How do we go about reproducing a piece of history?

Let’s get to the point ...

It’s been a while. Why now?

It must have been early 2017 when I was first asked to produce a 2nd pattern jump smock. Back then, there were still other reproductions available on the market and many reenactors where highlighting incorrect features that they wanted fixed in a new production.

It was also a time when my focus was not on creating camouflage clothing but rather a small but solid catalogue of Luftwaffe uniforms. Even though it was possible source plain green fabric that looked right, it was decided that it was not time for us to venture into such a project. With respect to the values we hold when doing our work, and to honour the “green devils” with a job well done, this project was not initiated.

We were yet to handle original jump smocks and learn more about the construction of this garment. However, I knew sooner or later I will get back to this, so I went out to the community and asked some key questions on which features were critical and which were desirable features. The feedback that you, the FJ community, had given me was at the ready to hit the ground running as soon as I decided to go ahead with the project.

So, what makes LWS ready to embark on the project, now?

What a journey it has been since 2017. A lot more effort was put into the offerings and in getting more in tune with the community. For over 18 months, Luftwaffe Supplies has been monthly restocking and launching new offerings. At the same time, I have been constantly researching authoritative books and getting my hands on hundreds of original uniforms and equipment. Hungry to learn, every opportunity was a new experience and brought me ever closer to handling a real jump smock.

In mid-2018, I felt that it was time - Both because the community was getting eager for a reproduction, and to assist groups in getting ready for Low-lands and Crete commemorative events in 2020 and 2021. At first, it was researching and analysing original specifications – the 1938 Luftwaffe directive for paratrooper clothing was instrumental in understanding the fine details of fabric composition (trivia: it wasn’t 100% cotton), number of threads used etc.

But this kind of research only takes you so far and I needed to cross reference the findings with an actual sample. It was only late last year that an opportunity proposed to acquire a smock out of a collection and be able to deconstruct it.

Let’s cut to the chase - What is the progress of project now?

I believe this will come as great news - We have an M38 Type II smock in hand! To be 100% honest, it’s the first Military-quality reproduction – and it’s dated 1941.

I can hear you say: A reproduction? But you said original?

Yes and Yes. What we have in hand is the rare original British Step-in jump smock that is an exact copy (you can say, a reproduction - although not exactly true) of a German smock, captured during the first operations in the west.

With no previous airborne experience and jump specific equipment, the British made a direct copy of the m38 smock and field tested in operations like the Bruneval Raid in February of 1942. All the features, construction composition, zipper placements and extra room in the seat are confirmed to match the original German production jump smock.

But you said you copied original fabric too?

Yes, I also did that. We were able to get a piece of fabric that was cut off as a memento by an Allied soldier in France. This piece of fabric was good enough to get a feel of what the original fabric looked and felt like. An original piece of fabric together with the original specifications from 1938 is an unbeatable way of producing the most authentic fabric.

original green flecked fabric for FJ jump smock

Finally, I want to share with you the progress and status of the entire project, with the promise of delivering correctly, and with a price tag that doesn't break the bank (we should be able to confirm the price in a few weeks).

Our Grünmeliert fabric

Simply nothing to add. Front piece is an original cutoff, the back fabric is our reproduction.

Luftwaffe Supplies grünmeliert fabric next to original fabric.


Written by Christian Debono — March 22, 2019

German 152mm H.E. shell

Today we're taking a closer look at a rare shell for a guns used by at least 3 armies during the war, and which remained in service for generations with countless other armies. Here's a closer look at the German-Made 152mm shell for the Russian Field Howitzers.

Written by Christian Debono — January 03, 2018

LW Tropenanzug #3 - That belt is useless

not all reproductions of Luftwaffe tropical trousers are faithful in the application of friction buckles. If these are attached incorrectly, then the internal belt would become useless. Here's why this happens and how it can be fixed easily.

Written by Christian Debono — September 24, 2017

LW Tropenanzug #2 - How were insignia attached and why?

Typical example – we finally get our hands on another piece of equipment, this time, of higher quality. It could be a better fliegerbluse; or perhaps after a lot of personal convincing, we get ourselves a parade Tuchrock, not because we really need it (once a year is good enough right?), but because its darn classy. One might go the extra mile and have it tailored for the perfect fit – then comes the simple part. Sourcing and attaching the insignia. Simple?  – yeah right!

If only insignia came pre-attached to the uniforms, with the right detail, shape and stitching (hint hint) … 

The Luftwaffe tunic breast eagle

All combat tunics from 1940 onwards carried the Luftwaffe national eagles of the 2nd type, introduced at the beginning of 1937. The threads of the Luftwaffe breast eagle were of a light or linen on backing and cut into shape after embroidery.

As opposed to BEVO insignia, LW breast eagles for tunics were not folded, and thus the raw edges were subject to easy fraying, which if not controlled creates an ugly and unkempt appearance. To reduce this occurrence all Luftwaffe breast eagles on field uniforms (e.g. Fliegerbluse, HBT tunics, Tropical tunics, jump Smocks etc) were always attached with a zig-zag stitch.

Breast eagle on tunic stitched in zig-zag method, to reduce fraying as much as possible. however this still occurred even with light use and washing, as can be noted from this mint tunic.

Zig-zag stitching, as opposed to line stitching, gives extra protection to the raw edges of the eagle from fraying. By keeping the edges sewn, the stitch will lessen the chances of the fabric from unravelling. Since the cotton weave on tropical uniforms was somewhat a loose weave, fraying was very easy to occur. A tight zig-zag stitch would slow down this process during wash and abrasion. 

The Luftwaffe tropical shirt breast eagle

In the case of the national eagle on Luftwaffe tropical shirts, the backing of the embroidery was a shirt cotton fabric. In this case the eagle was not trimmed following the shape of the eagle, but rather embroidered on triangular base, with the edges folded (hemmed) before stitched by machine. Since the edges in this case are protected with a fold, line stitching was the quickest application method. This has always been the most useful method when laundering. As you can expect, shirts were washed much more frequently than tunics. 

Breast eagle on the tropical shirt was attached in simpler method, because the edges were protected by folded cloth.

In all cases of factory applied eagles on tropical shirts, this method was predominantly observed

The Luftwaffe tropical cap insignia

The tropical side cap (tropen-fliegermutze) was the most widely issued headgear as part of the tropical outfit. The insignia for the cap, like the continental version, consisted of 2 parts – the cap eagle, and cockade with the national colours (black, white, red). To prevent fraying, all side caps had triangular eagles with folded edges, a miniature version of the shirt insignia (with less detail). The cockade, was also embroidered on tan cotton, with the edges rolled on the inside and stitched in place.

Side-cap insignia was attached by hand, not machine, possibly due to the thickness of overlapping fabric at the front. This was typically done using a cotton thread in tan.

As for LWS tropical uniforms ..

I hope that this has helped you with identifying the right insignia and application for your uniforms. If you also share the pain of apply insignia to your uniforms, it is good to know that our upcoming tropical uniforms will come with pre-attached insignia, in the right method.

Written by Christian Debono — August 30, 2017