Tropical uniforms may not be the most flattering uniforms from the Third Reich era. However, back when I was introduced to re-enactment, the Luftwaffe Tropical uniform was mandatory for my Fallschirm-Brigade Ramcke impression. As you can expect, this is this the uniform I’ve spent most of the time in (and still do) appreciating its practicality, when done right.
Throughout the years, I must have owned and worn at least 25 pieces from vendors all over the globe. I’ve experienced first hand some of the issues with these uniforms, both in terms of practically and authenticity. due to this, paired with my growing passion for German Militaria, this has become one of the uniform I’ve spent time researching the most.
Throughout this series of articles, I intend on sharing with you my findings from these studies and give you pointers of what are common faults in today reproductions and how to avoid them.
Some areas that I will be covering in this series are:
Why tightening straps don’t work well;
What does tropical insignia look like, and why;
The colour of the fabric;
Incorrect back waist leads to incorrect fit;
And what makes the trousers perfect for hot climate.
I have studied details and patterns from the original and went back to the drawing board so that I can wear the most authentic Luftwaffe Tropical Uniform. You can say that this quest to create the perfect replica has become personal!
Let's face it, different groups handle their ranking system differently. They range from individuals who may want to be an officer with all the bling bling, or a simple Jäger in well established unit, focusing on the real day-to-day duties of a soldier. Then there are those who dress up as Generalsoberst and make matters worse for themselves in terms of inclusion in the community. There's really no end to the combinations. I personally prefer a system where meritocracy and years of service are taken into consideration, where an enlisted men or NCO rank is somewhat of a time trail of his service and responsabilities.
Additionally, with some of the larger and well established groups, I have noticed and come to appreciate that the true leaders who serve their respective groups through hard-work and infinite amount of patience, seems to settle for less than an officer rank (despite subordinates suggesting that they should take a higher rank out of respect they earned). They are also the guy who have to bear the brunt of the typical unit of 20 to 30, with a full spectrum of different characters and needs. These men typically endorse a Feldwebel or Oberfeldwebel impression, and tend to the needs of their men.
Hauptfeldwebel is an appointment, not a rank. This is identified by a double piston rings on the lower sleeve. (Example from an original Hermann Göring Division fliegerbluse)
In the pre-war Wehrmacht, the sole carer of the Kompanie, was also typically assigned to a Feldwebel or Oberfeldwebel rank (in some cases even Junior NCO ranks). This assignment was called Hauptfeldwebel(also known as Der Spiess) and as it happens with groups I worked with, he is the person in charge of the administration duties and troop leadership.
These men are not focused on making sure they blast their way at event skirmishes or to be in the limelight, but rather want to make sure that all the men in the outfit are kitted out with the necessary gear for a good impression, provide the required training and when necessary, even step back from the fun stuff so that others may gain.
Last year, I had the honour of seeing the results of such leadership in action both here in Europe with the Italian group Feldgrau and in the USA with FJR6. Whether these leaders take up the rank of not, thanks to these, many are those re-enactors who are able to find a group that they feel they belong to.
Whilst writing this blog post, I remembered a quote from The Thin Red Line, Father's (Officer) the head, mother (Seargent) runs it.