Book Review: The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot’s Kit Bag

Luftwaffe Kit Bag CoverThe Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot’s Kit Bag: Uniforms & Equipment from the Summer of 1940 and the Human Stories Behind Them, by Mark Hillier (Frontline Books, 2019), is the companion piece to the RAF “Fighter Pilot’s Kit Bag.” These books detail and evaluate the quality of all of the gear used by German and British airmen in 1940, from goggles to jackets. Photos include close-ups of surviving, museum-quality examples as well as snapshots of the men wearing them nearly 80 years ago.

Those of us with a historical interest in all aspects of World War Two will find that these volumes bring another corner of that vast panorama into much sharper focus. For myself, it was akin to turning what I now realize was my stick-figure level of understanding of what these pilots — especially the Luftwaffe pilots — looked like into a more intimate clarity that allowed me to feel almost as though I could be standing next to one of them in conversation. Mr. Hillier’s work is an outstanding example of history through artifacts.

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The Luftwaffe Battle of Britain Kit Bag, p. 40.

Ironically, when I received this book I had just completed a set of Luftwaffe ground crew and pilots and put them into a new diorama. My understanding of their look was based primarily upon the box art from Airfix for the ground crew and Hasegawa for the pilots. I think they look fairly decent — but if I had done them after seeing the “Kit Bag,” I can imagine that my figures might at least have had some privately purchased leather jackets and silver braid thrown in!

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.

 

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