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