Sunday, April 20

We review Andrea Press' latest opus which takes a very detailed look at the artefacts of the Luftwaffe

Andrea Press have released some very good books recently  - especially photo books on the artifacts of soldiers, especially their book “Inside the Allgemeine SS 1925-1945” which took us shot by shot through the history and personal effects of this organization. It was a superb book and this tome in a very similar theme looks just as good – let’s have a look…
Publisher: Andrea Press
360 pages
Hardcover landscape format 30 x 21.8 x 2.5 cm
Hardcover: 360 pages
More than 1100 photographs included
ISBN: 8496658392

Following in the footsteps of their amazing title on the artifacts of the SS we looked at earlier Andrea Press have a new book to tempt historians – uniform freaks and ohh – yes anyone interested in the Luftwaffe! It is a comprehensive study of flight uniforms and equipment used by the Luftwaffe personnel between 1935 and 1945. 

nothing like a quality binding and some nice place markers to give you the quality feel
This book is a photo history of not just only the organization but the everyday clothing and items these flyers and their supporting units and their staff wore and used every day.

There are 360 pages in this book and it is a heavy hardcover volume with two neat little book mark ribbons for you to easily flip backward and forward to. This is something you often do not see in books now-days so I like the quality feel that this, the glossy thick pages and the quality blue binding provide. I mostly ready this book without it’s dust jacket as I didn’t want to damage that unintentionally with the weight of the book.
All text is in English the main part of the book (330 out of  360 pages) is made up of many pictures with accompanying captions explain the nature of the item or clothing provided for photographic examination. There is however a sum of thirty pages which is mainly text with some supporting black and white shots explaining the history of the Luftwaffe since it’s origins from a flying club in the thirties. You understand from this how the force evolved into the powered flight world beater it became at the start of the war.

The book is divided into four parts: The first contains a brief historical introduction with the basic organization of the Luftwaffe. The second part is dedicated to service and service uniforms, while flight uniforms, equipment and weapons appear in the third part. The book concludes with an essay on the men behind the machine and includes the German pilots story told through his decorations and documents
The history of the Luftwaffe is explained in the first part of the book – from humble and clandestine beginnings and the launch under Hitler who defied the world in his nationalism, through to exporting fascism to Spain with help from the air force, then on to the Second World War. The early conflict through France, Battle of Britain and Barbarossa are discussed through to the defence of their homeland and the end-game. This is a welcome addition for those who need to know more or just a catch-up with the background. It is a helpful chapter with many early photographs which help the reader.
Organization command of the Luftwaffe is explained as well. Meaning that even a novice on this subject can pick up this book and after reading it get up to speed pretty quickly on what the backgrounds of these men, who led them and their needs in the field were before we even looked at the gear in detail. This whole background section and minor history lesson is a much welcome surprise addition for me.
You can see from these pictures and text how a majority of the uniforms of the Luftwaffe we all know were adapted directly from their beginnings in “civil  recreational flying clubs” of the uniform of the cadet schools. It really makes sense after you see how little changed and I suppose the practical reasons for this were if it ‘aint broke….
We take a look at the clothing from all angles, inside and out with small detail like under collars, lining, buttons seams, buckles and badges are shown in  small detail among with the whole garment and item in its entirety.  If you would look at a helmet for instance, you would get a front on, behind, underneath left and right sides with buckles and the national colours decal blown up to show you it in larger picture.
We look item through item at each part of the uniform of a Luftwaffe serviceman. Starting at the head and working down we look at peaked caps and hats in summer and regular dress, helmets, Tunics & flying tunics belts, buckles and different types of trousers are covered, we also look at ceremonial daggers and swords in the minutes detail and explanation.
We then go onto the flying gear of the pilots. Starting at the head and going down again we look at both summer and winter weight flying helmets and all types of goggles, oxygen masks and flying jackets – leather short jackets and full lines and electric powered suits. Right down to the extremities of gloves and boots. I am surprised that some of these leather goods have survived.
We look also at the very personal equipment of the pilots. From the wristwatches to compasses, parachutes and pistols – both standard issue and captured. These are very personal relics. The pictures of them and all of the artifacts in this book are close up and perfect in focus and composure. It gives you a personal connection with these bits of history. They are a great guide to the modeller.
In all of these sections we look at the original gear and often the ersatz or replacement gear that was more than not made from inferior or simplified materials and processes. This gear is an interesting alternative to what many of us know as the prototype pin up poster Luftwaffe pilot or crewman. It is explained in the text often why and how this new gear was used so it’s another great look into the historical process of the uniforms and the situation the war pressed onto these men.
There is even a small epilogue of several pages at the rear of the book talking about the actual men who flew these planes – again this is block text with photographs of diaries and letters. It gives you just that much more information about the everyday actions and lives of them men who used and owned these artifacts.
Just a quick note – there are no photos or mention of the Fallschirmjäger or their units in this book – it is for the Fliegerkorps only so maybe the parachute korps will get their own book later on? Many people I would think hope so.
This more than matches the SS book we reviewed last year and loved. Although that book sometimes came across as a little unnerving to read in a public place just say – this book leaves an altogether more easy to swallow feeling in your throat. The personal effects of the German pilots and their support and general staff is a fascinating look – just like walking through a museum. Indeed if this was the contents of a Luftwaffe Museum it would be the best in the world.

A must have for any Luftwaffe or uniform historian.

Adam Norenberg

Check out the Andrea Press site to order yours. Thanks to them for sending this book to read and review .