Luftwaffe 'Sommerfliegerkombi' summer weight flying suit

Place Europe: Germany
Accession Number REL30212
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Cotton, Leather, Metal, Plastic
Maker Karl Heisler
Place made Germany: Berlin
Date made c 1939-1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Luftwaffe unlined cotton 'Sommerfliegerkombi' one-piece summerweight flying suit. The suit is made from heavy weight brown and white flecked 'salt and pepper' cotton, and features a long diagonal 66 cm concealed zipper running from right shoulder to left hip. A button down flap at the right shoulder prevents wind from entering this zip fastening. At the crutch is a vertical 24 cm zipper fly. Zippers also close the cuffs and the legs, (to the knee) the cuffs having concealed elasticized inner cuffs made of a grey cotton fabric, which are fitted with press stud fastenings. Two waist zips permit access to clothing worn underneath the suit. Above the knee there would originally have been a pair of internal cargo pockets with zip fasteners, but both the zipper and pocket on the left leg have been removed and a section of matching fabric machine stitched over the opening. The pocket on the right leg has had its zipper rather crudely removed, leaving a simple slash opening, the edges of which are torn and damaged. A pair of leather loops for the attachment of oxygen mask clips are stitched to the centre of the chest. There is a small vertical map pocket on the left side of the chest, next to the concealed ring pull emergency release system which runs from left shoulder to left hip. A flap with a press stud fastening conceals a 59 cm cord laced through metal eyes and leather tongues, the top end being attached to a 4 cm metal ring, mounted under the press stud. Pulling this ring enabled the lacing to be undone so that injured aircrew could be treated without causing further injury or discomfort. The collar, which has an adjustable press stud fastening, may be turned up, and secured by passing a leather strap through a metal ring, and turning back to attach to press studs. A white cotton manufacturer's label reading 'Karl Heisler BERLIN C 2' is sewn vertically to the upper inside face of the emergency release.

History / Summary

The 'Sommerfliegerkombi' was produced in very large numbers for the use of Luftwaffe aircrew, and was generally associated with bomber crews, who often needed to be able to move around inside their aircraft. Some fighter pilots also favoured the comfort and ease of mobility offered by the design, although it lacked adequate storage space for survival equipment. Early versions of the suit lacked the emergency ring-pull access device, and featured a horizontal fly opening, which indicates that this is probably a later war example.