything from the differing uniforms, to headgear, personal weapons, gloves, goggles, parachute packs and the essential life jacket. Each item is fully described and its purpose and use explained.

Fly with the Messerschmitt Bf 109s and Bf 110s across the Channel and see what the Luftwaffe aircrew wore as they took on Fighter Command in what was justly called the Battle of Britain.

As featured in

Fliegerblatt, February 2019

As featured by

Airfix Model World, July 2019

Almost coincidentally, I have started adding pilots and crew to some of my models, as well as placing them on diorama bases, (which I feel helps to give them a sense of scale and size), so books about air and ground crew’s clothing are starting to interest me.

Much has been written about the actions fought throughout the summer and autumn of 1940 and of the men and machines of both sides, but less attention has been paid to what the aircrew wore and carried with them in the air. This particular book helps to redress that inbalance.

Primarily focusing on the items that a Luftwaffe fighter pilot was issued with during the Battle of Britain, the book is split in to seven sections covering flying helmets, oxygen masks, goggles, flying clothing, lifesaving equipment, service dress and ancillary equipment such as watches, navigational equipment and maps. Each item is described and its purpose and use explained using contemporary b&w photos, items of clothing and artefacts from private collections (in useful colour), and full colour illustrations, all with informative captions.

As IPMS Battle of Britain SIG Leader you might expect me to have a particular interest in this book, which is going to prove very useful in the months to come leading up the battle’s 80th Anniversary!

Frontline Books also publish a companion volume, ‘The RAF Battle of Britain Fighter Pilots' Kitbag: Uniforms, Arms and Equipment from the Summer of 1940’ for those who might be interested.

Neil Robinson, IPMS, 2019

here are some fantastic colour images of the badges and patches worn by the Luftwaffe pilots. Each image has been reproduced in really clear, and close-up detail. Hiller writes informatively about each piece of Luftwaffe equipment and items of clothing, telling the reader when, where and why each item was worn. The author also discusses variants of parachutes and different personal weapons in some detail, all these are again backed up by fantastic colour photographs juxtaposed with black and white images of the equipment actually in service during the Battle of Britain.

​I really enjoyed this book and think an entry-level collector of Luftwaffe militaria would find it a very interesting and informative read.

Read the full review here

Stand Easy

This stunning well illustrated book would be a joy to any modeller, collector or indeed any one interested in the aircraft of this period, so much detail is included, even down the manufacturer's markings and dates, as well as many superb period photographs of the young men looking dashing alongside their aircraft. In fact the only omission I could find in this well researched book was pilots dogs(?) although enough appear in the photos to get a general idea.

Hardback, 135 pages with hundreds of high quality photographs both modern and period, maps and drawings; a fascinating and insightful read, a book that you could re-read, and learn more each time; also great for watching war films and spotting the errors.

Read the full review here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

This book is as good as a museum visit, the photographs are that good!

Books Monthly

Masterpiece with essential documentation for our library.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

A short part deals with clothing services, patents and the work ends with watches, calculators, navigation maps and documents nominative, a very good idea! The vintage photos are very good quality, which is not unfortunately always the case of color shots.

Militaria Magazine, April 2019

Having seen many books about uniforms and equipment I can say few are in the same league as The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot´s Kitbag by Mark Hillier... This is a very useful guide for museum staff, private collectors, the film industry, reenactors and model figure enthusiasts.

Read the full review here

Lars Gyllenhall, Blogger

This book is like getting a little museum in your home!... A truly interesting and very complete and exhaustive reference book, interesting for historians, modelers and yes, pilots alike.

Read the full review here

Flyin' and Ridin' Blog, Francois A. Dumas

Whether you build miniatures or just enjoy immersing yourself in martial history, this aficionado’s reference volume will add a new layer of value to your collection.

Read the full review here

Schopenhauer's Workshop

A book that I recommend for the amount of information and photographs it contains.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

A fascinating, informative and highly enjoyable read. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in the Luftwaffe in WWII.

Read the full review here

A Question Of Scale, Seb Palmer

There are fantastic pictures in it... the niche market it's aimed for will love it.

Watch the full review here

The View From The Turret Vlog

Overall, I rate this book very highly and it is great that the author has produced this pair
of books. He does deserve commending and has obviously spent many hours
researching them. Put simply they are a great and entertaining read and I am confident
you will find this too. For Luftwaffe or Battle of Britain enthusiasts they will be a great
buy.

Military Archive Research, Dr Stuart C Blank

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.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

An interesting book of 137 pages divided into 7 sections each covering a different part of the pilot’s kit in detail, many photos in both monochrome and colour are included and references include the dates when each item was introduced. Details of non-issue items are also included.
Items covered range from the obvious helmets and uniforms through oxygen masks, personal weapons and safety equipment to the less noticeable wound badges each covered in detail. Reproductions from the authors collection of maps, log books and the Luftwaffe handbook are included which gives an insight into what was issued as basic equipment. The human stories behind many of the featured artefacts are told which makes this book an excellent read for students of the period of history as well as model makers.
Many pages of the above-mentioned Luftwaffe handbook are reproduced (some in colour) which will help with using correct shoulder flashes and insignia on uniforms both flight and dress. There are even diagrams of how to pack a field pack and store kit in barracks.
As many of the photos are in colour and not always pristine items this will be especially useful to anyone building the increasing range of both 1/48 and 1/32 aircraft where the extra detail should enable the modeller to really make the cockpit area ‘pop’. Altogether excellent value at £14.99.

Mervyn John White
 Mark Hillier

About Mark Hillier

Mark Hillier is a chartered surveyor who has a deep knowledge of the history of the RAF, with a particular focus on the Second World War. He is also a qualified pilot, having flown for more than twenty-two years. Mark currently flies a Stearman biplane from Goodwood Aerodrome, the former RAF Westhampnett. He has previously written or co-authored five successful books on aviation, including the biography of Wing Commander Thomas Murray DSO, DFC and Bar, contributed numerous magazine articles and is a regular public speaker on aviation matters.

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