TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



1. General

Although many items of uniforms and clothing of special Air Force design are provided, many items are procured from the Army in suitable colors. There is not, however, the degree of standardization in Army and Air Force clothing that would appear desirable, particularly in view of the number of Air Force ground troops performing the same functions as comparable Army troops. This is especially true in regard to the uniforms provided for Africa, and now used as summer field uniforms. Characteristic of most Air Force uniforms is the gray-blue color of much of the uniforms and equipment. Comments made on the decline of cloth quality in Army uniforms are equally applicable to Air Force uniforms.

2. Uniforms a. SERVICE AND DRESS UNIFORMS. The German Air Force no longer has service uniforms, except for a white summer coat and a dress mess jacket for officers, and a service coat for generals. A service coat for all personnel was already in the process of being replaced in 1939. This coat (Tuchrock) resembles the present uniform coat (Waffenrock), except that it is not designed to be buttoned up to the neck. (Compare the private's and the colonel's coats on Plate VIII.)

b. NORMAL FIELD UNIFORM. (1) Headgear. The Air Force field cap (Fliegermütze) is a simple wool-rayon cap similar in cut to the present U.S. WAC garrison cap. The national colors are worn below the national emblem. Officers wear silver braid around the edge of the turn-up. The Army Einheitsmütze, in Air Force color and with proper insignia, has begun to replace the Fliegermütze. The Army M1935 steel helmet, painted gray, is issued when required.

(2) Body clothing. (a) Coat. The standard Air Force coat (Waffenrock) is a five-button coat, designed to be worn either with the collar closed at the neck, or as a roll-collared, V-neck coat with the collar hook and top button open (Plate VIII). Four pleated patch pockets are furnished, with the national emblem appearing over the right breast pocket. Two adjustable metal belt holders of Army style are located toward the sides of the uniform. The sleeves end in large cuffs. The collar at one time carried piping on the lower edge in the color of the arm. Though this feature was discontinued in 1940, such coats still may be found. Insignia of rank are worn on the shoulder and on patches located on the ends of the collar. In 1944 this coat was issued in cotton-rayon instead of wool.

(b) "Flight blouse" (Fliegerbluse). Air Force troops more commonly wear a short, cuffless, fly-front, wool-rayon jacket with slash pockets (Plate VIII). The jacket's collar may be worn open or closed. Belt holders, insignia, and piping (if the latter is worn) are placed as on the coat. The jacket is intended for crews of aircraft, and therefore is designed so that there will be no buttons, patch pockets, or cuffs to catch on projecting parts of aircraft interiors. The jacket is sufficiently convenient and smart-looking, however, to be popular with all Air Force troops.

(c) Trousers. The gray-blue, wool-rayon, Air Force trousers are similar in cut at the waist to Army suspender trousers. Air Force trousers, however, are always slacks, and are not fitted with narrow or ski-pant bottoms except in the case of mountain trousers.

(d) Shirt. Gray shirts of mottled gray-blue thread are worn with black tie. The shirts may be fitted with shoulder straps to indicate rank.

(e) Underwear. Army underwear is worn.

(f) Sweater. The Air Force sweater is identical with the Army's, except that the colored hand at the neck is Air Force gray-blue.

(g) Overcoat. A blue-gray version of the Army overcoat is worn. Patches are placed on the collar. First sergeants wear their sleeve bands (Plate VIII).

(3) Footgear. The Air Force uses Army-type jack boots, shoes, sock, and footwraps. Leggings, when used, are Army leggings dyed blue-gray.

c. MOUNTAIN UNIFORM. Normal Air Force uniforms are combined with Army issue, properly colored when necessary, to make up mountain clothing (Plate VIII). The Waffenrock and mountain trousers are used, together with blue-gray, ankle-wrap legging, and ski-mountain boots. The Air Force mountain cap, which had but one button securing the turn-up in front, largely has been replaced by a cap in the style of the Army mountain cap. Army Edelweiss badges may be worn.

d. FATIGUE AND WORK SUITS. Flak crews and aircraft mechanics may be furnished with a cotton-linen-rayon, herringbone twill, black or dark blue-gray coverall with fly front (Plate IX). Two-piece work suits of various colors are also used (Plate X).

e. SUMMER UNIFORMS. Air Force issue resembles that of the Army both in history and in the nature of the items provided, except for slight modifications in all pieces of clothing. Peculiar to the Air Force are bright aluminum, built-in trouser belt buckles, and the long, baggy trousers with ankle buckles illustrated in Plate IX. As in the case of the Army, the tropical helmet no longer is worn except by those who still retain the original issue. The Air Force national emblem appears on all coats and shirts.

f. PARACHUTE TROOPS UNIFORMS. Parachute troops are issued several distinctive items. They are:

(1) Helmet. The parachute helmet, resembling a cut-down version of the M1935 steel helmet, is fitted with large sponge-rubber pads and leather suspension shaped to the skull.

(2) Jump suit. The older types of jump suit used in 1939-40 were of the pullover, coverall variety. The present types button up the front like coats, and have snap closures to secure the bottom tightly around the legs—a feature borrowed from the older types. Ample zipper-closed pockets are provided. The material is a light shelter duck, originally olive in color (Plate IX), but in present versions always mottled. The present jump suit, like older types, is worn over the wool or summer uniform, but can quickly be removed.

(3) Camouflage jacket. Usually peculiar to parachute troops (and worn by the 1st Parachute Division during the Battle of Cassino—hence the appellation "Green Devils") is a greenish, mottled camouflage jacket about the length of the jump suit. This is a fly-front, cotton, herringbone twill garment with two pockets (Plate IX).

(4) Footgear. Several types of jump boots have been issued. The earlier types laced along the sides and had heavy corrugated-rubber soles. Later types resemble the U.S. parachutist's boot. In battle, Army-type high service shoes may be worn.

g. WINTER CLOTHING. The Air Force uses the Army winter uniform, and improvises in the same way as the elder service. Often worn by Flak sentries in very exposed positions is the very heavy sheepskin surcoat shown in color plates. This coat may be worn by the entire gun crew, if necessary. It is, however, too heavy for infantry combat use.

h. UNIFORMS OF THE Fallschirmjäger-Panzer Division Herman Goering. This division follows unusual practices in the issue of uniforms and insignia. The collar patch is white for all ranks, while the color of the shoulder strap varies according to type of service. Tank crews and crews of self-propelled guns wear Army black or field-gray jackets and field trousers, but with Air Force insignia.

3. Insignia

Air Force insignia are extremely complex. There are four systems of indicating rank; that used on the shoulder straps and on sleeve chevrons; that used on the collar patch; that used on flying suits; and that used on both sleeves of the motor vehicle coat and on fatigue coveralls. The collar patches of noncommissioned officers' overcoats, and their coat collars, are edged with silver braid in the manner of Army noncommissioned officers' coats. The awards for combat flights (see color plates) easily may be mistaken for pilots' insignia because of their shape. The pilot's insignia, however, is worn as a metal or cloth badge on the lower left breast, whereas the awards for combat flights are worn above the left breast pocket. Not illustrated under awards in the color plates is that for night fighters, which consists of the award for fighters with a black instead of a silver winged arrow. Air Force personnel are awarded marksmanship badges of a design similar to that of Army awards. Other fourrageres on worn, indicating commissioned rank, adjutant, merely length of service.


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