April 2011 – Ever wanted to learn more about flightgear but didn’t know where to start for information or a reference material?
In this article we review the most popular and helpful flightgear books and let collectors know what they need to buy for reference information.

I own 14 books covering flightgear from WW1 to modern day. These books provide extensive reference notes, information and photographic use for me as a collector and reenactor.

I will do a short review and photo on each book to enable readers to understand what is in each book and know what they are looking for online if they wish to buy it.

I hope this review encourages others to learn more and to gain an understanding in to how pilots and aircrew cope or have coped wearing the flightgear in flight and combat.

It should also help other collectors, reenactors and hobby modellers for details and guides on painting/restoring and what they may need to buy to complete their collections.


The Luftwaffe Vs.RAF. Flying Equipment and Flying Clothing.
Mick J. Prodger.
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd

These 2 books by Mick Prodger are well researched using collection items put together, he does a very good coverage to help explain the WW2 era flight gear used by the German’s Luftwaffe and England’s Royal Air Force.
The all colour close ups of flightgear preserved, helps to show readers the layouts, setups and items in great detail. Anyone wanting to know more of this era air wars can be most assured these books are worthwhile.
Many interesting facts, historical notes and how the gear was used helps to allow the reader to see how RAF and Luftwaffe at times used very similar / copied each others flightgear as the war developed.
Price is around $35-60 US online at various retailers.


Book Title: US Navy Uniforms In World War II Series Volume 2: US Naval Aviation Flying Clothing and Gear.
Author: Jeff Warner

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd

This large reference book is the first in a long time which focuses on the much unknown topic of WW2 US Navy flightgear use in WW2. Most people don’t know US Navy flightgear in detail very well but this book more than makes up for the lack of gaps, as it is a very wide ranging and detailed reference book. It has a detailed review of flightgear, associated us naval uniforms and equipment.
I have found it useful for my reviews of photos and equipment from WW2 in the last few years. Expect to pay around $50-75 US for the book from online retailers.

USAAF flightgear is the most widely published and known topic area due to large interest in the flightgear use and history.

We have a few books to review on the USAAF gear –

Book Title: The USAAF Airman: Service and Survival, 1941-45
Author: Martin Brayley

This is a condensed overview of the equipment along with a history of the reasons on how , why and issues surrounding the flightgear use in USAAF in WW2. Experiences from veterans help to give the reader a first hand insight to flight gear use. Many photos and packed with useful information for a collector or someone interested in general ALSE / WW2 USAAF history.

Book title: Gear Up!: Flight Clothing & Equipment of USAAF Airmen in WWII
Author: Jon McGuire
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd

This new book covers personal flight clothing and equipment of the USAAF during the WW2 years. Every page is crammed with excellent quality photographs, both period and recent, most in full color depicting the authentic gear in use and on display. For collectors and museum enthusiasts it is a great collectors guide. With plenty of clear and detailed pictures giving a good coverage of WW2 aviation items. The wonderful photo’s are the strong point of this book and I have been waiting for a book like to be published. The text is limited and is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on the innumerable variations of individual items of gear. Anyone with an interest in USAAF WW2aerial warfare will not be disappointed with this fine reference.

Price is around $45-7o US at online retailers.

Book title: ; US Army Air Force (1) & US Army Air Force (2) (Osprey Elite)
Author:Rottman, Gordon L. & Chin, Francis
Publisher: Osprey

This 2 part series covers flightgear and general work uniforms used by the USAAC and USAAF in WW2. With text focusing on item designation, features and uses along with period photos and excellent artworks to bring it into colour, these books are a good starting guide for any collector or enthusiast. These books also cover some of the lesser known units of WW2 and their dress uniforms. Price is around $20-40US at online retailers.

Combat Flying Clothing: Army Air Forces Clothing Through World War II and Combat Flying Equipment: US Army Aviator Personal Equipment 1917-1945
Author: C.G Sweeting
Publisher: Smithsonian Books

These 2 books form a set which tells the story of U.S. Army flight clothing and equipment from the early 1900s through WWII, with a focus on WWII. These are an essential guide for any collector are these books are well written and have benefited from extensive researching. Both books have many pictures of clothing, equipment and extracts from manuals. Ideal for the historian and serious collector who wants detailed and informative notes on the USAAF operations. Hard to find but both are reprinted as soft cover book in last 10years. Prices varies from $30-60 US at online retailers.


Book title: Jet Age Flight Helmets: Aviation Headgear in the Modern Age
Author: Alan R. Wise and Michael S. Breuninger
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Jet Age Flight Helmets is a very useful overview of the history of modern flight helmets from around the world. It is packed with beautiful colour photos making it easy to identify each helmet type. With over 1,000 photos this photo documentation is the first book ever to cover in detail the history and development of military flight helmets from the post-World War II era to the present, and includes over 120 different helmets and their associated equipment such as oxygen masks, boom microphones, inner helmets etc. Services covered are U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard flight helmets discussed range from standard fighter, bomber, transport and helicopter models, to high-altitude, special purpose and experimental types. Foreign helmets covered include British, French, German, Swedish, Canadian, and rarely documented Polish, Chinese and Soviet/Russian models. Also covered is an extensive selection of U.S. and Soviet/Russian space helmets. Extensively researched this book contains over 1000 images, most in color, and includes multiple-view photographs as well as detail views. Price around $60-90 US at online retailers.

Book title: US Aircrew Combat Flight & Survival Gear
Publisher: Motorbooks International

This book is a 1990s view of the then main flightgear as used by US Army, Air Force , Navy and Coast Guard units. All colour showing pilots and aircrews in action and with some details on the items / some of their uses. The book has many professionally taken photos and give an overview of pilots and their flightgear. Price is $30-60 US at online retailers.

Book title: United States Combat Aircrew Survival Equipment World War II to the Present: A Reference Guide for Collectors
Michael S. Breuninger
Schiffer Publishing Ltd

This is a wonderful book for the person interested in learning about the wide variety of implements employed by the US military’s various branches to ensure the survival of their aircrews in hostile environments – especially useful if you’re trying to refurbish an old survival vest to original specs for display or use. It contains a detailed study of United States Air Force / Army Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps aircrew survival equipment from WW2 to modern day. Equipment covered includes – survival vests, leggings, and chaps, life preservers, survival (ejection) seat and back pad kits, personal survival kits and first aid kits, etc. Manufacturer tag and label information is provided for each item. The book could use more detailed photographs of some of the kits and their contents, especially as some are small to see/read clearly. All in all, this is a fine resource tool for a ALSE collector. Prices ranges from $30-60 US at online retailers.


Book title: American Flight Jackets, Airmen and Aircraft: A History of U.S. Flyers’ Jackets from World War I to Desert Storm
Author: Jon Maguire and John Conway
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

This comprehensive looks at the evolution of the American flight jacket from World War I to Desert Storm and no only focuses on the different types worn, but primarily on the art and adornment applied to the jackets. The book main focus is on the display of WW2 era flight jackets. Many of the jackets are shown with their owner’s with biographical information, contemporary photos of the veteran and where possible aircraft on which he served. Personal combat accounts are also included help to give the reader an idea of WW2 operations.
Also covered are other military jackets used by flyers since WW2. The book is recommended as a valuable reference for collectors , historians and people interested in artworks. It includes over 1,000 photographs b/w and colour. Price is around $70-250 US on online retailers.

Book title: A-2 and G-1 Flight Jackets: Hell-Bent for Leather
Author: Derek Nelson and Dave Parsons
Publisher: Zenith Press

For historians or collectors wanting to know more about WW2 era US issued flight jackets for USAAF and US Navy. Anecdotes and a history of the jacket’s service are accompanied by marvelous images of the hand-painted art that more often than not adorned the backs of these garments. Nostalgic black-and-white and period color photos depict the legendary Army Air Corps and Air Force jacket as worn by airmen in World War II and into the Korean War. As a history of the A-2 and G-1 jackets, this book falls well short.There are some errors noted with relation to historical topics or checking but it doesn’t detract from why the book was written. The book gives a review of current flight jacket manufacturers (in 2002) and their operations. Price range from $40-90 US on online retailers.

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