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WWII Luftwaffe Aircrews

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifacts included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifacts included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifact included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifact included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifact included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifact included in the Luftwaffe portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Many Luftwaffe fighter pilots wore privately purchased, black leather flying jackets. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Many Luftwaffe fighter pilots wore privately purchased, black leather flying jackets. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Luftwaffe fighter pilots at an airfield in Germany in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Luftwaffe fighter pilots at an airfield in Germany in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Luftwaffe General of Fighters Adolf Galland describes a dogfight to fellow pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Luftwaffe General of Fighters Adolf Galland describes a dogfight to fellow pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

By the fall of 1944, Luftwaffe (German Air Force) pilots faced the impossible task of defending Germany against the huge, escorted bomber formations of the USAAF by day and the Royal Air Force by night. By this time, many of its best fighter aces had been killed and replaced with inexperienced, poorly trained pilots.

Luftwaffe Fighter Pilot
The mannequin on the left wears typical flight gear for a Luftwaffe fighter pilot in late 1944. Of particular interest are the white plastic zippers on the inseam of his flying trousers (or "Channel pants"). Increasing shortages of material caused by Allied bombing forced clothing manufacturers to replace metal with plastic.

German Fighter Pilot Service Dress
This mannequin represents the service dress for a Luftwaffe fighter pilot with the rank of Hauptmann (or captain). The "day fighter clasp" above the left breast pocket identifies him as a fighter pilot. On his left breast pocket is a pilot's badge (an eagle over a laurel wreath), an Iron Cross First Class, and a black wound badge. 

Officer's tropical service cap typically worn by Luftwaffe pilots in the Mediterranean Theater. Enlisted Luftwaffe personnel wore woolen eagles on their right breast like the one displayed here. Officers wore eagles made of aluminum bouillon like the one on the mannequin. 

Click here to return to the Airmen in a World at War Overview.

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